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Leigh Bienen Appointed to Capital Punishment Study Committee

December 14, 2004

Leigh Buchanan Bienen, senior lecturer at the School of Law, has been appointed to the Illinois Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee.

The appointment was made by Emil Jones, president of the Illinois Senate, who appoints three of the 16 members of the committee.

The committee is charged with the responsibility of studying the impact of various reforms to the capital punishment system that were enacted by the 93rd General Assembly of Illinois.

Bienen and committee members will hold periodic hearings to receive public testimony on the manner in which reforms have impacted the capital punishment system and will issue a report to the General Assembly.

Bienen teaches in the areas of criminal law, law and literature, and persuasion. As a public defender in New Jersey, she represented clients in state and federal trial and appellate courts and before numerous official boards and tribunals. Previous to coming to Northwestern, she taught law at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, the University of California (Berkeley) Boalt Hall School of Law, and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. She is a member of the bar in Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, the District of Columbia and the United States Supreme Court.

She is the director of the Chicago Historical Society Historical Project which has launched “Homicide in Chicago: 1870-1930,” an interactive web site which makes available to teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, professional researchers and members of the general public, analytic information, original photographs and documents, academic analyses, interviews with scholars, and the original police records of more than11,000 homicides in Chicago during that 60-year period.

She is the author of numerous scholarly articles on homicide, capital punishment, rape, incest and other criminal law issues. In addition, “Crimes of the Century,” with Professor Gilbert Geis (Northeastern University Press, 1998), analyzes five cases that seized the public imagination and came to stand for the spirit of their times. The cases analyzed are Leopold and Loeb; the Lindbergh Kidnapping; the Alger Hiss case; the Scottsboro cases; and the O.J. Simpson case. She continues to write and do research on criminal law issues and to write and publish fiction and nonfiction in a variety of publications.

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