Volume 5, Issue 2

Date of Publication: 2017

Tasnim Motala, Circumventing Miranda: The Public Safety Exception in the War on Terror

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Abstract: Since September 11, 2001, law enforcement has increasingly invoked the public safety exception to delay Mirandizing terror suspects, oftentimes for days on end. The use of the public safety exception in these circumstances runs amok of Chief Justice Earl Warren’s concerns articulated in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, Chief Justice Warren intended to curb the coercive nature of law enforcement interrogations, in the hopes of preventing law enforcement from taking advantage of of suspects’ ignorance and fear. Today, law enforcement routinely and wrongly invokes the public safety exception to interrogate terror suspects virtually incommunicado and outside the protections enjoined in Chief Justice Warren’s opinion. This practice is at odds with the public safety exception and with the true meaning of Miranda v. Arizona.


Kallee Spooner & Michael S. Vaughn, Sentencing Juvenile Homicide Offenders: A 50-State Survey

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Abstract: Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that youth are constitutionally different from adults for the purpose of sentencing. In the latest case on this issue, Miller v. Alabama, the Court held that juvenile homicide offenders cannot be sentenced to life without parole (“LWOP”) without consideration of the individual mitigating qualities of youth that make them less deserving of the state’s most severe punishment. The Court provided little guidance on how to proceed with this directive, however. Through an inductive doctrinal analysis, this article assesses the current state of sentencing in juvenile homicide cases by analyzing statutes and judicial decisions in all fifty states. Findings show disagreement as to what constitutes appropriate sentence length and varied approaches to individualized sentencing of youthful homicide offenders. The article concludes that in order to meet Supreme Court benchmarks, lawmakers and judges need to provide further clarity on how to approach the problem of homicide perpetrated by youth.

John S. Albanes, What is Significant Bodily Injury? Evaluating the District of Columbia Court of Appeals’ Interpretation of the Felony Assault Statute Ten Years After Its Enactment

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Abstract: In 2006, the D.C. Council amended its criminal code, adding a separate provision to the existing simple assault statute to criminalize “assault with significant bodily injury” (ASI), a felony. In several cases since then, the Court has reversed felony assault convictions where it found the injury did not meet the threshold for significant injury. At the same time, the Court upheld factually similar convictions, leading to disagreement within the Court about what standard should apply when evaluating ASI cases. In interpreting the ASI statute, the Court has added significant judicial gloss to the plain meaning of the statutory text where, arguably, no ambiguity existed, causing confusion for lawyers, trial court judges, and jurors, and potentially contravening the Council’s intent. This Article suggests that the Court return to the plain meaning of the law in order to avert this confusion.