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Uviller, H(erman) Richard 1929–2005

Uviller, H(erman) Richard 1929–2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born July 3, 1929, in New York, NY; died of bladder cancer April 19, 2005, in New York, NY. Lawyer, educator, and author. Uviller was a Columbia University law professor known for his books critiquing the American legal system. He did his undergraduate work at Harvard University, earning a B.A. in 1951. He then studied law at Yale University, finishing his LL.B. in 1953. After passing the New York bar exam in 1954 and a year with the Office of Legal Counsel in Washington, DC, he served as assistant district attorney for the County of New York until 1968. From 1961 until 1968 he was also chief of the Appeals Bureau. Uviller's legal background included considerable experience working with police officers, and he also argued several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He used this experience to help illustrate legal concepts in the classroom as a professor of law at Columbia. Joining the faculty there in 1968, he contributed greatly to the law school, helping to design new criminal law classes and the moot court program. Considered by his colleagues to be a legal mind who put facts before ideological preferences, Uviller spent an eight-month sabbatical in 1984 patrolling with New York City police officers to get a realistic look at how officers handle themselves on the street. He combined this knowledge with his previous experiences with police officers in Tempered Zeal: A Columbia Law Professor's Year on the Streets with the New York City Police (1988), which reviewers considered a sympathetic but also realistic portrayal of how the police try—sometimes unsuccessfully—to work within the legal system. A critic of the modern legal system, Uviller also wrote books on how the legal justice system could be improved to allow fairer and speedier trials and criminal investigations. On these topics, he published Virtual Justice: The Flawed Prosecution of Crime in America (1996) and The Tilted Playing Field: Is Criminal Justice Unfair? (1999). More recently, he also completed The Militia and the Right to Bear Arms; or, How the Second Amendment Fell Silent (2002), written with William G. Merkel.



New York Times, April 22, 2005, p. C13.


Columbia Law School Web site, (April, 2005).

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