On March 28, the Hoffinger Criminal Justice Forum, titled "In Celebration of the Life and Work of Professor Jerome H. Skolnick," was focused on scholarship relating to the expansive body of work of a longtime NYU Law adjunct professor and criminology expert.

Jerome SkolnickSkolnick, who is Claire Clements Dean's Chair Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, came to NYU 14 years ago to co-direct the Center for Research in Crime and Justice with James Jacobs, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger Professor of Constitutional Law and the Courts. In his half-century career, Skolnick, who celebrates his 80th birthday this year, has written extensively about criminal justice and sociology. The fourth edition of his 1966 book Justice Without Trial: Law Enforcement in Democratic Society, a seminal study of police culture and practice, has just been published.

The Hoffinger Criminal Justice Forum was attended by many of Skolnick’s colleagues and friends from his decades in academia. Three of Skolnick’s protégés presented scholarship related to his work: Elliott Currie, Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society at the University of California, Irvine; Richard Leo, an associate professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law; and Candace McCoy, a professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

One of Skolnick’s students at Berkeley was Frank Zimring, now the William G. Simon Professor of Law at Berkeley as well as the David M. Friedman Fellow at NYU Law’s Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law & Justice for the 2010-11 academic year. Zimring said of his former professor, “He has taught social scientists the importance of law, and lawyers the insights and methods of social science. Skolnick’s substantial literary output is almost evenly divided between a number of law and society texts—many in multiple editions—and a series of pathbreaking books on topics of emerging importance.”

But it was Skolnick’s attitude that most set him apart, Zimring added. “Skolnick’s work on the issues that compelled him was serious and difficult work, but his engagement with it was always both joyful and optimistic. You never saw Jerry start a book he wasn’t sure he was going to finish, and that he wasn’t sure wasn’t going to change the world in a positive fashion. To learn from Skolnick was always to be exposed to the joy of sociology.”

Watch the full video of the event (1 hr, 59 min):