Mark Osler

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Mark Osler
Born 1963 (age 50–51)
Nationality American
Occupation Scholar, lawyer, professor, author
Known for Jesus on Death Row

Mark Osler (born 1963) is an American legal scholar, law professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and critic of capital punishment in the United States. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Osler attended Grosse Pointe North High School and subsequently matriculated at College of William & Mary, graduating in 1985. Osler received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1990 and began work as a law professor at Baylor University[1] in 2000 before leaving for St. Thomas in 2010.[2] At St. Thomas, he founded the nation's first law school clinic on federal commutations,[3] and he has advocated for an expansive use of the presidential pardon power.[4] He has also argued for reform of federal narcotics laws.[5]

In his scholarship and advocacy, Osler often explicitly addresses Christian audiences.[6] He is the author of Jesus on Death Row (Abingdon, 2009),[7] which critiques capital punishment in the United States through an examination of the biblical account of Jesus Christ's trial and execution. Following up on the book, Osler and collaborators produced a dramatic[8] "Sentencing of Jesus"[9] in eleven states: Texas,[10] Colorado,[11] California,[12] Oklahoma,[13] Tennessee,[14] Massachusetts,[15] Illinois,[16] Virginia,[17] Louisiana,[18] Arizona, and Minnesota.[19] He has also commented on the death penalty and other issues for CNN,[20] MSNBC,[21] NPR,[22] ESPN,[23] and the Huffington Post.[24] The character of "Professor Joe Fisher" in the film American Violet is based on Osler,[25] and he appeared as a critic of narcotics policy in the 2013 National Geographic series "The 80's,"[26] and as a commentator in the 2014 National Geographic series "The Jesus Mysteries."[27]

Some of Osler's work has addressed sentencing issues involving crack cocaine.[28] In 2009, Osler won the case (through a 6-3 per curiam decision) of Spears v. United States[29] in the United States Supreme Court, which reversed the Eighth Circuit and clarified a prior sentencing decision, declaring that sentencing judges could "categorically" reject the 100-to-1 ration between powder and crack cocaine which was then embedded in the federal sentencing guidelines.


  1. ^ "Point Person: Our QandA with Mark Osler". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  2. ^ "Baylor law professor bids dramatic farewell to school, students". Waco Tribune. 2010-04-21. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Mark Osler, "We Need Al Capone Drug Laws," New York Times, May 4, 2014,
  6. ^ Abby Rapoport, "The Quality of Mercy: An evangelical Christian and former prosecutor, Mark Osler has become one of the country’s most effective advocates for criminal-justice reform," The American Prospect, March–April 2014,
  7. ^ Osler, Mark (2009). Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment. Abingdon Press. ISBN 9780687647569. 
  8. ^ "Jesus On (Mock) Trial In Virginia". 2011-04-23. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  9. ^ "Jesus on trial: What would a modern jury do?". Belief Blog. CNN. 22 April 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  10. ^ "Drama asks audience to consider Christ, death penalty". 2013-03-23. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  11. ^ Bishop, Jeanne (2013-03-24). "Death and Christ". Boulder Daily Camera. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  12. ^ "Death Penalty for Jesus - Maurice Possley". God's Politics Blog. Sojourners. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  13. ^ Hinton, Carla (2012-03-17). "Oklahoma City church will host 'Trial of Jesus Christ' dramatization". News OK. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  14. ^ "News - Carson-Newman". 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  15. ^ "The Trial of Christ". Boston College. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  16. ^ "Baptism of the Lord". Jazz at Four. Fourth Presbyterian Church. 8 January 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  17. ^ Cherry, Emily (2011-03-11). "Episcopal News Service - CHURCHWIDE". Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "The Trial of Jesus | University of St. Thomas". YouTube. 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  20. ^ Osler, Mark (19 May 2012). "My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage". Belief Blog. CNN. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  21. ^ "Mark Osler". MSNBC. 2013-08-31. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Mark Osler". Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  25. ^ "American Violet". Baylor Magazine. Baylor University. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  26. ^ "Explore the '80s". National Geographic. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ Kumar, Gautam S. (2013-07-07). "Drug Crime Expert Criticizes Sentencing Policies". The Harvard Crimson. Harvard University. Retrieved 2013-09-05. 
  29. ^ "Steven Spears v. United States". Supreme Court of the United States. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2013.