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Saturday, July 19, 2014

We Have Lost Our Beloved Friend, Dan Markel

We write this together, all of us, as a community. Our friend Dan Markel has been taken from us, suddenly and terribly. His law school, the Florida State University College of Law, will issue an announcement in due time. We do not have all the details, but our understanding is that Dan was shot and killed. Painful as it is to say that, and as little as we know, the early news reports left enough room for speculation that it seemed necessary to say that much. The terrible, senseless nature of his loss makes it all the harder to bear. 

All of us here on Prawfsblawg live in different places and come from different backgrounds. What we have in common, with many others, is Dan. His network of friends and loved ones--and he had a great deal of love for all his many friends, as we did and do for him--is enormous. His boundless energy was at the center of this community; it made it run, it gave it life. We are stunned and bereaved by his loss, and our thoughts go to his two little boys, who were precious to him, and to his family. Many, many people loved him and are grieving today. Baruch dayan emet.

Matt Bodie

Rick Garnett

Paul Horwitz

Rick Hills

Lyrissa Lidsky

Ethan Leib

Orly Lobel

Jonathan Simon

Steve Vladeck

Howard Wasserman



Posted by Paul Horwitz on July 19, 2014 at 05:50 PM | Permalink


I was among Dan's first students at FSU in 2006. He was a tremendous teacher who genuinely seemed to love his profession. I am very much shaken right now upon hearing about his passing. RIP, Professor Markel. I pray that Wendi and the kids are comforted by God's love during this time.

Posted by: Paul Washington | Jul 19, 2014 6:07:05 PM

Danny, You made a real difference in my life, and I will miss you terribly. Thank you for all you did for our academic community and for your friends, every single day. We will, all of us, look out for Linc and Ben and let them know how incredibly special their dad was to so many.

Posted by: Lisa McElroy | Jul 19, 2014 6:08:47 PM

Only feelings of disbelief and sadness. RIP, Dan.

Posted by: Paul Secunda | Jul 19, 2014 6:13:30 PM

This is so horrible it can scarcely be believed. Dan was a lively and energetic community builder, with whom I shared many a conversation at conferences and online. I'm sure I speak on behalf of all the seasonal guests at Dan's online salon when I say this is a huge personal and professional loss and send much love and hugs to his family and close friends.

Posted by: Hadar Aviram | Jul 19, 2014 6:29:09 PM

Thanks for this lovely post that captures well both the shocking tragedy of losing Dan as well as a few of the many reasons that we were all lucky to know him. Dan always brought people together and made the legal-academic world a more fun and interesting place, especially at the PrawfsFest! workshops and conference happy hours he organized. I'll miss the hell out of him, as I know so many others will too. May you rest in peace, Danny.

Posted by: DF | Jul 19, 2014 6:39:00 PM

This is just horrible. My deepest sympathies to Dan's family and friends. Rest in peace.


Posted by: shg | Jul 19, 2014 6:40:33 PM

Like everyone else, I am devastated by this. If you wouldn't mind and have access to the information, please post regarding or link to arrangements in Toronto and Tallahassee, as well as the family's request regarding memorials. Thanks. Jeff

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Jul 19, 2014 7:13:41 PM

Memorial service is Sunday at 12 pm at Shomrei Torah in Tallahassee, Florida.

Posted by: Orly Lobel | Jul 19, 2014 7:22:28 PM

This is shocking & devastating news. Dan was a force of nature - full of life, ideas, ambition, love. The idea that he won't be able to see his boys grow up is heartrending.

Posted by: dave hoffman | Jul 19, 2014 7:28:05 PM

I am in utter shock and am finding it difficult to process this grim reality.

Professor Markel, who insisted that I refer to him as "Dan" upon graduating, was my favorite professor at FSU Law. I truly savored every seminar, every class, every discussion, and every office visit I had with him. He was a true intellectual who had a unique way of explaining difficult legal concepts to future lawyers.

Moreover, he cared deeply for his students, even after they graduated. For example, he happily served as reference for me and submitted several letters of recommendations to prospective employers during my first year out of law school.

