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Deborah Denno

Deborah Denno, Ph.D., J.D.

Deborah Denno, Ph.D., J.D., is the Arthur A. McGivney Professor of Law at Fordham's School of Law.

Deborah Denno is known to spend hours with reporters, helping them get up to speed on the various legal and ethical intricacies of the death penalty.

“I admire journalists,” said Denno, who earned her doctoral degree in criminology from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and her juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was the managing editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. “They really push things along, and they have had enormous influence on the death penalty issue.”

The past few years have been a perfect storm for Denno in terms of media exposure, as a number of states grappled with the hot-button issue, including California, where a federal judge ruled in December 2006 that the state’s death penalty statute violated the Eighth Amendment. And the U.S. Supreme Court recently decided to hear an appeal by two condemned men in Kentucky who claim that lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

For Denno, who has written some of the most influential journal articles on the subject, granting interviews to journalists is a two-way street.

“As an academic, you can get into a bit of a bubble in terms of your way of thinking or the way you are approaching things,” she said.

“Journalists break me out of that. I will know what happened right after some decision because my phone will start ringing and journalists will ask, ‘Did you know that...?’ And then they’ll fill me in. Who wouldn’t appreciate that?”

   

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