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Between Brady Discretion And Brady Misconduct, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2019

Between Brady Discretion And Brady Misconduct, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The Supreme Court’s decision in Brady v. Maryland presented prosecutors with new professional challenges. In Brady, the Supreme Court held that the prosecution must provide the defense with any evidence in its possession that could be exculpatory. If the prosecution fails to timely turn over evidence that materially undermines the defendant’s guilt, a reviewing court must grant the defendant a new trial. While determining whether evidence materially undermines a defendant’s guilt may seem like a simple assessment, the real-life application of such a determination can be complicated. The prosecution’s disclosure determination can be complicated under the ...


Prosecuting In The Shadow Of The Jury, Anna Offit Jan 2019

Prosecuting In The Shadow Of The Jury, Anna Offit

Faculty Scholarship

This article offers an unprecedented empirical window into prosecutorial discretion drawing on long-term participatory research between 2013 and 2017. The central finding is that jurors play a vital role in federal prosecutors’ decision-making, professional identities, and formulations of justice. This is because even the remote possibility of lay scrutiny creates an opening for prosecutors to make common sense assessments of (1) the evidence in their cases, (2) the character of witnesses, defendants and victims, and (3) their own moral and professional character as public servants. By facilitating explicit consideration of the fairness of their cases from a public vantage point ...


Law School News: National Criminal Defense College To Hold Trial Practice Institute At Rwu School Of Law 11/15/2018, Edward Fitzpatrick Nov 2018

Law School News: National Criminal Defense College To Hold Trial Practice Institute At Rwu School Of Law 11/15/2018, Edward Fitzpatrick

Life of the Law School (1993- )

No abstract provided.


The Subversions And Perversions Of Shadow Vigilantism, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Jan 2018

The Subversions And Perversions Of Shadow Vigilantism, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This excerpt from the recently published Shadow Vigilantes book argues that, while vigilantism, even moral vigilantism, can be dangerous to a society, the real danger is not of hordes of citizens, frustrated by the system’s doctrines of disillusionment, rising up to take the law into their own hands. Frustration can spark a vigilante impulse, but such classic aggressive vigilantism is not the typical response. More common is the expression of disillusionment in less brazen ways by a more surreptitious undermining and distortion of the operation of the criminal justice system.

Shadow vigilantes, as they might be called, can affect ...


Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2017

Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Of the many diagnoses of American criminal justice’s ills, few focus on externalities. Yet American criminal justice systematically overpunishes in large part because few mechanisms exist to force consideration of the full social costs of criminal justice interventions. Actors often lack good information or incentives to minimize the harms they impose. Part of the problem is structural: criminal justice is fragmented vertically among governments, horizontally among agencies, and individually among self-interested actors. Part is a matter of focus: doctrinally and pragmatically, actors overwhelmingly view each case as an isolated, short-term transaction to the exclusion of broader, long-term, and aggregate ...


"Make Him An Offer He Can't Refuse"-- Mezzanatto Waivers As Lynchpin Of Prosecutorial Overreach, Christopher B. Mueller Jan 2017

"Make Him An Offer He Can't Refuse"-- Mezzanatto Waivers As Lynchpin Of Prosecutorial Overreach, Christopher B. Mueller

Articles

Plea bargaining is the dominant means of disposing of criminal charges in the United States, in both state and federal courts. This administrative mechanism has become a system that is grossly abusive of individual rights, leading to many well-known maladies of the criminal justice system, which include overcharging, overincarceration, convictions on charges that would likely fail at trial, and even conviction of “factually innocent” persons. Instrumental in the abuses of plea bargaining is the so-called Mezzanatto waiver, which takes its name from a 1995 Supreme Court decision that approved the practice of getting defendants to agree that anything they say ...


