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Kangaroo Courts, Shaun Ossei-Owusu Jan 2021

Kangaroo Courts, Shaun Ossei-Owusu

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Kangaroo courts are seemingly everywhere and nowhere. Legal actors often use this term to describe substandard and defective tribunals across various areas of American law. Yet there are few scholarly treatments of this evocative term. Without embracing this specific description, Professor Alexandra Natapoff’s Criminal Municipal Courts provides vivid insights into a rarely explored world of administration that has many of the trappings of kangaroo courts. Natapoff catalogs how municipal courts — also referred to as “town,” “summary,” “justice,” “mayor,” and “police” courts — are sometimes replete with conflicts of interests, shockingly staffed with nonlawyer judges, and often flouting standard criminal …


Are There Really "Plenty Of Shapiros Out There"? A Comment On The Courage Of Norma L. Shapiro, Reid K. Weisbord, David A. Hoffman Apr 2017

Are There Really "Plenty Of Shapiros Out There"? A Comment On The Courage Of Norma L. Shapiro, Reid K. Weisbord, David A. Hoffman

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Norma Levy Shapiro, a trailblazing United States District Court Judge whose tenure on the Philadelphia federal bench spanned nearly 40 years, died July 22, 2016. This memoriam, written by two former law clerks, reflects fondly on Judge Shapiro’s judicial courage to follow her conscience even when doing so required making deeply unpopular decisions. To illustrate, this memoriam examines three of Judge Shapiro’s most memorable cases from her notable prisoner litigation docket.

First, in Harris v. Pernsley, Judge Shapiro’s principled but polarizing decisions in the Philadelphia prison overcrowding litigation elicited a now-familiar brand of snark from one (tremendous! but imperfectly …


Madness Alone Punishes The Madman: The Search For Moral Dignity In The Court's Competency Doctrine As Applied In Capital Cases, J. Amy Dillard Apr 2012

Madness Alone Punishes The Madman: The Search For Moral Dignity In The Court's Competency Doctrine As Applied In Capital Cases, J. Amy Dillard

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The purposes of the competency doctrine are to guarantee reliability in criminal prosecutions, to ensure that only those defendants who can appreciate punishment are subject to it, and to maintain moral dignity, both actual and apparent, in criminal proceedings. No matter his crime, the “madman” should not be forced to stand trial. Historically, courts viewed questions of competency as a binary choice, finding the defendant either competent or incompetent to stand trial. However, in Edwards v. Indiana, the Supreme Court conceded that it views competency on a spectrum and offered a new category of competency — borderline-competent. The Court held …


And Death Shall Have No Dominion: How To Achieve The Categorical Exemption Of Mentally Retarded Defendants From Execution, J. Amy Dillard Mar 2011

And Death Shall Have No Dominion: How To Achieve The Categorical Exemption Of Mentally Retarded Defendants From Execution, J. Amy Dillard

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This article examines the Court’s categorical exclusion of mentally retarded defendants from execution and explores how trial courts should employ procedures to accomplish heightened reliability in the mental retardation determination; it maintains that if a mentally retarded defendant is subjected to a death sentence then the Atkins directive has been ignored. To satisfy the Atkins Court’s objective of protecting mentally retarded defendants from the “special risk of wrongful execution,” the article explores whether trial courts should engage in a unified, pre-trial competency assessment in all capital cases where the defendant asserts mental retardation as a bar to execution and how …


Without Limitation: 'Groundhog Day' For Incompetent Defendants, J. Amy Dillard Jul 2007

Without Limitation: 'Groundhog Day' For Incompetent Defendants, J. Amy Dillard

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This Article offers a brief overview of the standards for determining competency to stand trial. After examining the seminal case of Jackson v. Indiana, which held that the indefinite pre-trial detention of incompetent defendants violates due process, this Article argues that Virginia Code § 19.2-169.3, like statutes in twenty other states, violates a defendant's right to substantive due process, including the right to be free from forcible medication. This Article proposes legislation that will make the process constitutional, while addressing the concerns about the release of dangerous individuals held by the prosecutors and the community.