On January 15, 2015, BYU Law held its first World of Law lecture of the semester with Professor Daniel McConkie, a scholar of criminal law, criminal procedure, and legal ethics. The series is designed to provide an inside look at the variety of areas of practice for those considering law school.
Professor McConkie began his lecture by opening the floor for those in attendance to ask questions and share their previous knowledge of criminal law. This led to a discussion of the Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying against oneself. The conversation flowed into discussing criminal defense while Pofessor McConkie shared stories from his own practice. One such story was a mother who accidentally ran over someone she didn’t see because of a dirty windshield and glare from the morning sun.
Professor McConkie used the story to ask about whether the woman should be charged or not. Professor McConkie shared that he chose not to prosecute the woman, which led to a discussion about mercy in the realm of criminal law.
In answering a question about the purpose of prosecution—whether to punish or to teach—Professor McConkie responded, “As a parent, when I discipline, I try to never discipline out of anger but with some kind of purpose: to teach and hopefully to reform. I don’t think our criminal justice system should be any different. But that presents huge practical difficulties.”