He is one of the few individuals I "followed" on Facebook because he is one of the few who posted status updates that were thoughtful and engaging.

I always enjoyed seeing photos of him and his beautiful boys and reading about the love he had for them.

Professor Markel, thank you for being a mentor, a role model, and an incredibly inspiring human being to me, and so many others.

I will miss you tremendously.

Posted by: Asaf Sarno | Jul 19, 2014 7:45:50 PM

I didn't know Dan well but admired his pioneering work in the blawging world. A terrible loss. He and his family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Dave Levine | Jul 19, 2014 8:06:46 PM

Truly one of the profession's best and brightest. There really are no words.

Posted by: Steve Hogan | Jul 19, 2014 8:07:09 PM

I have a very short post up @ Just Security -- http://justsecurity.org/13086/dan-markel/ -- on what Dan meant to me. Blogging about it seemed somehow entirely appropriate.

Dan was a great--and benevolent--force.

Posted by: Steve Vladeck | Jul 19, 2014 8:25:57 PM

Amazing man; a truly tragic loss for us all.

Posted by: Margaret Ryznar | Jul 19, 2014 8:36:51 PM

Just heartbreaking. Dan, his family, and his many friends are in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: John Greabe | Jul 19, 2014 9:16:14 PM

I'm sad, angry, and thinking about Dan's commitment to retributive justice.

Posted by: Jason Solomon | Jul 19, 2014 9:54:17 PM

I am so sad and shocked to hear this, and my thoughts go out to Dan's family and friends.

Posted by: Chris Lund | Jul 19, 2014 9:59:16 PM

My name is Paul Clarke and I am a reporter with the Toronto Star.

I understand Dan had many good friends and I want to first express my condolences.

I have been told that he has roots in Toronto and and funeral will be held here very shortly. I am trying to get a hold of anyone who knew Dan well and can share his legacy with me and wider community in Toronto.

I can be reached at 416-869-4350 or by email at pclarke@thestar.ca


Paul Clarke

Posted by: Paul Clarke | Jul 19, 2014 10:02:58 PM

Terrible. Dan was always kind, generous, and supportive, even of people with no standing in the field. An awful loss.

Posted by: Matt | Jul 19, 2014 10:07:49 PM

Am at a complete loss for words. RIP :(

Posted by: Anthony | Jul 19, 2014 10:25:15 PM

Dan was such a great presence at conferences and was very encouraging to junior professors. He was extremely gracious when I guest blogged here, welcoming me to the world of law blogging without pretense. This is a senseless and terrible loss. I'll be raising a glass in honor of Dan tonight.

Posted by: Josh Douglas | Jul 19, 2014 11:08:27 PM

Like many of you, I have been really shaken by this terrible loss. I have been working on the paper that I workshopped at this year's Prawfsfest at Pepperdine, and have heard Danny's voice in my head all week asking me "Is it a Puzzle paper or a Problem paper?" I just yesterday was looking through the extensive generous notes he provided on my draft paper, and the various additional suggestions he gave me for how to re-conceptualize the paper. What a horrible loss to the legal academy, as well as of course his sons, friends and loved ones. May his memory be a blessing to all who were lucky enough to be touched by his life. If anyone hears of a scholarship fund (or something similar) for his boys, please pass the information along.

Posted by: Victoria Schwartz | Jul 20, 2014 12:52:38 AM

Dan was the center of a remarkable network of wonderful people – he introduced me to many of the friends I hold dear today. As his own friend, Dan always made you feel as if you were the only person that mattered. He was always incredibly generous with his time, wise counsel, and genuine, warm attention. Danny, we will never forget you. You were a great man.

Posted by: Ben Depoorter | Jul 20, 2014 1:14:58 AM

Such a tragic, senseless loss. I admired Dan for his kindness, his intellect, his inclusiveness, and above all his unabashed devotion to his boys. If there is a Prawfs or other fund being put together for them, please do post information.

