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Remembering David C. Baldus




New York Times Commentary

“David C. Baldus, whose pioneering research on race and the death penalty came within a vote of persuading the Supreme Court to make fundamental changes in the capital justice system, died on Monday at his home in Iowa City. He was 75. …Professor Baldus, a longtime faculty member at the University of Iowa College of Law, and two colleagues, Charles Pulaski and George Woodworth, set out to test that assumption. Their study examined more than 2,000 murders in Georgia, controlling for some 230 variables. The study’s findings have often been misunderstood. They did not show that blacks were significantly more likely to be sentenced to death than whites. What the study found was that people accused of killing white victims were four times as likely to be sentenced to death as those accused of killing black victims. In other words, a death sentence often hinged not on the race of the defendant but on the race of the victim.” [Source: David Baldus Memorial, NY Times, 14 June 2011]

University of Iowa College of Law Commentary

David C. Baldus, the Joseph B. Tye Professor of Law at the University of Iowa, died peacefully at home on Monday, June 13, 2011, after a lengthy battle with cancer. … Professor Baldus was an outstanding scholar, a beloved teacher, and a powerful voice for justice. He pioneered the use of statistical methods in legal research, and he was a world-renowned expert in the administration of the death penalty in the United States.  He continued this important work until just days before his death, leaving instructions for its completion when his health deteriorated suddenly. David Baldus died as he lived, with grace, quiet dignity and great courage.” [source – College of Law Blog]

Memorial Service

A memorial service will be held at 1:30pm Sunday, July 10, 2011 at Lensing Funeral Home, 605 Kirkwood Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52240. On-line condolences and memories may be directed to LensingFuneral.com. Another memorial service will be held at the University of Iowa College of Law in late summer or early fall.

Remembering David Baldus

Below are memories others have shared about David Baldus.

  • “A great and decent man has died; scholar, researcher, teacher, colleague and friend, David Baldus. He and his wife, Joyce Carman, were special friends of Mary and me. And the memories I like to recall at this time are not just of our conversations in his office or mine, or when waiting for the coffee to brew in the faculty lounge, but of our times together each summer on their pontoon boat on the Coralville Reservoir.” ~ Nicholas Johnson [source]
  • “Dave had a unique genius for digging into masses of messy factual information and discovering crucial human forces at work behind the purportedly impersonal administration of criminal law.” ~ Anthony G. Amsterdam [source]
  • “[His] pioneering research on race and the death penalty came within a vote of persuading the Supreme Court to make fundamental changes in the capital justice system…” ~ Adam Liptak, The New York Times [source]
  • “David Baldus was an outstanding scholar and teacher. … He brought to his teaching and research tireless energy, a strong desire to help younger scholars as they began their own research, and dedication to an unwavering belief in pursuing justice. He was frequently recognized with honors for his work, and was the recipient of grants from a number of agencies.” ~ Memorial Obituary [source]
  • “Dave was, and will always be, an inspiration to those of us fortunate enough to have known him. He was a brilliant lawyer and scholar who worked to bring justice and decency not just to the application of the law, but to institutions of all kinds. I was never a law student, but Dave taught me about the law and, by example, about how to live with courage and compassion. I’ll miss his counsel and his friendship.” ~  Osha Gray Davidson [source]
  • “In 1983 David C. Baldus, along with Charles A. Pulaski and George Woodworth, published a study examining the presence of racial discrimination in death penalty sentencing. The study analyzed over 2000 murder cases occurring in the state of Georgia in the 1970s. The cases examined by Baldus all occurred between two United States Supreme Court cases involving Georgia: Furman v. Georgia (1972) and McCleskey v. Kemp (1987). … Baldus found that defendants accused of killing white victims were 4.3 times more likely to receive the death penalty than defendants accused of killing black victims.” Wikipedia [source]
  • “I first met David in 1990 when I began working at the College of Law. Over the 20 years since then, I’d kept in touch with David and Joyce. I found David’s fusion of passion, compassion, and the strong use of his keen intellect to be somewhat awe inspiring. He’s one of those rare people who has made an enduring positive impact on the world we live in.” Greg Johnson [source]

Page Visits

On 8 Mar 2020, there was a renewed interest in this page, mostly from site visitors residing in India. The maps below show recent page visits as of 9 Mar 2020.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com