The Center’s litigation component uses its research and knowledge of criminal justice and prosecution practices to assist in important criminal justice cases.
The Center's litigation practice concentrates on cases in which exercises of prosecutorial or governmental discretion raise significant substantive legal issues. Much of the Center’s litigation practice is done in partnership with some of the nation’s most prominent law firms as part of the firms’ pro bono commitment. These briefs are filed in support of both defendants and the government.
Read more about the guiding principles in the Center's litigation practice.
Read about the Center's briefs in the following areas:
- prosecutors' charging decisions (including significant issues involving statutory interpretation)
- prosecutors' disclosure and ethical obligations
- other important criminal law issues
Cases in which the Center has participated include:
In 2015-2016, we filed seven amicus briefs wherein we argued against the due diligence exception to prosecutors’ Brady obligations in Georgiou v. United States; in favor of jurisdiction to hear the important case of Montgomery v. Louisiana, where the Supreme Court ultimately found it had jurisdiction and ruled that its ban on mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders applied retroactively; in support of clarifying the rules governing insider trading in Salman v. United States; and against the disproportionate and punitive imposition of restitution in Shabudin v. United States.
Pena Rodriguez v. State of Colorado. -- In December 2015 the Center filed another amicus brief with the Supreme Court. 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.
Whitfield v. U.S. -- On August 29, 2014, the Center and pro bono attorneys Thomas G. Saunders, Saurabh Sanghvi, and Jason D. Hirsch of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the case of Whitfield v. U.S. arguing that more than incidental movement of a victim in the course of a bank robbery is required to trigger a substantially higher mandatory minimum sentence.
People v. Dwight DeLee -- The Center with co-counsel Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief with the New York Court of Appeals urging the court to reinstate the 2009 conviction of Dwight DeLee, who was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime in the 2008 shooting death in Syracuse of a transgender woman.
- Burt v. Titlow -- The Center with pro bono partners at Latham and Watkins filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court
- United States v. Burwell -- Supreme Court of the United States -- the Center filed an amicus brief in support of defendant's petition for a Writ of Certiorari -- awating decision
- Alleyne v. United States -- Supreme Court of the United States -- the Center filed amicus brief in support of the defendant-petitioner -- Supreme Court sides with defendant-petitioner and holds that any fact that increases the mandatory minimum sentence is an element that must be found by a jury
- Moncrieffe v. Holder -- Supreme Court of the United States -- filed amicus brief in support of Petitioner Moncrieff -- Supreme Court sides with Petitioner Moncrieff
- Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper -- Supreme Court of the United States -- filed amicus brief in support of respondents -- Supreme Court sides with Center and vacates and remands the lower court decisions (Frye; Lafler) -- majority opinion in Frye cites and quotes an article by the Center Faculty Director, and cites the Center's brief
- People v. Morales -- Court of Appeals, State of New York -- filed amicus brief in support of defendant -- New York State Court of Appeals sides with Center
- United States v. Jones -- Supreme Court of the United States -- filed amicus brief in support of the United States -- Supreme Court affirms
- Dorsey & Hill v. United States -- Supreme Court of the United States -- filed amicus brief in support of petitioners -- Supreme Court sides with Center and remands for resentecing
- United States v. Gupta -- United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (en banc)-- filed amicus brief in support of the appellant-defendant -- presented oral argument by court invitation -- 2nd Cir. sides with Center and vacates conviction
- Connick v. Thompson -- Supreme Court of the United States and United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, en banc -- filed amicus briefs in support of Thompson in the Fifth Circuit and in the Supreme Court -- Fifth Circuit sides with the Center, but the Supreme Court reverses -- Justice Ginsberg cites the Center's brief in her dissent
- Brown v. Plata -- Supreme Court of the United States -- filed amicus brief in support of appellees -- Supreme Court sides with Center and affirms
- United States v. State of Arizona -- United States District Court for the District of Arizona and United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit -- filed amicus briefs in the district court and the Ninth Circuit in support of the United States -- district court and Ninth Circuit side with the Center, with district court enjoining the most controversial aspects of the challenged legislation and Ninth Circuit affirming