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The Myth Of The All-Powerful Federal Prosecutor At Sentencing, Adam M. Gershowitz Jul 2022

The Myth Of The All-Powerful Federal Prosecutor At Sentencing, Adam M. Gershowitz

Faculty Publications

Relying on a dataset I assembled of 130 doctors prosecuted for illegal opioid distribution between 2015 and 2019, this Article shows that judges rejected federal prosecutors’ sentencing recommendations over two-thirds of the time. Put differently, prosecutors lost much more often than they prevailed at sentencing. And judges often rejected the prosecutors’ sentencing positions by dramatic margins. In 23% of cases, judges imposed a sentence that was half or even less than half of what prosecutors recommended. In 45% of cases, judges imposed a sentence that was at least one-third lower than what prosecutors requested. In short, prosecutors lost most of ...


The Appellate Judge As The Thirteenth Juror: Combating Implicit Bias In Criminal Convictions, Andrew S. Pollis Jan 2022

The Appellate Judge As The Thirteenth Juror: Combating Implicit Bias In Criminal Convictions, Andrew S. Pollis

Faculty Publications

Research has documented the effect that implicit bias plays in the disproportionately high wrongful-conviction rate for people of color. This Article proposes a novel solution to the problem: empowering individual appellate judges, even over the dissent of two colleagues, to send cases back for retrial when the trial record raises suspicions of a conviction tainted by the operation of implicit racial bias.

Factual review on appeal is unwelcome in most jurisdictions. But the traditional arguments against it, which highlight the importance of deference to the jury’s fact-finding powers, are overly simplistic. Scholars have already demonstrated the relative institutional competency ...


Old Age As The Hidden Sentencing Factor, Adam M. Gershowitz Jan 2022

Old Age As The Hidden Sentencing Factor, Adam M. Gershowitz

Faculty Publications

Imagine two doctors who illegally sold opioids in exchange for cash. Both doctors sold roughly the same quantity of pills, had no prior criminal convictions, and accordingly faced the same sentencing guidelines range. The major difference was that one doctor was in his sixties and considerably older than the other doctor. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines provide that judges should consider a defendant's age only in atypical cases. Yet, this Article demonstrates that older defendants received sentencing discounts far more often than younger defendants convicted of the same crime.

This Article gathers sentencing data for almost 130 doctors convicted in ...


Rehabilitating Charge Bargaining, Nancy Amoury Combs Apr 2021

Rehabilitating Charge Bargaining, Nancy Amoury Combs

Faculty Publications

Nobody likes plea bargaining. Scholars worldwide have excoriated the practice, calling it coercive and unjust, among other pejorative adjectives. Despite its unpopularity, plea bargaining constitutes a central component of the American criminal justice system, and the United States has exported the practice to a host of countries worldwide. Indeed, plea bargaining has even appeared at international criminal tribunals, created to prosecute genocide and crimes against humanity--the gravest crimes known to humankind. Although all forms of plea bargaining are unpopular, commentators reserve their harshest criticism for charge bargaining because charge bargaining is said to distort the factual basis of the defendant ...


The Opioid Doctors: Is Losing Your License A Sufficient Penalty For Dealing Drugs?, Adam M. Gershowitz Mar 2021

The Opioid Doctors: Is Losing Your License A Sufficient Penalty For Dealing Drugs?, Adam M. Gershowitz

Faculty Publications

Imagine that a medical board revokes a doctor's license both because he has been peddling thousands of pills of opioids and also because he was caught with a few grams of cocaine. The doctor is a family physician, not a pain management specialist. Yet, during a one-year period he wrote more than 4,000 prescriptions for opioids--roughly eighteen scripts per day. Patients came from multiple states and from hundreds of miles away to get oxycodone prescriptions. And the doctor prescribed large quantities of opioids--up to 240 pills per month--to patients with no record of previously needing narcotic painkillers. Both ...