Posted by: Nadine Farid Johnson | Jul 20, 2014 2:14:46 AM

So sad to hear the news. Dan was the kind of person you could just meet once and feel like you'd known him a long time. He was so generous with his time and his mind, and, as so many have said, he built connections, networks, and institutions not out of a sense of self-aggrandizement, but out of what I can only call a desire to serve others. I know Dan had his share of troubles in the past couple of years. I only hope he has found peace.

Posted by: David Ball | Jul 20, 2014 4:52:37 AM

I'll mourn, as I often do, with my words, and then hope that this post and the associated comments stay at the top of the scroll for a week - a blogger's Shiva, as it were, and how appropriate in so many ways for Danny.

I am Jewish, raised Reform, not observant, not religious or theist in any traditional sense, but moderately well versed in literature, liturgy, and culture. Nevertheless, I have only seen here and on Facebook for the first time the phrase "Baruch Dayan Emet," meaning "blessed is the judge of truth," and have since learned it is prayer expressed upon hearing terrible news.

That's so Jewish because it says so much and so little, and is so capable of so many readings. For me, it doesn't say, in an attempt to explain this awful thing, that it was God's will, because how could a good God will this? Some others, I've seen today, understand "Baruch Dayan Emet" to be a statement of submission to something like a will of God. Sorry. I can't go there. The articulation of the following paradox actually goes back to the philosopher Pierre Bayle, but wise American rabbis like Harold Kushner and Harold Schulweis have suggested, in their own rationalizations of bad things happening to good people, that God can be all-good or all-powerful but not both. I prefer to think of the prayer as a statement of humility in the face of a world that poses just this paradox of ultimate goodness and ultimate power. If God is metaphor for all-good, there are indeed metaphors of Godliness that are appropriate to my memories of Danny - as love, as force, as mentor, as father, as friend, as sunshine, as moderate, as reason, as leader. No mere collection of chemicals and biophysics created a soul like Danny's; that was a gift of some singularity in the universe - our god is nameless and, as the Kabbalists say, Ein Sof, there is no end. If we feel that way, as rational and as skeptical as we might be, we can never ascribe to the certitude of atheism. Beyond the ritual, beyond the liturgy, beyond the history, beyond the metaphors, beyond the teleology, and even beyond the concept of mystery itself, there is no end.

The prayer doesn't tell me to accept that what has happened here is anything but evil manifest in the world. It simply reflects that however this world got put together, it was put together with the irreconcilable capacities, on one hand, for good and great lives like Danny's and, on the other, for cutting lives like those far too short by human acts of unspeakable evil. How are we supposed to come to terms with that?

If another metaphor for God is the Judge of Truth, and that metaphoric godliness is something to which we aspire, then it seems to me that we are telling ourselves never to be resigned to evil, to strive to make ourselves judges of truth, even as we acknowledge that any final reconciliation will exceed our reach. Because other than the blessing of Dan's life and his memory, there's nothing good today.

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Jul 20, 2014 6:12:44 AM

Dan was a great law professor colleague.
I am shocked and saddened.

Posted by: Thaddeus Mason Pope | Jul 20, 2014 7:49:36 AM

Dan so enriched our academic community, welcoming me, and I expect many others, to the world of legal academia with enthusiasm and joy. I hope that we can will find a suitable way to honor his contributions.

Posted by: Katy Kuh | Jul 20, 2014 9:03:26 AM

What a terrible, tragic loss to the academic community, FSU Law School, and most of all, to the people who knew and loved Dan. My deepest condolences go out to Linc, Ben, and Wendi and the rest of Dan's family and friends. I sincerely hope that the investigators on this case bring whoever committed this horrible, senseless crime to swift justice.

Posted by: Gennifer Bridges | Jul 20, 2014 9:10:58 AM

He was a great law professor because you could tell he was interested in how it was done, how to do it right, and most importantly saw you, the student, actually out there doing it.

I took two of his classes. We became friends. I graduated. I made some rude comments on here about politics. We stopped being friends but still kept in touch periodically.

