Archive for the ‘In the news’ Category

Prof. Drumbl Participates in Online Symposium at Opinio Juris

November 12, 2015 Leave a comment
Prof. Mark Drumbl

Prof. Mark Drumbl

Washington and Lee law professor Mark Drumbl, director of the Transnational Law Institute, participated in an online symposium hosted by the blog Opinio Juris and the NYU Journal of International Law and Politics. The symposium focuses on a recent paper titled The (Re)collection of Memory After Mass Atrocity and the Dilemma for Transnational Justice, by Drexel law professor Rachel Lopez. Drumbl, who has written extensively on genocide and mass atrocity, was one of four participants to comment on the paper. His submission is titled “The Memories of Collectives, the Gadgetry of Victimhood.”

Drumbl is currently a visiting scholar at the Center for International Criminal Justice at VU University, Amsterdam. While abroad, Drumbl has given a number of presentations and media interviews on topics including the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland and child soldiers in Columbia.

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