The Race To The Top To Reduce Prosecutorial Misconduct, Adam M. Gershowitz Mar 2021

The Race To The Top To Reduce Prosecutorial Misconduct, Adam M. Gershowitz

Faculty Publications

This Essay offers an unconventional approach to deterring prosecutorial misconduct. Trial judges should use their inherent authority to forbid prosecutors from appearing and handling cases in their courtrooms until the prosecutors have completed training on Brady v. Maryland, Batson v. Kentucky, and other types of prosecutorial misconduct. If a single trial judge in a medium-sized or large jurisdiction imposes training prerequisites on prosecutors, it could set off a race to the top that encourages other judges to adopt similar (or perhaps even more rigorous) training requirements. A mandate that prosecutors receive ethics training before handling any cases is comparable to ...


Trauma And Memory In The Prosecution Of Sexual Assault, Cynthia V. Ward Jan 2021

Trauma And Memory In The Prosecution Of Sexual Assault, Cynthia V. Ward

Faculty Publications

Part I of this article traces the history of the recovered memory movement in the criminal prosecution of sexual assault, discussing some prominent cases and their consequences for wrongly convicted defendants. Part II asks why the criminal law was so vulnerable to claims of sexual assault, and other violent crimes, that were often wildly improbable on their face. The article concludes that the structure of recovered memory theory had the effect of disabling checks in the criminal process which are designed to prevent unjust convictions. Part III applies that conclusion to the theory of Trauma-informed Investigation (TII) and the "Neurobiology ...


Unshackling Plea Bargaining From Racial Bias, Elayne E. Greenberg Jan 2021

Unshackling Plea Bargaining From Racial Bias, Elayne E. Greenberg

Faculty Publications

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, [but] if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

Dr. Maya Angelou

When an African American male defendant tries to plea bargain an equitable justice outcome, he finds that the deep-rooted racial bias that casts African American men as dangerous, criminal and animalistic, compromises his justice rights. Plea bargaining has become the preferred process used to secure convictions for upwards of 97 percent of cases because of its efficiency. This efficiency, however, comes at a cost. The structure and process of plea bargaining makes it more likely that the historical racial ...


Victims, Right?, Anna Roberts Jan 2021

Victims, Right?, Anna Roberts

Faculty Publications

In criminal contexts, a “victim” is typically defined as someone who has been harmed by a crime. Yet the word commonly appears in legal contexts that precede the adjudication of whether a crime has occurred. Each U.S. state guarantees “victims’ rights,” including many that apply pre-adjudication; ongoing “Marsy’s Law” efforts seek to expand and constitutionalize them nationwide. At trial, advocates, judges, and jury instructions employ this word even though the existence or not of crime (and thus of a crime victim) is a central question to be decided. This usage matters in part because of its possible consequences ...


When Public Defenders And Prosecutors Plea Bargain Race – A More Truthful Narrative, Elayne E. Greenberg Jan 2021

When Public Defenders And Prosecutors Plea Bargain Race – A More Truthful Narrative, Elayne E. Greenberg

Faculty Publications

(Excerpt)

This paper challenges prevailing stereotypes about public defenders and prosecutors and updates those stereotypes with a more accurate narrative about how reform-minded public defenders and prosecutors can plea bargain race to yield more equitable justice outcomes.

I was invited to the discussion about criminal justice reform in plea bargaining, because of my work in dispute resolution, dispute system design, and discrimination. Plea bargaining is a justice system negotiation that is used in upwards of 97% of criminal case dispositions. Unlike many of my colleagues in criminal justice reform who have also had years of experience working in the criminal ...


Punishing Pill Mill Doctors: Sentencing Disparities In The Opioid Epidemic, Adam M. Gershowitz Dec 2020

Punishing Pill Mill Doctors: Sentencing Disparities In The Opioid Epidemic, Adam M. Gershowitz

Faculty Publications

Consider two pill mill doctors who flooded the streets with oxycodone and other dangerous opioids. The evidence against both doctors was overwhelming. They each sold millions of opioid pills. Both doctors charged addicted patients hundreds of dollars in cash for office visits that involved no physical examinations and no diagnostic tests. Instead, the doctors simply handed the patients opioids in exchange for cash. To maximize their income, both doctors conspired with street dealers to import fake patients — many of them homeless — so that the doctors could write even more prescriptions. Both doctors made millions of dollars profiting off the misery ...