Ministers Of Justice And Mass Incarceration, Lissa Griffin Jan 2017

Ministers Of Justice And Mass Incarceration, Lissa Griffin

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Over the past few years, scholars, legislators, and politicians have come to recognize that our current state of “mass incarceration” is the result of serious dysfunction in our criminal justice system. As a consequence, there has been significant attention to the causes of mass incarceration. These include the war on drugs and political decisions based on a “law and order” perspective. Congressional and state legislative enactments increased the financing of the expansion of police powers and provided for severely punitive sentencing statutes, thereby giving prosecutors uniquely powerful weapons in securing guilty pleas. All of this occurred as crime rates dropped ...


Measuring The Creative Plea Bargain, Thea B. Johnson Jan 2017

Measuring The Creative Plea Bargain, Thea B. Johnson

Faculty Publications

A great deal of criminal law scholarship and practice turns on whether a defendant gets a good deal through plea bargaining. But what is a good deal? And how do defense attorneys secure such deals? Much scholarship measures plea bargains by one metric: how many years the defendant receives at sentencing. In the era of collateral consequences, however, this is no longer an adequate metric as it misses a world of bargaining that happens outside of the sentence. Through empirical research, this Article examines the measure of a good plea and the work that goes into negotiating such a plea ...


Conviction Review Units: A National Perspective, John Hollway Apr 2016

Conviction Review Units: A National Perspective, John Hollway

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Over the past 25 years, Americans have become increasingly aware of a vast array of mistakes in the administration of justice, including wrongful convictions, situations where innocent individuals have been convicted and incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. The most prevalent institutional response by prosecutors to address post-conviction fact-based claims of actual innocence is the Conviction Review Unit (CRU), sometimes called the Conviction Integrity Unit. Since the creation of the first CRU in the mid-2000s, more than 25 such units have been announced across the country; more than half of these have been created in the past 24 months ...


Designing Plea Bargaining From The Ground Up: Accuracy And Fairness Without Trials As Backstops, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2016

Designing Plea Bargaining From The Ground Up: Accuracy And Fairness Without Trials As Backstops, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

American criminal procedure developed on the assumption that grand juries and petit jury trials were the ultimate safeguards of fair procedures and accurate outcomes. But now that plea bargaining has all but supplanted juries, we need to think through what safeguards our plea-bargaining system should be built around. This Symposium Article sketches out principles for redesigning our plea-bargaining system from the ground up around safeguards. Part I explores the causes of factual, moral, and legal inaccuracies in guilty pleas. To prevent and remedy these inaccuracies, it proposes a combination of quasi-inquisitorial safeguards, more vigorous criminal defense, and better normative evaluation ...


In Memory Of Monroe Freedman: The Hardest Question For A Prosecutor, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2016

In Memory Of Monroe Freedman: The Hardest Question For A Prosecutor, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

I’ve chosen to honor Monroe Freedman’s iconic essay on the hardest questions for a criminal defense attorney by posing the same question for prosecutors. What is the hardest question for a prosecutor? This in itself is a hard question. The thousands of federal, state, and local prosecutors in the country would likely give widely varying responses – discretionary charging, immunity grants, bargained pleas, unreliable witnesses, police testimony, and disclosure duties, for starters. Too, prosecutors are not a generic group. Just as some defense lawyers might recoil or be indifferent to Freedman’s provocative thesis, so might many prosecutors reject ...


The Prosecutor’S Duty Of Silence, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2016

The Prosecutor’S Duty Of Silence, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Prosecutors enjoy broad opportunities to communicate with the public outside the courtroom. Justice Holmes’s famous dictum -- “The theory of our system is that conclusions to be reached in a case will be induced only by evidence and argument in open court, and not by any outside influence, whether of private talk or public print” – is just that – a “theory.” The reality is otherwise. Prosecutors, and defense lawyers too, engage in extrajudicial speech frequently, and often irresponsibly. But in contrast to other lawyers, prosecutors have a higher “special” duty to serve justice rather than a private client. And public statements ...


