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Thompson v. Spitzer

This amicus brief challenged Orange County’s (CA) District Attorney’s (OCDA) DNA database collection program, in which defendants’ charges are routinely dismissed or negotiated in exchange for their DNA – colloquially known as their “spit and acquit” program. Yvette Garcia Missri, Brandon Garrett, and Berkeley Law’s Andrea Roth argue OCDA’s program is a black box with no transparency, low public safety benefits, and wrought with public policy and ethical concerns – particularly unfettered prosecutorial power.

Accuracy of Evidence in Criminal Cases, Equity in Criminal Outcomes

October 27, 2022

Plea Tracking in the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office: Part One

The Wilson Center began a collaboration with the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office in 2020 to study the plea-bargaining process and plea outcomes in Berkshire, Massachusetts.  This report reflects one year of data collection, from April 1, 2021, through April 30, 2022. (2022)

Equity in Criminal Outcomes

October 7, 2022

United States v. Green

This amicus brief challenged unreliable firearm tool mark comparison expert testimony. We partnered with the Innocence Project in arguing that traditional forensic firearms and toolmark comparisons raise reliability concerns regarding methods and applications of the methods, showing that the scientific community has carefully detailed the lack of reliability of firearms and toolmark comparisons. We also argued that while error rates in forensic firearms identification studies are flawed and misleading, they are nonetheless important and still matter. We filed a similar brief in US v. Walker.

Accuracy of Evidence in Criminal Cases

September 29, 2022

The Trajectory of Federal Gun Crimes

This article argues federal gun crimes reflect a unique dynamic in which legislation is shaped by three forces: (1) aggressive interest group lobbying that leads to compromise on harsh punishment; (2) a dichotomizing of gun users into either “law-abiding citizens” or “thugs” and “gangsters”; and (3) prosecutorial power that is magnified in this area. By: Jacob D. Charles and Brandon Garrett — University of Pennsylvania Law Review (2022)

Equity in Criminal Outcomes

August 22, 2022

Models of Bail Reform

This Article seeks to shed light on key distinctions in bail reform approaches by focusing on six models: (1) the Procedural Due Process Model; (2) the Risk Assessment Model; (3) the Categorical Model; (4) the Community Services Model; (5) the Equal Protection Model; and (6) the Alternatives to Arrest Model. By: Brandon Garrett — Florida Law Review (2022)

Policing Forensic Evidence

This article delves into a central problem in forensics: that the function has been treated as a law enforcement rather than scientific function and as a result has undermined both public safety and fairness. By: Brandon Garrett — American Journal of Law and Equality (2022)

Accuracy of Evidence in Criminal Cases

Spiraling Criminal Debt

This article examines the problem of criminal debt and addresses law and policy reforms and the constitutional question of whether such debt can be imposed on persons who lack ability to pay, and what Equal Protection, Due Process, Excessive Fines Clause, and other requirements must be satisfied to constitutionally impose criminal debts. By: Brandon Garrett — Federal Sentencing Reporter (2022)

Equity in Criminal Outcomes

Unified Criminal Justice Reform

This article questions a two-Americas framing of criminal justice and instead suggests that American attitudes have long been far more complex, but also more unified, than often supposed. Most people in fact care about both criminal control and due process. As a result, a range of reform approaches may bridge social, partisan, and identity-based divides to accomplish lasting change. By: Brandon Garrett — Law and Contemporary Problems (2022)

Equity in Criminal Outcomes

Juror Perceptions of Opposing Expert Forensic Psychologists: Preexisting Attitudes, Confirmation Bias, and Belief Perseverance

This study investigated how potential jurors’ initial opinions about mentally ill individuals might interact with the order in which opposing expert testimony is presented. By: Lauren Hudachek and Adele Quigley-McBride — Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (2022)

Accuracy of Evidence in Criminal Cases, Behavioral Health Needs

Surveying Practicing Firearm Examiners

This study surveyed practicing firearm and toolmark examiners about casework as well as their views about the potential role that statistics might play in future firearm examinations and expert witness testimony. By: Nicholas Scurich, Brandon L. Garrett, and Robert M. Thompson — Forensic Science International: Synergy (2022)

Accuracy of Evidence in Criminal Cases

August 21, 2022