December 18, 2007

News roundup

Eastern nations importing Western justice practices

I've seen several accounts lately of Asian countries importing Western criminal justice practices. In China, which has a continental (or inquisitorial) model like that used in most of Europe, the Canadian Bar Association is collaborating with Chinese lawyers to advance the adversarial practices used in Canada and the United States. The Lawyers Weekly of Canada has that story. Meanwhile, in Japan, courts are gearing up to implement what for the West is an old standard – jury duty. In preparation for the January 2009 launch date, a former New York Legal Aid attorney is training Japanese defense lawyers in how to address ordinary citizens in court. That story is one of a series of special reports on "Toyko Justice" at New York City's NY1 news service.

New DOJ report: Sexual victimization of prisoners

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has released findings from a national survey of more than 23,000 prisoners at 146 state and federal institutions. Overall, about 4.5% of prisoners report sexual victimization, more than half committed by staff. The special report, required under the Prison Rape Elimination Act, is available online, as is a summary press release.

$10 million law & neuroscience project

How should the courts respond to new brain-scanning techniques that have potentially far-reaching legal implications?

A $10 million, 3-year grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is bringing scholars together to help answer this question by integrating neuroscience developments into the U.S. legal system.

The project will begin by synthesizing existing research and identifying gaps. Then, studies and conferences will be funded to fill those gaps. One end goal is an educational primer for judges, differentiating evidence-based techniques from those that lack scientific validity and should not be admitted in court.

More information is available at the project's website.