Lara Bazelon discusses her recent cover story for Slate, “The Innocence Deniers,” which looks at the role of prosecutors in wrongful conviction cases. While some prosecutors ask judges to dismiss cases that have proven to be faulty, Bazelon argues that “there is a class of prosecutors that might fairly be called innocence deniers.” These prosecutors will relitigate a case, sometimes filing appeals or even seeking “no contest” pleas from wrongfully convicted prisoners. These "Faustian bargains” stem from a prosecutor’s reluctance to admit they were wrong. They not only impede the pursuit of justice, but can actively prevent it.
Lara Bazelon is proof that lawyers can wear many hats: She’s a professor, litigator, and contributing writer for Slate, where she has a long-running series about criminal justice and modern family life. Her op-eds and essays have also been published in the New York Times and The Washington Post, among other outlets. Next year, she’ll add “author” to her list of titles when her book about wrongful convictions is published. Here, she talks about career setbacks, challenges for women in the courtroom, and overcoming the stigma of a painful divorce.
The #MeToo movement reached the federal judiciary last month. Alex Kozinski, a longtime judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif., abruptly resigned after some 15 former law clerks and staffers said he had engaged in sexual misconduct. With more 3,000 federal judges spread among 13 circuit courts, there will almost certainly be more cases like Judge Kozinski’s.
When Jair and his then-girlfriend drove home to the East Bay after a concert in San Francisco, they didn’t know it would be the beginning of a 15-month legal ordeal. By the end of the night, he had been charged with driving under the influence of MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy, and she had been subjected to degrading treatment by the police. But with the help of students from USF School of Law’s Criminal and Juvenile Justice Law Clinic, his case was finally dismissed this fall.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is trying to change an Obama-era policy concerning Title IX with the belief the policies were overreaching and the accused were not given equal treatment. We brought on Lara Bazelon, an associate professor at the University of San Francisco, to explain why she supports DeVos’ policy changes, and why colleges are not equipped with handling sexual assault cases. More of Bazelon’s work can be viewed here.