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Richard J. Childress Memorial Lecture

The Richard J. Childress Memorial Lecture, named in honor of former Dean Richard J. Childress (1969-1976), is a premier academic event highlighting a provocative and timely area of law. The lecture commemorates the contributions Dean Childress made academically, ethically, and socially to benefit the Saint Louis University School of Law.

Childress was a member of the faculty at the School of Law for almost 30 years, and then served for 15 years as associate dean and dean. Among other achievements, Dean Childress is credited with founding the Saint Louis University Law Journal

Every year, the Journal sponsors the Lecture and publishes the keynote address on a timely legal topic as well as responses from the lecture’s scholarly participants.

Established by the generosity of alumni and friends of the former dean, the lecture aims to enhance the exemplary teaching at the School of Law by bringing world-renowned scholars to campus for academic enrichment.

2019: American Election Law in a Post-Truth World
October 11, 2019 | Scott Hall 
4.8 MO CLE credits available

Childress Lecture 2019
Rapid technological change and the rise of social media have upended the traditional media’s business model and radically changed how people communicate, educate, and persuade. The decline of the traditional media as information intermediaries has transformed and "coarsened" social and political communication, making it easier for misinformation and vitriol to spread. The result? Political campaigns that increasingly take place under conditions of voter mistrust and groupthink, with the potential for foreign interference and domestic political manipulation via new and increasingly sophisticated technological tools. Such dramatic changes raise deep questions about the conditions of electoral legitimacy and threaten to shake the foundation of democratic governance.

This conference considers how this challenging information environment will affect election law in areas such as campaigns, campaign finance, and voting rights, and what election law might be able to do about it.

The keynote speaker is Richard L. Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine.

Schedule of Events
Friday, Oct. 11

8-9 a.m.: Registration
9-10 a.m.: American Election Law in a Post-Truth World: Keynote speech with Rick Hasen
10-10:15 a.m.: Break
10:15-11:15 a.m.: Just The “Facts?” Reflections on Keynote: Panel One with Justin Levitt, Daniel Tokaji, and Guy-Uriel Charles
11:15-11:30 a.m.: Break
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: The Emerging Election Law Landscape: Panel Two with Derek Muller, Franita Tolson, and Yasmin Dawood 
12:30-1:30 p.m.: Break
1:30-2:30 p.m.: Election Law on the Ground: Challenges in Missouri: Panel Three with Denise Lieberman, Jessie Steffan, Kenneth Warren

Further details

RSVP here

2018: Exploring #STL2039: Policies for a Better Future

On October 5, 2018, the Childress Lecture explored Forward Through Ferguson's #STL2039 Action Plan, which imagines a future St. Louis where race no longer predicts life outcomes. A series of panels explored criminology and crime control; education reform; and race, health, and social justice.

Tracey L. Meares was the keynote speaker. Meares is the Walter Hale Hamilton Professor of Law and founding member of the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School. Her address was titled "Synthesizing Narratives of Policing."

Panelists included:

  • Adam Boessen, assistant professor, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of Missouri - St. Louis
  • Rebecca Hollander-Blumoff, vice dean for research and faculty development and professor of law, Washington University School of Law
  • Emily Stahly, analyst, The Show-Me Institute
  • Phillip Boyd, assistant superintendent of human resource services, Ferguson-Florissant School District; Forward Through Ferguson board member
  • Susan Pendergrass, director of research and education policy, The Show-Me Institute
  • Anders Walker, associate dean for research and engagement and Lillie Myers Professor of Law, Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Karen Bradshaw, Community Referral Coordinator Program director, St. Louis Integrated Health Network
  • David Dwight, senior strategy and partnerships catalyst, Forward Through Ferguson
  • Keon L. Gilbert, associate professor, Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education, Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice
  • Dr. Denise Hooks-Anderson, associate professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine
  • Stephanie McClure, assistant professor, Department of Anthropology, The University of Alabama
  • Sidney D. Watson, Jane and Bruce Robert Professor of Law, Saint Louis University School of Law Center for Health Law Studies
  • Ruqaiijah Yearby, professor of law, Saint Louis University School of Law Center for Health Law Studies; director, University Social Justice Institute
2017: Human Rights in the American Criminal Justice System

On October 13, 2017, the Childress Memorial Lecture examined the role, rhetoric and practices of the United States’ criminal justice system using international human rights norms as perspective. Panelists discussed how the modern criminal justice system in the U.S. – whether it is pretrial detention, treatment of gender violence or juvenile populations, or the continued use of the death penalty – conforms to or violate international human rights standards, and what can be done to change that.

The keynote speaker was Samuel R. Gross, Thomas and Mabel Long Professor of Law at The University of Michigan Law School, whose address was titled "The Death Penalty, Public Opinion, and Politics in the United States."

