Center on the Administration of Criminal Law

About the Center:

The center's mission is to promote and defend good government practices in criminal matters. The center analyzes important issues of criminal law, particularly focusing on prosecutorial power and discretion. It pursues this mission in three main arenas: academia, the courts, and public policy debates. Through the center's academic component, the center researches criminal justice practices at all levels of government, produces scholarship on criminal justice issues, and hosts symposia and conferences to address significant topics in criminal law and procedure. The litigation component uses the center’s research and experience with criminal justice practices to inform courts in important criminal justice matters, particularly in cases in which exercises of prosecutorial discretion create significant legal issues. The public policy component applies the center’s criminal justice expertise to improve practices in the criminal justice system and enhance the public dialogue on criminal justice matters. The center is the first and only organization dedicated to defining good government practices in criminal prosecutions. No other organization is dedicated to improving prosecution practices through research, litigation, and the improvement of public policy.

On Current Events:

May 5, 2016

Statement of Rachel E. Barkow, Faculty Director, Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, NYU School of Law on President Obama’s Clemency Decisions:

"President Obama’s commutations today are a step in the right direction, but they also illustrate how much more this administration needs to do to fulfill the promise of the president’s clemency initiative. Under the administration’s own criteria, approximately 1500 prisoners should be eligible for commutations. If the president is going to meet that bar, he needs to grant approximately 50 commutations each week for the remainder of his term. Unfortunately, it is not at all clear today that they are on track to do so. So while we applaud his actions and congratulate those prisoners whose unjust sentences have been commuted, we continue to urge the president to accelerate his administration’s review of the thousands of applications currently pending. Until they do, this initiative remains a lottery, and not an actual clemency program.”


What's New:

In December 2015 the Center filed another amicus brief with the Supreme Court, in the case of Pena Rodriguez v. State of Colorado.  Our appearance as amicus curiae in this case was prompted by our belief that the Sixth Amendment right to trial by an impartial jury requires that an exception be made to the “no impeachment of a jury verdict” rule for cases in which defendants offer evidence of racial bias during jury deliberations.  We believe that protecting defendants’ Sixth Amendment rights is crucial for the fair and effective administration of criminal justice.  A copy of our brief can be found here.

On July 27, 2015, the center filed an amicus brief petitioning the United States Supreme Court to grant certiorari to reject the Third Circuit's recognition of a "due diligence" rule—a rule that excuses the Government’s failure to disclose favorable evidence under Brady when the defendant could have obtained the evidence on his own by exercising due diligence. Such recognition of a "due diligence" exception to Brady undermines defendants' rights to due process, blurs an otherwise clear ethical obligation on the part of prosecutors to disclose exculpatory information, and serves to erode public confidence in our system of criminal justice. 

The Center also filed a second amicus brief the same week, on another critically important topic. In this brief, we argue that the United States Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review the Louisiana Supreme Court's refusal to give Miller v. Alabama, the seminal case which held that life without parole for juveniles was unconstitutional, retroactive effect. Our appearance as amicus curiae in this case is prompted by our belief that the Court has jurisdiction, pursuant to its Article III powers, to remedy the violation of an individual's Constitutional right against the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment.