Chris Slobogin to serve as associate reporter on new American Law Institute project on police investigations

Professor Christopher SloboginChristopher Slobogin, who directs the law school’s Criminal Justice Program, will serve as an associate reporter on a new American Law Institute project, “Principles of the Law, Police Investigations.” Slobogin holds the Milton R. Underwood Chair in Law and is a professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University.

Barry Friedman, who is the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law, New York University School of Law, will serve as the project’s reporter. In addition to Slobogin, other associate reporters including Brandon L. Garrett, a professor at University of Virginia School of Law; Tracey L. Meares, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School; Jeffrey Rosen, a professor at the George Washington University Law School; and Rachel A. Harmon, the Sullivan & Cromwell Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law.

“This project will focus on the legal issues related to the investigative, or pre-arraignment, aspect of police procedures,” explained Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Texas, who is chair of The American Law Institute’s Projects Committee. “This project is intended to bring together experience, learning, and insights not only from courts and legal scholars, but also from those responsible for, and affected by, police agencies, decisions, and policies. The potential audience for this project will include police agencies and legislative and executive officials, as well as courts.”

The American Law Institute is currently considering the scope of the project and the elements of police investigations that will be examined. A preliminary list of topics includes the form of eyewitness identification (building on the National Research Council’s 2014 report), forensic evidence-gathering and preservation of exculpatory material, search and seizure, and remedies and accountability.

“Advisers for the project will include judges, academics, and legal practitioners, which is typical for an ALI project, but also current and former police chiefs and legal counsel for police departments,” Rosenthal added.

“This project aims to tackle some of the hardest questions, where courts, legislatures, and police are most in need of guidance, and where technology, experience and knowledge quickly are rendering current approaches obsolete,” said Friedman, who taught at Vanderbilt Law School from 1991 to 2000. “There are a variety of model rules in existence. For example, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and other policing organizations have produced model policies to address such topics as the use of drones or the problem of wrongful convictions. Our project will examine and expand on these topics, as well as analyze and report on less documented areas of the law.”

The team of reporters will prepare a draft in close consultation with advisers and an ALI Members Consultative Group to submit to ALI members for review, discussion and approval.