Archive for the ‘in the news’ Category

False Confessions Symposium Underway

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

The False Confessions Symposium is underway at Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington, VA. This symposium is examining the story of the Central Park Five, the Norfolk Four, and other cases involving false confessions. Speakers include Steve Drizin, a leading researcher in the field; Steve Northup, lawyer from Troutman Sanders who represented Erick Wilson of the Norfolk Four; Gerry Zirken, a Federal Public Defender who represented Earl Washington; Steve Rosenfeld, who represents another Norfolk Four defendant, and interrogation expert James Trainum.  The symposium was organized by Prof. Jonathan Shapiro, a Visiting Professor of Law at Washington & Lee and an experienced practitioner in the criminal law area.

You may watch the event live via a stream available here: Written materials for the event are available here:

Here is the schedule:

Four False Confessions and How They Happened

9am – 10:30am

Professor Drizin presents a summary of  his research on false confessions cases and recounts the Central Park Five case.  Steve Northup recounts the Norfolk Four case. Brandon Garrett presents his research on wrongful convictions and false confessions.

Raymond Santana and Eric Wilson describe their interrogations. Excerpts from confessions played.

10:30am – 10:45am


10:45 – 12:00pm

Jerry Zerkin recounts the Virginia case of Earl Washington, convicted of rape and murder and sent to death row based on a false confession, now exonerated.

Steven Rosenfield, Laura Nirider, and Jeffrey Aaron recount the Virginia case of Robert Davis who falsely confessed to the murder of a mother and her child, sentenced to 23 years and now waiting clemency.

12:00pm – 1pm

Lunch break

Police Interrogation – The Reid Technique

1pm –  2:45pm

James Trainum and Steven Drizin describe the Reid technique of interrogation.

Jonathan Shapiro describes defense of Fairfax County child sex-abuse case based on false confession, with excepts of confession played and commentary by James Trainum, Steven Drizin and Jonathan Shapiro.

Steven Drizin, Jonathan Shapiro, Steven Rosenfield, Jerry Zerkin and Stephen Northup discuss preparing the case for attacking a false confession.

2:45pm – 3pm


The Fight for Exoneration – Law and Politics

3pm – 4pm

Panel discussion – Steven Rosenfield, Stephen Northup, Steven Drizin, Jeffrey Aaron and Jerry Zerkin describe the fight for exoneration in their cases, including the law and the politics.

4 – 4:30pm

Question and Answer, and closing comments

This event is sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, Washington and Lee University Law School, and these Washington and Lee organizations: The Innocence Project, CONTACT, the Student Bar Association, the Black Law Students Association, the Federalist Society, the Criminal Justice Clinic, the National Lawyers Guild, and The Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice.

Prof. Jost Comments on Delay in Implementing Health Reform

July 4, 2013 Leave a comment
Prof. Tim Jost

Prof. Tim Jost

Here is the beginning of a post by W&L Law Professor Tim Jost at the Health Affairs Blog regarding the Obama Administration’s recent announcement of a delay in implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate:

Late in the day on July 2, 2013, Mark Mazur, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the Department of the Treasury, announced in a memorandum ironically entitled “Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner” that implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate would not be implemented on time, but rather delayed until 2015.   Valerie Jarrett released a similar statement from the White House.

The Administration has been under tremendous pressure from the business community to delay implementation of ACA provisions affecting employers; it had already delayed the implementation of statutory provisions prohibiting insured employers from discriminating in favor of highly-compensated employees and requiring large employers to automatically enroll new full-time employees in a health insurance plan, subject to the employee opting out.   The Administration has now accommodated business one more time.

The reason given for the delay this time was difficulty in implementing ACA provisions requiring insurers and self-insured health plans to report information regarding individuals whom they cover and requiring large employers to report coverage offered to their full-time employees.  The administration asserts that an additional year will give employers and insurers the time they need to adapt to the reporting requirements and give the Departments time to simplify the reporting requirement.

Without reporting, however, enforcing the employer mandate will be impractical, so it is put off for a year.  The Administration promises guidance within the next week on how this will work and proposed rules this summer to implement the reporting requirement.

You can read the rest of the post by visiting the Health Affairs Blog.

Professor Michele Drumbl’s Tax Clinic Featured on WVTF

April 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Tax Clinic: Making Peace with the IRS



Michelle Drumbl and law student Jessica Unger discuss a client’s issue.