He was a liver of life. A vibrant intelligence. Gone. We are the less for it.

I am sad.

Posted by: Bart | Jul 20, 2014 9:12:59 AM

Horrific, incomprehensible. I pray for Dan and his family. Baruch dayan emet; na mo ah mi to fu.

Posted by: David Law | Jul 20, 2014 9:14:23 AM

Dan was a remarkable man and I will miss him. I remember in 2009 when he invited my whole class into his home where we ate dinner with his family and critiqued each classmates' papers for hours. He treated his students like they were part of his family. I left his course with the impression that he not only wanted you to be the best attorney you could be, but also the best person you could be, including passionately serving your community.

Words cannot express how deeply Dan affected the people around him. The world has lost a great man and a truly brilliant legal mind.

Posted by: Joshua Brian | Jul 20, 2014 10:03:04 AM

What heartbreaking news. Dan and his work were full of such energy. I was just recently reading some of his courageous writing on retributivism and political transition. While his scholarship will continue to live and thrive on its own, it would also be wonderful to come together and celebrate it. Peace to all in these painful times.

Posted by: Mark Drumbl | Jul 20, 2014 10:09:01 AM

What terrible news, and what a terrible loss! My condolences to his family and loved ones.

Posted by: Ben Barros | Jul 20, 2014 10:27:08 AM

I am proud that my name is on this original post, which I am happy to see has produced an outpouring of support and tribute to our friend and colleague in this time of great sadness. Nothing better demonstrates Dan's success in building this community.

I also want to add my personal thoughts to that conversation. My scholarly career changed for the better when Dan invited me to join Prawfs in 2007 (first as a guest and then permanently). Professionally, I owe Dan more than I could ever recount or repay. Personally, he was a good friend and I am forever grateful for how he reached out to my family and me over our recent losses.

Alav Ha-sholom

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Jul 20, 2014 10:32:24 AM

This is such incredibly sad and tragic news. Dan has always been a shining example of what is best in his generation of law teachers and scholars--brilliant, kind, insightful, energetic. That continues to be the case. I am very sad, but proud to have known and been influenced by him.

Posted by: Gregory Bowman | Jul 20, 2014 11:26:23 AM

May his family, friends, and students find strength and be comforted.

Posted by: Adriane | Jul 20, 2014 11:28:06 AM

I'm so sorry to hear this. Dan was very kind and generous to me. He was smart and had quite a spark. He spoke often of his love for twin sons. My heart goes out to them and his other family and close friends.

Posted by: Jen Kreder | Jul 20, 2014 12:12:16 PM

Such sad news. Such a loss for all of us and our academic community.

Posted by: Miriam Cherry | Jul 20, 2014 12:31:50 PM

I just learned this horrible news and I am utterly shocked and horrifed. I met Danny in 2011 and he gave me the opportunity to blog here, as well. He was kind, funny, and just wonderful, as all of you note above. Terrible loss to our community and to the community of all humanity at large. Our world is bereft.

Posted by: Debbie Borman | Jul 20, 2014 1:04:28 PM

My name is Kelly Grant and I'm a reporter with The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto, Canada.

First, my deepest sympathies to you all on the loss of Dan. It sounds like he was a wonderful scholar, teacher, father and friend.

We're working on a story about Dan for tomorrow's paper. I would love to include remembrances from people who knew and loved him well. If any of you have time for an interview, I can be reached at the numbers below.

All the best,
Kelly Grant
The Globe and Mail
office: 416-585-5334
cell: 647-688-4214

Posted by: Kelly Grant | Jul 20, 2014 1:48:15 PM

One more comment (and I beg your indulgence - we revert to our base pathologies in times like this and mine is as manic expressive), but Howard's and other's posts reminded me of something.