The Changing Role Of The American Prosecutor, Jeffrey Bellin Oct 2020

The Changing Role Of The American Prosecutor, Jeffrey Bellin

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Expanding The Reach Of Progressive Prosecution, Jeffrey Bellin Oct 2020

Expanding The Reach Of Progressive Prosecution, Jeffrey Bellin

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Theories Of Prosecution, Jeffrey Bellin Aug 2020

Theories Of Prosecution, Jeffrey Bellin

Faculty Publications

For decades, legal commentators sounded the alarm about the tremendous power wielded by prosecutors. Scholars went so far as to identify uncurbed prosecutorial discretion as the primary source of the criminal justice system’s many flaws. Over the past two years, however, the conversation shifted. With the emergence of a new wave of “progressive prosecutors,” scholars increasingly hail broad prosecutorial discretion as a promising mechanism for criminal justice reform.

The abrupt shift from decrying to embracing prosecutorial power highlights a curious void at the center of criminal justice thought. There is no widely accepted normative theory of the prosecutorial role ...


When Is Police Interrogation Really Police Interrogation? A Look At The Application Of The Miranda Mandate, Paul Marcus Jul 2020

When Is Police Interrogation Really Police Interrogation? A Look At The Application Of The Miranda Mandate, Paul Marcus

Faculty Publications

It seemed so clear a half-century ago. After years of frustration reviewing the voluntariness of confessions on a case-by-case basis, a Supreme Court majority in Miranda v. Arizona held that incriminating statements resulting from interrogation while in custody would not be admissible at trial to prove guilt unless warnings were given to advise a suspect of rights of silence and an attorney. It is disappointing to report that if anything has been established over the past 50 years, it is that this mandate isn't clear at all. It turns out that police officers do not necessarily give exactly the ...


Defending Progressive Prosecution: A Review Of Charged By Emily Bazelon, Jeffrey Bellin Jan 2020

Defending Progressive Prosecution: A Review Of Charged By Emily Bazelon, Jeffrey Bellin

Faculty Publications

"Progressive prosecutors" are taking over District Attorney's Offices across the nation with a mandate to reform the criminal Justice system from the inside. Emily Bazelon's new book, Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration, chronicles this potentially transformative moment in American criminal Justice.

This Essay highlights the importance of Charged to modern criminal justice debates and leverages its concrete framing to offer a generally applicable theory of prosecutor-driven criminal justice reform. The theory seeks to reconcile reformers' newfound embrace of prosecutorial discretion with long-standing worries, both inside and outside the academy, about the ...


First Amendment Lochnerism & The Origins Of The Incorporation Doctrine, James Y. Stern Jan 2020

First Amendment Lochnerism & The Origins Of The Incorporation Doctrine, James Y. Stern

Faculty Publications

The 20th century emergence of the incorporation doctrine is regarded as a critical development in constitutional law, but while issues related to the doctrine's justification have been studied and debated for more than fifty years, the causes and mechanics of its advent have received relatively little academic attention. This Essay, part of a symposium on Judge Jeffrey Sutton's recent book about state constitutional law, examines the doctrinal origins of incorporation, in an effort to help uncover why the incorporation doctrine emerged when it did and the way it did. It concludes that, for these purposes, incorporation is best ...


Convictions As Guilt, Anna Roberts Jan 2020

Convictions As Guilt, Anna Roberts

Faculty Publications

A curious tension exists in scholarly discourse about the criminal legal system. On the one hand, a copious body of work exposes a variety of facets of the system that jeopardize the reliability of convictions. These include factors whose influence is pervasive: the predominance of plea bargaining, for example, and the subordination of the defense. On the other hand, scholars often discuss people who have criminal convictions in a way that appears to assume crime commission. This apparent assumption obscures crucial failings of the system, muddies the role of academia, and, given the unequal distribution of criminal convictions, risks compounding ...


