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Monitoring the Misdemeanor Bail Reform Consent Decree in Harris County, Texas | Judicature

Brandon Garrett and Sandra Guerra Thompson have now served for one-and-a-half years as court-appointed monitors in the ODonnell case. They write to describe the litigation and to offer their perspective on how the misdemeanor bail system in Harris County has changed since that litigation began. The ODonnell Consent Decree that resulted from the lawsuit has the potential to set an important model for pretrial reform. Garrett and Thompson describe what that consent decree provides and the work to come.


Garrett tells LA Times the real significance of the Chauvin verdict will be in whether it spurs broader police reforms | LA Times

Racial justice advocates and legal experts on Tuesday hailed the murder conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, expressing hopes the case could spur broader police reforms and help crack the “blue wall of silence” often adhered to by police when one of their own commits a crime. While this was a landmark policing trial, Garrett said the real significance would lie in whether it brought about enactment of broader police reforms at the federal and state level.


In the News


Garrett says Virginia’s abolishing the death penalty is significant because the state had executed so many | CNN

Virginia stands out from other states that have done away with capital punishment in terms of just how many executions it has carried out, according to Brandon Garrett, a professor of law at Duke University who studies and has written extensively about the death penalty. He said the state was a harbinger of both the death penalty’s rise in the 1970s and ’80s and its decline in more recent years.


Garrett: Virginia ‘Encapsulates the Slow Death of the American Death Penalty’ | Time

Virginia’s use of the death penalty dates back over 400 years—to 1608, when Jamestown settlers carried out the first recorded execution in the then-European colonies. In the centuries since, amid periods of slavery, Reconstruction and Jim Crow segregation, Virginia has executed hundreds of people; since 1976, Virginia has executed 113 people, a higher percentage of death row inmates than any other U.S. state, and the highest number of state executions second only to Texas.


Garrett: The Supreme Court’s COVID Cases Show That One Part of the Constitution Gets Extra Special Attention | Slate

During the course of this pandemic, the Supreme Court has been generally reluctant to enjoin public health measures adopted by local and state actors, whether they relate to public gatherings, voting, or jails. Yet in its recent Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo opinion, the court voted 5-4 to enjoin enforcement of a New York rule concerning occupancy limits for religious services. Now the court has again stepped in, with two more unsigned orders, to strike down Colorado and New Jersey restrictions.


Garrett: The Biden administration has options to end federal death sentencing and executions, which have been falling at the state and local level | The Appeal

On July 6, 2017, William Morva was killed by lethal injection in a Virginia prison. He had been convicted of killing Derrick McFarland, a hospital security guard, and a sheriff’s deputy, Eric Sutphin. No one in Virginia has been executed since.

State legislators, the U.N. special rapporteur for arbitrary executions, the European Union, the U.N. special rapporteur for mental health, and one of Sutphin’s daughters asked then-governor Terry McAuliffe to stop the execution.


Duke Center Tackles Criminal Justice Reform with $5 Million Grant

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University has received a $5 million grant to bolster legal and scientific data-driven research at Duke Law School that specifically addresses criminal justice reform, President Vincent E. Price announced today.

The grant from alumnus Derek Wilson, through the Wilson Foundation, will provide significant funding for Duke Law’s Center for Science and Justice to advance criminal justice research, education and policy. In recognition of the grant, the center — which launched in September 2019 — will be named the Wilson Center for Science and Justice.


Duke Law Magazine: Data Driven

With the launch of the Duke Center for Science and Justice, Duke Law School is betting that empirical, interdisciplinary research can produce evidence-based reforms in the criminal justice system. In this in-depth profile of the center, Duke Law Magazine explores how Professor Brandon Garrett (right) and his team of researchers and collaborators are using data to find ways to improve on criminal justice reform.