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Criminal Justice

Execution Methods and Deciding Implementation of the Death Penalty - Podcast

Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group Podcast
John Bessler, Kent S. Scheidegger July 15, 2015

During oral argument in Glossip v. Gross, Justice Samuel Alito pointed to what he called "a guerrilla war against the death penalty, which consists of efforts to make it impossible for the states to obtain drugs that could be used to carry out capital punishment with little, if any, pain[.]"  The goal of these efforts, apparently, is to facilitate constitutional challenges to the death penalty by making its implementation more painful.

This teleforum analyzed whether the efforts by death penalty opponents to pressure drug manufacturers to stop supplying drugs for use in execution--resulting in states resorting to execution methods that are more painful--are circumventing the democratic process in debating the death penalty. Specifically, our experts debated the methods used by those in opposition to the death penalty to shut down access to less painful execution methods, the propriety of complicating the death penalty's implementation, the relationship between that complication and constitutional challenges to the death penalty, and whether this amounts to treating the democratic process like a one-way ratchet: only permitting the people to choose more painful means of implementing executions so as to facilitate legal challenges to the death penalty.

  • Mr. Kent Scheidegger, Legal Director & General Counsel, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
  • Prof. John Bessler, Professor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law
     

“The Case of the Speluncean Explorers" -- The Classic Law Review Article Revisited - Podcast

Professional Responsibility & Legal Education Practice Group Pocast
James Allan, James A. Haynes, Dan Priel, Frederick Schauer June 24, 2015

It is the year 4300 in an imaginary jurisdiction named Newgarth. Old questions dominate the deliberations of the Supreme Court as Chief Justice Truepenny and his four colleagues present their opinions in the appeal of a notorious murder verdict. Each Justice presents and defends his analysis and disposition of the appeal. The opinions offer considered views of law, justice, judges' work and larger public opinion. No pale pastels for the Truepenny Court, as its members alternately resort to the broad brush and the fine scalpel. The final effect is one of a well written teaching tool and also an essay on our flawed human condition.

Prof. Lon L. Fuller, in his article, “The Case of the Speluncean Explorers,” presented his ideas in the form of a dialogue, without footnotes. The Harvard Law Review published it in February 1949. In a sense it is a work of moral imagination. In another sense it is so dated as to be almost antiquarian. The members of Supreme Court of Newgarth are male and the legal analysis they offer and the language they use are distinctly old-fashioned. In some quarters it would be regarded as a discredited tool of oppression. That said, Prof. Fuller still entertains and teaches the reader, 65 years later. The questions and worries that lawyers and judges share with the Justices of Newgarth still loom in the 21st century.

Our discussion panel was composed of legal scholars from Canada, Australia, and the United States. In a real sense, its diversity shows the continuing relevance and appeal of this legal classic.

  • Prof. James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law, University of Queensland, TC Beirne School of Law
  • James A. Haynes, Attorney and Alternate Judge, U.S. Department of Labor, Employees Compensation Appeals Board
  • Prof. Dan Priel, York University Osgoode School of Law
  • Prof. Frederick Schauer, David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law

Ohio v. Clark - Post-Decision SCOTUScast

SCOTUScast 6-23-15 featuring Michael O'Shea.
Michael O'Shea June 23, 2015

On June 18, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Ohio v. Clark. This case involved two questions regarding the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause: (1) whether an individual’s obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that individual an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether a child’s out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher’s concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause. The Supreme Court of Ohio rejected Clark’s challenge to his conviction on these grounds.

The United States Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio by a vote of 9-0 and remanded the case. In an opinion delivered by Justice Alito and joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Breyer, Kennedy, Sotomayor, and Kagan, the Court held that because neither the child nor his teachers had the primary purpose of assisting in Clark’s prosecution, the child’s statements did not implicate the Confrontation Clause and therefore were admissible at trial. Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Ginsburg, filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.  Justice Thomas also filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. 

To discuss the case, we have Prof. Michael O’Shea, who is a Professor of Law at the Oklahoma City University School of Law. 

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