December 10, 2020
Professor JaneAnne Murray, Director of the School’s Clemency Project and also a board member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), co-authored NACDL’s model “Second Look” legislation and accompanying report. The legislation provides a vehicle that legislatures can use to safely reduce the number of individuals serving excessive, counter-productive sentences: guaranteeing all incarcerated individuals a “Second Look” once they have spent at least a decade in prison. As noted in the accompanying report, it essentially takes up where the drafters of the Model Penal Code at the American Law Institute left off. In December 2018, the ALI advocated systematic “Second Look” legislation, setting forth guiding principles but leaving states to develop fully fledged legislation. Professor Kevin Reitz was the reporter for the sentencing provisions of the revised version of the Model Penal Code, and a key drafter of its “Second Look” provision.
Prof. Murray's Clemency Project Assists ACLU Action Against Federal Prison for Handling of COVID-19 SpreadDecember 9, 2020
Professor JaneAnne Murray and students from the school’s Clemency Project, which Murray directs, provided assistance to the ACLU of Minnesota and Ballard Spahr LLP in developing and researching a class action against the Bureau of Prisons and the Warden of Waseca FCI for its handling of COVID-19 at the women’s-only federal prison in Minnesota. As the ACLU notes in its press release, “[o]ne positive test in August led to 439 inmates contracting the virus in just three months – a staggering 70% of inmates.” The lawsuit seeks emergency orders requiring: the immediate transfer of the most medically vulnerable individuals to home confinement; immediate implementation of social distancing and hygiene measures; and adequate medical care for those still suffering from COVID-19 even after the BOP has declared them “recovered.” The press release quotes Murray: “So many of the vulnerable prisoners in Waseca are serving sentences they would not receive today in any humane sentencing system … The BOP had a chance to release a large portion of them to home confinement and failed to do so. Hopefully, in addition to the global action the ACLU seeks, this lawsuit causes judges to use their power to grant individual prisoners compassionate release.”
Prof. Klass Featured in Bloomberg Law Video on the Growing Challenges to Building Oil & Gas Pipelines in United StatesDecember 8, 2020
In a Bloomberg Law video, environmental & energy law professor Alexandra Klass discusses the legal and regulatory hurdles involved in building oil & gas pipelines in the United States.
December 8, 2020
Professor JaneAnne Murray, Director of the School’s Clemency Project, was quoted in an article by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) on COVID-19’s threat to prisoners, who are unable to engage in realistic social distancing. Citing the fact that she had and her students have filed several motions for compassionate release for federal prisons, Murray pointed out that these motions require the judges to reexamine the sentences they issued decades ago with a new perspective. They’re looking at “what that person has achieved in prison, what kind of person they have become, how they’ve changed and matured and learned to give back, even within a prison environment,” Murray said. “I hope that it’s causing those judges to rethink some of the very long sentences that they impose going forward.”
December 4, 2020
Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin’s was interviewed in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. Speaking on her work as a UN Special Rapporteur addressing human rights concerning counter terrorism, Professor Ní Aoláin provides advice to emerging lawyers interested in international human rights and shares on her upcoming books, “The Paradox of Democratic Transition” and “Managing Terrorism through the Courts.”
December 4, 2020
Professor JaneAnne Murray, the Director of the Law School’s Clemency Project, and also Director of the Trial Penalty Clemency Project of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), was quoted in a press release issued by NACDL to accompany its delivery of five more trial penalty clemency cases to the Office of the Pardon Attorney and the White House, adding to the previous ten submitted between October and November, which are still awaiting action by the White House.The sentences of these five individuals, as compared to the sentences of their co-defendants or to the plea offers extended to them, represent over 150 years of punishment solely because they exercised their Sixth Amendment right to go to trial. This type of punishment, known as the trial penalty, has become a defining feature of the modern American criminal legal system. Murray notes: “In the cases we are submitting today, we once again see prosecutorial use of mandatory minimum sentences and recidivist enhancements to produce sentences that are typically imposed on convicted murderers. It is critical to limit unbridled prosecutorial abuse of sentencing provisions to ensure that accused persons may freely exercise their right to go to trial, and to bring sanity and individualization back to federal sentencing.”
Prof. Ní Aoláin Speaks at Several International Events on Global Security and Peace, Counterterrorism, and Humanitarian ActionNovember 19, 2020
Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin—U.N. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism—has recently been a featured speaker at and participated in several events, forums, and panels on various topics related to global security and peace, counterterrorism, and humanitarian action.
On November 13, Ní Aoláin chaired a panel at the Paris Peace Forum on exploring cooperative solutions to global challenges such as climate change, terrorism, migration, and cybersecurity. The panel included Patrick Gaspard (president of Open Society Foundations), Claudia Lopez (mayor of Bogota), and Sirian Charoensiri (Thai Lawyer and Human Rights Activist).
On November 17, Ní Aoláin presented as a panelist examining the role of women in national security at the Global Security Forum—an annual international gathering on global security challenges—with Kimberly Dozier (TIME contributor and CNN global affairs analyst) and Rebecca Weiner (assistant commissioner of the NYPD Intelligence Bureau).
Today, Ní Aoláin was a featured speaker at “Rebalancing Counterterrorism Policy and Humanitarian Action,” a virtual event hosted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies. Ní Aoláin presented on the balance between counterterrorism efforts and humanitarian action. She also presented her latest findings within her 2020 report to the U.N. General Assembly.
Prof. Turoski’s Legal Treatise Guides Practitioners at the Intersection of Business and Intellectual Property LawNovember 1, 2020
Professor Christopher Turoski’s legal treatise, Assets & Finance: Intellectual Property in Mergers and Acquisitions, was published this week by Thomson Reuters. Along with chronicling recent legal developments, this desk reference offers examples and practice tips to guide the practitioner in drafting documents and working through intellectual property issues in business. Prof. Turoski is the Director of Patent Law Programs at the University of Minnesota Law School.
October 27, 2020
Professor Francis Shen’s research on the relationship between wartime casualties and the 2016 election was cited in a New York Times article exploring President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. The article noted that Shen’s research, conducted with Cornell political scientist Douglas Kriner, “concluded that if three states narrowly carried by Mr. Trump—Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—‘had suffered even a modestly lower casualty rate, all three could have flipped from red to blue and sent Hillary Clinton to the White House.’”
October 25, 2020
Professor Myron Orfield, the director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota Law School, is writing a book about the Fair Housing Act in the nineteen-sixties. “Civil disorder in 1968 helped Richard Nixon a lot, especially when there was violence,” Orfield said, “but it feels like the polling is different now. A lot of white people see this differently than they did in the sixties.” His data suggest that people now are much more ambivalent, more likely to see both sides, and, although they might be fearful of violence, they may also agree with black grievances and believe in a need for reform. “I don’t think the violence ever helps, I think it hurts the Democrats,” Orfield said. “In those really white suburbs of Milwaukee, I wouldn’t be surprised if people are scared,” he noted, “but I think they’re already kind of built into Trump’s base.”