As I was walking the dogs this morning from my home in Cambridge, MA, I could not get out of my mind Dan's place in the chain of causation in something as nominally trivial as the friends I've made in the morning off-leash park at the corner of Walden and Raymond Streets. By the magic of archives, you can read Dan's first PrawfsBlawg on April 5, 2005, while he was still a lawyer in Washington, DC, getting ready to head to FSU as an assistant professor. Back then, just a few blogs - now institutions like Volokh Conspiracy or Balkinization - were out there. In April 2005 I was still the GC of Great Lakes Chemical, living in Indianapolis, dipping my toes in academic authorship and figuring out what to do with my professional life when we closed the sale of the company. Somehow I found my way to PrawfsBlawg, and started commenting regularly and not anonymously. My first academic conference was the Law & Society Annual Meeting in Baltimore in 2006, just before I went to Tulane, and there Dan asked if I wanted to guest on the blog, and things took off career-wise from there. Among my fondest memories of my academic career is of the evening on a patio of some bar near the Inner Harbor in Baltimore where Dan and his PrawfsBlawg mates, the people who I had come to know virtually, came to life. They are still among my best friends in the academy.

In the complexity metaphor of the butterfly flapping its wings, there is no end (Ein Sof) to the chain of causation. Many of us are lawyers so we can quibble about proximateness, but it's likely that but for Dan I wouldn't be sitting at this desk in this house with this job, walking my dogs to meet those particular friends in that particular park.

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Jul 20, 2014 2:11:31 PM

Still stunned, shocked, and saddened by Dan's loss, I want to echo the beautiful words expressed by so many above. I knew Dan since law school, and he was remarkably supportive and instrumental in helping me to break into the legal academy years later -- including introducing me to many of you at an AALS Prawfs happy hour in 2009. I hadn't seen Dan in years, but he treated me like an ancient friend. I have posted some additional memories on my own faculty blog -- http://professors.nesl.edu/2014/07/in-memoriam-dan-markel-1972-2014.html.

My heart breaks for his family and friends, especially Ben and Lincoln. May his memory be for a blessing.

Posted by: Jordy Singer | Jul 20, 2014 2:27:05 PM

I still can't believe it's true. Dan was a true pioneer in the legal academy and his blogging, among his many achievements, was path-breaking in our industry. His legacy in our profession will be felt for years, especially as more of our writing and commentary is made on-line.

More importantly, Dan was a great person and a terrific dad. I'll never forget meeting him at the new law professors conference in 2005 and just instantly clicking with him. He was a great guy and he will be sorely missed.

Posted by: Mike McCann | Jul 20, 2014 2:52:28 PM


Posted by: Joe | Jul 20, 2014 3:28:45 PM

What a loss to our academic community and to Danny's family. He was as good a father as a person could be. And who could network better? Be more inclusive? More energetic? More intellectually honest and focused? Few of us cause significant ripples. Danny is surely one of those who have. What a treat for us all to have had him in our lives. Wherever Danny is, would anyone be surprised if he were organizing a discussion group? Neil Philip Cohen

Posted by: Neil Philip Cohen | Jul 20, 2014 4:30:09 PM

A terrible and senseless tragedy. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues.


Posted by: U_N | Jul 20, 2014 4:39:09 PM

Like many of you, I'm devastated by this tragic and senseless crime and am at a loss for words. Dan, you are and will forever be missed. RIP.

Posted by: Anita Anand | Jul 20, 2014 5:09:56 PM

I am deeply sad at the catastrophic loss of Dan's vibrant voice and incisive mind. Our understanding of criminal law, responsibility, and sentencing will be less without his insights and analysis. May God comfort his family and friends.

Posted by: Linda Meyer | Jul 20, 2014 5:27:19 PM

Such a profound, shocking, senseless loss. My heart goes out to Dan's children, family, and countless friends. May the outpouring of support here and elsewhere serve as testament to a life well-lived.

