Punishment Without Process: 'Victim Impact' Proceedings for Dead Defendants

FLR Online, 2019

18 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2019

See all articles by Bruce A. Green

Bruce A. Green

Fordham University School of Law

Rebecca Roiphe

New York Law School

Date Written: November 5, 2019

Abstract

After Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in jail, two judges allowed his accusers to speak in court. This article argues that the proceedings were inappropriate because the criminal case ends when the defendant dies. If the conviction and appeal are not final, there is no finding of guilt, and the defendant is still presumed innocent. Allowing accusers to speak at this time violates the principle of due process and threatens to undermine faith in judges and the criminal justice system in general. While courts are at times legally required to hear from victims of crimes, they were not allowed to do so here, where the defendant was dead and there were no contested issues of law or fact that the victims input might effect. The article concludes by discussing how the #MeToo movement may have effected the judges in these two cases and cautions that social movements like this one ought not to dictate courtroom procedures that are crafted to uphold constitutional rights and principles.

Keywords: criminal law, due process, judicial ethics, #metoo

Suggested Citation

Green, Bruce A. and Roiphe, Rebecca, Punishment Without Process: 'Victim Impact' Proceedings for Dead Defendants (November 5, 2019). FLR Online, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3481452

Bruce A. Green

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
212-636-6851 (Phone)
212-636-6899 (Fax)

Rebecca Roiphe (Contact Author)

New York Law School ( email )

185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
212-431-2804 (Phone)

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