Categorical Nonuniformity, Sheldon Evans Jan 2020

Categorical Nonuniformity, Sheldon Evans

Faculty Publications

The categorical approach, which is a method federal courts use to ‘categorize’ which state law criminal convictions can trigger federal sanctions, is one of the most impactful yet misunderstood legal doctrines in criminal and immigration law. For thousands of criminal offenders, the categorical approach determines whether a previous state law conviction—as defined by the legal elements of the crime—sufficiently matches the elements of the federal crime counterpart that justifies imposing harsh federal sentencing enhancements or even deportation for noncitizens. One of the normative goals courts have invoked to uphold this elements-based categorical approach is that it produces nationwide ...


Justice On The Line: Prosecutorial Screening Before Arrest, Adam M. Gershowitz Aug 2019

Justice On The Line: Prosecutorial Screening Before Arrest, Adam M. Gershowitz

Faculty Publications

Police make more than eleven million arrests every year. Yet prosecutors dismiss about 25% of criminal charges with no conviction being entered. Needless arrests are therefore clogging the criminal justice system and harming criminal defendants. For instance, Freddie Gray was fatally injured in police custody after being arrested for possession of a switchblade knife. Prosecutors later announced, however, that they did not believe the knife was actually illegal. If prosecutors had to approve warrantless arrests before police could take suspects into custody, Freddie Gray would still be alive. Yet prosecutors’ offices almost never dictate who the police should or should ...


Fictional Pleas, Thea B. Johnson Jul 2019

Fictional Pleas, Thea B. Johnson

Faculty Publications

A fictional plea is one in which the defendant pleads guilty to a crime he has not committed with the knowledge of the defense attorney, prosecutor and judge. With fictional pleas, the plea of conviction is totally detached from the original factual allegations against the defendant. As criminal justice actors become increasingly troubled by the impact of collateral consequences on defendants, the fictional plea serves as an appealing response to this concern. It allows the parties to achieve parallel aims: the prosecutor holds the defendant accountable in the criminal system, while the defendant avoids devastating non-criminal consequences. In this context ...


The Power Of Prosecutors, Jeffrey Bellin May 2019

The Power Of Prosecutors, Jeffrey Bellin

Faculty Publications

One of the predominant themes in the criminal justice literature is that prosecutors dominate the justice system. Over seventy-five years ago, Attorney General Robert Jackson famously proclaimed that the “prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America.” In one of the most cited law review articles of all time, Bill Stuntz added that prosecutors—not legislators, judges, or police—“are the criminal justice system’s real lawmakers.” And an unchallenged modern consensus holds that prosecutors “rule the criminal justice system.”

This Article applies a critical lens to longstanding claims of prosecutorial preeminence. It ...


Sixth Amendment Sentencing After Hurst, Carissa B. Hessick, W. W. Berry Apr 2019

Sixth Amendment Sentencing After Hurst, Carissa B. Hessick, W. W. Berry

Faculty Publications

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Hurst v. Florida, which struck down Florida’s capital sentencing scheme, altered the Court’s Sixth Amendment sentencing doctrine. That doctrine has undergone several important changes since it was first recognized. At times the doctrine has expanded, invalidating sentencing practices across the country, and at times it has contracted, allowing restrictions on judicial sentencing discretion based on findings that are not submitted to a jury. Hurst represents another expansion of the doctrine. Although the precise scope of the decision is unclear, the most sensible reading of Hurst suggests that any finding ...


The Challenge Of Convincing Ethical Prosecutors That Their Profession Has A Brady Problem, Adam M. Gershowitz Apr 2019

The Challenge Of Convincing Ethical Prosecutors That Their Profession Has A Brady Problem, Adam M. Gershowitz

Faculty Publications

In recent decades, both the media and legal scholars have documented the widespread problem of prosecutors failing to disclose favorable evidence to the defense – so called Brady violations. Despite all of this documentation however, many ethical prosecutors reject the notion that the criminal justice system has a Brady problem. These prosecutors – ethical lawyers who themselves have not been accused of misconduct – believe that the scope of the Brady problem is exaggerated. Why do ethical prosecutors downplay the evidence that some of their colleagues have committed serious errors?

