Law School to Host Transnational Workshop on Prosecutorial Power

Lexington, VA Thursday, April 01, 2010

Dr. Marianne Wade of the Max Planck Institute
On April 1-2, Washington and Lee University School of Law is hosting a workshop exploring prosecutorial power in a transnational context. The event brings together over thirty leading scholars from the U.S. and Europe to discuss the role and power of prosecutors from a comparative and international perspective.

The event, which is closed to the public, is sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, the Transnational Law Institute, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law.

There is a long history of comparing criminal justice systems on both sides of the Atlantic, and in particular of comparing the relative powers of prosecutors in those systems to determine what lessons each system might draw from the other. Yet, this discussion has been relatively quiet in recent decades. W&L law professor Erik Luna, the workshop organizer and an expert in comparative criminal law and procedure, thinks the time is ripe to revive the debate.

"Prosecutors in both the U.S. and Europe wield vast powers, including the authority to dispose of cases outside of the traditional trial, due in large part to system overload," says Luna. "But the prevailing prosecutorial mechanism to dispose of cases in the U.S., the plea bargain, is much less accepted in Europe."

"As the actual or perceived level of crime continues to go up worldwide, there may be lessons to learn by comparing prosecutorial models and trying to understand why different systems embrace particular mechanisms of case disposal."

The results of the workshop will be published in the symposium issue of the Washington and Lee Law Review. In addition, Prof. Luna will co-edit a collection of related essays for a volume due out in 2011. His co-editor will be Dr. Marianne Wade of the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg, German.  Dr. Wade currently is a visiting scholar with the Transnational Law Institute and will also participate in the workshop.

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