Importance of the Pretrial Process in Reducing Mass Incarceration and Protecting the Innocent

Call for Papers:

An overwhelming majority of criminal cases are disposed of pretrial by a plea bargain.  Many key decisions as far as whether a defendant will be found guilty, what her sentence will be, and wide-ranging effects on mass incarceration and conviction of the innocent are a result of important pretrial procedures.  This panel focuses on the steps in the pretrial process that lead to mass incarceration and allow the conviction of innocent people.  The specific pretrial steps focused on include the pretrial decision to release or detain, right to counsel, the grand jury, eye witness identifications, plea bargaining, and pre-plea Brady disclosures.  The panel will discuss the effects of the pretrial detention decision and preventative detention on high incarceration rates and whether people receive custodial sentences.

In regards to plea bargaining, panelists will discuss the pressure and calculus that allows innocent people to plead guilty.  As far as pre-plea Brady disclosures, panelists will discuss the impacts of prosecutor’s obligation to turn over exculpatory evidence before plea bargain.  Finally, panelists will discuss the pretrial right to counsel, the grand jury’s role in reducing mass incarceration and wrongful convictions, and the quality and necessity of counsel in the early stages of a judicial proceeding.

Faculty members of AALS member and fee-paid law schools are eligible to submit papers.  Foreign, visiting and adjunct faculty members, graduate students and fellows are not eligible to submit.

This call for papers is limited to those who have been teaching for six years or fewer as of July 1, 2011.  The due date for submission is August 15, 2011.  Any paper that has not yet been the subject of an offer of publication by August 15, 2011, is eligible for submission.

To facilitate anonymous review, please submit papers in electronic form to Maria Sanchez,, assistant to Professor M. Katherine Baird Darmer, Section chair.  The paper should have identifying information contained on a cover sheet only; the cover page will be removed before the paper is distributed for review.  The cover sheet should also include the year you began law teaching and a statement that the paper has not yet received any offers of publication.

Contact Information:

Maria Sanchez


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