Legal Academic World Shaken by Shooting Death of FSU Professor

The shooting death of Florida State University law professor Dan Markel is reverberating across the legal academic world.

Police say Mr. Markel, 41, a criminal law professor at FSU College of Law and founder of PrawfsBlawg, a pioneering network of law professor bloggers, was gunned down at his Tallahassee home on Friday morning.

Police were called to Mr. Markels home at around 11 am and found him with a gunshot wound, according to a statement released by the Tallahassee Police Department, which said the professor was rushed to a local hospital and later succumbed to his injury.

The police department said its violent crimes unit is probing the incident as a homicide and that its set up a tip line dedicated to the case. But as of Monday morning, it had released little other information about the circumstances behind his death. Heres the latest statement from police:

The initial investigation has provided no indication that this case is connected to a burglary or robbery and investigators are assuring residents there is no evidence this was a random act. Neighborhood residents should continue to be vigilant but it appears at this time that Mr. Markel was the intended victim in this incident.

As police investigate, Mr. Markels friends and colleagues have posted tributes to the professor.

FSU law school said in a statement that his contributions to the law school and broader legal community were pervasive and lasting.

The bloggers at Prawfsblawg posted a statement on the senseless loss of the sites founder:

All of us here on Prawfsblawg live in different places and come from different backgrounds. What we have in common, with many others, is Dan. His network of friends and loved onesand he had a great deal of love for all his many friends, as we did and do for himis enormous. His boundless energy was at the center of this community; it made it run, it gave it life. We are stunned and bereaved by his loss, and our thoughts go to his two little boys, who were precious to him, and to his family.

Doug Berman, a law professor at the Ohio State University who writes the Sentencing Law and Policy blog, reflected on Mr. Markels academic legacy:

Dan was a personal friend, and his extraordinary commitment and contribution to big ideas in criminal law and theory during his (much too short) life cannot be easily overstated. Of particular note, Dan was among the most active and forceful voices seeking to define and defend a modern conception of retributive justice. For that reason and many others, I hope those responsible for this shocking crime are brought soon to justice.

Jay Michaelson, a prominent Jewish writer, mourned the loss of his friend in a column for the Forward newspaper:

Dan really was a mensch. And a damn fine legal scholar[He] was also the primary instigator behind the Prawfsblawg group blog, one of the best legal-academic blogs on the Internet. Under his leadership, Prawfsblawg was intellectual, funny, topical, irreverent, and diverse in membership.

Over at TaxProf Blog, Pepperdine University law professor Paul Caron has compiled links to other tributes.

A 2001 graduate of Harvard Law School and native of Toronto, Mr. Markel taught criminal law and procedure at FSU. He co-authored a 2009 book exploring the intersection between crime, punishment and family. He also wrote opinion pieces for the New York Times, Slate, and the Atlantic, among other publications.

His research interests were eclectic. One of his last works was a piece he co-authored for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law that floated the idea of using crowd-funding to give sports fans more influence over where professional athletes decide to play.

Mr. Markel is recently divorced from Wendi Adelson, a clinical professor at FSU law school. The couple had two young sons.

FSU said a local memorial service will be held in Tallahassee at noon on Sunday at Congregation Shomrei Torah. The school is also planning a memorial event in the fall.


Comments are closed.