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May 28, 2008

OSU Dean becomes the new (interim) Ohio Attorney General

Rogersx200 Of course, this breaking Ohio legal news is more central to my universe than to the broader sentencing world.  Still, everyone involved in lawyering and legal education should find this development interesting:

Nancy Hardin Rogers, dean of the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law has been named interim Ohio attorney general this morning by Gov. Ted Strickland.

She will serve as an interim replacement until voters choose a replacement for Marc Dann in the Nov. 4 election to serve the remainder of Dann's term until early 2011. She became dean in August 2001 after serving two years as vice provost for academic administration at OSU.  Her law degree is from Yale.  “She is a person of great accomplishment who is widely admired by her colleagues,” Strickland said, adding that she will bring “dignity, professionalism and focus” to the office.

Strickland said Rogers has no interest in running for the office, but rather is being brought in for six months to “right the ship in the attorney general's office.”  She plans to return to Ohio State after the November election.

Because I respect new AG Rogers so much, I will surely have a hard time objectively assessing her work in her new (interim) job.  Still, I expect that there will be some significant legal and political issues relating to crime and justice (particularly with regards to the death penalty) that are likely to cross her desk before she returns to the ivory tower.  I cannot help in this setting to be reminded of the old Chinese curse/proverb: "May you live in interesting times."

UPDATE:  This editorial from the Cincinnati Enquirer may pay new Ohio AG Rogers the ultimate complement in the course of lauding Governor Strickland's choice:

The governor said he would make his choice based on maturity, integrity, experience and management skills – and apparently he meant it.  Nancy Rogers seems an exact opposite of Marc Dann in nearly every meaningful respect.

May 28, 2008 at 10:41 AM | Permalink


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Tracked on May 28, 2008 9:36:57 PM


What an honor. In a couple of months she'll be able to add "executioner" to her list of career accomplishments.

Posted by: | May 28, 2008 11:16:54 AM

Sad indeed. But perhaps this latest attempt to emerge from her dad's shadow will finally get her over the hump.

Posted by: | May 28, 2008 11:24:25 AM


I assume OSU will have enough sense to make you the new dean.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 28, 2008 11:50:05 AM

"Still, I expect that there will be some significant legal and political issues relating to crime and justice (particularly with regards to the death penalty) that are likely to cross her desk before she returns to the ivory tower."

On the death penalty, I suggest she follow the lead of Cal AG Moonbeam: just let the career folks do their job.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | May 28, 2008 12:10:40 PM

I think you mean leave the executions to those unidentified, Mr. Scheidegger.

John Jefferson

Posted by: | May 28, 2008 12:31:42 PM

Criminal law professor Alan Michaels is the new interim dean at Moritz. Prof. Berman couldn't accept it if he was asked - too busy blogging.

Posted by: Narcolepsy | May 28, 2008 12:41:54 PM


Blogging is neat. Being dean is neater. Except for all the money-raising you have to do.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 28, 2008 12:44:45 PM

Can someone explain why they are called “Executions.” This makes it sound like a contract.

Wouldn’t it be better to refer to them as “killing.”

Posted by: S.cotus | May 28, 2008 12:51:52 PM

As a former student (Civil Proc.) of Ms. Rogers, I am very disappointed that she would agree to do something requiring her involvement in executions, which is what being Ohio AG requires at the moment.

Posted by: | May 28, 2008 12:56:55 PM

You're right, 12:56, we should insist that all who oppose the death penalty refuse to hold positions where they could actually bring this anti-death stance to bear on the process. That makes sense.

Posted by: | May 28, 2008 1:06:03 PM

As another former student, I too am disappointed, but not suprised. I can't help but think that if she had just learned how to teach Civil Pro correctly none of this Dean and AG stuff would have ever happened. I suspect she will be a good temporary figurehead as AG - and stand by professionally/passively during the executions. Amazing where being the daughter of someone famous (former Sec'y of State William Rogers - who would be much less likely to stand by in any situation) can take you. She does indeed belong back in the ivory tower - confined to an anteroom someplace.

Posted by: | May 28, 2008 1:33:17 PM

Do we know that AG Rogers is opposed to the death penalty? Maybe she is, but it seems to me that 1:06:03 assumes as much and I am wondering if he/she knows this for certain.

Posted by: DEJ | May 28, 2008 1:33:37 PM


"Executions" is usually used for a procedure that follows due process which involves 10 years' worth of appeals and a trial by a jury of the defendant's peers. Killing is a more general term which can include the illegal kind which doesn't involves years of appeals by the victim. Nor am I aware of any convicted murderer who offered the victim a jury trial.