This essay, in honor of Professor Bennett Gershman, points to what psychologists have ...


Fixing The Broken System Of Assessing Criminal Appeals For Frivolousness, Andrew S. Pollis Jan 2019

Fixing The Broken System Of Assessing Criminal Appeals For Frivolousness, Andrew S. Pollis

Faculty Publications

This article seeks to end fifty years of confusion over how to proceed when a criminal defendant wants to appeal but appointed counsel sees no basis for doing so.

Practices vary among jurisdictions, but most require counsel to explain the predicament to the court—often at a level of detail that compromises the duty of loyalty to the client. Most also require the court to double-check counsel’s conclusion by conducting its own independent review of the record, thus burdening judges and blurring the important line between judge and advocate. And at no point in this process does the defendant ...


Investigative Delegations: Predictable Predicaments, Nancy Amoury Combs Jan 2019

Investigative Delegations: Predictable Predicaments, Nancy Amoury Combs

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Lead Us Not Into Temptation: A Response To Barbara Fedders’S “Opioid Policing”, Anna Roberts Jan 2019

Lead Us Not Into Temptation: A Response To Barbara Fedders’S “Opioid Policing”, Anna Roberts

Faculty Publications

(Excerpt)

In “Opioid Policing,” Barbara Fedders contributes to the law review literature the first joint scholarly analysis of two drug policing innovations: Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program and the Angel Initiative, which originated in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Even while welcoming the innovation and inspiration of these programs, she remains clear-eyed about the need to scrutinize their potential downsides. Her work is crucially timed. While still just a few years old, LEAD has been replicated many times and appears likely to be replicated still further—and to be written about much more. Inspired by Fedders’s call for a ...


Arrests As Guilt, Anna Roberts Jan 2019

Arrests As Guilt, Anna Roberts

Faculty Publications

An arrest puts a halt to one’s free life and may act as prelude to a new process. That new process—prosecution—may culminate in a finding of guilt. But arrest and guilt—concepts that are factually and legally distinct—frequently seem to be fused together. This fusion appears in many of the consequences of arrest, including the use of arrests in assessing “risk,” in calculating “recidivism,” and in identifying “offenders.” An examination of this fusion elucidates obstacles to key aspects of criminal justice reform. Efforts at reform, whether focused on prosecution or defense, police or bail, require a ...


Discipline And Policing, Kate Levine Jan 2019

Discipline And Policing, Kate Levine

Faculty Publications

A prime focus of police-reform advocates is the transparency of police discipline. Indeed, transparency is one of, the most popular accountability solutions for a wide swath of policing problems. This Article examines the “transparency cure” as it applies to Police Disciplinary Records (“PDRs”). These records are part of an officer’s personnel file and contain reported wrongdoing from supervisors, Internal Affairs Bureaus, and Citizen Complaint Review Boards.

This Article argues that making PDRs public is worthy of skeptical examination. It problematizes the notion that transparency is a worthy end goal for those who desire to see police-reform in general. Transparency ...


Too Ill To Be Killed: Mental And Physical Competency To Be Executed Pursuant To The Death Penalty, Linda A. Malone Oct 2018

Too Ill To Be Killed: Mental And Physical Competency To Be Executed Pursuant To The Death Penalty, Linda A. Malone

Faculty Publications

Mentally ill individuals are being housed in prisons and jails throughout the country. Due to decreased funding and overpopulation of correctional facilities, individuals with pre-existing illnesses, as well as others who develop illnesses, are in severe need of mental health services and punished for their ailments through the use of solitary confinement, long prison sentences, and lack of care. The stress created by such conditions is amplified for mentally ill prisoners who are awaiting execution or the dismissal of their death row sentences. These individuals must show that they are competent to stand trial, exhibit the mental state required for ...