2022 Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law

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2022 Barrock Lecture on Criminal Law
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Democracy in the Criminal Justice System: An Assessment

Carissa Byrne Hessick
Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland “Buck” Ransdell, Jr.
Distinguished Professor of Law, University of North Carolina

1 CLE Credit
Limited complimentary parking is available on site.

The democratic controls on the American criminal justice system are almost as dysfunctional as they are essential. To begin with the latter point: as designed, the system is highly democratic. Whether by empaneling juries and grand juries, electing local prosecutors and sheriffs, or constantly revising criminal statutes, the United States gives its citizens significant input into not just general criminal justice policy but even outcomes in specific cases. In practice, though: Vanishingly few criminal cases go to trial; most prosecutors and sheriffs run for office unopposed; and when they are asked to vote, most Americans are uninformed or misinformed about even the most basic criminal justice issues. We can improve this bleak picture of criminal justice democracy—but only with a significant investment in time and attention within both the legal community and the larger society.

Carissa Byrne Hessick is the Anne Shea Ransdell and William Garland “Buck” Ransdell, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina, where she also serves as director of the school’s Prosecutors and Politics Project. Professor Hessick’s teaching and research interests are concentrated in criminal law, the structure of the criminal justice system, and criminal sentencing, and she has taught and written extensively in these spheres. Hessick holds a J.D. from Yale University and a B.A. from Columbia University. Before entering teaching, she practiced law and also clerked for Hon. Barbara S. Jones (S.D.N.Y.) and Hon. A. Raymond Randolph (D.C. Cir.).

This lecture series remembers George Barrock, L’31, and Margaret Barrock.

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