Press Advisory

ADVISORY: Racial Bias and Criminal Prosecution

Angela Davis, Professor, American University, Washington College of Law

Glenn Ivey, State Attorney, Prince George’s County, Maryland

David Kennedy, Director, Center for Crime Prevention and Control

Denny LeBoeuf, Founding Director of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana

Moderated by:

Ron Sullivan, Senior Fellow, The Jamestown Project

RSVP for this Event

Prosecutors are powerful actors in the criminal justice system. They have wide-ranging and virtually unreviewable discretion in deciding whether to charge someone with a crime and what that charge should be. The Jena Six and the Duke Lacrosse cases are well-known recent examples of cases in which claims of racial bias sit at the center of public debate about these matters. What role, if any, does race play as a factor of inherent bias in prosecutorial decision making? Are prosecutors influenced by factors such as race, celebrity status, or notoriety of the case when exercising their unfettered prosecutorial judgment? What responsibility should a prosecutor have to ensure that bias does not enter decision-making? Join the Center for American Progress, the Jamestown Project, and a panel of prominent prosecutors, defenders, and academics, as we examine race and bias in criminal prosecutions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 Program: 12:30pm to 2:00pm Admission is free.

A light lunch will be served.

Center for American Progress 1333 H St. NW, 10th Floor Washington, DC 20005 Map & Directions

Nearest Metro: Blue/Orange Line to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center


Angela J. Davis, professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law, is an expert in criminal law and procedure with a specific focus on racism in the criminal justice system and prosecutorial power. Davis previously served as director of the D.C. Public Defender Service, where she began as a staff attorney representing indigent juveniles and adults. She also served as executive director of the National Rainbow Coalition. Davis is a former law clerk of the Honorable Theodore R. Newman, the former Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Davis’ publications include “Benign Neglect of Race Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System,” in the Michigan Law Review; “Race, Cops, and Traffic Stops,” in the Miami University Law Review; and “The American Prosecutor: Independence, Power, and the Threat of Tyranny,” in the Iowa Law Review. Davis won the Pauline Ruyle Moore award for her Fordham Law Review article, “Prosecution and Race: The Power and Privilege of Discretion,” which has been re-printed in part in several books. Davis was awarded a Soros Senior Justice Fellowship in 2003 and is the author of Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor (Oxford University Press 2007).

Glenn Ivey was raised in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and Dale City, Virginia. He attended Gar-Field High School and earned his college degree from Princeton University in 1983, graduating with honors. He decided to become an attorney, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1986 and joined the litigation department at the prestigious Baltimore law firm of Gordon, Feinblatt. Glenn later served as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1990 to 1994, he handled numerous criminal jury trials, appeals and grand jury investigations. Because of Glenn’s expertise in criminal law, he was selected to be an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law and has made numerous television appearances as a legal commentator. Before that, Glenn had extensive experience on Capitol Hill. He has served as the Chief Counsel to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, as Paul Sarbanes’ counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee, and as Congressman John Conyers’ senior legislative assistant. Glenn was elected and is currently serving as State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County, Maryland.

David M. Kennedy is the director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control and professor of anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. From 1993 through 2004, he was a senior researcher and adjunct lecturer at the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. His work focuses on strategies for assisting troubled communities. He has written and consulted extensively in the areas of community and problem solving policing, police corruption, and neighborhood revitalization. He has performed field work in police departments and troubled communities in many American cities and internationally. He is the co-author of a seminal work on community policing, Beyond 911: A New Era for Policing, and numerous articles on troubled communities, illicit drug markets, illicit firearms markets, youth violence, domestic violence, and deterrence theory. He has published op-ed pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, and elsewhere, and is frequently drawn on by the media, including major newspapers, national network news, National Public Radio, and “60 Minutes.”

Denny LeBoeuf is a capital defender with a private practice in New Orleans, Louisiana; she was the founding Director of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana and is currently of counsel to that defender organization. She represents persons facing death at trial and in post-conviction in state and federal courts, teaches and consults with capital defense teams nationally. She is particularly interested in the litigation of mental health and in the ways in which race and poverty increase the traumatic burden carried by many clients. She was a member of the 2003 Committee that formulated the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases, and Chair of the post-Katrina Orleans Parish Public Defenders Board 2006-2007. She holds a B.A. from Hunter College and a J.D. from Tulane University.

Ronald “Sully” Sullivan, Jr. is a founding member and Senior Fellow of the Jamestown Project. Professor Sullivan joined Harvard’s law faculty in July 2007. His areas of interest include criminal law, criminal procedure, legal ethics, and race theory. Professor Sullivan is the faculty director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute. He also is a founding fellow of the Jamestown Project at Yale. Prior to teaching at Harvard, Professor Sullivan served on the faculty of the Yale Law School, where, after his first year teaching, he won the law school’s award for outstanding teaching. Professor Sullivan spent a year in Nairobi, Kenya, where he helped draft Kenya’s new constitution and also worked with the Kenya Human Rights Commission. In the United States, he has worked as staff attorney, General Counsel, and Director for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Professor Sullivan testified at the recent Samuel A. Alito confirmation hearings for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Morehouse College and Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Black Law Students Association and as a general editor of the Harvard BlackLetter Law Review.