Last updated on: 9/4/2008 | Author:

Paul Finkelman, PhD Biography

President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy at Albany Law School
Con to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Legal?"

“There are in fact six strong arguments against sending McVeigh off to his final reward.

First, there is the traditional ethical argument that the state should never take life when it can avoid doing so… McVeigh does not threaten anyone now, so we need not execute him. Why should society reduce itself to McVeigh’s level? His acts are unspeakable — he took the lives of people for no reason, other than to make a statement. Do we do anything different by taking his life?

Second, McVeigh is certainly not a threat to anyone in the future… Third, executing McVeigh will fit into McVeigh’s game plan… Fourth, executing McVeigh will also not serve as a deterrent to similar crimes… Fifth, executing him prevents us from ever learning the full truth about his co-conspirators… This leads to the last argument against his execution. Putting McVeigh to death may very well create a martyr… [Not executing McVeigh] would also send a message that the United States will not lower itself to the level of the Timmy McVeigh’s of the world.”

“Why We Shouldn’t Execute Timothy McVeigh,” Forum, Apr. 2001

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy, Albany Law School, 2006-present
  • Senior Fellow, Government Law Center, Albany Law School, 2006-present
  • Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Tulsa College of Law, 1999-2006
  • John F. Seiberling Professor, University of Akron School of Law, 1998-1999
  • Baker & Hostetler Visiting Professor, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, 1997-1998
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor, Hamline Law School, 1997
  • University of Miami, Charlton W. Tebeau Visiting Research Professor, 1996
  • Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 1995
  • Visiting Associate Professor, Virginia Tech, 1992-1995
  • Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School, 1990-1992
  • Assistant Professor, History, SUNY Binghamton, 1984-1990
  • Assistant Professor, History, University of Texas, 1978-1984
  • Fellow in Law and Humanities, Harvard Law School, 1982-1983
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Texas Law School, 1982
  • Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellow, Washington University, 1977-1978
  • Visiting Lecturer, History, University of California, Irvine, 1976-1977
  • PhD, University of Chicago, 1976
  • MA, University of Chicago, 1972
  • BA, Syracuse University, 1971
  • Listed as one of the ten most cited legal historians in Brian Leiter’s Law School Rankings’ “Most Cited Law Professors by Specialty, 2000-2007,” 2007