Panelists included:

  • Wade H. McMullen, managing attorney, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  • Mae C. Quinn, director, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center
  • Jamila Jefferson-Jones, associate professor of law, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • Gregory J. Kuykendall, Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program
  • Jennifer Merrigan & Joseph Perkovich, attorneys, Phillips Black
  • John Bessler, associate professor of law, University of Baltimore School of Law
  • Maya Foa, director, Reprieve
  • Lauren E. Bartlett, director of Legal Clinics and assistant professor of law, Ohio Northern University Pettit School of Law
  • Margaret B. Drew, associate professor, University of Massachusetts School of Law
  • Martha F. Davis, associate dean for experiential education and professor of law, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Juliana C. Repp, attorney, Northwest Native American Law, PLLC

View the Journal issue for this lecture.

2016: Indigence and the Criminal Justice System

On October 6-7, 2016, the Childress Memorial Lecture  addressed the continuing inequality in the criminal courts. While Americans are increasingly aware of issues involving law enforcement agencies and communities of color, less attention has been paid to the courts to which those arrested are sent after being taken into custody.

In that system, numerous discretionary decisions are made by prosecutors, such as whether to file charges; whether a high bail be set so the accused remains in jail; what charges to bring; whether to seek enhanced penalties such as the death penalty, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or a mandatory minimum of years in prison; whether to make a plea offer and what offer to make; what information to disclose to the defense; and whether to strike prospective jurors based on race during jury selection.

Most of the discretionary decisions are made by white men, even though virtually all the people appearing before some criminal courts are people of color. People are often prosecuted in municipal courts whose primary purpose is revenue generation and not law enforcement. In those courts and others, the accused may be denied a lawyer to assist them, or may be given a lawyer who lacks the competence, resources, experience, training and, in some cases, the inclination to provide a zealous and effective defense. In many states, the people in charge of this system – governors, legislators, prosecutors and judges – want it to remain as it is because it gives the prosecution an enormous advantage in obtaining convictions, fines, jail and prison terms, and death sentences.

The keynote speaker was Stephen B. Bright, president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights and Harvey Karp Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, whose lecture was titled "The Future of Criminal Justice Reform."

Panelists included:

  • Michael Barrett, director, Missouri State Public Defender System
  • Kim Gardner, candidate for St. Louis Circuit Attorney
  • Thomas B. Harvey, co-founder and executive director of ArchCity Defenders 
  • Michael-John Voss, co-founder and director of finance and operations of ArchCity Defenders 
  • Blake Strode, Skadden Fellow, staff attorney at ArchCity Defenders
  • Brandon Buskey, senior staff attorney, American Civil Liberties Union - Criminal Law Reform Project
  • Stephen F. Hanlon, general counsel, National Association for Public Defense; professor of practice, Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Norman Lefstein, professor of law and dean emeritus, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (Indianapolis)
  • Sean O’Brien, professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • Mark Olive, attorney at law, Tallahassee, Florida
  • Jamala Rogers, author, executive director of the Organization for Black Struggle
  • Cyndy Short, trial attorney and mitigation specialist

View the Journal issue for this lecture.


The Future of Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal Defense Panel

Death Penalty Panel

2015: Religious Freedom, Social Justice and Public Policy

On November 13, 2015, scholars from across the country addressed conflicts following recent legal developments in areas such as same-sex marriage, birth control coverage and mandatory vaccinations, examining the clashing of rights and how they could potentially be resolved. 

Lawrence Sager of the University of Texas School of Law was the keynote speaker, whose lecture was titled "The Imminent Clash Between Religious Freedom and Public Accommodation Law."

Panelists included:

  • Nelson Tebbe, Brooklyn Law School
  • Christopher Lund, Wayne State University Law School
  • Matt Bodie, Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Elizabeth Sepper, Washington University School of Law
  • Jeff A. Redding, Saint Louis University School of Law
  • Jessie Hill, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

View the Journal issue for this lecture.



First Panel

Second Panel and Closing Remarks

2014: Federalism & Nationalism: Who Counts?

On October 25, 2014, the Childress Memorial Lecture addressed the "long and not-so-merry war" between proponents of federalism and nationalists.

Keynote speaker Professor Heather Gerken argued that now is the time for a détente between the warring sides. Those on both sides of the debate have an outdated idea of what “Our Federalism” looks like today. As a result, many of the debates in the field are beside the point, and it would be better for scholars to direct their considerable energies at different questions than the ones they have traditionally pursued. Gerken questioned whether it’s possible to have a “nationalist school of federalism” and described what each side needs to give up in order for a détente to succeed.

View the Journal issue for this lecture.