Monday, April 8, 2013

David Tanenhaus Educates on Legal History, Juvenile Justice through Conferences, Scholarly Work, and Speaking Engagements

David Tanenhaus is starting a new chapter in his career, but he’s hitting the ground running with conferences, speaking engagements, teaching, and scholarship.

“I see this as a new chapter in my career,” said Tanenhaus, Professor and Chair of the UNLV History Department and James E. Rogers Professor of History and Law. “I just concluded an eight-year editorship of Law & History Review, the leading journal in the field, where I devoted a lot of time and energy. Now I’m focusing more attention on my scholarly agenda.”

On Feb. 21, Tanenhaus hosted the ninth annual Philip Pro Lectureship, which drew more than 60 attendees. The event featured Bancroft award-winning author and Harvard Professor of Law and Professor of History Tomiko Brown-Nagin, who presented her book, Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement.

“I spent two weeks in my course in the fall on the book. It’s very exciting for students to hear directly from the author,” said Tanenhaus.

In 2005, Pulitzer prize-winning historian Gordon Wood inaugurated the Philip Pro Lectureship in Legal History at the Boyd School of Law. The series annually brings an internationally prominent scholar to UNLV to deliver a public lecture.

Since the Philip Pro Lectureship, Tanenhaus has turned his attention to planning a conference focused on choosing the future for American juvenile justice. He, along with Frank Zimring, William G. Simon Professor of Law and Wolfen Distinguished Scholar at the UC Berkeley School of Law, will host the two-day conference on April 12 and 13.

“Before the event, I heard from a range of people, some from outside the state, who said they were interested in attending – a documentary filmmaker, public defenders, juvenile advocates,” said Tanenhaus. “When there’s a big Supreme Court decision, like 2012’s Miller v. Alabama, it attracts a lot of interest to the field. This has turned out to be a big year for juvenile justice.”

Sessions will focus on important reform issues that are relatively novel to traditional juvenile justice, yet must be addressed by policymakers in the near future. They include: disconnecting the school-to-prison pipeline, the relationship between immigration policy and juvenile justice, the significance of brain science for youth policy, the behavioral and legal issues involving juvenile sex offenders, and the disclosure of juvenile records.

“The conference will bring together prominent scholars to look at the 21st juvenile justice system. It’s very exciting to host the conference,” said Tanenhaus, who will present an overview of the history of juvenile justice reform at the conference.

The conference presenters’ papers will be published in a volume that Tanenhaus and Zimring are editing for Youth, Crime, and Justice, their new book series with New York University Press.

“Our goal for the series is to create a center for the interdisciplinary field of juvenile justice,” said Tanenhaus.

The series aims to become a central repository of studies that span the range of social, behavioral and policy sciences about youth development and governmental efforts to foster adolescent development yet control youth crime.

In addition to hosting conferences, Tanenhaus this semester is teaching an upper division undergraduate survey of American Constitutional History as well as a graduate seminar in American legal history. He has or is scheduled to make research presentations at the University of Illinois, Whittier Law School, and Texas Tech.

“It’s important to draw on past experiences because you can use history to make better decisions about policymaking,” Tanenhaus said.  

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