Saturday, September 6, 2008

Guest Blogger: Ursula Bentele

It's IntLawGrrls' great pleasure today to welcome guest blogger Ursula Bentele (right).
Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School in New York, Ursula is a noted expert on capital punishment. Having argued numerous death penalty appeals, she was awarded the New York City Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Award, given to attorneys who have represented those sentenced to death. As a participant in the National Science Foundation-funded Capital Jury Project, Ursula analyzed the findings of more than 1,000 persons who served on juries in capital cases. She is the author of Appellate Advocacy: Principles and Practice (4th ed., 2004) (with Eve Cary) and Capital Case Sentencing: How to Protect Your Client (1988). Ursula practiced at the Legal Aid Society before entering academia.
In her guest post below, Ursula discusses her most recent paper, an examination of the practice of using comparative analysis to interpret the South African Constitution. (That Constitution, incidentally, is among IntLawGrrls' Legal Wonders of the World. The subject of constitutional comparativism, moreover, is an issue of great interest to this IntLawGrrl, whose written on U.S. constitutional decisions here and here.) This paper joins her prior study on law in that country: Back to an International Perspective on the Death Penalty As a Cruel Punishment: The Example of South Africa, 753 Tulane Law Review 251 (1998).
Ursula dedicates her guest post to Gertrude Bell (1868-1926). Born to a wealthy British family, Bell (below left) was the 1st woman to earn a 1st-class degree in Modern History at Oxford University. She spent most of her life, after visiting an uncle serving as British envoy in Tehran, Persia, in 1892, traveling and working in the Middle East. Bell became fluent in Arabic, Persian, French and German, and her reports assisted the Arab campaign of T.E. Lawrence. Ursula writes: "Although controversy persists about her role in drawing the borders for the modern state of Iraq, I found inspiring, in addition to her great personal courage and independence, her ability to communicate and empathize with, and to learn from, people of strikingly varied backgrounds and beliefs." Janet Wallach's account of Bell's life in Desert Queen (2005) (left) is well worth a read. Bell -- who, incidentally, sailed on the SS Lotus 13 years before that steamship crashed and gave rise to a famous international law decision -- joins other transnational foremothers in the list at right, just below our "visiting from..." map.
Heartfelt welcome!

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