Who Shouldn't Prosecute The Police, Kate Levine Jan 2016

Who Shouldn't Prosecute The Police, Kate Levine

Faculty Publications

The job of prosecuting police officers who commit crimes falls on local prosecutors, as it has in the wakes of the recent killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Although prosecutors officially represent “the people,” there is no group more closely linked to prosecutors than the officers they work with daily. This article focuses on the undertheorized but critically important role that conflict of interest law plays in supporting the now-popular conclusion that local prosecutors should not handle cases against police suspects. Surprisingly, scholars have paid little attention to the policies and practices of local district attorneys who are tasked ...


Voices On Innocence, Lucian E. Dervan, Richard A. Leo, Meghan J. Ryan, Valena Elizabeth Beety, Gregory M. Gilchrist, William W. Berry Jan 2016

Voices On Innocence, Lucian E. Dervan, Richard A. Leo, Meghan J. Ryan, Valena Elizabeth Beety, Gregory M. Gilchrist, William W. Berry

Faculty Scholarship

In the summer of 2015, experts gathered from around the country to sit together and discuss one of the most pressing and important issues facing the American criminal justice system – innocence. Innocence is an issue that pervades various areas of research and influences numerous topics of discussion. What does innocence mean, particularly in a system that differentiates between innocence and acquittal at sentencing? What is the impact of innocence during plea bargaining? How should we respond to growing numbers of exonerations? What forces lead to the incarceration of innocents? Has an innocent person been put to death and, if so ...


Culture As A Structural Problem In Indigent Defense, Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2016

Culture As A Structural Problem In Indigent Defense, Eve Brensike Primus

Articles

In Part I, I will describe the ways in which today's right-to-counsel challenges are similar to and different from those that faced the writers of the 1961 symposium. I will also explain in more detail why the structural conditions of criminal defense work to create (and, to some extent, always have created) a cultural problem in indigent defense delivery systems across the country. In Part II, I will discuss why I believe that we are, once again, facing a moment for potential reform, albeit reform that is different in scope and kind from that which was possible in the ...


Newsroom: Waters '98 On Tempest Verdict Reversal, Roger Williams University School Of Law Jul 2015

Newsroom: Waters '98 On Tempest Verdict Reversal, Roger Williams University School Of Law

Life of the Law School (1993- )

No abstract provided.


Lost In A Legal Thicket, Paul H. Robinson Jul 2015

Lost In A Legal Thicket, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This op-ed piece argues that criminal law recodification is badly needed in the states and the federal system, but that prosecutors stand out as the group who appear to regularly oppose it.


Blinding Prosecutors To Defendants' Race: A Policy Proposal To Reduce Unconscious Bias In The Criminal Justice System, Shima Baughman, Sunita Sah, Christopher T. Robertson Jan 2015

Blinding Prosecutors To Defendants' Race: A Policy Proposal To Reduce Unconscious Bias In The Criminal Justice System, Shima Baughman, Sunita Sah, Christopher T. Robertson

Utah Law Faculty Scholarship

Racial minorities are disproportionately imprisoned in the United States. This disparity is unlikely to be due solely to differences in criminal behavior. Behavioral science research has documented that prosecutors harbor unconscious racial biases. These unconscious biases play a role whenever prosecutors exercise their broad discretion, such as in choosing what crimes to charge and when negotiating plea bargains. To reduce this risk of unconscious racial bias, we propose a policy change: Prosecutors should be blinded to the race of criminal defendants wherever feasible. This could be accomplished by removing information identifying or suggesting the defendant’s race from police dossiers ...


The Prosecutor’S Contribution To Wrongful Convictions, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2014

The Prosecutor’S Contribution To Wrongful Convictions, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

A prosecutor is viewed by the public as a powerful law enforcement official whose responsibility is to convict guilty people of crimes. But not everybody understands that a prosecutor’s function is not only to win convictions of law-breakers. A prosecutor is a quasi-judicial official who has a duty to promote justice to the entire community, including those people charged with crimes. Indeed, an overriding function of a prosecutor is to ensure that innocent people not get convicted and punished.

