Elizabeth Papp Kamali

Assistant Professor of Law

Biography

Elizabeth Papp Kamali is an Assistant Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches criminal law and English legal history. Professor Kamali’s research focuses on the medieval English common law and the history of criminal law, with a particular interest in the early criminal trial jury. Her current projects include studies of the role of criminal intent in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century English felony cases, medieval understandings of anger’s operation in felony adjudication, conflict between urban customary law and the English common law in the early fourteenth century, and the influence of Roman law on the early development of the common law.

Professor Kamali completed her PhD in History at the University of Michigan, with a dissertation titled A Felonious State of Mind: Mens Rea in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century England. In 2013, she was awarded the Kathryn T. Preyer Award for best paper by an early career scholar by the American Society for Legal History, as well as the Medieval Academy of America Graduate Student Prize for best graduate student paper. Professor Kamali received an A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard College and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. Between college and law school, she worked at Orion Consultants, where she advised Wall Street broker/dealers on their relationships with institutional investors, and volunteered as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in foster care.

Areas of Interest

Elizabeth Papp Kamali,The Devil's Daughter of Hell Fire: Anger's Role in Medieval English Felony Cases, 35 Law & Hist. Rev. 155 (2017).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal History
Type: Article
Abstract
During the period at issue in this paper–the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when trial juries were first employed in English felony cases–felonious homicide was a catch-all category, with no formal distinction drawn between murder and manslaughter. Nevertheless, juries did distinguish among different types of homicide as they sorted the guilty from the innocent, and the irremediably guilty from those worthy of pardon. Anger was one of the factors that informed this sorting process. This paper builds upon an earlier analysis of the meaning of felony, which posited that the medieval paradigm of felony was an act that involved deliberation and forethought, an exercise of a person's reasoning capacity and volition in the absence of necessity, and moral blameworthiness. Anger complicates this scenario. On the one hand, anger was seen to be a product of an ill-formed conscience. This potentially placed anger within the felonious area of moral blameworthiness. On the other hand, anger in its more extreme manifestations was seen to inhibit a person's ability to reason and to inspire behavior resembling insanity, thereby possibly pointing toward a partial excuse. This paper takes a fresh methodological approach for the study of emotion in the common law, placing legal texts within a broader cultural context in order to illuminate the concerns and priorities of jurors.
Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Law and Equity in a Medieval English Manor Court, in Texts and Contexts in Legal History: Essays in Honor of Charles Donahue 257 (John Witte, Sara McDougall & Anna di Robilant eds., Robbins Collection 2016).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal History
Type: Book
Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Felonia Felonice Facta: Felony and Intentionality in Medieval England, 9 Crim. L. & Phil. 397 (2015).
Categories:
Legal Profession
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Capital Punishment
,
Law & Humanities
,
Legal Theory & Philosophy
,
Religion & Law
,
Legal History
Type: Article
Abstract
This paper explores the meaning of the word “felony” in thirteenth and fourteenth century England, i.e., during the first two centuries of the English criminal trial jury. To compile a working definition of felony, the paper presents examples of the language of felony drawn from literary and religious sources, in addition to considering the word’s more formulaic appearance in legal records. The paper then analyzes cases ending in acquittal or pardon, highlighting the factors that might take a criminal case out of the realm of felony. It suggests that the very definition of felony and felonious behavior—and thus the essence of criminal responsibility—may be bound up with the idea of mens rea during this period. The paper aims to uncover broader societal understandings of the nature of guilt and innocence, and to highlight connections and disconnections between the formal criminal law of felony, with its heavy emphasis on capital punishment, and popular and ecclesiastical understandings of culpability.
Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Trial by Ordeal by Jury in Medieval England, or Saints and Sinners in Literature and Law, in Emotion, Violence, Vengeance and Law in the Middle Ages: Essays in Honour of William Ian Miller 49 (Kate Gilbert & Stephen D. White eds., 2018).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal History
Type: Book
Elizabeth Papp Kamali & Thomas A. Green, A Crossroads in Criminal Procedure: The Assumptions Underlying England's Adoption of Trial by Jury for Crime, in Law and Society in Later Medieval England and Ireland: Essays in Honour of Paul Brand 51 (Travis Baker ed., 2018).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Jury Trials
,
Criminal Prosecution
,
Legal History
Type: Book
Abstract
