Two years ago, I wrote about training prosecutors, forensic experts, and investigative police in Mexico. I’ve been back a couple of times since, including last week. Each time I learn something that makes me reflect on the workings of our own justice system. On my most recent trip, I learned more about the role of the victim in Mexico, and it got me thinking about the role of the victim in our criminal courts.
The recent sentencing hearings for U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar showed the power of victim impact testimony. Victim after victim testified about Nassar’s abuse and the harm it has caused. Today’s post covers the appropriateness of that type of testimony in North Carolina.
[Editor’s note: We’re excited to welcome our new colleague LaToya Powell to the blog. LaToya’s work at the School of Government focuses on juvenile justice, especially the law of juvenile delinquency. Because of the close relationship between juvenile law and criminal law, we hope she will write for the blog from time to time.] Recently, … Read more
Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin has this post about Caylee’s Law. Briefly, legislation has been introduced in many states that would make it a crime to fail to report a child’s death within one hour, or a child’s disappearance within 24 hours. Some organizations are even calling for a federal law. This activity … Read more
Defendants sometimes argue, usually in sexual assault cases, that the complaining witness should not be called a “victim” during court proceedings. The basis of the argument is that using that term assumes the very fact to be proved, namely, the the defendant committed a crime against the complainant. Several courts around the country have accepted … Read more
There’s lots of news these days about the Bernie Madoff case. Apparently, he’s going to plead guilty today, without a plea agreement, exposing himself to a virtually certain life sentence. I wonder why he’s doing that. An interesting article, available here, tries to figure out the angle, but comes up empty. Could he have suddenly … Read more