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November 30, 2011

Looking back and looking forward in our final few classes

I hope everyone enjoyed yesterday's visit by Jonathan Wroblewski (and the Duke game) as much as I did. I am sorry we did not have more time in class for questions, but I plan to use the first part of Thursday's class to follow-up on his lecture and also on the second short-paper assignment.  I also will discuss again all of the options (and challenges) for the final paper/project for the class.

For substantive content, I plan to finish up the course by discussing mass incarceration (and sentencing severity) in general and life prison terms in particular.   Everyone is encouraged to read the selections from Chapter 7 noted on our syllabus (pp. 517-24, 552-78), as well as the Supreme Court's recent Eighth Amendment opinion in Graham v. Florida (which appears in the on-line supplement at pp. 96-112, and in full form here).

In addition, and especially if you are working on an amicus brief for your final assignment, I also recommend checking out this very short and very recent opinion from the Supreme Court of Louisiana concerning the application of Graham to three cases involving persons sentenced decades ago to life sentences for nonhomicide crimes committed when they were juveniles.

November 30, 2011 in Class activities, Supreme Court rulings | Permalink


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Having a blog for posting news/events about your class is brilliant. I wish more professors would get with the program and utilize the technology that is available to them. How about integrating some social media?

Posted by: Lansing Personal Injury Attorney | Nov 30, 2011 1:01:21 PM

Did you read our papers during garbage time or were you too distracted by the shooting clinic the Bucks were putting on?

Posted by: Colin P | Dec 1, 2011 10:13:58 AM

I was too busy worrying my Duke/DOJ pall would never want to talk to me again... ;-) But, since then, I have had time to read all the papers and will discuss them a bit in class today.

Posted by: Doug B. | Dec 1, 2011 11:31:12 AM

Just before class on Tuesday, I attended a sentencing hearing in a federal child solicitation/pornography case. Jonathan Wroblewski's insights on reducing mandatory minimums for sex offenders were extremely interesting and thought-provoking. I'll probably never say this again, but I sincerely wish Tuesday's class were longer. Thanks for bringing him to class!

Posted by: Melissa W. | Dec 1, 2011 12:38:03 PM

The laughability of Justice Thomas' selective theory of "originalism" is on full display in his tiny, indignant dissent in Graham... How convincing of him to state that LWOP for juvenile non-homicide offenses "would not have offended the standards that prevailed at the founding", when (as we've discussed in class) even adult LWOP was all but unheard-of at the time of the founding...

Posted by: Adam Young | Dec 1, 2011 1:41:13 PM

I enjoyed Mr. Wroblewski's appearance in class. One thing that stuck with me was the idea that fewer homicides could be a function of advanced emergency medical techniques. It reminded of the counter to the argument of Americans are using less gasoline today -- they simply can't afford to buy it. The real cause of the decline not being at all related to any change in party activity.

Posted by: Adam C | Dec 1, 2011 2:19:02 PM

I found Mr. Wroblewski to be an interesting speaker. However, I was generally disappointed with his appearance (I realize I may be in the minority here). I was hoping for a frank Q&A session, with instructive answers and thought-provoking debate. What I heard was a carefully prepared "lesson" on sentencing and how the DOJ plays its part in the process. Again, this was quite interesting, but not what I was looking for in his visit, particularly when viewed in conjunction with our assignment. In my opinion, what we received felt more like PR than I would have preferred.

Posted by: Krystin Brehm | Dec 8, 2011 2:39:56 PM

I was glad we had a chance to hear from Mr. Wroblewski and greatly appreciate the time he took to review our papers and provide some feedback. I really enjoyed the insight he had to offer although I (like Krystin) wish there had been more room for questions. I would have loved the opportunity for a "double-dose" of sentencing and had the class extended for an additional hour. I particularly enjoyed his thoughts on sentencing for sex offenders and look forward to exploring them further in my final paper!

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