Judge Alex Kozinski's Critique of The Criminal Justice System is Incredible

This Georgetown Law Journal critique of the criminal justice system, and in particular proprietorial abuse, is terrific (though I am only about half way through).  If you don't have time to read it all (and it is much shorter than it looks because half or more of each page is footnotes) then you might check out these highlights by Alex Tabarrok.  I expect Ken White of Popehat to have something to say here, and look forward to his reactions.


  1. Frank Ch. Eigler:

    Judge Kozinski's (and clerk Joanna Zhang's) article is amazing. 243 footnotes, and "'Nuff said."

  2. mlhouse:

    Criminals commit crimes. Any casual look around any US prison demonstrates that the number of innocents is a small, small number. The other proof of this is that as incarceration rates have increased, crime rates have decreased. That alone is enough to convince me that we are doing the right thing.

    Criminals commit crimes. When they are in prison they do not commit crimes. That is a very simple formula.

  3. David in Michigan:

    I found his critique trite and superficial. I don't understand your praise of it. Of course there is some problems with the system. Yes, eye witness make mistakes, latent fingerprints are hard to interpret, DNA processing needs to be done professionally, juries contain many idiots, blah, blah, blah. That's why we have defense lawyers. Give me a better system or suggest how it should be changed to improve it. Until then, stop whining.

  4. Tanuki Man:

    Surely you mean "prosecutorial abuse." I see the word you used offered as a replacement so I'm going to assume this is another auto-correct mishap.

  5. Bryan Patterson:

    David, I don't think that you read the article thoroughly. Kozinski gives a list of suggestions categorized by Juries, Prosecutors, Judges, and Misc. Here is his list for juries (with the detail removed).

    1. Give jurors a written copy of the jury instructions.
    2. Allow jurors to take notes during trial and provide them with a full trial transcript.
    3. Allow jurors to discuss the case while the trial is ongoing.
    4. Allow jurors to ask questions during the trial.
    5. Tell jurors up-front what’s at stake in the case.
    6. Give jurors a say in sentencing.

    Some of these items are at the discretion of the judges and may or may not already be in place in some venues. Some would require legislative changes.

    Or the section on Prosecutors.

    1. Require open file discovery.
    2. Adopt standardized, rigorous procedures for dealing with the government’s disclosure obligations.
    3. Adopt standardized, rigorous procedures for eyewitness identification.
    4. Video record all suspect interrogations.
    5. Impose strict limits on the use of jailhouse informants.
    6. Adopt rigorous, uniform procedures for certifying expert witnesses and preserving the integrity of the testing process.
    7. Keep adding conviction integrity units.
    8. Establish independent Prosecutorial Integrity Units.

    The sections for Judges and Misc are similar. Each point comes with an explanatory paragraph. I don't have the expertise to weigh all the consequences of these recommendations, but you can hardly complain that he didn't field specific suggestions.