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When Empathy Bites Back: Cautionary Tales From Neuroscience For Capital Sentencing, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume 2017 Cornell Law School

When Empathy Bites Back: Cautionary Tales From Neuroscience For Capital Sentencing, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Amelia Courtney Hritz, Caisa Elizabeth Royer, John H. Blume

John H. Blume

This Article examines the implications of emerging neuroscientific findings regarding empathy for capital trials. We have approached this task with caution because neuroscientists’ understanding of the human brain is still evolving. As with any new field, if neuroscience is completely trusted before it is thoroughly tested, there is a risk of embracing the new phrenology. Given the state of the research, our advice to defense lawyers is quite modest, but we believe that there are some important lessons for lawyers, judges, legislators, and other stakeholders in the capital punishment system.


Forty Years Of Death: The Past, Present, And Future Of The Death Penalty In South Carolina (Still Arbitrary After All These Years), John H. Blume, Lindsey S. Vann 2017 Cornell Law School

Forty Years Of Death: The Past, Present, And Future Of The Death Penalty In South Carolina (Still Arbitrary After All These Years), John H. Blume, Lindsey S. Vann

John H. Blume

Forty years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States deemed constitutional new death penalty laws intended to minimize the arbitrariness which led the Court to invalidate all capital sentencing statutes four years earlier in Furman v. Georgia. Over the last four decades the Court has — time and again — attempted to regulate the “machinery of death.” Looking back over the Court’s work, many observers, including two current Supreme Court justices, have questioned whether the modern death penalty has lived up to expectations set by the Court in the 1970s or if, despite 40 years of labor, the American death ...


Child Witnesses, Thomas D. Lyon, Kelly McWilliams, Shanna Williams 2017 University of Southern California

Child Witnesses, Thomas D. Lyon, Kelly Mcwilliams, Shanna Williams

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

In this chapter we provide an overview of psychological issues involving children’s capacities as witnesses. First, we discuss the kinds of cases in which children are usually involved. Across different courts, one most often sees children describing abuse at the hands of familiar adults. Second, we describe the difficulties children encounter in disclosing abuse, particularly when it is perpetrated by adults close to them. These dynamics lead most children to remain silent, and only the most forthcoming children to disclose. Third, we suggest a framework for assessing children’s allegations, in which child-generated and adult-generated information lie on opposite ...


The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children's Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression, Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon 2017 Arizona State University

The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children's Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression, Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This study examined the utility of two interview instructions designed to overcome children’s reluctance to disclose transgressions: eliciting a promise from children to tell the truth and the putative confession (telling children that a suspect “told me everything that happened and wants you to tell the truth”). The key questions were whether the instructions increased disclosure in response to recall questions and in response to recognition questions that were less or more explicit about transgressions, and whether instructions were differentially effective with age. Two-hundred and seventeen 4- to 9-year-old maltreated and comparable non-maltreated children played with a stranger. This ...


Farmer V. State, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 86 (Nov. 16, 2017), Maliq Kendricks 2017 University of Nevada, Las Vegas -- William S. Boyd School of Law

Farmer V. State, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 86 (Nov. 16, 2017), Maliq Kendricks

Nevada Supreme Court Summaries

The Nevada Supreme Court determined that (1) Under NRS 173.115(2), separate offenses may be joined against a defendant when they are committed as parts of a common scheme where the defendant’s separate crimes share features idiosyncratic in character; and (2) under NRS 174.165(1), joinder is proper in situations where a defendant commits similar offenses in separate instances.


City Of Las Vegas V. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 82 (Nov. 16, 2017), Jocelyn Murphy 2017 University of Nevada, Las Vegas -- William S. Boyd School of Law

City Of Las Vegas V. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 82 (Nov. 16, 2017), Jocelyn Murphy

Nevada Supreme Court Summaries

(1) The Court held the district court’s order was “contrary to the evidence” because the record was not sufficient to determine that any unpreserved issues were “plain” error. (2) The court also determined that NRS 50.155(1) does not presently bar witnesses from communicating outside of the courtroom about topics other than witness testimony when the witness exclusion rule is in effect.


Crime And Punishment: A Catholic Perspective, Joseph L. Falvey, Jr. 2017 St. John's University School of Law

Crime And Punishment: A Catholic Perspective, Joseph L. Falvey, Jr.

The Catholic Lawyer

No abstract provided.


