From Conviction to Clemency: Commonwealth v. Giarratano, a Case Study in the Modern Death Penalty

To be held Friday, February 5, 2016—Saturday, February 6, 2016

Millhiser Moot Court Room

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Lexington, VA

By highlighting the case of Commonwealth of Virginia v. Joseph Michael Giarratano, the 2016 Lara D. Gass Symposium will explore the ethical, legal, and public policy issues surrounding the use of the death penalty. In Giarratano, the then-Virginia Governor, based on concerns about actual innocence, offered Giarratano a conditional pardon provided that he waive his double jeopardy rights and ask for a new trial. Giarratano accepted the conditional pardon in 1991 but still awaits a new trial.

Giarratano’s case raises several issues that the Symposium panelists will discuss at length, including ineffective assistance of counsel, clemency, post-conviction relief, actual innocence, prison conditions, race and gender, and the use of the death penalty on those with mental illness or intellectual disability.

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Schedule of Events:
(Updated January 27, 2016)

Friday, February 5, 2016

12:30 p.m. Welcome: Brant Hellwig, Dean of the Law School, Washington and Lee University School of Law

12:35 p.m. Opening Remarks: Todd Peppers, Faculty Sponsor, Visiting Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law

12:40 p.m. Joseph Giarratano’s Story: Mike Farrell, Actor and Death Penalty Activist

1:00 p.m. Panel Discussion: Rights and Remedies When Counsel Is Ineffective

Moderator: Eric M. Freedman, Siggi B. Wilzig Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Rights, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

Panelists:

  • Donald Salzman, Pro Bono Counsel, Skadden, Aarps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP
  • Gerald Zerkin, Former Capital Case Resource Counsel, Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project
  • Allen Bohnert, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Capital Habeas Unit
  • Brandon Garrett, Justice Thurgood Marshall Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law

Break

2:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: Capital Punishment and Actual Innocence

Moderator: Denise Lunsford, Former Virginia Commonwealth Attorney, 2007 – 2015

Panelists:

  • Barry Weinstein, Former Executive Director, Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center
  • Richard Leo, Hamill Family Chair Professor of Law and Social Psychology, University of San Francisco School of Law
  • Deirdre Enright, Director of Investigations, Innocence Project Clinic, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Jonathan Shapiro, Visiting Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law

Break

4:30 p.m. Panel Discussion: Prison Conditions – Life on Death Row

Moderator: David Bruck, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, Washington and Lee University School of Law

Panelists:

  • Joseph Ingle, author, Last Rights: Thirteen Fatal Encounters with the State’s Justice
  • Toni Bair, Corrections Consultant and Expert Witness
  • Dwight Aarons, Associate Professor of Law, University of Tennessee College of Law
  • Robert Johnson, Professor of Justice, Law, and Criminology, American University School of Public Affairs

6:30 p.m. Dinner & Keynote Speaker*

Introduction: Mike Farrell, Actor and Death Penalty Activist

Keynote: Robin Konrad, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Capital Habeas Unit

Ms. Konrad represents prisoners who are seeking habeas corpus relief from their state and federal convictions and death sentences. She has represented clients raising civil-rights challenges to methods of execution and the secrecy surrounding executions. In these civil-rights matters, Ms. Konrad has fought to protect her clients’ rights as guaranteed by the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Most recently, she represented the petitioners in their lethal-injection challenge in Glossip v. Gross, 125 S. Ct. 2726 (2015), before the United States Supreme Court.

*The Keynote event is invite-only. If you are interested in joining the Washington & Lee Law Review for the Keynote event, please email your request to LawReview@wlu.edu.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m. Panel Discussion: The Writ of Habeas Corpus as Post-Conviction Relief

Moderator: John King, Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Criminal Justice Clinic, Washington and Lee University School of Law

Panelists:

  • Lloyd Snook, Snook & Haughey, P.C.
  • Eric M. Freedman, Siggi B. Wilzig Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Rights, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
  • Jonathan Colan, Criminal Appellate Attorney, University of Miami Adjunct Professor of Appellate Law
  • Ty Alper, Associate Dean for Experiential Education, Clinical Professor of Law, and Associate Director, Death Penalty Clinic, Berkeley Law

10:30 a.m. Panel Discussion: Executive Powers over Sentencing – Clemency and the Death Penalty

Moderator: Jonathan Shapiro, Visiting Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law

Panelists:

  • Stephen Northup, Partner, Troutman Sanders
  • Matthew Engle, Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
  • Paul Larkin, Senior Legal Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
  • Adam Gershowitz, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, William and Mary Law School

Break

12:30 p.m. Lunchtime Discussion: Death Penalty Advocacy at Washington and Lee University School of Law

Speakers:

  • David Bruck, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, Washington and Lee University School of Law

1:30 p.m. Panel Discussion: Race and Gender’s Impact on Capital Sentencing

Moderator: John King, Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Criminal Justice Clinic, Washington and Lee University School of Law

Panelists:

  • Mary Atwell, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice, Radford University
  • Isaac Unah, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • Phyllis Goldfarb, The Jacob Burns Foundation Professor of Clinical Law and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, George Washington University Law School

Break

3:30 p.m. Panel Discussion: The Use of Capital Punishment on Persons with Mental Illness or Intellectual Disability

Moderator: Todd Peppers, Visiting Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law

Panelist:

  • Richard Bonnie, Harrison Foundation Professor of Medicine and Law, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Richard Wilson, Professor of Law Emeritus, American University Washington College of Law
  • David Bruck, Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, Washington and Lee University School of Law
  • Michael Perlin, Professor of Law Emeritus, New York Law School

5:00 p.m. Closing Remarks: Jennifer Commander, Editor in Chief, Washington and Lee Law Review

 

Sponsors

Special thanks to the Symposium’s sponsors:
Dean’s Office, Washington and Lee University School of Law
Frances Lewis Law Center, Washington and Lee University School of Law
Class of 1963, Washington and Lee University
Mudd Center for Ethics, Washington and Lee University


 

About Lara D. Gass

The Lara D. Gass Symposium is named in honor of Lara Gass, a member of the Law Class of 2014 who passed away in an automobile accident in March of 2014.

Lara served as Symposium Editor for the Washington and Lee Law Review, organizing the Law Review’s 2014 symposium focused on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Lara was active within the Women Law Students Organization and also served as a Kirgis Fellow, the law school’s peer mentoring group, during the 2012–2103 academic year. In January 2014, Lara received recognition for her academic achievements, her leadership abilities, her service to the law school and university community, and her character when she was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society.