Many Virginians are heaving a sigh of relief after getting tax returns done and in the mail, but for some the challenge of paying taxes as just begun.

They’re the ones who get notices from the IRS.  At the very least, that’s an annoyance, and for some it’s a nightmare, but free help could be a phone call away.

Every state has at least one federally-funded office to help people having trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.  In Virginia there are two: the Community Tax Law Project in Richmond and the Tax Clinic at Washington and Lee’s School of Law.

The clinic provides services at no charge to anyone who qualifies.

To hear WVTF’s report on the clinic, click here.

Professor David Bruck’s Advocacy in Murder Case Profiled in South Carolina Newspaper

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Prof. Bruck

W&L Professor David Bruck recently participated in oral arguments before the South Carolina Supreme Court on behalf of his client, Billy Wayne Cope.  The Herald of Rock Hill, S.C. covered the proceedings in an article on November 13, 2012.  Here is an excerpt:

The fate of Billy Wayne Cope , convicted of raping and killing his own 12-year-old daughter in a 2001 crime that he confessed to but claims he did not commit, now rests with the S.C. Supreme Court .

Cope’s lawyer, David Bruck , claimed defiantly Tuesday to the state’s highest court that Cope “did not get a fair trial” in 2004. Bruck said the other man convicted in the crime, a sexual predator named James Edward Sanders , is the sole monster.

. . .

The Supreme Court , which spent about 45 minutes grilling Bruck and Zelenka, made no decision Tuesday. A decision could be reached in weeks or months.

. . .

Only Bruck, Zelenka and the five justices spoke. The Supreme Court hearing was a legal fistfight, with the justices repeatedly interrupting the lawyers and demanding answers about the confessions and more. It will take a majority – three of the five justices – to overturn any conviction and potentially order a new trial.

Nobody disputes that Cope was home with his three daughters when Amanda, the oldest, was brutally attacked.

. . .

In the hearing, the justices first heard from Bruck, the Virginia law professor who specializes in claims of wrongful convictions. In 2004, the trial judge refused to allow Cope’s defense attorneys to tell the jury about all of Sanders’ previous rapes and break-ins. Not being able to tell the jury that Sanders was a serial sexual predator, Bruck argued, gutted the defense case.

. . .
“To say that was a fair trial…That simply was not true,” Bruck stated.

The justices then turned to Zelenka, from the attorney general’s office, who claimed that the other crimes Sanders committed were not “sufficiently similar” and, therefore, should have stayed out of the trial. The trial judge’s decision in 2004 not to allow the jury to consider Sanders’ other crimes was “a harmless error,” Zelenka claimed.

But Bruck pounced, describing that claim as “a retreat” by prosecutors who fought to keep Sanders’ sexual deviance away from the jury.

“There is no way that this was harmless,” Bruck argued.

The justices were clearly concerned about the evidence excluded in the 2004 trial. Justice Costa Pleicones stated that excluding some of the evidence “deprived Mr. Cope the opportunity to present a defense.”

David Bruck is a Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse at Washington & Lee University School of Law.

Professor Spencer Appears in the Virginia Lawyer Magazine in an Issue Dedicated to Legal Education

November 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Professor A. Benjamin Spencer is featured in the October 2012 issue of the Virginia Lawyer, the official publication of the Virginia State Bar.  Professor Spencer appears in his capacity as Chair of the VSB Section on the Education of Lawyers.  In the magazine, Professor Spencer introduces the issue, which is dedicated to coverage of the recent Twentieth Anniversary Conclave on the Education of Lawyers in Virginia.

The 2012 Conclave, which was put on by the Section that Professor Spencer chairs, was a meeting of members of the bench, bar, and legal academy to discuss the challenges facing legal education and how we can work together to tackle them.  The panel discussions focused on education during law school, the bar admissions process, continuing legal education beyond law school, and the role of judges in improving the training and preparation of lawyers for practice.

For more details regarding the substance of the 2012 Conclave or to read each of the reports that came out of the event, visit the Virginia Lawyer Web page.  Complete Conclave materials, including transcripts, DVDs, and written materials for the event are available at a dedicated website:

A. Benjamin Spencer is the Associate Dean for Research and a Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University School of Law, where he also serves as Director of the Frances Lewis Law Center.

