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Criminal Justice

When is a law too vague to be Constitutional?

Short video with Ilya Shapiro discussing Johnson v. United States
Ilya Shapiro April 18, 2015

Senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review, Ilya Shapiro explains the confusion concerning what constitutes a violent felony conviction under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act. In this upcoming Supreme Court case, Petitioner Johnson claims the ACCA is unconstitutionally vague while the government asserts that Johnson’s conviction for possession of a short-barreled shotgun satisfies the violent felony requirement of the statute.

Ilya Shapiro is co-counsel on the amicus brief for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Association of Federal Defenders, Families against Mandatory Minimums and the Cato Institute in support of the Petitioner.
 
As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

Civil Asset Forfeiture - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure and Litigation Practice Groups Podcast
John G. Malcolm, John W. Vardaman February 23, 2015

Since the 1980s, the Department of Justice has utilized civil asset forfeiture as an effective tool to seize and forfeit billions of dollars-worth of assets allegedly connected to criminal activity as either an instrumentality or fruit of the crime. Since the inception of the asset forfeiture program, the Justice Department has shared much of these funds with state and local law enforcement authorities under its equitable sharing program, and many states have their own civil forfeiture laws and procedures. Critics of the program believe that civil asset forfeiture is fundamentally unfair, claiming, among other things, that it has the potential to warp law enforcement priorities, that the existing procedures are stacked against innocent property owners, and that it is simply wrong to seize someone’s property when that person has not been charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. Several proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform the civil asset forfeiture program, the Justice Department has announced that it is conducting an internal review of this program, and a number of states have recently undertaken a review of their own civil asset forfeiture laws.

  • John G. Malcolm, Director and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation
  • John W. Vardaman, III, Assistant Deputy Chief for Policy, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, United States Department of Justice

Young Legal Scholars Paper Presentations - Event Audio/Video

17th Annual Faculty Conference
William Baude, Charles Korsmo, Minor Myers, Christopher Newman, Christopher J. Walker, Kevin Walsh, James Lindgren, Keith N. Hylton, Richard W. Garnett January 09, 2015

This panel was part of the 17th Annual Federalist Society Faculty Conference held on January 3-4, 2015 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.

Young Legal Scholars Paper Presentations
2:30-4:30 pm
In Memory of Prof. Dan Markel, Florida State University School of Law, Prawfsblawg Founder, and former Searle fellow

  • Prof. William Baude, University of Chicago Law School, "Is Originalism the Law?"
  • Prof. Charles Korsmo, Case Western University School of Law, "Aggregation by Acquisition: Replacing Class Actions with a Market for Legal Claims"
  • Prof. Minor Myers, Brooklyn Law School, "Aggregation by Acquisition: Replacing Class Actions with a Market for Legal Claims"
  • Prof. Christopher Newman, George Mason University School of Law, "Bailment and the Property/Contract Interface"
  • Prof. Christopher Walker, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, "Inside Agency Interpretation"
  • Prof. Kevin Walsh, University of Richmond School of Law, "In the Beginning There Was None: Supreme Court Review of State Criminal Prosecutions"
  • Commentor: Prof. James Lindgren, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Commentor: Prof. Keith Hylton, Boston University School of Law
  • Moderator: Prof. Richard Garnett, University of Notre Dame Law School

Washington, DC
January 3, 2015

Public Defenders and Client Choice - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
James D. Bethke, Stephen J. Schulhofer, Tim Lynch December 19, 2014

In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that indigent persons accused of crimes must be provided with an attorney. The Court, however, did not specify how those attorneys should be financed. The public defender model is, of course, the most familiar model that has arisen. Texas is about to start something new--a pilot program involving defense vouchers. Like the school voucher concept, the idea is to replicate, so far as possible, a free market for defense services. By giving the person with the most at stake more say in choosing the attorney who will defend his reputation and liberty, will vouchers produce gains for both the defendant and the public at large?

  • James D. Bethke, Executive Director, Texas Indigent Defense Commission
  • Prof. Stephen J. Schulhofer, Robert B. McKay Professor of Law, New York University Law School
  • Moderator: Tim Lynch, Director, Project on Criminal Justice, Cato Institute

Criminal Sentencing Reform: A Conversation among Conservatives - Event Video

2014 National Lawyers Convention
Marc A. Levin, John G. Malcolm, Michael B. Mukasey, William G. Otis, William H. Pryor Jr. November 17, 2014

Although prison populations at the federal level have very recently declined for the first time in decades, prisoner population at the state level rose.  The cost of crime, some that can be measured and some that are impossible to measure, is undoubtedly high, but so too is the cost of incarceration.  Are we striking the right balance in length of sentences?  And what is the proper balance between latitude and sentencing guidelines for judges?  Do the answers to these questions differ for the state versus the federal criminal justice system?

The Federalist Society's Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group presented this panel on "Criminal Sentencing Reform: A Conversation among Conservatives" on Friday, November 14, during the 2014 National Lawyers Convention.

Featuring:

  • Mr. Marc A. Levin, Director, Center for Effective Justice, Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • Mr. John G. Malcolm, Director and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation
  • Hon. Michael B. Mukasey, Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and former U.S. Attorney General
  • Prof. William G. Otis, Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Moderator: Hon. William H. Pryor, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

Mayflower Hotel
Washington, DC