Professor Scott Sundby Named Robert C. Josefsberg Chair in Criminal Justice Advocacy

The nationally recognized scholar is an expert on the issues surrounding capital punishment.
Professor Scott Sundby Named Robert C. Josefsberg Chair in Criminal Justice Advocacy
Professor Scott Sundby

Professor Scott Sundby has been named the inaugural Robert C. Josefsberg Chair in Criminal Justice Advocacy.

Sundby’s research and writings focus on criminal law and constitutional law issues, including articles in the Virginia, Columbia, Cornell, UCLA, and Texas law reviews. Much of his research has been conducted as part of the Capital Jury Project, a study funded by the National Science Foundation. His findings have been cited by over 60 courts, including the United States Supreme Court, in its opinion in Florida v. Nixon (2004).

"Scott is a distinguished scholar, having written frequently and powerfully about the death penalty and other criminal justice topics," wrote David Yellen, dean and M. Minnette Massey Professor of Law, in the announcement. "In addition to its intellectual significance, Scott's work has had great impact beyond the academic world. His work on the selection of jurors in capital cases and how jurors decide whether or not to recommend a death sentence has influenced lawyers and judges around the country. This real-world impact is something the donor had very much in mind in creating the chair."

In interviewing jurors who have been faced with the wrenching choice between a life and death sentence, Sundby has been particularly struck by the intensely human nature of the decision as jurors grapple with moral, legal, and personal issues. His book, "A Life and Death Decision: A Jury Weighs the Death Penalty," focuses on the human side of the decision by listening to how different jurors from the same case describe their jury's decision to impose a death sentence. 

Sundby has served as an expert witness in cases involving the death penalty and testified before the Florida Legislature after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Florida's death penalty conviction procedure.

Before coming to Miami, Sundby was the Sydney and Frances Lewis Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University's School of Law. He has been a visiting professor and lecturer at leading law schools worldwide and was a Fulbright Scholar at Trinity College Dublin. He also took a leave from his academic career to serve as Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Florida.

"One reason I remain passionate about teaching is that criminal law is the one area where an individual lawyer’s advocacy can make such a profound difference in other people’s lives — whether as a defense attorney helping someone through what is likely the most trying time of their life or as a prosecutor exercising their discretion in a wise and fair way," said Sundby. "It is a true honor to be named to a chair that not only is inspired by trying to use advocacy to create a more just criminal justice system but is named after someone who has exemplified those ideals throughout his career."

A generous $3.45 million donation from David C. Humphreys, J.D. '83, created the chair that honors the legendary criminal defense attorney and commercial litigator Robert C. Josefsberg. Sundby’s investiture will be held March 24.

More on studying criminal law at Miami Law