In a manner of speaking, one might say that an execution is the fulfillment of a contract, the social contract that stipulates that people give up their claim of unlimited freedom in exchange for some security. When someone commits murder, he is violating that social contract by re-asserting his freedom to commit murder. He is also destroying the social contract between the State and the victim which required the former to offer security to the latter. As that is the case, the State has the right to demand redress for the violation of these contracts in the form of having the police round up the guilty party and sue him in a court of law for breach of contract. If the defendant is found to be in breach, he deserves whatever penalty stipulated in the contract. In 37 states in the country, that penalty is death.

Posted by: realist | May 28, 2008 1:34:28 PM

Don't worry. Her involvement is mitigated by the OSU law clinic's involvement in suits on behalf of inmates against the state prison system that the OAG defends.

Posted by: Narcolepsy | May 28, 2008 1:34:29 PM

William Rogers, Nixon's Sec'y of State from '69 to '73, "stood by" while Henry Kissinger usurped almost all of his authority, so perhaps it is a family thing.

It would be nice to see her use the opportunity for something better than that.

Posted by: Bill Arthur | May 28, 2008 1:44:02 PM

I must admit I'm disheartened by most of these comments. What a bunch of jerks.

Nancy Rogers is a perfect choice for interim AG. She is a woman of tremendous character and integrity. Frankly, I doubt that the death penalty has anything to do with her being given this position. Governor Strickland needed someone who could restore the AG's office after all the recent damage from Dann and his cohorts. I know people who work in the AG's office, and it has been a very difficult few months. For them, Nancy Rogers will be a breath of fresh air.

Why people would use this comment thread to make snide comments about Rogers' father is beyond me.

Posted by: | May 28, 2008 4:58:44 PM

Actually, Nancy Rogers's father was Clifford Hardin, Secretary of Agriculture. It was her father-in-law, William Rogers, who served as Attorney General and the Secretary of State.

Posted by: | May 28, 2008 5:03:19 PM

No, Mr. Jefferson, I meant what I said. The career attorneys in a state AGs office are not "unidentified." Their names are right on the covers of the briefs, for anyone who cares to read them.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | May 28, 2008 6:03:28 PM

For what it's worth (considering that she is identified as a democrat), the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that Rogers contributed $1000 to Taft's 1998 gubernatorial campaign, and that her daughter, Kimberly Robinson, is a clerk for Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Moyer.

Posted by: Bill Arthur | May 29, 2008 9:08:30 AM

I had understood her to be a Republican but that appears to be incorrect. Her husband did give $1K to Hillary.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 29, 2008 12:02:39 PM

From the Governor's perspective it is hard to think of any safer appointment as a caretaker AG. Law school dean screams "technocratic competence" while also pre-presuming some proven management ability.

As far as the word "execution" goes, the term, of course, is derived from "execute" which means "to carry out." An execution of the carrying out of a legal judgment. In the death penalty context people understand what this means. Many people in civil cases are horrified, however, to learn that seizing tangible property in fulfillment of a judicial finding that money is owed is also called an "execution".

Likewise, many estate planning and corporate clients are a bit miffed that lawyers call the act of a piece of a paper an "execution."

Posted by: ohwilleke | May 30, 2008 1:47:28 PM

As a professional outside the legal field I am a little shocked to say the least at the petty and uninformed discourse about the new AG for Ohio. Is this the best educated legal professionals can do? Bickering about how the new AG will affect ongoing debate about capital punishment appears to be pure speculation and from a limited and uninformed viewpoint. Supposedly educated people blathering on like teenagers trying to associate AG Rogers with political figures from 30 years ago. Associations that some of the bloggers don't even have factually correct. Her record and integrity seem to be highly regarded. The previous AG administration seems to have been among the worst examples of failed public servants and the only premise that bears scrutiny is her fitness to clean up the mess and restore public trust. I appears by all accounts Nancy Hardin Rogers is up to the task. I can only hope that the evidence of immaturity in this blog is just that, inexperience and the individuals represented here will look to their mentors for a more reasoned approach as they pursue their legal careers.

Posted by: Harthakmc | Jul 9, 2008 10:48:54 AM

Great Job! Great Site! Very Interesting! Thanks!

Posted by: מוסך פורד | Jan 6, 2011 6:22:31 AM

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