Author: Carissa Hessick


Summer Workshops

A couple times a month, I take a look at the Legal Scholarship Blog.

I think it’s interesting to see who is giving talks where, and I have occasionally learned about a relevant paper that someone is workshopping (and willing to share) before it is posted on SSRN.

In recent weeks I’ve noticed that a high percentage of the entries on the site seem to be for faculty who are giving talks at their home institutions, and I was wondering whether schools have internal summer workshop programs. While such programs might not be feasible at all schools — for example, when the temperature starts breaking 110 degrees here in Phoenix (which is an extremely pleasant place to live for almost the entire year), many of the faculty at ASU head for cooler climates — I’d be interested to hear from people at schools where summer workshops are the norm. Are speakers mainly drawn from inside the faculty? How often do you have workshops? What is attendance like?

On a different note, I wanted to thank Dan and the rest of the CoOp bloggers for inviting me to post here over the last couple of weeks. I’m heading out of internet range for the rest of the month, so this will be my last post.


Legal Times Panel on ’07-’08 Term

I am in DC visiting family, and so I decided to attend the Legal Times’ panel “Sizing Up the 2007-2008 Supreme Court Term,” which was held this afternoon at Georgetown Law Center. It was an interesting panel. Tony Mauro moderated, and the speakers included Ted Cruz (who until recently was the solicitor general of Texas and now is at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius), Walter Dellinger (O’Melveny & Duke Law School), Pattie Millett (who recently left the US Solicitor General’s Office to join Tom Goldstein at Akin Gump’s Supreme Court practice), and Malcolm Stewart (a veteran assistant in the US Solicitor General’s Office whose oral argument recordings I’ve used to teach my students about appellate advocacy).

There were several great moments at the panel, including Stewart’s description of “the Two Courts.” The better-known Supreme Court issues 3 or 4 controversial decisions every term, often by a 5-4 margin, and its actions are reported closely by the NY Times and the Washington Post. The other Supreme Court decides more technical questions, such as the interpretation of statutes and federal rules, and its opinions remain largely unknown to the general public though they are in many ways the more important cases for the legal profession. Columnist James J. Kilpatrick once expressed this same concept in the following way —“For every Roe vs. Wade, there are dozens of cases like Unitherm Food Systems Inc. vs. Swift-Eckrich Inc.”

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Buffalo Giving Vets a Break

Yesterday, the AP reported on a special criminal court in Buffalo, New York aimed at veterans. The city developed this diversion program, which resembles drug courts that have been implemented in many cities, after realizing that a significant number of criminal cases involved defendants who had previously served in the military.

I’ve recently written an article that argues, at least in part, for more lenient treatment of veterans and others who have performed good works, so I found this article intriguing. The basic premise of my article is that, if we are going to increase criminal sentences because defendants have committed bad acts in the past (i.e., committed previous crimes), then we should also decrease sentences for those defendants who have committed good deeds. The Buffalo program is in keeping with my own intuition that we should cut some slack to those who have served in the armed forces, and who later find themselves in the criminal justice system, so long as their crimes are not particularly numerous or serious. But while I was researching and workshopping the article, I was surprised to learn how many people don’t share this intuition.

Several people who read and commented on my paper questioned whether there is sufficient public support for a punishment system that punishes military veterans less severely. Indeed, when news of Doug Berman’s efforts to obtain a reduced sentence for a convicted veteran reached the Volokh Conspiracy, the comment thread contained a lot of remarks opposing sentencing leniency for vets — in fact a few commenters questioned whether enlisting in the military constitutes a “good deed.”

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More Coverage on Factual Error in Child Rape Decision

There has been some interesting fall-out from the NY Times article I blogged about yesterday. DOJ has admitted that it erred in failing to file a brief in support of the Kentucky statute that proscribed the death penalty for child rape, and it has indicated that it may support a petition from the state of Louisiana to rehear the case. More coverage and commentary can be found in the New York Times, as well as at the Volokh Conspiracy and at Doug Berman’s Sentencing Law & Policy.


The NYT on the UCMJ


In today’s New York Times, Linda Greenhouse points out what appears to be a factual error in the Kennedy v. Louisiana majority opinion. Justice Kennedy’s majority said that 30 of the 36 states with the death penalty and the federal government do not proscribe the death penalty for child rape. But the Uniform Code of Military Justice was revised by Congress in 2006 to add child rape to the military death penalty. Greenhouse notes that this provision of military law escaped the attention not only of the members of the Court, but also the attention of the ten parties who filed briefs in the case.

In addition to questioning why no one in the federal government brought the UCMJ provision to the attention of the Court, Greenhouse explores how the parties’ research failed to uncover the provision. Jeff Fisher’s explanation of how his appellate team found an older provision but not this more modern one reads like an ad for Shepards. And lawyers for the state of Louisiana, the party that would have been helped by the information, are obviously ducking the Times’ calls.

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