Category Archives: Criminal Procedure

Kathleen Carlson, Ryan v. Gonzalez and the Potential Elimination of the Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Post Conviction Failsafe

Recently, the United States Supreme Court addressed in Ryan v. Gonzales “whether the incompetence of a state prisoner requires suspension of the prisoner’s federal habeas corpus proceedings.” In a unanimous decision, the Court held that “the Courts of Appeals for the Ninth … Continue reading

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Steven Nauman, Brown v. Plata: Renewing the Call to End Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

After more than twenty years of litigation, the United States Supreme Court finally determined whether California’s overcrowded prison system created a constitutional violation in Brown v. Plata. With prisons and jails across the country operating at well over 100% capacity, … Continue reading

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Sam Kamin & Justin Marceau, Vicarious Aggravators

In Gregg v. Georgia, the Supreme Court held that the death penalty was constitutional so long as it provided a non-arbitrary statutory mechanism for determining who are the worst of the worst, and therefore, deserving of the death penalty. As … Continue reading

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Meghan J. Ryan, The Missing Jury: The Neglected Role of Juries in Eighth Amendment Punishments Clause Determinations

A recent study of death penalty cases has revealed that judges, who are ordinarily thought of as the guardians of criminal defendants‘ constitutional rights, often impose harsher punishments than jurors. This may be unsettling in its own right, but it … Continue reading

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Jacy Owens, A Progressive Response: Judicial Delegation of Authority to Federal Probation Officers

Federal probation officers supervise millions of offenders who must each comply with a multitude of probation conditions. These officers need enough flexibility to deal with the evolving needs of each offender, without having to clog the court system with repeated … Continue reading

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William W. Berry III, Practicing Proportionality

At the heart of the Eighth Amendment‘s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause are two concepts of proportionality—absolute and relative. Absolute proportionality (“cruel”) asks whether the sentence is commensurate with the state‘s purposes of punishment. Relative proportionality (?unusual?), by contrast, asks … Continue reading

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