Category Archives: Criminal Law

New Article: “Dangerous Warrants”

Sekhon, Nirej, Dangerous Warrants, Washington Law Review, Vol. 93, (2018) [Abstract below]

The Supreme Court has cast judicial warrants as the Fourth Amendment gold standard for regulating police discretion. It has embraced a “warrant preference” on the premise that requiring police to obtain advance judicial approval for searches and seizures encourages accurate identification of evidence and suspects while minimizing interference with constitutional rights. The Court and commentators have overlooked the fact that most outstanding warrants do none of these things. Most outstanding warrants are what this article terms “non-compliance warrants”: summarily issued arrest warrants for failures to comply with a court or police order. State and local courts are profligate in issuing such warrants for minor offenses. For example, the Department of Justice found that the municipal court in Ferguson, Missouri issued one warrant for every two of its residents. When issued as wantonly as this, warrants are dangerous because they generate police discretion rather than restrain it. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has, most recently in Utah v. Strieff, treated non-compliance warrants as if no different from the traditional warrants that gave rise to the Fourth Amendment warrant preference.

This article argues that non-compliance warrants pose unique dangers, constitutional and otherwise. Non-compliance warrants create powerful incentives for the police to conduct unconstitutional stops, particularly in poor and minority neighborhoods. Their enforcement also generates race and class feedback loops. Outstanding warrants beget arrests and arrests beget more warrants. Over time, this dynamic amplifies race and class disparities in criminal justice. The article concludes by prescribing a Fourth Amendment remedy to deter unconstitutional warrant checks. More importantly, the article identifies steps state and local courts might take to stem the continued proliferation of non-compliance warrants.

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Upcoming Symposium: “Anatomy of Justice: An Honest Conversation on the Criminal Justice System in 2017” – Wash. D.C. Nov. 10, 2017

Upcoming Symposium: The American University Law Review is pleased to invite you to Volume 67’s symposium, Anatomy of Justice:  An Honest Conversation on the Criminal Justice System in 2017 (Ann. Sympo. Agenda Program). The symposium will feature a keynote address by Professor James Forman Jr. of Yale Law School and panel discussions on juvenile justice, capital punishment, racial disparities, and bail bonds and fines.  Because we are dedicating the event and issue to the Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee for the Eastern District of Virginia, the program will also include a dedication ceremony. The symposium will take place on Friday, November 10, 2017, at the American University Washington College of Law campus in Claudio Grossman Hall.

You may find directions to campus here and there is parking available on-campus. To attend, please register for the event here.  Registration is free but required. The Office of Special Events and Continued Legal Education will apply for CLE credit on your behalf for $275.

New Article: “The Power of the Public Defender Experience: Learning by Fighting for the Incarcerated and Poor”

Patrick C. Brayer, The Power of the Public Defender Experience: Learning by Fighting for the Incarcerated and Poor, 53 Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y 105 (2017). Abstract below:

This Essay discusses how public defender apprenticeships impact law students and help mold their future careers. Brayer discusses the tangible advantages that the apprenticeship imparts on students as well as the transferable skills that students gain. Brayer then analyzes the internal and professional growth of students that participate in this apprenticeship. Brayer situates this growth within the context of Chief Justice John Marshall’s own similar experience, arguing how the public defender experience focuses and matures aspiring lawyers.

New related op-eds: “Time to end injustice in juvenile justice system” AND “Gouging families with kids in detention serves no one. California should make it stop”

New related op-eds:

Op-Ed: “In California, poor people go to jail, rich people go free. How long will this go on?”

Editorial Board, In California, poor people go to jail, rich people go free. How long will this go on?, The Sacramento Bee, August 28, 2017. [A look into California’s cash bail system and its disparate effect on California’s less fortunate.]

New Article: “Reflections on the Challenge of Inez Moore: Family Integrity in the Wake of Mass Incarceration”

Ann Cammet, Reflections on the Challenge of Inez Moore: Family Integrity in the Wake of Mass Incarceration, 85 Fordham L. Rev. 2579 (2017).

New Jotwell Review: “Tracing the Roots of the Criminalization of Poverty”

New Jotwell Review: Wendy A. Bach, Tracing the Roots of the Criminalization of Poverty, Jotwell, Aug. 11, 2017 (reviewing Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (2016)).

New Report: “Ban the Box and Racial Discrimination: A Review of the Evidence and Policy Recommendations”

New Report: Christina Plerhoples & Stacy Mychal Cohen, Ban the Box and Racial Discrimination: A Review of the Evidence and Policy Recommendations (Urban Institute 2017).

Paper: “Is Mass Incarceration History?”

Paper: “A Home of One’s Own: The Fight Against Illegal Housing Discrimination Based on Criminal Convictions, and Those Who Are Still Left Behind”