Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf considers whether long delays in carrying out capital punishment render the practice unconstitutional. Dorf responds specifically to an argument put forth by the late Justice Scalia that execution delays are chiefly the result of the extensive procedures that the Court’s liberals have required for carrying out an execution.
Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies describes the changes in the use of solitary confinement in Colorado—known there as administrative segregation. Margulies relates accounts of both inmates and prison officials.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit holding that when police are outside the threshold of a home arresting a suspect who is inside the threshold, it is a “home arrest” requiring a warrant. Colb explains why the decision is significant in protecting the home as a space where a person can feel the highest degree of privacy and comfort, free from unreasonable government intrusions.
Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies discusses the problem of states executing death row inmates under laws subsequently found to be unconstitutional, as has happened in Texas and in Florida, and likely in many other cases. Margulies laments that the United States continues to experiment with capital punishment when experience demonstrates the procedures for imposing this irreversible sentence are rife with problems.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the role of Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 404 in the criminal trial against Bill Cosby. Colb argues that the rule against character evidence serves a specific purpose in “whodunit” cases (where the perpetrator is unknown) but that it may serve a different purpose in “what was done” cases, such as the present case against Cosby.
Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies explains how the peaceful protesters at a federal facility in Oregon could advance the cause for criminal justice reform. Margulies reminds us that that the triggering event for the protest was an order by a federal judge that two ranchers serve a prison sentence mandated by federal statute that was far longer than the judge considered fair.
Cornell law professor Joseph Margulies discusses the inviolable right of human dignity and its essential role as a condition of criminal justice.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses a proposal by Adam Benforado, author of Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice, that one way to improve the criminal justice system would be to conduct and record trials outside of the jury’s presence, then to show edited versions of the recordings to juries after all of the evidence has been presented. Colb explains how this proposal could potentially improve the system and addresses some potential obstacles to its implementation.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the potential downsides of the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding earlier this year in Heien v. North Carolina, in which the Court held that a police officer could, consistent with the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizures, stop a driver for a behavior that the officer mistakenly but reasonably believes is illegal.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses actual versus perceived cruelty in the administration of capital punishment, as raised recently during oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in Glossip v. Gross.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb compares medical screening tests with dog sniffs for narcotics with respect to their propensity to yield Type I errors—also known as false positives. In particular, Colb references Justice Souter’s dissenting opinion in Illinois v. Caballes, in which he opined that the possibility that dogs would incorrectly indicate the presence of narcotics and lead to an invasive search meant that such dog sniffs constitute searches for Fourth Amendment purposes.
Sherry Colb, law professor at Cornell University, discusses a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court will decide whether, after completing a routine traffic stop, a police officer may briefly delay the release of the driver to permit a dog to sniff for narcotics.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the observed phenomenon of mental health clinicians’ empathy varying with the cause of the patient’s disorder, and compares this occurrence with juror empathy.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses the differences between the Fourth Amendment and the First Amendment with respect to the “fruit of the poisonous tree,” in the context of the recent Sony hack and widescale publication of the private data exposed by the cyber-attack.
Chapman University law professor Ronald Rotunda discusses the problems with eyewitness identification, as illustrated recently by the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri.
Guest columnist and Cornell University visiting professor of law Joseph Margulies continues his discussion of the American criminal justice system and describes basic principles upon which we could build superior alternatives to the present system.
Cornell University law professor Michael Dorf comments on the scope and limits of prosecutorial discretion, as it relates both to President Obama’s executive action on immigration and the Michael Brown case.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court recently granted review to decide whether a Los Angeles municipal code violates the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Colb argues that, much like general warrants of old, the provision in question empowers police to perform unreasonable searches in blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb discusses a case the U.S. Supreme Court will decide this Term regarding the meaning of the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. Colb argues that the Court may properly see fit to revisit its current approach to hearsay and the Confrontation Clause.
Cornell University law professor Sherry Colb considers whether a person should have a right to self-representation in criminal proceedings. Colb describes a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on the issue and discusses why such a right might be valuable.