Four Rutgers Law School Professors - Vera Bergelson, Katie Eyer, David Noll, and Ellen P. Goodman, have been awarded the Greg Lastowka Award for Scholarly Excellence. The Lastowka Award, started in 2016, is named in memory of Rutgers Law School Professor Greg Lastowka, an expert in cyber law, who died of cancer in 2015. Bergelson and Eyer were honored with the award in 2018. Noll and Goodman received the award in 2019.
The Lastowka Award winners receive a prize of $1,500 each to be used on their scholarly research in a way that contributes to the scholarly life of the law school. Rutgers Law School has professors who are nationally-recognized scholars in their fields. The award is given to professors who are nominated and selected by their peers.
Distinguished Professor of Law Vera Bergelson
My area of scholarship is criminal law theory. I received the Lastowka award in 2018 for a few articles published that year. Their subject matter ranged from homicide to public welfare offenses to human trafficking to consent to pain to the defense of duress. The article about duress was particularly important to me. For quite some time, I felt the need to explore whether duress has a legitimate place in criminal law as an independent complete excuse for crimes committed under the threat of violence. What bothered me was the concern that, if we consistently recognize fear as the basis for the defense, we would have to excuse any kind and amount of harm inflicted under fear.
As I worked through my paper, reading numerous cases involving claims of duress and questioning my intuitions, I was thinking about the victims of coerced crimes—all those who were beaten, tortured and murdered—and about those who beat, tortured or murdered them and later denied responsibility because they did all that out of fear. In the end, I concluded that duress should not be conceptualized as a defense of excuse or any complete defense; at best, it should be a partial defense only and as such it may be superfluous and not needed at all.
Professor Katie Eyer
Professor Eyer was recognized for her recent work in equality law, which included work on cutting-edge issues of LGBT employment law, as well as work addressing race, legal history and constitutional law. Professor Eyer describes her work as “engaging with important contemporary issues of equality, through the lens of legal history.” Recent work has focused on challenging dominant understandings of how social movements create constitutional equality change (through eroding discriminatory beliefs, often via rational basis review, rather than through rights paradigms), as well as on arguments for securing employment discrimination protections for the LGBT community under Title VII. Professor Eyer’s recent articles have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Wake Forest Law Review, Washington Law Review and others and she is an elected member of the American Law Institute.
“I am profoundly gratified and honored to win this award. Greg Lastowka was a dedicated scholar and a kind and generous human being, and I am honored to win an award bearing his name. The honor is especially significant, given the deep level of scholarly excellence among my Rutgers colleagues. Thank you to the selection committee for considering my work.”
Professor Ellen P. Goodman
I’m working on a book on smart city governance, dealing with the threats and opportunities artificial intelligence, big data, ubiquitous connectivity, and surveillance present to democratic governance and individual liberty. I’m also working on a number of grant projects all concerning digital platforms. One, funded by the Knight Foundation, concerns transparency policies for social media platforms. This project connects media and communications scholarship about information processing with information transparency policies and theories. Another, funded by the Democracy Fund, concerns new ways of regulating digital platforms and the digital economy consistent with the First Amendment.
Greg Lastowka and I were close colleagues and collaborators. We launched the Rutgers Institute of Information Policy & Law together and I benefitted immeasurably from his friendship and his ideas. Greg was one of the most creative thinkers I’ve ever met, as well as being one of the warmest human beings. To be recognized in his name is a great honor and personally moving. That Rutgers Law has established this award to honor Greg is just another indication of its scholarly and humane values.
Professor David Noll
Professor David Noll won the award for work including his recently published article MDL as Public Administration. He explained: “My article explores federal multidistrict litigation, a once obscure system that is now used to resolve the most complex litigation in the federal courts. Billions of dollars of settlements flow through the MDL system every year. My article responds to arguments that Congress and the Supreme Court should adopt a special set of rules for MDL by showing how MDL borrows from laws like the Social Security Act. Like those laws, the MDL statute gives power to district judges so that they can devise new procedures for problems that cannot be addressed in advance of specific cases."