Posted by: Gregg Macey | Jul 20, 2014 5:36:48 PM

I'll add a couple words here if I may, albeit fairly cheesy ones. I was rereading The World According to Garp earlier this week, and I am thinking a good deal about one of Garp's nicknames: "Captain Energy." A good title for Dan, certainly: he had more sheer energy than just about anyone I know, and part of what I find painful right now is the simple feeling that one could have looked up fifty years from now and seen him pursuing things with undiminished verve and commitment, or gotten a "what's up" call from out of nowhere. He was a warm, generous guy. The academy has no shortage of introverts, but not him; an obvious reason so many people are so stunned right now is not just the suddenness of the loss, but that he simply knew and befriended so many, many people. He was deeply attached to his family, warm and downright gloopy about them. He was ambitious, as many driven people in this or any other profession are. But as all the tributes to his generosity suggest, and I think this is a tremendously valuable trait in an ambitious world, he was equally interested, or more, in everyone else's success; he wanted the circle to be larger and better, not more exclusive. Most of all, again, I will miss his warmth and energy. And although a lot of us are feeling a sense of personal loss, his family and closest loved ones are the ones I am thinking about the most, with sorrow for this sudden, terrible theft of what should have been a great deal more time.

Posted by: Paul Horwitz | Jul 20, 2014 5:42:37 PM

Feeling indescribably sad today, but also immensely lucky to have been able to share ideas & friendship w/ Dan since he first grabbed my attention as a curious & brilliant student in my evidence course back in 1999...

Posted by: Dan Kahan | Jul 20, 2014 5:48:58 PM

My heart aches for Dan's family. And what a hole Dan's death leaves in our community. I will miss his generosity of spirit, his curiosity, his boundless energy, the joy he took in being a father, his amazing ability to bring people together. One story that personifies Dan for me: the day I arrived in Tallahassee to begin my semester at FSU, my phone began to ring maybe 10 minutes after I arrived in town. It was Dan, welcoming me to town and inviting me to dinner that night--as he did for every Shabbat and every holiday and so many other times in the months that followed.

Posted by: Susan Bandes | Jul 20, 2014 6:52:52 PM

This is awful news. I am glad to have been Dan's classmate, friend, and colleague. I'll miss him, as will FSU and the entire law-school community. Greatest condolences to Linc, Ben, and the rest of Dan's family.

Posted by: Mike Dimino | Jul 20, 2014 7:08:53 PM

Dan Markel will always remain prominent in my mind as the epitome of what an inquisitive, probing intellect should look like. Being taken from us in this fashion feels too tragic, too sensless, to be real. Dan, thank you for being an amazing teacher and mentor. Thank you for being an even better friend.

Posted by: Luke | Jul 20, 2014 8:39:14 PM

I am so sorry for Dan's deeply loved family. His recently volunteered and exceptionally constructive comments on a paper in progress are sitting on my desk. It will be so hard to go back to them as I had planned, knowing that there won't be another exchange together on our work, as for so many, many of us. This is utterly outrageous for so many reasons.

Posted by: Sam Buell | Jul 20, 2014 8:56:52 PM

This is very sad news. I didn't know Dan well, but we were classmates in law school and in many of the same classes, including a number with the late David Charny (who I know was a big influence on Dan, as he was on me) and Dan Kahan's evidence class, which Professor Kahan mentions earlier in this string. I well remember Dan's energy and ambition and I will miss knowing that he is out there in academia always pushing forward.

Posted by: Sam Williamson | Jul 20, 2014 10:40:06 PM

Miss you, pal. As you used to write, xoxo.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 20, 2014 11:56:31 PM

I just learned of Dan's death via Glenn Reynolds' blog. Only last week I reread one of his articles on punitive damages, in researching a cert. petition I'm filing tomorrow. I didn't know him well, but with his typical thoroughness Dan contacted me once or twice years ago regarding some of my past work in this field, and I was planning to send him a copy of the petition to seek his reactions. What a huge loss for the many people whose lives Dan touched, both professionally and personally, however much that pales in comparison to the loss for his children and the rest of his family. The news is very difficult to absorb. At least we have a forum for expressing our thoughts, and for being reminded of the huge impact Dan had in a life cut decades short.

Posted by: Ken Chesebro | Jul 21, 2014 1:12:31 AM

Been thinking about this song today:


Posted by: Matt Bodie | Jul 21, 2014 1:14:22 AM

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