Arbitrary Injustice: Reflections on the Exercise and Abuse of Discretion in the Justice System

This symposium will look into the parts of our legal system that have no rules: the focal points where decisions about someone’s fate is determined by the discretion of individuals, either through neglect or by design. Currently, large portions of the legal system consist of surprisingly open frontiers, where there are no written protocols or policies governing the decisions that are made about who to charge, who to investigate, and who to give or withhold the resources of our nation from. This allows implicit or explicit bias to infiltrate the U.S. legal system at every level, both criminal and civil. 

On February 24th and 25th, 2017 we will examine the systemic yet personal structures which perpetuate the various divides in the United States, and discuss the origins and possible solutions to the material losses, dignitary harm and destroyed opportunities faced by individuals due to the discretion of others. Please join us in our discussion, including:

* how and if police departments establish recording procedures for interrogations

* recent efforts made by states to address the nations longstanding racial disparity in mental health commitments. 

* how school district leaders decide who to place in special education programs

* the impact of the body camera revolution on police behavior

* evidence of how individual decisions by officers can transform a sexual assault investigation into the filing of false reporting charges.



Friday, 2.24.16

L. Song Richardson, University of California Irvine

Howard Wasserman, Florida International University

Neal McNabb, Truman State University

Lisa Avalos, University of Arkansas


Saturday, 2.25.16

Michael Perlin, New York Law School

Heather Cucolo, New York Law School 

Jason Nance, University of Florida Levin College of Law