Over the last fifty years, courts and scholars have debated the utility and reliability of informants—individuals who alert law enforcement to the occurrence of crime, point law enforcement in the direction of potential perpetrators, and help law enforcement prosecute those eventually charged. There are three primary types of criminal justice informants: (1) criminal and confidential informants, (2) anonymous tipsters, and (3) citizen-informants. Judicial examinations and scholarly critiques of informants have focused almost exclusively on the first two categories. These informants are deemed suspect, either because they are so enmeshed in the justice system that they have questionable motives, or because they inculpate others under a veil of anonymity. Meanwhile, the third category of informant—the citizen-informant—has evaded rigorous scrutiny because of the “citizen-informant doctrine,” a premise embraced by the federal courts and many state courts. The citizen-informant doctrine reasons that individuals who witness or fall victim to crime and willingly identify themselves to law enforcement officers are presumptively reliable. This presumption enables law enforcement officers to conduct searches and seizures that would otherwise be unlawful based on uncorroborated reports from untested civilians. The citizen-informant doctrine has major consequences for the robustness of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unjustified government intrusions, and it has an enormous impact on the integrity of police investigations and criminal prosecutions. Yet this doctrine rests on shaky foundations that have heretofore been insufficiently probed. This Note proposes that courts require law enforcement officers to conduct more exacting inquiries before relying on the word of a so-called citizen-informant.
In Padilla v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court declared that defense attorneys must give advice to noncitizen defendants regarding the risk of deportation in order to meet the constitutional standard for effective assistance of counsel. Acknowledging the confusing nature of immigration law, the Court stated that when the law is not straightforward, a criminal defense attorney need do no more than advise a noncitizen client that a conviction may carry a risk of adverse immigration consequences. However, when the deportation consequence is clear, the attorney must give similarly clear advice. Some lower courts have chipped away at Padilla’s holding, allowing vague advice—either from the defense attorney or from other sources—to be deemed effective even in cases where Padilla would seem to require more specific advice. In treating vague defense attorney advice as reasonable, or allowing generic warnings from the court or arresting officers to “cure” a lack of immigration advice from defense attorneys, courts are circumventing Padilla’s demand for specific advice in situations where the consequences of a guilty plea are clear, and thus undermining the underlying concerns of the Supreme Court’s reasoning. Especially in cases where deportation is virtually mandatory, receiving general advice that there is a “risk” of deportation leaves a client with the impression that there is a chance to stay in the country. This impression could have a serious effect on the defendant’s ultimate decision to plead guilty or go to trial. Furthermore, these courts’ approach gives little incentive for defense attorneys to look into the immigration consequences of their clients’ convictions. This Note argues that courts should not allow generalized and unclear advice to meet the standard for effective assistance of counsel when the immigration consequences are actually clear-cut, because doing so undercuts the purpose of the Padilla decision and is unhelpful to noncitizen clients.
Maimonides, Miranda, and the Conundrum of Confession: Self-Incrimination in Jewish and American Legal Traditions
This Note argues that both Jewish and American law express skepticism about self-incriminating statements based on concerns of reliability, respect for the individual, and the religious belief that confessions can be offered only to God. However, both traditions also recognize that certain circumstances necessitate the use of self-incriminating statements. This Note compares the two traditions to unearth a deep tension within legal and cultural conceptions of self-incrimination and confession. Specifically, the Note proposes that both Jewish and American law reflect conflicting desires—to simultaneously accept and reject self-incriminating statements. On the one hand, confessions appear to be powerful evidence of guilt, as well as a helpful part of the process of punishing and rehabilitating criminal offenders. On the other hand, confessions uncomfortably turn the accused into his own accuser, raising concerns about whether the confession was the result of unreliable internal self-destructive instincts or external coercion. Future decisions involving self-incriminating statements must be made with an awareness of both the benefits and the hazards of utilizing such statements.
In recent years, the Supreme Court has increasingly made “reasonableness” the central inquiry of whether a search or seizure is constitutional under the Fourth Amendment. The rise of the reasonableness approach has coincided with originalist scholarship that claims this interpretation is more consistent with the Amendment’s text and history. This Note looks at Framing-era search-and-seizure practice and argues that the Court’s modern reasonableness interpretation is, in fact, ahistorical and inconsistent with Framing-era practice and the Amendment’s original understanding. Not only is there scant evidence that the legality of searches and seizures turned on their reasonableness during the Framing era, but the arguments made in favor of the Court’s modern reasonableness approach are based on flawed historical assumptions. As a result, the Court’s various applications of its reasonableness interpretation are all inconsistent with Framing-era practice and the Amendment’s original understanding.
In 2004, the Supreme Court overhauled the established interpretation of the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment when it decided Crawford v. Washington. This Note attempts to augment the existing literature by elucidating the Crawford standard in the context of terrorism prosecutions in Article III courts. It details the shifts between Ohio v. Roberts and Crawford, analyzes subsequent federal case law, and tests the new framework on hypothetical terrorism fact patterns. This Note anticipates that for some types of evidence, such as ex parte affidavits and written summaries of testimony, the Crawford test will create significant hurdles for prosecutors in terrorism cases. A viable solution to this problem is for the government to make greater use of witness depositions abroad pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 15(c)(3).
Not So Legitimate: Why Courts Should Reject an Administrative Approach to the Routine Booking Exception
The routine booking exception permits police officers and agents to ask certain questions—typically biographical inquiries such as an arrestee’s name, age, and address—in the absence of the Miranda warnings. Since its introduction in Pennsylvania v. Muniz, the exception has been inconsistently defined. This Note addresses the various formulations of the routine booking exception and focuses on the increasingly utilized administrative-centric tests. It concludes that a purely administrative approach to routine booking should be rejected.
Have Interjudge Sentencing Disparities Increased in an Advisory Guidelines Regime? Evidence from Booker
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines were promulgated in response to concerns of widespread disparities in sentencing. After almost two decades of determinate sentencing, the Guidelines were rendered advisory in United States v. Booker. How has greater judicial discretion affected interjudge disparities, or differences in sentencing outcomes that are attributable to the mere happenstance of the sentencing judge assigned? This Article utilizes new data covering almost 400,000 criminal defendants linked to sentencing judges to undertake the first national empirical analysis of interjudge disparities after Booker.
The results are striking: Interjudge sentencing disparities have doubled since the Guidelines became advisory. Some of the recent increase in disparities can be attributed to differential sentencing behavior associated with judge demographic characteristics, with Democratic and female judges being more likely to exercise their enhanced discretion after Booker. Newer judges appointed post-Booker also appear less anchored to the Guidelines than judges with experience sentencing under the mandatory Guidelines regime.
Disentangling the effects of various actors on sentencing disparities, I find that prosecutorial charging is likely a prominent source of disparities. Rather than charging mandatory minimums uniformly across eligible cases, prosecutors appear to selectively apply mandatory minimums in response to the identity of the sentencing judge, potentially through superseding indictments. Drawing on this empirical evidence, this Article suggests that recent sentencing proposals calling for a reduction in judicial discretion in order to reduce disparities may overlook the substantial contribution of prosecutors.
Batson versus Strickland: Evaluating Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims Resulting from the Failure to Object to Race-Based Preemptory Challenges
This Note evaluates the convergence of the standards articulated in Batson v. Kentucky and those of Strickland v. Washington. Specifically, how can a defendant demonstrate actual prejudice as a result of defense counsel’s failure to challenge the prosecutor’s discriminatory use of peremptory strikes? Lower courts have differed over whether the test should be outcome-based—a demonstration of actual prejudice in the outcome or verdict of the trial—or composition-based—a showing that the result of the jury selection process would have been different. I argue that the latter test is preferable to the former for several reasons. First, the composition-based test will ensure fuller protection of the rights contemplated in Batson and Strickland. Second, the necessary evaluation under the outcome-based test would dramatically shift the Supreme Court’s current colorblind approach in equal protection jurisprudence. Rather than shifting the current equal protection doctrine, the composition-based test allows for incorporation of the doctrine through the use of the diversity rationale. Third, a properly administered outcome-based test would require the exploration of the impact of race and background on the relevant evidence and on perceptions of the criminal justice system, including its principal setting (the courtroom) and primary actors, as contrasted with the much more concrete—if not necessarily simpler—task of determining only whether the composition of the jury itself would have differed.
This Article empirically examines an issue central to judicial and scholarly debate about civil rights damages actions: whether law enforcement officials are financially responsible for settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases. The Supreme Court has long assumed that law enforcement officers must personally satisfy settlements and judgments, and has limited individual and government liability in civil rights damages actions—through qualified immunity doctrine, municipal liability standards, and limitations on punitive damages—based in part on this assumption. Scholars disagree about the prevalence of indemnification: Some believe officers almost always satisfy settlements and judgments against them, and others contend indemnification is not a certainty. In this Article, I report the findings of a national study of police indemnification. Through public records requests, interviews, and other sources, I have collected information about indemnification practices in forty-four of the largest law enforcement agencies across the country, and in thirty-seven small and mid-sized agencies. My study reveals that police officers are virtually always indemnified: During the study period, governments paid approximately 99.98% of the dollars that plaintiffs recovered in lawsuits alleging civil rights violations by law enforcement. Law enforcement officers in my study never satisfied a punitive damages award entered against them and almost never contributed anything to settlements or judgments—even when indemnification was prohibited by law or policy, and even when officers were disciplined, terminated, or prosecuted for their conduct. After describing my findings, this Article considers the implications of widespread indemnification for qualified immunity, municipal liability, and punitive damages doctrines; civil rights litigation practice; and the deterrence and compensation goals of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
This lecture is titled Our Broken Death Penalty. But the title is misleading, for it suggests that our death penalty might, at some earlier time, have been something other than broken. It has always been broken. And, as you will hear tonight, it cannot be repaired.