Journalist Laurence Leamer to Deliver Pitt’s American Experience Lecture

Issue Date: 
January 13, 2014

A story of two Pittsburgh lawyers standing up to a notorious coal baron, and changing American law in the process, will be the focus of “The Price of Justice,” an American Experience Distinguished Lecture by acclaimed author and journalist Laurence Leamer.

Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy and the University Honors College, the lecture will be presented 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 in Ballroom B of Pitt’s University Club.

Leamer’s lecture, adapted from his most recent book, The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption (Times Books, 2013), will tell the story of Pittsburgh lawyers Bruce Stanley and Dave Fawcett and their 14-year struggle against West Virginia-based Massey Energy and its CEO, Don Blankenship, who had bought influence during judicial elections and among West Virginia justices. The judicial fight culminated in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009.

Leamer has profiled a number of American icons in his best-selling books, including Ronald Reagan, Johnny Carson, and the Kennedy family, about which he has written extensively. The author of more than a dozen nonfiction books, Leamer also is a former International Fellow at Columbia University. As a journalist, he has written for Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, and Harper’s, among many others.

Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg will introduce Leamer. Following Leamer’s lecture, a distinguished panel will discuss the challenges of instituting and maintaining a system of merit selection for judges. The panel, moderated by William M. Carter Jr., dean of Pitt’s School of Law, will include Dick Thornburgh, former Governor of Pennsylvania and U.S. Attorney General from 1988 to 1991; John Burkoff, professor in Pitt’s School of Law; and Ken Gormley, dean of the Duquesne University School of Law.

Because seating is limited, registration is requested. Register online at

The late Pitt faculty member Robert G. Hazo created the American Experience program at Pitt more than 40 years ago to offer Pittsburghers the opportunity to gain insight into political and economic thought with the intent of enlightening the public’s political discourse. The program’s director is Edward L. McCord, director of programming and special projects in Pitt’s University Honors College and director of the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy. 

Established in 2007, the Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy at the University of Pittsburgh fosters public education and civic action on important public policy issues, building on the legacy of Pitt alumnus and emeritus trustee Dick Thornburgh (LAW ’57), a two-term governor of Pennsylvania and U.S. Attorney General under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Among the forum’s goals are to promote able and principled governance at all levels, to advance the rule of law at home and abroad, and to assist the government’s response to the special needs of persons with disabilities, many of them wounded in service to their country.