50TH ANNIVERSARY SYMPOSIUM THE FUTURE OF PROSECUTION INTRODUCTION.
|Angelica, Peter C.
On March 2 and 3, 2023, the Fordham Urban Law Journal ("ULJ" or the "Journal") co-hosted "The Future of Prosecution" with the Stein Center for Law and Ethics and the Center on Race, Law, and Justice. This two-day event celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the ULJ, which was first published during the 1972-73 school year. Attended by students, faculty, practitioners, and the public, the Anniversary Symposium addressed many topics that are at the core of current conversations about criminal justice. The event was the culmination of the ULJ's golden jubilee, and celebrated the legacy of ULJ's accomplishments while also inspiring conversations about how the work of prosecutors might evolve in the future.
REVIEW OF THE FUTURE OF PROSECUTION
The two-day event started with a fireside chat between U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace, and Elizabeth Geddes, a former federal prosecutor and current defense attorney. (1) This marked the U.S. Attorney's second visit to Fordham this academic year. In November 2022, U.S. Attorney Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams, Special Agent for the FBI Michael Brodack, and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clark, helped launch the United Against Hate Initiative at Fordham. (2) Among other things, the initiative raised awareness of the increasing number of hate crimes across the country and in New York specifically, and highlighted ways that the community can report and help prevent these incidents. (3)
At the Future of Prosecution, U.S. Attorney Peace and Ms. Geddes spoke at length about the creative approaches the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York is taking to combat the challenges facing the district. For example, the U.S. Attorney discussed his office's use of civil prosecution to help disrupt the production of machine gun conversion decides. (4) U.S. Attorney Peace also spoke about his own efforts to partner with local community groups and his own personal experience doing pro bono work to vindicate the rights of the wrongfully accused.
The fireside chat was followed by a panel discussion of distinguished Fordham Law alumni: Sharon McCarthy, Eliza Orlins, Derick Dailey, and Kenneth Montgomery. Each provided their own unique perspective on the future of prosecution. Views ranged from strong skepticism about the work of prosecutors, to cautious optimism about recent developments that encourage alternatives to incarceration and the use of police to respond to emergencies.
The following day, Fordham hosted a discussion for law professors from across the country that explored the symposium theme. Facilitated by Professors Bruce A. Green, Professor I. Bennett Capers and Zenande Booi, Executive Director of the Center on Race, Law, and Justice, the discussion spanned the course of the day and allowed for both reflection on the previous day's conversations and discussion about current projects. This book contains the pieces produced in response to those conversations.
Carissa Byrne Hessick's essay The Pitfalls of Progressive Prosecution argues that despite the recent popularity of progressive prosecutors, they are still susceptible to some of the same well-worn critiques of the position. (5) More specifically, Hessick highlights two under-addressed areas of the movement that leave progressive prosecutor's exposed: their use of tried-and-true prosecutorial tools like prosecutorial discretion, and their reliance on decarceral narratives. Both suffer from their own pitfalls. Use of prosecutorial discretion allows progressive prosecutors to turn into scapegoats for the failures of other actors in the...
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