Calling Crawford: Minnesota Declares A 911 Call Non-Testimonial In State V. Wright, Alistair Y. Raymond 2017 University of Maine School of Law

Calling Crawford: Minnesota Declares A 911 Call Non-Testimonial In State V. Wright, Alistair Y. Raymond

Maine Law Review

In State v. Wright, 1 the State of Minnesota charged David Wright with possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts of second-degree assault against his girlfriend and her sister. A jury found Wright guilty on all charges and sentenced him to sixty months in jail for each crime, with sentences served concurrently. Wright’s girlfriend, R.R., and her sister, S.R., did not testify against him at trial. The prosecution, however, used the transcript of a 911 call placed by R.R. against Wright in the trial. Although the 911 call was hearsay, the court admitted ...


The Relation Between Young Children's False Statements And Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth-Lie Understanding, Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon 2017 USC Gould School of Law

The Relation Between Young Children's False Statements And Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth-Lie Understanding, Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This study examined relations between children’s false statements and response latency, executive functioning, and truth-lie understanding in order to understand what underlies children’s emerging ability to make false statements. A total of 158 (2- to 5- year-old) children earned prizes for claiming that they were looking at birds even when presented with images of fish. Children were asked recall (“what do you have?”), recognition (“do you have a bird/fish?”), and outcome (“did you win/lose?”) questions. Response latencies were greater when children were presented with fish pictures than bird pictures, particularly when they were asked recall questions ...


"Where Were Your Clothes?" Eliciting Descriptions Of Clothing Placement From Children Alleging Sexual Abuse In Criminal Trials And Forensic Interviews, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon 2017 Arizona State University

"Where Were Your Clothes?" Eliciting Descriptions Of Clothing Placement From Children Alleging Sexual Abuse In Criminal Trials And Forensic Interviews, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Purpose: The present study examined how children alleging sexual abuse are asked about clothing placement during abusive episodes, both in criminal trials and forensic interviews. The placement of clothing is of great importance, because it facilitates distinguishing abusive touch from non-abusive touch, as well as the severity of abuse when the touching is in fact sexual. If clothing has not been removed, then sexual abuse appears less likely and certain types of sexual contact are physically impossible (or at least highly improbable). Methods: We examined how trial attorneys (n = 142) and forensic interviewers in investigative interviews (n = 155) questioned 5- ...


Relations Between Attorney Temporal Structure And Children's Response Productivity In Cases Of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse, J. Zoe Klemfuss, Kyndra C. Cleveland, J A. Quas, Thomas D. Lyon 2017 Florida International University

Relations Between Attorney Temporal Structure And Children's Response Productivity In Cases Of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse, J. Zoe Klemfuss, Kyndra C. Cleveland, J A. Quas, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Purpose. Previous research has demonstrated that attorney question format relates to child witness’ response productivity. However, little work has examined the extent to which attorneys provide temporal structure in their questions, and the effects of this structure on children’s responding. The purpose of this study was to address this gap in the literature to identify methods by which attorneys increase children’s response productivity on the stand without risking objections from opposing counsel for ‘calling for narrative answers’.

Methods. In this study, we coded criminal court transcripts involving child witnesses (5–18 years) for narrative structure in attorney questions ...


When Interviewing Children: A Review And Update, Karen J. Saywitz, Thomas D. Lyon, Gail S. Goodwin 2017 UCLA

When Interviewing Children: A Review And Update, Karen J. Saywitz, Thomas D. Lyon, Gail S. Goodwin

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

In this chapter, we highlight principles for interviewing children based on the best available science, understanding that such principles keep changing as new evidence accumulates and that gaps exist in the knowledge base where guidance is limited. Interviewers will need to stay abreast of new developments. First, we briefly describe the data base from which the tools derive--studies conducted in the laboratory and in the field. Then we discuss evidence-based interview tools and features of the interview about which there is sufficient empirical evidence and consensus to derive “toolboxes.” We discuss interview structure, setting, children’s reluctance and suggestibility, rapport ...


Spatial Language, Question Type, And Young Children's Ability To Describe Clothing: Legal And Developmental Implications, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly McWilliams, Thomas D. Lyon 2017 Arizona State University

Spatial Language, Question Type, And Young Children's Ability To Describe Clothing: Legal And Developmental Implications, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Children’s descriptions of clothing placement and touching with respect to clothing are central to assessing child sexual abuse allegations. This study examined children’s ability to answer the types of questions attorneys and interviewers typically ask about clothing, using the most common spatial terms (on/off, outside/inside, over/under). Ninety-seven 3- to 6-year-olds were asked yes/no (e.g. “Is the shirt on?”), forced-choice (e.g., “Is the shirt on or off?”), open-choice (e.g., “Is the shirt on or off or something else?”), or where questions (e.g., “Where is the shirt?”) about clothing using a human ...


