NewYorkUniversity
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Criminal Procedure

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NITs a No-Go: Disclosing Exploits and Technological Vulnerabilities in Criminal Cases

Rupinder K. Garcha

Network investigative techniques (NITs) are law enforcement tools that allow the government to hack into targeted computers by exploiting technological vulnerabilities. NITs have succeeded in identifying and locating criminal actors operating on the Dark Web where traditional investigative techniques have failed. They play a critical role in the investigation of cybercrime and in the national security sphere. But disclosure of a NIT’s code can render it useless and jeopardize government operations that rely on that code. In numerous federal cases, criminal defendants have sought access to NIT code, and courts have had to decide whether the government must disclose the code. The government’s interest in confidentiality is inherently at tension with criminal defendants’ right to discovery and information material to their defense.
In order to make informed decisions about disclosure, courts must be cognizant of the equities at stake and understand technical details about NITs. Courts can better equip themselves by holding ex parte and in camera proceedings, and appointing experts to augment their understanding of technical issues. These procedures can ensure that the government is held accountable, defendants’ rights are protected, and NIT code is preserved. As the Dark Web expands, cybercrime is likely to become more pervasive, and criminal actors will devise more sophisticated means of anonymizing their presence online. Law enforcement will have to respond creatively and courts must be prepared to tackle novel issues that straddle technology and law.

Warrantless Location Tracking

Ian James Samuel

The ubiquity of cell phones has transformed police investigations. Tracking a suspect’s movements by following her phone is now a common but largely unnoticed surveillance technique. It is useful, no doubt, precisely because it is so revealing; it also raises significant privacy concerns. In this Note, I consider what the procedural requirements for cell phone tracking should be by examining the relevant statutory and constitutional law. Ultimately, the best standard is probable cause; only an ordinary warrant can satisfy the text of the statutes and the mandates of the Constitution.

The Domestic Dog’s Foreign Tail: Foreign Relevant Conduct Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Valerie S. Roddy

In this Note, Valerie Roddy studies the continuing hesitancy of U.S. courts to include foreign relevant conduct in federal sentences, despite the expansive inclusion of domestic relevant conduct. Roddy analyzes the courts’ principal concerns and concludes that the distinctions that courts are drawing between foreign and domestic relevant conduct are illusory. She argues that to achieve consistency in sentencing and proportional sentencing for international defendants, foreign and domestic conduct must be treated identically. Finally, she contends that distinguishing foreign relevant conduct and subjecting it to a special analysis is best viewed as a means of retaining a measure of discretion in a federal sentencing system struggling with both the potent effect of relevant conduct on sentences and the shrinking judicial discretion over sentences.

Beyond Tanner: An Alternative Framework for Postverdict Juror Testimony

Benjamin T. Huebner

Almost twenty years ago, the Supreme Court’s decision in Tanner v. United States established that under Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) juror intoxication was an “internal” influence to which jurors were incompetent to testify. Since that decision, many states have discarded their diverse approaches regarding the admissibility of juror testimony on juror misconduct in favor of Tanner’s external/internal framework.

This Note demonstrates why the policy considerations justifying restrictions on juror testimony are not well served by Tanner’s external/internal framework. The Note offers states an alternative approach to the issue of juror misconduct which would better protect both jurors and litigants.

Transparency and Participation in Criminal Procedure

Stephanos Bibas

A great gulf divides insiders and outsiders in the criminal justice system. The insiders who run the criminal justice system—judges, police, and especially prosecutors—have information, power, and self-interests that greatly influence the criminal justice system’s process and outcomes. Outsiders—crime victims, bystanders, and most of the general public— find the system frustratingly opaque, insular, and unconcerned with proper retribution. As a result of this gulf, a spiral ensues: Insiders twist rules as they see fit, outsiders try to constrain them through new rules, and insiders find ways to evade or manipulate the new rules. The gulf between insiders and outsiders undercuts the instrumental, moral, and expressive efficacy of criminal procedure in serving the criminal law’s substantive goals. The gulf clouds the law’s deterrent and expressive messages, as well as its efficacy in healing victims; it impairs trust in and the legitimacy of the law; it provokes increasingly draconian reactions by outsiders; and it hinders public monitoring of agency costs. The most promising solutions are to inform crime victims and other affected locals better and to give them larger roles in criminal justice. It also might be possible to do a better job monitoring and checking insiders, but the prospects for empowering and educating the general public are dim.

Brady Materiality Before Trial: The Scope of the Duty to Disclose and the Right to a Trial by Jury

Christopher Deal

Brady v. Maryland requires prosecutors to disclose to criminal defendants all material, favorable evidence in the government’s possession. Evidence is material if its disclosure would have created a reasonable probability of a different verdict. Though materiality may correctly guide appellate courts in deciding when to reverse convictions, the author contends that it is both impractical and unconstitutional to ask prosecutors to use materiality as the measure of their disclosure obligations before trial. It is impractical because it requires prosecutors convinced of the defendant’s guilt to decide what combination of evidence, if disclosed, would create a reasonable probability of an acquittal at the end of a trial that has yet to begin. It is unconstitutional so long as due process means something other than that which produces the right outcome. This Note suggests that prosecutors should employ a balancing test based on the interaction of Brady disclosure rules and the defendant’s right to a trial by jury to determine when favorable evidence must be disclosed. This balancing test provides prosecutors with a disclosure standard that is simple, constitutional, and compatible with courts’ continued use of the materiality standard after trial.