Professor Russell Miller Publishes Book on German Constitutional Law

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

We are pleased to announce the publication of the third edition of Professor Russell Miller‘s book The Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Federal Republic of Germany (Duke University Press). This renowned English-language guide to German constitutional law has been fully updated and significantly expanded to incorporate previously omitted topics and recent decisions of the German Federal Constitutional Court, and includes a new foreword by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“In the endeavor to gain knowledge from the problems confronted and resolutions reached by our counterparts abroad, the work of Donald P. Kommers, now joined by Russell A. Miller, is a rich resource. Offering far more than excellent English-language translations of the decisions of a renowned tribunal, Professors Kommers and Miller supply incisive analyses and commentary. I am pleased to herald the publication of this third edition of a masterful text. . . . Brought right up to the moment . . . The Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Federal Republic of Germany is an engaging, enlightening, indispensable source for those seeking to learn from the text and context of German constitutional jurisprudence.”—From the foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, the Supreme Court of the United States

First published in 1989, The Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Federal Republic of Germany has become an invaluable resource for scholars and practitioners of comparative, international, and constitutional law, as well as of German and European politics. The third edition of this renowned English-language reference has now been fully updated and significantly expanded to incorporate both previously omitted topics and recent decisions of the German Federal Constitutional Court. As in previous editions, Donald P. Kommers and Russell A. Miller’s discussions of key developments in German constitutional law are augmented by elegantly translated excerpts from more than one hundred German judicial decisions.

Prof. Russell Miller

Compared to previous editions of The Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Federal Republic of Germany, this third edition more closely tracks Germany’s Basic Law and, therefore, the systematic approach reflected in the most- respected German constitutional law commentaries. Entirely new chapters address the relationship between German law and European and international law; social and economic rights, including the property and occupational rights cases that have emerged from reunification; jurisprudence related to issues of equality, particularly gender equality; and the tension between Germany’s counterterrorism efforts and its constitutional guarantees of liberty. Kommers and Miller have also updated existing chapters to address recent decisions involving human rights, federalism, European integration, and religious liberty.

For more information, and to order the book directly from Duke University Press, please visit

Professor Mark Drumbl Lectures at Oxford, Cambridge, and University of London; Addresses Conferences in The Hague and Australia; Appointed to AALS Committee

October 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Prof. Mark Drumbl

W&L law professor Mark Drumbl‘s book Reimagining Child Soldiers in International Law and Policy, which published earlier this year, encourages a second look at how we think about child soldiers, and what effective rehabilitation and reintegration means for them. In the last week of October 2012, he lectured on the book at Cambridge, Oxford, and the University of London. The presentations connected the arguments in the book with major recent events, such as the Kony2012 video and judgments of international courts to convict and sentence high-profile defendants on charges of unlawful conscription, enlistment, or use of child soldiers.  You can listen to Professor Drumbl’s Cambridge lecture here.  The Oxford lecture is available here.

Professor Drumbl has written about these recent events in journals, blogs (here and here), and he has also spoken about them in you tube format. Reimagining Child Soldiers has received positive initial review, including on the Lawfare blog. Its first chapter has been translated into German for separate publication in Germany.

In September 2012, Prof. Drumbl spoke and chaired a panel discussion at a major conference held in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, convened to discuss the Tenth Anniversary of the International Criminal Court.   He also participated in an on-line symposium on the question whether atrocity perpetrators who spare some group members should have that factor considered in mitigation of sentence. His comments are here.

Professor Drumbl was recently appointed to the Advisory Committee on Global Engagement of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).  The mandate of this committee is to present to the AALS Executive Committee a new approach to the internationalization of legal education in light of the changing demands on the legal profession.

In September Professor Drumbl presented a work-in-progress at an interdisciplinary conference at the University of Melbourne (Australia) entitled the Passions of International Law.  A paper he had previously presented at the Melbourne Law School, “Germans are the Lords and Poles are the Servants”: the Trial of Arthur Greiser in Poland, 1946 will be published as a chapter in a volume put out by Oxford University Press entitled Untold Stories: The Hidden Histories of War Crimes Trials in early 2013. The Greiser trial is the first trial for the crime of waging aggressive war brought in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Professor Drumbl’s article The Curious Criminality of Mass Atrocity, which was initially presented in June 2012 in a conference in Amsterdam, will appear as a chapter in a book under contract with Oxford University Press.  Another article ‘She Makes Me Ashamed to Be a Woman’: The Genocide Conviction of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 2011, will appear in the Michigan Journal of International Law in 2013. Professor Drumbl also contributed to the to the Official French Commentary to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Université de Paris, 2011,, a piece entitled La CPI et les victimes d’atrocités.

