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Discussion Group Summary: Disruptive Innovation in Criminal Defense

Summary provided by Gary Simson

Discussion Group: Disruptive Innovation in Criminal Defense

The dozen members of this group offered an array of proposals for ways in which criminal defense could be made more effective.  The following provide a sense of the broad range of the proposals: One focused on the potential for empirical research on public defense to help improve attorney-client communication.  Another underlined the importance of humanizing the accused and suggested strategies for doing so.  A third proposed that defense counsel be far less reluctant to have the defendant testify at trial.  Another suggested innovation was assigning indigent defendants two lawyers – a “settlement lawyer” to fill the counseling and negotiating roles pretrial, and a “trial lawyer” to conduct pretrial proceedings and defend at trial. Some proposals focused more specifically on certain types of defendants, such as one addressing the unfairness arising out of defendants’ signing waivers of immigration relief and another urging that counsel to corporate criminal defendants demand speedy trials rather than be so ready to cooperate with the government when presented with a non-prosecution, deferred prosecution, or plea agreement.  Almost all of the speakers plan to participate this fall in a live and print symposium sponsored by the Mercer Law Review, Mercer University School of Law, and SEALS.

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