Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Prof. Jennifer Laurin previews forum on prosecutorial oversight

Tomorrow afternoon at the UT law school there will be a 2-hour panel discussion on prosecutorial oversight, part of a "national conversation" promoted by the national Innocence Project and the Veritas Initiative in the wake of the Supreme Court's Connick v. Thompson decision affirming that prosecutors have "absolute immunity" for on-the-job misconduct. Assistant Professor Jennifer Laurin will be moderating the event, and yesterday I got a chance to sit down with her to discuss the issues in this Grits for Breakfast podcast/interview. (See the transcript here.)

Laurin describes Connick v. Thompson in some detail, and explains why the subject merits such a "national conversation." She then gives a rundown of the heavy hitting lineup on the dais, and discusses broadly some of the possible approaches or potential "sites" for reform that could be considered. And we discuss Laurin's own writing on Connick v. Thompson, about which she recently authored a chapter in a manual on federal civil rights litigation. She's very knowledgeable and we could easily have spoken about the subject a lot longer (the interview runs a little over 20 minutes).

The event itself will be broadcast live online on this dedicated website for those who can't attend. Here's a copy of the press release:
Prosecutorial Oversight: A national dialogue in the wake of Connick v. Thompson

Thursday, March 29, 2012
1:30 to 3:30 PM
Francis Auditorium
University of Texas School of Law – Austin, Texas

Please join us for the Texas stop of a national tour to address the issue of prosecutorial oversight.  The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Connick v. Thompson rejected civil liability for Brady violations in lieu of what it took to be effective status quo mechanisms for training, supervising, and remediating prosecutorial disclosure issues. A discussion followed by Q&A will address existing oversight mechanisms in Texas, assess their adequacy, and explore possible avenues of reform.

Speakers include:
  • Betty Blackwell – Attorney, former chair of the Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline
  • Jennifer Laurin (moderator) – Assistant Professor, University of Texas School of Law
  • Jim Leitner  - First Assistant District Attorney, Harris County
  • Michael Morton – Freed after 25 years in prison in Texas following DNA exoneration and revelation of concealed exculpatory evidence
  • Hon. Bob Perkins (Ret.) – Former judge, 331st District Court, Travis County
  • Professor Robert Schuwerk – Professor, University of Houston Law Center, author of leading treatise on Texas rules of professional conduct
  • John Thompson – Founder and Director of Resurrection After Exoneration and Voices of Innocence and plaintiff in Thompson v. Connick, imprisoned in Louisiana for 18 years (14 on death row), freed after revelation of concealed exculpatory evidence
  • Emily West – Research Director, The Innocence Project

1 comment:

Don Dickson said...

Wow, thanks for the heads-up on this, Grits. I'll see you there if I can make it.