Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Extreme Punishment: The Chilling True Story Of Dan Markel's Murder

In October, I blogged the release of the fascinating book Extreme Punishment: The Chilling True Story of Acclaimed Law Professor Dan Markel's Murder (Oct. 9, 2022). The author, Steve Epstein, a litigation partner at Poyner Spruill (Raleigh, North Carolina), has published excerpts of the book on The Faculty Lounge:

  1. Extreme Punishment 4Friday, July 18, 2014, 10:50 a.m.

What happened in FSU law professor Dan Markel’s garage that fateful summer morning shook the Sunshine State’s capital city, Tallahassee, the entire Florida State community, and the legal academy writ large to its core.  Why on earth would a revered criminal law professor—the co-founder of PrawfsBlawg and prolific punishment theory scholar—be shot and killed in broad daylight?  Was this the act of a deranged madman or part of a coordinated plot to eliminate him?  And if the latter, who could possibly have been angry and desperate enough to do that?

To those who knew him—and there were literally thousands who did—they can recall with precision to this day, eight years later, exactly where they were and what they were doing when they received the news of Dan’s horrific slaying.  There aren’t many murder cases that result in international media attention and a cult-like following of people who devour every TV documentary, podcast, YouTube video, and news story about even the most minute pieces of evidence related to the murder or developments in the criminal case.  Yet something about this story—many things likely—have struck a chord that resonates with ordinary people as much, if not more, than those inhabiting the legal world and faculty lounge.

In EXTREME PUNISHMENT, I rewind the clock all the way back to the 1970s, when Dan Markel was growing up in Montreal and Toronto, and the 1980s, when Wendi Adelson was being raised alongside her two brothers in Coral Springs, Florida by her former schoolteacher mom, Donna, and dentist dad, Harvey.  Despite having grown up worlds apart, their paths to becoming law professors were incredibly similar, both having experienced transformative post-college fellowships and a master’s education at Cambridge University prior to attending law school.

With two Harvard degrees, a Ninth Circuit clerkship, and four published law review articles in hand, Dan had hoped and expected to land a position at an elite law school.  That he ended up at FSU—ultimately obtaining a job for Wendi there in a new legal clinic—is actually a huge part of why he ended up with two bullets in his head in July 2014.  Over the next few weeks, I will share additional snippets from EXTREME PUNISHMENT, telling just enough of this fascinating story to whet your appetite and convince you to read it all.

  1. Do Memories of the Meat Market Still Send a Chill Down Your Spine?
  2. If at First You Don’t Succeed
  3. If Only—Dan Markel’s Near Miss at UM Law
  4. Blogosphere Pioneer and Pied Piper
  5. Don’t Be Late
  6. A Powerful Narcotic
  7. Sneak Attack
  8. RIP Prof. Daniel Eric Markel

Nearly 8 ½ years have passed since that fateful July morning. The criminal justice system that Dan Markel cared so deeply about—and spent nearly every day thinking, writing, and speaking about—has moved forward in deliberate fashion, albeit at an unfortunately slow pace. Investigators with the Tallahassee Police, special agents with the FBI, and prosecutors in the State Attorney’s Office have done yeoman’s work piecing together how the murder plot unfolded and identifying those who played a part in Dan’s vicious slaying. Four individuals have been charged and three convicted, with additional arrests and trials likely still to come. Full and complete justice for Dan Markel and his family may finally be at hand.

Thanks so much to The Faculty Lounge for giving me this platform to promote EXTREME PUNISHMENT and share vignettes from Dan Markel’s life and career.  Dan touched so many in the legal academy.  It is my fervent hope that the story I’ve told honors his memory and serves as a lasting legacy for everyone who knew and cared for him.

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