Friday, October 03, 2008

2008 Thomas More Conference: “The Trial and Last Letters of Thomas More”

I received a very gracious email from Mr. Matthew Mehan, Assistant Director of the Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas, inviting me to attend this year's Thomas More Conference on the topic of “The Trial and Last Letters of Thomas More”. The conference takes place in Dallas on November 7-8.

Mr. Mehan has asked me to pass along the invitation to any others who might be interested in attending. Here's a description of the conference that Mr. Mehan sent along:
“The Trial and Last Letters of Thomas More”
7-8 Nov. 2008 CLE Conference
Hosted by the Center of Thomas More Studies

To the Lawyer or Statesman or Thomas More Enthusiast It May Concern:

Our CLE conference on Thomas More’s “retrial” focuses upon one of the most famous cases in legal history. It takes place on the weekend of November 7, 2008 at the University of Dallas and offers up to 10.5 CLE credits (ethics and participatory).
Sir Thomas More’s trial for high treason in 1535 involved issues of great importance to any system of law: rules of evidence, silence and self-incrimination, jury selection, and the independence of the judiciary, to name a few.

As you can see from the schedule, some of the country’s finest judges, law scholars, and legal practitioners will be speaking. These include:

● Edith Jones, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit,
● Sidney Fitzwater, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas,
● Sir Michael Tugendhat, Judge of the High Court, England,
● Professor Richard Helmholz of the University of Chicago Law School, who, after a careful analysis of the Crown’s and the defendant’s cases, concludes that the judges did their duty under the law of that time.
● Professor Kelly of UCLA, who after producing an audit of the trial sources and translating many of the documents for the first time, concludes that More’s judges gave in to political pressures.

Also speaking are several authorities on More’s prison letters which not only have become classics of Christian spirituality, but also reveal More’s own detailed lawyerly account of his official interrogations and of the evolving legal and political situation in England and in Christendom.

Our overall interest is to discover what Thomas More himself wanted us to learn from the long ordeal of his imprisonment, trial, and death. One of the greatest figures of both the Common Law tradition and the European Renaissance, More was elected “Lawyer of the Millennium” in December 1999 by the Law Society of Great Britain. More brought deep erudition in the classical tradition of justice to his work as a judge and, eventually, to his own defense against a vengeful king. On trial for his life, More adopted a controversial strategy of silence in facing what he considered an unjust law. Some claim that no trial since that of Socrates and that of Christ has left a richer record for contemplation.

In the interest of the history of law and justice, I sincerely hope you can be a part of this CLE – a study not only of legal procedures but of the perennial question of how the leaders of a legal system face its deficiencies and help to solve them.

With best wishes,

Matthew Mehan, Assistant Director
Center for Thomas More Studies
Mr. Mehan notes that October 5th is the deadline for the conference's special hotel rate, but that the normal rates are very reasonable as well. See the website for more information.

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