Innovation in the courts is the focus of CACL's fifth annual conference

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The Center on the Administration of Criminal Law (CACL) held its fifth annual conference, "Criminal Law and the Modern Courts," on April 19th. The daylong conference included a keynote address by Nancy Gertner, former U.S. District Court Judge in Massachusetts and current Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, and three panel discussions dedicated to new developments and new directions in criminal courts. The panels were comprised of nationally renowned scholars, practitioners and judges.

The first panel, "A Survey of Criminal Court Innovations," discussed innovative approaches and tools being tested in criminal courts around the country. Among these innovations was Brooklyn’s mental health court, which effectively, safely and humanely receives and resolves mostly felony cases, including violent felonies. This panel also presented a novel and more effective approach to dealing with probation violations. Known as the “HOPE” model, it involves swift, certain, but only brief, periods of punishment for violations, and has yielded spectacular drops in violation rates. Finally, the panel highlighted new computer algorithms being applied to sentencing and bail that present judges with statistical risk factors and the cost of a particular sentence.

The second panel, "The Future of Drug Courts and Drug Policy," gathered experts with a range of views to discuss the progress made by drug courts in New York State since the reform of the Rockefeller-era drug laws. Panelists explored whether courts were succeeding, how their success was being measured, and how the courts could be more fair and effective. The panel then opened the discussion up to broadly consider the future of drug policy, drug enforcement, and decriminalization.

Finally, the third panel, “Today’s Supreme Court and Criminal Law,” gathered distinguished Supreme Court scholars and practitioners who together explored several recent and pending U.S. Supreme Court cases that involve critical criminal law matters, such as the interplay between criminal cases and immigration consequences, the Confrontation Clause, life without parole sentences for juveniles, and a range of Fourth Amendment issues.

Participants from NYU Law included CACL Faculty Director Rachel Barkow, Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy; CACL Executive Director Nancy Hoppock; CACL Senior Fellow, and Vice President of Criminal Justice at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Anne Milgram; Professor of Clinical Law Nancy Morawetz; and Professor of Law Erin Murphy.

Posted on April 26, 2013