A prosecutor is constitutionally and ethically mandated to promote justice. The prosecutor is even considered a "Minister of Justice" who ...


Threats And Bullying By Prosecutors, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2014

Threats And Bullying By Prosecutors, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Part I of this Essay describes ten contexts in which prosecutors make threats and behave like bullies. Some of these contexts are familiar, such as grand jury proceedings or plea discussions, where threats are generally upheld. Threats in other contexts are not as easy to justify, such as threats to obtain testimony from prosecution witnesses, retaliating for the exercise of constitutional rights, forcing a waiver of civil rights claims, and publicly humiliating people. Other threats clearly are illegitimate and unethical, such as threats that drive defense witnesses off the stand, bringing criminal charges against outspoken critics and defense experts, and ...


Our Broken Misdemeanor Justice System: Its Problems And Some Potential Solutions, Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2012

Our Broken Misdemeanor Justice System: Its Problems And Some Potential Solutions, Eve Brensike Primus

Reviews

Although misdemeanors comprise an overwhelming majority of state criminal court cases, little judicial and scholarly attention has been focused on how misdemeanor courts actually operate. In her article, Misdemeanors, Alexandra Natapoff rights this wrong and explains how the low-visibility, highly discretionary decisions made by actors at the misdemeanor level often result in rampant discrimination, incredible inefficiency, and vast miscarriages of justice. Misdemeanors makes a significant contribution to the literature by refocusing attention on the importance of misdemeanor offenses and beginning an important dialogue about what steps should be taken going forward to fix our broken misdemeanor justice system.


Prosecutors And Bargaining In Weak Cases: A Comparative View, Jenia I. Turner Jan 2012

Prosecutors And Bargaining In Weak Cases: A Comparative View, Jenia I. Turner

Faculty Scholarship

One of the most controversial uses of prosecutorial discretion in plea bargaining concerns cases involving weak evidence of guilt. When a prosecutor bargains about the charges or even the facts in a case with weak evidence, at least three problems may arise. First, if the charge bargain is generous, it may coerce an innocent defendant to plead guilty. Second, such a bargain may let a guilty defendant off too easily, thus disserving the public and victim’s interests. Third, if the parties bargain about the facts, the result may distort the truth of the case.

In this book chapter, I ...


Policing International Prosecutors, Jenia I. Turner Jan 2012

Policing International Prosecutors, Jenia I. Turner

Faculty Scholarship

A recurring question in international criminal procedure is how to ensure that prosecutors are held accountable for their errors and misconduct. When International Criminal Court (ICC) judges encountered the first serious error by the prosecution in Prosecutor v. Lubanga, they opted for an absolutist approach to remedies: the judges stayed the proceedings and ordered the release of the defendant. Although termination of the case was avoided through the intervention of the Appeals Chamber, the standoff between the judges and the prosecution highlighted the dilemmas that the ICC faces in these circumstances. To protect the integrity of its proceedings, the court ...


Prosecutorial Decisionmaking And Discretion In The Charging Function, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2011

Prosecutorial Decisionmaking And Discretion In The Charging Function, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

A prosecutor's charging decision is the heart of the prosecution function. The charging decision involves an extraordinary exercise of discretionary power that is unreviewable. As a result, the decision is difficult to guide except in the broadest terms. The proposed revisions to the ABA's Criminal Justice Standards for the Prosecution Function attempt to address several key issues that inform the charging decision, by broadening the language of several provisions of the current Standards as well as adding several new provisions. To be sure, the proposed Standards significantly change the current Standards with respect to the proper factors and ...


