Criminal Justice Forum: The Power of Prosecutors

Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Location: 1801 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44115 (Moot Court Room)

Special Guest:  Hon. Jed Rakoff, Senior U.S. District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The U.S. Constitution provides accused persons with many guaranteed protections, of which the most important is trial by their peers. But for several decades now, criminal trials have become close to extinct, and the roles of accuser, decider, and sentencer have largely come to reside in the prosecutor.  This imbalance has created very real problems, ranging from mass incarceration to conviction of innocent persons.  This lecture will explain how this shift came about, and what might be done to restore balance.



Jed S. Rakoff has served since March 1996 as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York. He frequently sits by designation on the 2 nd and 9 th Circuit Courts of Appeals. His most noteworthy decisions have been in the areas of securities law and criminal law. He is an Adjunct Professor at both Columbia Law School and NYU Law School, and also teaches at Berkeley Law School and the University of Virginia Law School. He has written over 170 published articles, 740 speeches, and 1800 judicial opinions, and has co-authored 5 books. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.

Judge Rakoff holds a B.A. degree from Swarthmore College (1964), an M.Phil. degree from Oxford University (Balliol, 1966), and a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School (1969). He clerked for Hon. Abraham L. Freedman, US Court of Appeals, 3d Circuit. From 1973-80, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, the last two years as Chief of Business & Securities Fraud Prosecutions. From 1980-95, he was a litigation partner at two large law firms in New York.

Judge Rakoff served on the National Commission on Forensic Science (2013-17) and as co-chair of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Eyewitness Identification. He served on the New York City Bar Association’s Executive Committee and was chair of the Association’s Nomination, Honors and Criminal Law Committees. He was Chair of the Second Circuit’s Bankruptcy Committee, and of the Southern District of New York’s Grievance Committee and Criminal Justice Advisory Board. He served on Swarthmore College’s Board of Managers, on the Governance Board of the MacArthur Foundation’s Project on Law and Neuroscience, and on the Committee on the Development of the 3 rd Edition of the Manual on Scientific Evidence. He assisted the U.S. Government in the training of foreign judges in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia, Dubai, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute. He is a Judicial Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. Among other awards, he received in 2018 the Federal Bar Council’s Learned Hand Medal for Excellence in Federal Jurisprudence. In 2014, Judge Rakoff was listed by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.


Read Judge Rakoff's article, "Why Innocent People Plead Guilty."

Registration Information

The program is free but registration is required. 



CLE credit: 1 free hour pending

Category: Alumni, CLE Programs, Faculty, General, Public Lectures, Student

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