Winter 2017 Symposium

NOTE: Our Winter 2017 Symposium has been postponed due to weather conditions. It will take place on Thursday, September 21, 2017.

The Novelization of the Criminal Justice System & Its Effect on Pop Culture

New England Law Review’s
Winter 2017 Symposium

Winter 2017 Symposium Flier.png

Thursday, September 21, 2017

4:00-6:00 PM

Cherry Room, New England Law | Boston

The New England Law Review criminal law book symposium will be held on September 21st at 4:00 p.m. in the Cherry Room at New England Law | Boston. It will showcase the art of writing novels that heavily involve the criminal justice system and its functions. New York Times Bestselling Author and Professor of Law Alafair Burke will discuss her recent novel, “The Ex.” Response articles featured in the symposium will include:

  • Hon. Michael Ponsor, Kooks, Crooks, Brutes, or Rhadamanthine Opacities: Some Thoughts on the Depictions of Judges in Popular Fiction
  • Professor Simon Stern
  • Professor Peter Manus, Law and Noir
  • Professor Bennett Capers, Re-Reading Alafair Burke’s The Ex
  • Professor Mimi Wesson, The Chow: Depictions of the Criminal Justice System as a Character in Crime Fiction

The symposium will feature a panel comprised of Professor Alafair Burke of Hofstra Law School; Judge Michael Ponsor of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts; Professor Peter Manus of New England Law | Boston.


 Author Bios

Alafair Burke, Novelist and Professor of Law


Professor Burke teaches criminal law and criminal procedure subjects. Her research intersects criminal law and procedure and focuses on policing and prosecutorial policies. She has written about prosecutorial decision making in a variety of pre-trial and trial contexts, community policing, and the criminal law’s treatment of domestic violence. Professor Burke has published articles in the Yale, Michigan, George Washington, North Carolina, Washington, and William and Mary Law Reviews, among other journals. She frequently works with the Department of Justice and state and local prosecutors across the country to improve the quality of prosecutorial discretion.

Before joining the law school faculty in 2001, Professor Burke served as a deputy district attorney in Portland, Oregon, where she tried more than 30 criminal cases, primarily against domestic violence offenders, and helped innovate neighborhood-based prosecution methods. Professor Burke graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School, where she was elected to Order of the Coif, published a note on prosecutorial ethics in the Stanford Law Review, and was an articles editor of the Stanford Law and Public Policy Journal and a member of the Stanford Journal of International Law. She served as a law clerk to Judge Betty B. Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professor Burke is also the author of eleven bestselling crime novels.

Hon. Michael Ponsor, Novelist and Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Michael Ponsor - United States District Judge

Michael A. Ponsor was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1946 and received his B.A. magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1969. While an undergraduate, he spent one year teaching at the Kenya Institute of Administration in Nairobi, Kenya. From 1969 to 1971 Ponsor read English Language and Literature at Pembroke College, Oxford University, England, as a Rhodes Scholar. He received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1975 and clerked for the Hon. Joseph L. Tauro in the District of Massachusetts. Following his clerkship, Ponsor practiced criminal law at Homans, Hamilton & Lamson in Boston and general civil and criminal litigation in his own firm, Brown, Hart & Ponsor, in Amherst, Massachusetts. From 1984 to 1994, he served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court’s Western Division in Springfield. In 1993 he was nominated by President Bill Clinton as a U.S. District Judge and, after confirmation by the Senate, was sworn in on March 14, 1994. In 2011, he took senior status and began handling a reduced docket. The Western Division, where Judge Ponsor has served for thirty years, includes the four counties of Western Massachusetts, comprising some 800,000 people and 100 cities and towns. His caseload has included many high-profile trials, including U.S. v. Gilbert, which lasted five months and was the first death penalty case in Massachusetts in more than fifty years, and U.S. v. Jacques, in which three young white men were convicted of torching an African-American church in 2008 in retaliation for the election of Barack Obama. He has served on three national Judicial Conference committees: the Committee on the Administration of the Magistrate Judge System (1998-2004), the Committee on the Budget (2005-2007), and, as Chair, the Committee on Space and Facilities (2009-2013). He had a lead role in the design and construction of the new Springfield federal courthouse, which opened in 2008. Ponsor has taught as an adjunct professor at Yale Law School, Western New England School of Law, and the University of Massachusetts. He coedited and wrote two chapters in the handbook Civil Litigation in the First Circuit (Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Boston, 1994) and also authored articles in the The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, the Federal Sentencing Reporter, the American Bar Association Journal, and the Western New England Law Review. In December of 2013, the New York publisher Open Road Media released his first novel, The Hanging Judge, which went on to be a New York Times bestseller. Judge Ponsor received the Legal Writing Institute’s 2015 “Golden Pen” award for the high quality of his legal writing. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts and continues to handle substantial judicial duties while working on his next novel.

Peter Manus, Novelist and Professor of Law

New England Law - New Headshots Spring 2016

Professor Manus teaches Administrative Law, Contemporary Property Concepts, Environmental Advocacy, Environmental Justice, Environmental Law, Environmental Theory and Politics, Property, and Constitutional Law. He directs the Environmental Advocacy Project for the law school’s Center for Law and Social Responsibility. He joined the New England Law faculty in 1992 after serving as an associate at the Boston law firms of Goodwin, Procter and Peabody & Arnold. He has written numerous articles analyzing the environmental movement and is coauthor of several books on environmental law. He regularly engages in environmental projects on a pro bono basis, often with the assistance of interested students. His novel FICKLE has recently been published in its second edition by Diversion Books, and his novel FIVE DEAD MEN AND A WOMAN is nearing its publication date.