Michael Berch is among three Arizona State University professors selected to speak at the 12th annual Last Lecture Series in April. The honor is based on students' nominations and the nominees' lecture proposals, and in both categories, Berch's was top-notch. "Professor Berch is an insane genius," wrote Kolby Granville, 3L, who nominated the long-time professor in the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. "No student who has ever had him forgets him. He rants, he yells, he does at least a half a dozen things per class that you'd think would get him fired, and yet, 30 years later, he's still teaching at the law school, influencing the minds of future lawyers." The university's Faculty Recognition Committee and three staff members of Memorial Union Programs and Activities, sponsor of the lecture series, waded through 35 nominations and proposals, searching for the most compelling topics and the most fascinating faculty members. Berch, the first professor to be chosen from the College of Law, stood out, said Megan Pearse, the committee's adviser. "His enthusiasm shined through," Pearse said. "And his lecture is not something that people will expect. It's different from what we've seen in the past." Berch's lecture will focus on whether legal method and processes and the rules of law they produce function accountably or whether the rules vary, depending on factors such as race, wealth, accidents of birth and luck. However, his presentation, A Defense Plea for Leniency at the Mitigation Hearing - State v. Raskolnikov, will have a theatrical flair, as Berch creates a summation based on the trial of Rodya Raskolnikov, the central character in Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. "Law and legal principles govern the behavior of all of the participants to this crime: murderer, prosecutor, prostitute, jurors," Berch wrote in his proposal. "In the Last Lecture, the audience members sit as the jurors who convicted Raskolnikov. They must decide the fate of the man: life or death? "What factors should the defense attorney canvass; how should she respond to the prosecutor's case; what pitfalls await in rebuttal? How far dare (or should) the defense attorney go in recounting Raskolnikov's life? Is he the worst of the worst?" Berch declined to provide details about his lecture, other than to say, "It's going to be theatre at its height." In his nomination letter, Granville said, "Trust me on this one, have him give a last lecture. Assuming he doesn't scare everyone off, it will be a night they will never forget." Berch will join Glenn Hurlbert, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and Diane Wolfthal, a professor in the School of Art, at the series. Free and open to the public, the event is at 7 p.m. April 10 in the Pima Room at Memorial Union. For more information, go to http://www.asu.edu/studentaffairs/mu/mupa/last_lecture.htm.