Roscoe Pound

Roscoe Pound books and biography

Roscoe Pound

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Roscoe Pound (1870 - 1964) was a distinguished American legal scholar and educator.


Early life

Pound was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA to Stephen Bosworth Pound and Laura Pound.

Pound studied botany at the University of Nebraska (BA, 1888, & MA, 1889) in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1889 he began the study of law spending one year at Harvard, and completed his law degree at Northwestern University School of Law. He returned to Nebraska to practice law and continue his study of botany. He received a PhD in botany from the University of Nebraska in 1898.

Law career

In 1903, Pound became dean of the University of Nebraska College of Law. Also in 1903 Pound, with George Condra, founded the Society of Innocents, the preeminent senior honor society at Nebraska. It is still in existence. In 1910, Pound began teaching at Harvard and in 1916 became dean of Harvard Law School. He wrote "Spurious Interpretation" in 1907,Outlines of Lectures on Jurisprudence in 1914, The Spirit of the Common Law in 1921, Law and Morals in 1924, and Criminal Justice in America in 1930. He was the founder of the movement for "sociological jurisprudence," an influential critic of the Supreme Court's "liberty of contract" line of cases, symbolized by Lochner v. New York (1905), and one of the early leaders of the movement for American Legal Realism, which argued for a more pragmatic and public-interested interpretation of law and a focus on how the legal process actually occurred, as opposed to the arid legal formalism which prevailed in American jurisprudence at the time. Pound would later turn against the movement and became a leading critic of the legal realists later in his life.

Pound was a brother of Louise Pound, who was also a distinguished educator and author.

Criminal Justice in Cleveland

In 1922 Roscoe Pound and Felix Frankfurter undertook a detailed quantitative study of crime reporting in Cleveland newspapers for the month of January 1919, using column inch counts. They found that whereas, in the first half of the month, the total amount of space given over to crime was 925 inches, in the second half if leapt to 6642 inches. This was in spite the fact that the number of crimes reported had only increased from 345 to 363. They concluded that although the city's much publicized "crime wave" was largely fictitious and manufactured by the press, the coverage had a very real consequence for the administration of criminal justice. Because the public believed they were in the middle of a crime epidemic, they demanded an immediate response from the police and the city authorities. These agencies wishing to retain public support, complied, caring "more to satisfy popular demand than to be observant of the tried process of law" The result was a greatly increased likelihood of miscarriages of justice and sentences more severe than the offenses warranted.[1][2]


One of his most oft-quoted views was on professionalism: The term [professionalism] refers to a group pursuing a learned art as a common calling in the spirit of public service - no less a public service because it may incidentally be a means of livelihood. Pursuit of the learned art in the spirit of a public service is the primary purpose. [3]

Pound is a member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame.

Pound was a Freemason, and was a member and Past Master of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 AF & AM Lincoln, Nebraska.

See also

  • A Test of the News


  1. ^ Jensen, Klaus Bruhn (May 10, 2002). A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies. UK: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-22588-4. p. 45-46
  2. ^ Pound, Roscoe; Felix Frankfurter (1922). Criminal Justice in Cleveland. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Foundation. p. 546
  3. ^ Pound, Roscoe (1953). The Lawyer from Antiquity to Modern Times. St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing Co.,. p. 5.

[edit References

  • Pound, Roscoe. American National Biography. 17:760-763. 1999.

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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