Smashing The Tragic Illusion Of Justice: The Reprehensibility Of The Death Penalty In Virginia, Meagan E. Costello 2017 St. John's University School of Law

Smashing The Tragic Illusion Of Justice: The Reprehensibility Of The Death Penalty In Virginia, Meagan E. Costello

The Catholic Lawyer

No abstract provided.


Capital Punishment In The Age Of Terrorism, Norman L. Greene, Norman Redlich, David Bruck, Paul Saunders, Richard Weisberg, Kenneth Roth 2017 St. John's University School of Law

Capital Punishment In The Age Of Terrorism, Norman L. Greene, Norman Redlich, David Bruck, Paul Saunders, Richard Weisberg, Kenneth Roth

The Catholic Lawyer

No abstract provided.


Plea Bargain Negotiations: Defining Competence Beyond Lafler And Frye, Cynthia Alkon 2017 Texas A&M University School of Law

Plea Bargain Negotiations: Defining Competence Beyond Lafler And Frye, Cynthia Alkon

Cynthia Alkon

In the companion cases of Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye the U.S. Supreme Court held that there is a right to effective assistance of counsel during plea bargaining. However, the Court defined effective assistance of counsel in only one narrow phase of plea bargaining: the client counseling phase. The Court said it would not look more broadly at the negotiation process itself as "[b]argaining is, by its nature, defined to a substantial degree by personal style.” This statement indicates that the Court does not fully understanding developments in the field of negotiation over the last thirty ...


Hard Bargaining In Plea Bargaining: When Do Prosecutors Cross The Line?, Cynthia Alkon 2017 Texas A&M University School of Law

Hard Bargaining In Plea Bargaining: When Do Prosecutors Cross The Line?, Cynthia Alkon

Cynthia Alkon

Well over 90 percent of all criminal cases in the United States are resolved by plea bargaining and not by trial. This means that how plea bargaining works impacts nearly every criminal defendant. However, there are few restrictions to protect defendants in the negotiating process. One serious problem is that prosecutors regularly use hard bargaining tactics such as exploding offers, threats to add enhancements, take-it-or-leave-it offers, and threats to seek the death penalty. These hard bargaining tactics contribute to the often highly coercive atmosphere of plea bargaining that can lead innocent defendants to plead guilty. Pressure to plead guilty can ...


An Overlooked Key To Reversing Mass Incarceration: Reforming The Law To Reduce Prosecutorial Power In Plea Bargaining, Cynthia Alkon 2017 Texas A&M University School of Law

An Overlooked Key To Reversing Mass Incarceration: Reforming The Law To Reduce Prosecutorial Power In Plea Bargaining, Cynthia Alkon

Cynthia Alkon

The need to “do something” about mass incarceration is now widely recognized. When President Obama announced plans to reform federal criminal legislation, he focused on the need to change how we handle non-violent drug offenders and parole violators. Previously, former Attorney General Eric Holder announced policies to make federal prosecutors “smart on crime.” These changes reflect, as President Obama noted, the increasing bipartisan consensus on the need for reform and the need to reduce our incarceration rates. However, proposals about what to reform, such as President Obama’s, tend to focus on some parts of criminal sentencing and on prosecutorial ...


What's Law Got To Do With It? Plea Bargaining Reform After Lafler And Frye, Cynthia Alkon 2017 Texas A&M University School of Law

What's Law Got To Do With It? Plea Bargaining Reform After Lafler And Frye, Cynthia Alkon

Cynthia Alkon

This symposium article responds to the question, what's left of the law in the wake of ADR? The article addresses this question in the context of the criminal justice system in the United States. As with civil cases, few criminal cases go to trial. Negotiated agreements through plea bargaining have been the predominate form of case resolution since at least the mid-twentieth century. Plea bargaining, as with other forms of alternative dispute resolution, is an informal process that operates largely outside the formal legal system. Plea bargains are rarely negotiated on the record in open court. Instead, they are ...


United States V. Pho: Defining The Limits Of Discretionary Sentencing, John G. Wheatley 2017 University of Maine School of Law

United States V. Pho: Defining The Limits Of Discretionary Sentencing, John G. Wheatley

Maine Law Review

In the consolidated case of United States v. Pho, the government appealed two district court rulings that imposed criminal sentences outside of the range provided in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual (Guidelines). At separate trials, both defendants pied guilty to the crime of possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base (commonly known as crack). Rejecting the Guidelines' disparate treatment of crack and powder cocaine, the district court imposed sentences that were below the Guidelines' range, but above the statutory mandatory minimum. The Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated both sentences and remanded the ...


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