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October 2, 2019

Second-look materials for review and (competitive?) repackaging

Many thanks to the whole class for your terrific engagement with David Singleton in today's class.  I trust you enjoyed as much as I did hearing a lot from him (and not so much from me).  And, as we discussion, the issue of "second look" sentencing mechanisms in Ohio and elsewhere is a hot topic.  Here are some more background and links to some materials I briefly referenced in class:

The newly revised sentencing provisions of the Model Penal Code includes "second look" authority through § 305.6 urging legislatures to authorize "a judicial panel or other judicial decisionmaker to hear and rule upon applications for modification of sentence from prisoners who have served 15 years of any sentence of imprisonment."  MPC § 305.6, titled "Modification of Long-Term Prison Sentences; Principles for Legislation," and its engthy commentary can bel reviewed at this link.

Inspired in part by this MPC proposal, just this past July, US Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Representative Karen Bass (D-California) introduced a federal second look bill named the Matthew Charles and William Underwood Second Look Act of 2019.   This press release discusses the essential elements of the bill and its full text can be found at this link.  The advocacy group FAMM has been a big supporter of these proposals, and it released the following materials in conjunction this the bill's introduction:

As mentioned in class, David Singleton and I are eager to bring "second look" interest and energy to Ohio in the form of a student legislative drafting competition.  I would be very grateful for comments here (or in person) about how we might run such a contest for maximum interest and impact.  Would law students be more interested in a (small) cash prize or a chance to get published and/or present their work to important people?  Any and all feedback on the basic idea of a contest or on how best to structure its particulars would be greatly appreciated.

October 2, 2019 in Class activities, Who decides | Permalink


I love the idea of a drafting competition. Law students' perspectives are too often dismissed or even derided just because we haven't practiced yet - even though we all know that there are plenty of practicing attorneys whose input isn't necessarily thought-out.

Anyway, I think law students would be more interested in getting published and/or the chance to present their work to important people. While my first instinct is a cash prize, being published and making connections has lasting impact.

It's worth talking to Moritz's Moot Court Governing Board, since they run the 1L competition each year and it consistently garners strong interest. Pulling in student orgs is a great way to spread the word, as they target concentrated groups of students, rather than blanket announcements that may get lost in the clutter.

Asking offices and nonprofits that employ summer interns / graduating students to spread the word may be helpful too - I know that if I received an email from someone at an office I'd like to work at, I'd be pretty inclined to participate!

I'll think more on it! I love that you're doing this.

Posted by: Kristen Eby | Oct 7, 2019 4:21:02 PM

Building off of Kristen's idea of involving the Moritz Moot Court Governing Board, the competition could be structured similarly to the 1L competition. Students would submit the draft of their bill to a committee for review where it would receive a score based on the writing itself. Then, individuals would "argue" their draft against each other or to the committee and receive a score for their advocacy and presentation of the drafted document. Based on these scores, a winning draft would be selected.

To offer another idea, could drafting the legislation serve as a substitute/alternative for a class paper, exam, or journal note? I agree that a monetary prize or the chance of publication can be encouraging, but saving a student time by offering an alternative to class or journal requirements might be another good incentive.

Posted by: Anna Crisp | Oct 9, 2019 5:06:40 PM

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