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Murderer To Teach Criminal Justice

December 3, 1998

PHOENIX (AP) _ Arizona State University’s newest criminal justice instructor can claim experience that no other teachers possess _ a murder.

James Hamm, who shot and killed someone when he was a teen-ager, has been hired to teach two courses in the School of Justice Studies this spring semester, The Arizona Republic reported Thursday.

``I think this provides the school of justice studies with a unique opportunity to have a former prisoner trained in the law teaching at the university level,″ Hamm said.

Hamm will teach one pre-law course on substantive criminal law and another on due process and the Bill of Rights.

Some have a problem with the latest addition to the faculty.

``This has got to be a cruel joke,″ Phoenix attorney Dan Cracchiolo said. ``It’s like Hannibal Lecter inviting Jodie Foster to a tea party.″

Hamm pleaded guilty in 1974 to shooting Willard J. Morely Jr. during a drug deal in Tucson. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison and served 17 years before he was paroled in 1992.

Since then he earned his college degree, then a law degree from ASU. Despite his gains, the state’s clemency board refused earlier this year to release him from parole.

Dennis Palumbo, the justice studies professor who interviewed Hamm for the job, said Hamm deserves a second chance.

``He did something real stupid when he was 17. Why the hell should we condemn him for the rest of his life?″ Palumbo said.

Hamm, who failed the state bar exam this summer on his first try, said he did not expect any trouble.

``I never had any problems with the students or faculty in law school,″ Hamm said. ``It was just a problem with the politicians and newspapers.″

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