Within a few years of Lateran IV’s prohibition of priestly involvement in trial by ordeal, England moved definitively toward a criminal justice system based on trial by jury. This paper will explore the underlying assumptions of king, council and justices at the time of the criminal trial jury’s introduction (c. 1220) as to the jury’s precise function within a prosecutory system that countenanced only capital sanctions for those convicted of felony. Unearthing these assumptions will require careful consideration of earlier ordeal procedure and other kinds of juries in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, most notably juries of presentment, coroners’ inquests, and juries tasked with responding to writs de odio et atia. It will also require situating trial by jury within the broader context of felony adjudication with its manifold escape valves, including benefit of clergy, sanctuary, abjuration and pardons. The paper will rely on a re-examination of primary source materials and engagement with the existing secondary literature to grapple with the broad questions of what constituted serious criminal wrongdoing, what jurors were expected to know and do in adjudicating felony cases, and the extent to which jurors’ verdicts were based on knowledge or belief in the guilt of an individual, as opposed to such factors as reputation, rumor or expected recidivism. With regard to the issue of jury independence, the paper will query whether juries engaged in unilateral nullification of the law, or whether verdicts that appear to be contrary to the law reflect instead a consensus of judge and jury. Related to this is the macro-level question of what constituted the law, including the related matters of how jurors were to know the law and respond to it. As a think piece, this paper will test several hypotheses regarding problems fundamental to the history of English criminal law, some of which may prove unresolvable.
Elizabeth Papp Kamali & Thomas A. Green, The Assumptions Underlying England's Adoption of Trial by Jury for Crime, in Law and Society in Later Medieval England and Ireland: Essays in Honour of Paul Brand 51 (Travis Baker ed., 2018).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Jury Trials
,
Criminal Prosecution
,
Legal History
Type: Book
Abstract
Within a few years of Lateran IV’s prohibition of priestly involvement in trial by ordeal, England moved definitively toward a criminal justice system based on trial by jury. This paper will explore the underlying assumptions of king, council and justices at the time of the criminal trial jury’s introduction (c. 1220) as to the jury’s precise function within a prosecutory system that countenanced only capital sanctions for those convicted of felony. Unearthing these assumptions will require careful consideration of earlier ordeal procedure and other kinds of juries in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, most notably juries of presentment, coroners’ inquests, and juries tasked with responding to writs de odio et atia. It will also require situating trial by jury within the broader context of felony adjudication with its manifold escape valves, including benefit of clergy, sanctuary, abjuration and pardons. The paper will rely on a re-examination of primary source materials and engagement with the existing secondary literature to grapple with the broad questions of what constituted serious criminal wrongdoing, what jurors were expected to know and do in adjudicating felony cases, and the extent to which jurors’ verdicts were based on knowledge or belief in the guilt of an individual, as opposed to such factors as reputation, rumor or expected recidivism. With regard to the issue of jury independence, the paper will query whether juries engaged in unilateral nullification of the law, or whether verdicts that appear to be contrary to the law reflect instead a consensus of judge and jury. Related to this is the macro-level question of what constituted the law, including the related matters of how jurors were to know the law and respond to it. As a think piece, this paper will test several hypotheses regarding problems fundamental to the history of English criminal law, some of which may prove unresolvable.
Elizabeth Papp Kamali, From England to France: Felony and Exile in the High Middle Ages (by William Chester Jordan), 6 Mediaeval J. 146 (2016)(book review).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Legal Profession
,
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Sub-Categories:
Sentencing & Punishment
,
Comparative Law
,
Legal History
Type: Article
Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Felonies, in 2 Encyclopedia of Criminology & Criminal Justice (Jay S. Albanese ed., Wiley 2014).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
Type: Book
Abstract
Felonies are serious crimes, such as murder, rape, or arson, for which the typical consequence is capital punishment or imprisonment for over a year. Etymologically, the word felony originally connoted wickedness or evil. The category of felony derives from the English Common Law, in which a felony conviction traditionally resulted in forfeiture of land and movables, as well as the death penalty. The possible consequences of a felony conviction continue to be monumental today, including disenfranchisement, termination of parental rights, and ineligibility for jury service. Some jurisdictions have done away with the felony/misdemeanor distinction, opting instead for more neutral categories such as indictable and summary offenses.
Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Translator's Note and Introduction and Quincy’s Latin Legal Maxims (Elizabeth Papp Kamali, ed. & trans.), in 2 Portrait of a Patriot: The Major Political and Legal Papers of Josiah Quincy Junior 325, 339 (Daniel R. Coquillette & Neil Longley eds., Colonial Soc'y of Mass. 2005).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Legal Profession
,
Government & Politics
Sub-Categories:
Roman Law
,
Law & Political Theory
,
Legal History
,
Legal & Political Theory
Type: Book
Abstract
Josiah Quincy Jr. (1744-1775), Boston lawyer and patriot penman, had he lived longer could have been a leader of the new American Republic with a name familiar in most households.

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