Balancing Liberty, Dignity And Safety: The Impact Of Domestic Violence Lethality Screening, Margaret E. Johnson Jan 2010

Balancing Liberty, Dignity And Safety: The Impact Of Domestic Violence Lethality Screening, Margaret E. Johnson

All Faculty Scholarship

This Article undertakes the first ever analysis of the consequences of the justice and legal system’s extensive use of lethality assessment tools for women subjected to abuse. An increasing number of states are now requiring their police, prosecutors, civil attorneys, advocates, service providers, and court personnel to assess women in order to obtain a score that indicates the woman’s lethality risk because of domestic violence. The mandated danger assessment screen of all women subjected to violence focuses only on the risk of homicide and thereby limits the definition of what is domestic violence. In addition, the accompanying protocol ...


Can Prosecutors Bluff? Brady V. Maryland And Plea Bargaining, John G. Douglass Apr 2007

Can Prosecutors Bluff? Brady V. Maryland And Plea Bargaining, John G. Douglass

Law Faculty Publications

The author discusses the symbolic value of the Brady rule in the pretrial context in the U.S. criminal justice system. Brady's symbolic power remains stronger than its corrective power in post-trial motions. It serves as a constitutional reminder to prosecutors because they cannot serve as architects of unfairness. Most prosecutors disclose more Brady material in pretrial discovery than the constitutional rule actually demands. This indicates that prosecutors can bluff.


Pro Se Defendants And The Appointment Of Advisory Counsel, H. Patrick Furman Jan 2006

Pro Se Defendants And The Appointment Of Advisory Counsel, H. Patrick Furman

Articles

This article provides an overview of advisory counsel used to assist pro se criminal defendants, including the appointment and duties of advisory counsel, ethical obligations, and considerations for trial judges and prosecutors.


Reflections On Brady V. Maryland, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2006

Reflections On Brady V. Maryland, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Part I of this Article describes the evolution of the Brady rule over the past forty-three years. Part I sketches the origins of the rule and its doctrinal developments. Part II closely examines Brady's impact on constitutional criminal procedure. Part II suggests that Brady's essential goal has been eroded by the courts, subverted by prosecutors, and ignored by disciplinary bodies. Part III proposes that only through expanding a defendant's right to discovery can the goal of Brady be realized. The Article concludes that Brady, more than any other rule of constitutional criminal procedure, has been the most ...


The Lessons Of People V. Moscat: Confronting Judicial Bias In Domestic Violence Cases Interpreting Crawford V. Washington, David Jaros Jul 2005

The Lessons Of People V. Moscat: Confronting Judicial Bias In Domestic Violence Cases Interpreting Crawford V. Washington, David Jaros

All Faculty Scholarship

Crawford v. Washington was a groundbreaking decision that radically redefined the scope of the Confrontation Clause. Nowhere has the impact of Crawford and the debate over its meaning been stronger than in the context of domestic violence prosecutions. The particular circumstances that surround domestic violence cases 911 calls that record cries for help and accusations, excited utterances made to responding police officers, and the persistent reluctance of complaining witnesses to cooperate with prosecutors -- combine to make the introduction of "out-of-comment statements" a critical component of many domestic violence prosecutions. Because domestic violence cases are subject to a unique set of ...


Difficult Times In Kentucky Corrections—Aftershocks Of A "Tough On Crime" Philosophy, Robert G. Lawson Jan 2005

Difficult Times In Kentucky Corrections—Aftershocks Of A "Tough On Crime" Philosophy, Robert G. Lawson

Law Faculty Scholarly Articles

The objective of this article is to cast some light on corrections system problems brought on by elevated (and possibly unnecessary) levels of incarceration, and especially on problems that trouble the Kentucky corrections system and threaten to undermine the effectiveness of the state's justice system. Part II describes how the country came to embrace sentencing policies and practices capable of producing "a penal system of a severity unmatched in the Western world.” Part III describes Kentucky's embrace of equally harsh sentencing policies and practices and the inmate population explosion that has occurred as a direct result of those ...