Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Reconceiving the prosecutor's role, the jury's Brady rights, and other missives from the ivory tower

Here are a few academic articles recently posted to SSRN which caught Grits' eye and may merit readers' attention:
  • "The Jury's Brady Right." Arguably, defendants aren't the only ones harmed when the government conceals exculpatory evidence against them. This article considers the situation from the jury's perspective.
  • "Mental Health and False Confessions." In an era when jails are the largest mental institutions in nearly every community, this aspect of false confession research takes on particular importance.
  • "Reconceiving the Standard Conception of the Prosecutor's Role." The prosecutor's obligation to "seek  justice" reflects "the law's best impulses," but in practice is "vague, contradictory, improperly incorporates undefined moral concepts into legal duties, and does not reflect the work that prosecutors do," this paper argues.
  • "Drug Treatment Courts and Their Progeny in the U.S.: Overcoming Their Winding Trajectory to Make the Concept Work for the Long Term." Texas is struggling with this problem. Gov. Perry ramped up drug courts' use, but they don't scale up well and are too often used on low-risk offenders who don't need such high levels of supervision. There's a need to discuss a vision for them going forward.
  • "Feeding the Machine: Policing, Crime Control, and Algorithms." From the abstract, "Police are not simply end users of big data. They generate the information that big data programs rely upon. This essay explains why predictive policing programs can’t be fully understood without an acknowledgment of the role police have in creating its inputs." So true. Good example was systematic underreporting of deaths in police custody to exclude one quarter of police shootings in Texas over the last decade.
  • "Marijuana Legalization and Pretext Stops." This paper explores whether "legalization [could] take away some of the legal tools and policing incentives that fuel pretextual stops?", noting that "To date, the relationship between state marijuana legalization and the Fourth Amendment has received little attention in comparison to issues like federalism or taxes." In Texas, our Attorney General has begun to similarly explore whether open-carry gun laws might preempt certain Fourth Amendment exceptions. Interesting subject.
  • "Fines, Fees, and Forfeitures." "The use of fines, fees, and forfeitures has expanded significantly in recent years as lawmakers have sought to fund criminal justice systems without raising taxes. Concerns are growing, however, that inadequately designed systems for the use of such economic sanctions have problematic policy outcomes, such as the distortion of criminal justice priorities, exacerbation of financial vulnerability of people living at or near poverty, increased crime, jail overcrowding, and even decreased revenue."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The Jury Speaks" on the Oxygen Channel addresses some of the jury's Brady rights by gathering past jury members of high-profile cases and showing them ALL the evidence that was revealed to the public during the trial (while the jury was sequestered) and post-trial -- evidence that was not revealed to them, but should have been. The ex-jury members are asked if they would now, after being shown the additional evidence, change their decisions.

Very interesting -- Robert Durst trial, OJ Simpson trial, Michael Jackson trial, others.