A Conversation on Justice and Revenge

April 25, 2013

Are Vengeance and Justice So Very Different After All? We have all been taught that revenge is primitive and barbaric and that citizens should instead place their faith in the justice system. But are vengeance and justice so very different after all? By punishing wrongdoers, shouldn’t we also be trying to avenge crime victims? And vengeance is only morally justified if it is proportionate and commensurate, so how is that any different from what the legal system purports to provide? FOLCS presented a lively discussion with the City Bar Association on the relationship between vengeance and justice, on the occasion of FOLCS Director Thane Rosenbaum’s latest book, Payback: The Case for Revenge.

Full video here.

Benjamin Brafman

Benjamin Brafman is the principal of a seven-lawyer firm, Brafman & Associates, P.C., located in Manhattan. Mr. Brafman’s firm specializes in criminal defense. A former Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, he has been in private practice since 1980.

Mr. Brafman was selected by New York Magazine as the “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in New York” and was presented with the “first” ever Clarence Darrow Award for Distinguished Practitioner by the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He has represented a wide range of high-profile celebrities, athletes, business leaders, lawyers and other professionals in significant criminal cases throughout the country, including Jay Z, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Plaxico Burress, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Martin Shkreli.

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, a former Harvard professor, is the prizewinning and internationally bestselling author of The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism (Little, Brown), to be published in September. His previous books have been translated into sixteen languages and have garnered wide acclaim in the United States and around the world. These works include Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity (PublicAffairs, 2009), A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair (Knopf, 2002), and Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (Knopf, 1996), for which Goldhagen won Germany’s triennial Democracy Prize. Worse Than War is also the basis for the groundbreaking PBS documentary of the same name, which can be seen at pbs.org/worsethanwar.

Goldhagen has written for newspapers and magazines across the globe, including The New York Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeiting, El Pais, Corriere della Sera, and Haaretz. He has appeared on television in many countries, from The Today Show to Newsnight, and has been the subject of many profiles including in The New York Times Magazine and Dateline on NBC. Approximately 40 books have been published about him and his work in multiple languages.

Kathleen Hogan

Kate Hogan is the Warren County District Attorney. After graduating from Washington and Lee University Law School, she began her legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, where she specialized in trial work, prosecuting murders, rapes, and serious felony cases. She later entered private practice but soon returned to prosecution, accepting a position with the New York Prosecutors Training Institute. There, she worked on death penalty cases and helped train prosecutors statewide.

In 2000, she accepted a position as an Assistant District Attorney in Warren County. In 2001, Hogan was elected to her present position and is currently serving her third term. As District Attorney, Hogan has tried a number of high profile cases, created a child advocacy center, and helped implement the Warren County Treatment Court.

From 2009–2010, Hogan served as the President of the District Attorneys Association. In that capacity, she successfully advocated for the passage of Leandra’s Law, Jack Shea’s Law, and the implementation of a strangulation statute. She then served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the District Attorneys Association. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the District Attorney’s Association and Sub-committee on Sexual Assault and Family Violence. She continues to advocate for new legislation to permit more comprehensive prosecution of child abuse.

Judge Denny Chin

Judge Denny Chin is a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He was sworn in on April 26, 2010.

Judge Chin graduated from Princeton University magna cum laude in 1975 and received his law degree from Fordham Law School in 1978. After clerking for the Honorable Henry F. Werker, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, he was associated with the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell from 1980 to 1982. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1982 until 1986, when he and two of his colleagues from the U.S. Attorney’s Office started a law firm, Campbell, Patrick & Chin. In 1990, he joined Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., where he specialized in labor and employment law.

From September 13, 1994, through April 23, 2010, Judge Chin served as a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. He presided over both civil and criminal cases, including cases involving Megan’s Law, the Million Youth March, Al Franken’s use of the phrase “Fair and Balanced” in the title of a book, the Naked Cowboy, the Google Books settlement, and the United Nations Oil for Food Program. He also presided over the trial of an Afghan warlord charged with conspiring to import heroin and the guilty plea and sentencing of financier Bernard L. Madoff.

Judge Chin has taught legal writing at Fordham Law School since 1986. While in private practice, he provided extensive pro bono representation to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. He served as President of the Asian American Bar Association of New York from January 1992 through January 1994. He has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, including Hartley House, Care for the Homeless, the Clinton Housing Association, the Prospect Park Environmental Center, and the Fordham Law School Alumni Association.