Mark Drumbl is the Class of 1975 Alumni Professor at Washington & Lee University, School of Law, where he also serves as Director of the University’s Transnational Law Institute.

Professor Robin Wilson’s Comments on Legal Issues for Unmarried Couples Appear in Essence Magazine

October 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Prof. Robin Fretwell Wilson

W&L Law Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson recently commented on the legal considerations relating to cohabitation by unmarried couples.  Her comments appeared in Essence Magazine and addressed what such couples need to keep in mind when it comes to children, health matters, property & assets, and inheritance issues.

To view Professor Wilson’s discussion, click here.

Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson is the Class of 1958 Law Alumni Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University School of Law.  A specialist in Family Law and Health Law, her research and teaching interests also include Insurance and Biomedical Ethics.  Professor Wilson is the editor of four volumes: Health Law and Bioethics: Cases in Context (with Sandra Johnson, Joan Krause and Richard Savor, 2009); Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008) (with Douglas Laycock and Anthony A. Picarello);Reconceiving the Family: Critique on the American Law Institute’s Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution (Cambridge University Press, 2006); and the Handbook of Children, Culture & Violence(Sage Publications, 2006) (with Nancy Dowd & Dorothy G. Singer).  Her articles have appeared in the Cornell Law Review, theEmory Law Journal, the North Carolina Law Review, and the San Diego Law Review, as well as in numerous peer-reviewed journals.

Professor Jim Moliterno Discusses Curriculum Reform, Receives Legal Education Award

October 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Prof. Jim Moliterno

W&L Professor Jim Moliterno spoke regarding the 3L curriculum reform recently at the University of Denver. At this conference of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers (ETL), Professor Moliterno was given the Rebuilding Justice Award by ETL’s associated organization, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS). The award was in recognition of his 30 years of engaging in legal education reform.

At the conference, Moliterno presented the most current information about the 3L curriculum, including recent statistics from the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE).  The recent LSSSE numbers indicate that W&L’s third-year students are dramatically more engaged in their studies than were W&L’s past third-year students and the current third-year students at W&L’s peer law schools.

“I am thrilled to be the first legal educator to receive the Rebuilding Justice Award from IAALS,” said Moliterno. “Building or rebuilding justice starts in the law schools—law students represent the future of justice in any society.”

Moliterno has spent his career as a legal educator seeking ways to infuse experiential learning into legal education. He was the architect of William and Mary law school’s award winning ethics, skills, and professionalism program, which in 1991 won the American Bar Association Gambrell Professionalism Award, as the best law school or bar association program for the teaching of ethics and professionalism.

Professor Russell A. Miller to Convene Symposium in Honor of Renowned German Constitutional Law Scholar

October 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Prof. Russell Miller

W&L Law Professor Russell Miller has organized a symposium in honor of Don Kommers, a German legal academic who is widely seen as one of the founders of the comparative constitutional law discipline and a much-admired specialist on German constitutional law.  To honor him on his 80th birthday, Professor Miller has partnered with two prestigious academic institutions in Berlin–and several important sponsors–for this symposium.  The program will be hosted by the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Berlin Academy of Science) and the American Academy in Berlin.  Sponsors include the Draeger Foundation, the German Federal Ministry of Justice, Notre Dame University and the German Law Journal.

The event begins on Friday, October 26, in the evening with a dinner and podium discussion, the latter featuring Kommers in conversation with former German Constitutional Court Justice Dieter Grimm and Harvard Law Professor Vicki Jackson.  Among the invitees to the dinner are a high-level, ministerial delegation from the German Federal Ministry of Justice and current and former justices of the German Constitutional Court.  On Saturday, October 27, there will be two panels exploring the theme “The Curious Life of the Grundgesetz in America” and will aim to consider how Kommers’ work–which opened up German constitutional law for American researchers–impacted German constitutional law.  The first panel will feature Americans who work on German constitutional law, including a presentation by Professor Miller entitled “What we Teach When we Teach German Constitutional Law”.  The second panel will feature Germans who have extensive experience in America, including current German Constitutional Court Justice Susanne Baer.

Click here for details pertaining to this symposium.  A program for the symposium may be accessed here.


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