Dan Markel

No major breaks have been announced in the investigation of the tragic death of Professor Dan Markel. Law enforcement authorities have not publicly identified any suspects. Dan’s former wife, Wendi Adelson, is working with the police and is both devastated at his loss and fearful for herself and their children, according to her lawyer. We extend our condolences and sympathies to her and to all of Dan’s family and friends at this time.

Until there are further developments in the case, let’s focus on Dan’s life rather than his death. I shared some of my own memories of Dan yesterday. Here are additional recollections of Dan from around the country….

Before we get to them, a quick announcement. Tamara Demko, a longtime close friend of Dan’s from Harvard Law School and Tallahassee, has organized a memorial fund for the benefit of his sons. You can donate here.

UPDATE (7/23/2014, 12:45 p.m.): A quick update from Demko:

This is now not the only way to honor Danny’s memory. Additional memorial donation options now include:

– Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, 1-800-387-1479, www.ccfc.ca
– Canadian Magen David Adom, 416-780- 0034, 1-800-731-2848, www.cmdai.org
– Shomrei Torah Synagogue, 4858 Kerry Forest Parkway, Tallahassee, FL 32309, 1-850- 893-9674, www.shomreitorahonline.org
– Harvard Hillel, http://hillel.harvard.edu/support-hillel

I encourage everyone to honor our Danny in any way that feels right to them.

Now, on to the tributes. There have been so many wonderful ones posted around the web that it would be impossible to mention all of them. Here are a few that were brought specifically to our attention, either posted on the web or emailed to us directly.

1. Remembering Dan Markel by Orin Kerr

Professor Kerr, a fellow scholar of criminal law and prominent legal blogger, recalls Dan’s gregariousness, generosity, and intensity of scholarly commitment.

2. Dan Markel, legal scholar, dies at 41 by Abigail Shrier

Shrier, who met her husband thanks to Dan, remembers Dan’s heart full of love and love for being Jewish.

3. Remembering Professor Dan Markel by Aaron Gott

Gott, a former research assistant to Markel, describes what it was like to work with Markel and to have him as a mentor and champion.

4. Professor David Wilkins of Harvard Law School, who taught and mentored Dan, sent us this tribute:

This really is breaking my heart. I’ve known Dan since he was a first year student, was one of his references when he went on the teaching market and for various other academic positions and honors. I kept in touch with Dan — or more accurately, Dan kept in touch with me — through the years, telling me about his wedding, the birth of his children, and his many professional achievements. Dan was a person of enormous energy, intelligence, and perhaps most of all, great personal warmth. He never failed to cheerfully inquire about how things were going with me, even when things were more difficult for him than they should have been — although I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t know how difficult until reading your post. I will miss him greatly, as will so many others whose lives he touched over the years, as is clear from the outpouring of remembrances you have collected. Unlike many academics, Dan loved people as much as he loved ideas. But most of all, he loved sharing his ideas with other people, even if they disagreed. My memory of these shared conversations will stay with me always.

5. Ryan Witte, a former student of Dan’s who is now at Boies Schiller in Miami, emailed us this account:

I can definitely attest that Dan was “tough.” We had a few run-ins back when I was his student. One quick story — once, early in the semester, while the class was engaged in a discussion about something, I turned around to ask a classmate where we were in the book. Dan called my name — “Mr. Witte” (we had to use “Mr.” or “Ms.” in his class) — and I proceeded to contribute to the discussion without skipping a beat. When I finished my answer, he looked at me and said, “I was trying to tell you to be quiet, not to respond.”

A few days later, I think I was 5 minutes late, he called me out in front of the class and made me wait until the class took a mid-morning break before I came back. Worrying that he perceived me as a goof-off, I wanted to earn his respect. As part of the class, we were required to post on a discussion board about different aspects of criminal law. I took the opportunity to write a short essay about the drawbacks of shaming punishments, particularly in small group settings, and cited to one of Dan’s articles. About 10 minutes after he read it, he sent the class a short apology. I think it was one of the most validating experiences of my 1L year. We obviously buried the hatchet quickly, and he was always on my visitation list when I found myself in Tallahassee after graduating.

His death really is a tragedy.

6. Finally, Ryan Wechsler, another former student of Dan’s, shared these words with us:

“You know, they say never be late with a cup of coffee in your hand.”

Two seconds prior, I had stumbled through the door of Professor Markel’s Criminal Procedure: Adjudication class, thermos in hand, one or two minutes late. The door to our classroom was noisy and the audience was limited to about ten, so all eyes were on me as I abruptly broke through. Under Markel’s scrutiny, I immediately blurted my excuse: traffic. My excuse was true, but illegitimate, as Markel’s immediate and witty rebuttal proved. I should have skipped making coffee.

That’s how Professor Markel was. He was brutally honest and impressively assertive. For those reasons, I think a lot of students misunderstood him, but it was for those reasons, along with countless others, that I admired him. And, more pertinently, he is one the best teachers I have ever had, if not the very best….

[H]e made me smarter. All law professors make their students smarter, sure, but there was something special about Markel. He challenged me. He challenged me think outside the box and into a whole different realm on a topic (criminal law) that I have always had a bit of a knack and even more passion for. I was a frequent contributor in both classes I took with him at FSU Law, and because of him, I grew intellectually every time I raised my hand. He would put me on the spot and unpack my thought process like no professor ever has. Going back and forth with him were the greatest moments of “learning” that I recall ever experiencing. I can elaborate a lot on it, but I’ll be blunt: Markel taught me how to think on a higher level.

There are plenty of great things I can say about Professor Markel. I was fortunate enough to develop a rather close relationship with him over the past two years. I have always been proud to call him a mentor, because that’s precisely what he was to me, whether he would have accepted that title or not. Last fall, I received an offer for publication in a specialty journal, and he was one of the first people I told. I specifically remember how eager and excited I was to tell him. It’s revealing to me of how strongly I regarded him. He was someone I always wanted to impress. I really looked up to him.

So did we all. Rest in peace, Dan. Baruch dayan emet.

Dan Markel Memorial Fund [Go Fund Me]
Police Seek Clues in Fatal Shooting of Widely Known Criminal Law Professor in Florida [New York Times]
Dan Markel died from gunshot wound to the head [Tallahassee Democrat]
Slain Canadian law professor a victim of targeted attack, Florida police say [Toronto Globe and Mail]

Earlier: A Prominent Law Professor Is Shot At Home And Killed
Professor Dan Markel: Some Personal Recollections