Constitutional Default Rules and Interbranch Cooperation

Tara Leigh Grove

This Note explores whether “constitutional default rules,” or judicially crafted constitutional rules designed to spur legislative action, can generate interbranch cooperation in the area of criminal procedure. The Note looks at two types of constitutional default rules—the “model” default rule and the “penalty” default rule—in theory and in practice, examining how the Court has employed such rules to generate a dialogue with Congress in order to implement constitutional rights. The Note argues that while there have been notable failures by the Court in using the default rule to elicit a rights-protective legislative reaction (namely, in the case of Miranda v. Arizona) under the right conditions, the constitutional default rule may still be a viable tool for spurring progressive legislative policy and reform of the criminal justice system.

Neuroimaging and the “Complexity” of Capital Punishment

O. Carter Snead

The growing use of brain imaging technology to explore the causes of morally, socially, and legally relevant behavior is the subject of much discussion and controversy in both scholarly and popular circles. From the efforts of cognitive neuroscientists in the courtroom and the public square, the contours of a project to transform capital sentencing both in principle and in practice have emerged. In the short term, these scientists seek to play a role in the process of capital sentencing by serving as mitigation experts for defendants, invoking neuroimaging research on the roots of criminal violence to support their arguments. Over the long term, these same experts (and their like-minded colleagues) hope to appeal to the recent findings of their discipline to embarrass, discredit, and ultimately overthrow retributive justice as a principle of punishment. Taken as a whole, these short- and long-term efforts are ultimately meant to usher in a more compassionate and humane regime for capital defendants.

This Article seeks to articulate, analyze, and provide a critique of this project according to the metric of its own humanitarian aspirations. It proceeds by exploring the implications of the project in light of the mechanics of capital sentencing and the heterogeneous array of competing doctrinal rationales in which they are rooted. The Article concludes that the project as currently conceived is internally inconsistent and would, if implemented, result in ironic and tragic consequences, producing a death penalty regime that is even more draconian and less humane than the deeply flawed framework currently in place.

Compelled Cooperation and the New Corporate Criminal Procedure

Lisa Kern Griffin

In response to the broad scope of the Enron-era frauds, the federal government has adopted novel strategies to investigate and prosecute corporate crimes. This Article examines the use of stringent cooperation requirements and deferred prosecution agreements, pursuant to which corporate internal investigations have become extensions of government enforcement efforts. At the same time, liability has shifted markedly to the employee level: Over one thousand individuals have been indicted and convicted since the July 2002 creation of the Corporate Fraud Task Force, while few corporations have been charged. The convergence of corporate cooperation doctrine with the focus on individual targets results in significant unfairness for employees who are compelled to incriminate themselves in the context of internal investigations that are directed by the government. Because of the awkward partnering of public governmental investigations with private corporate compliance efforts, that normative burden on employees may not be offset by enforcement benefits. This Article suggests that the government’s application of a civil regulatory model to criminal cases creates distortions because individual liberty rather than a financial sanction is at stake, because prosecutors do not engage in negotiated governance, and because judicial oversight at the investigative stage is minimal. This Article also addresses the constitutional implications of outsourcing corporate criminal investigations and argues that employees interviewed by internal investigators pursuant to the terms of a pending deferred prosecution agreement should enjoy immunity analogous to the Garrity shield that protects public employees. Several strands of Fifth Amendment theory are consistent with the argument that economic pressure, such as the threat of job loss, can rise to the level of constitutionally significant coercion. When that pressure is brought to bear pursuant to a deferred prosecution agreement, it is delegated coercion, but may be attributed to the government as state action.

DNA Databases, Universality, and the Fourth Amendment

Paul M. Monteleoni

DNA databases enable extremely accurate criminal identification, and a database with appropriate privacy safeguards could be a boon not only for law enforcement but for civil libertarians as well. Unfortunately, current DNA databases lack important precautions and expose DNA donors to serious risks of abuse. The courts that have heard Fourth Amendment challenges to these databases have uniformly upheld them using one of two different rationales. Some courts have held that DNA databases serve a special need, and others have held that the convicted offenders targeted by current statutes have diminished privacy interests in their DNA. However, neither rationale provides a convincing justification for compelling individuals to provide DNA for a database, with or without safeguards. The problem is not with the substantive reasonableness of DNA collection for an ideal database, but with crafting a judicial decision procedure that allows only reasonable databases and not unreasonable ones. The solution proposed by this Note, accordingly, is an alternative decisionmaking procedure that enlists the assistance of the political process. Under the “universality exception” to the warrant requirement proposed by this Note, a search is reasonable if it is authorized by a statute that truly applies equally to every member of the population. The political process leading to the enactment of a universal DNA database, which this exception would require, would ensure that any such database had appropriate safeguards.

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