September 20, 2017

The Power to Promote Progress: Opportunities and Limits to Prosecutors Seeking Reform

Zinelle October

American Constitution Society
Begin: 0:01

Juan Thomas

National Bar Association
Begin: 2:13

Ian Gershengorn

Jenner & Block LLP
Begin: 5:44

Christopher Wright Durocher

American Constitution Society
Begin: 19:26

Roger A. Fairfax Jr.

George Washington University Law School
Begin: 22:55

Sonja Ralston

U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division
Begin: 29:14

Aramis Ayala

Ninth Circuit Judicial Court of Florida
Begin: 33:37

Thiru Vignarajah

DLA Piper
Begin: 35:44

Lenese Herbert

Howard University School of Law
Begin: 42:13

The American Constitution Society and the National Bar Association hosted a panel discussion: The Power to Promote Progress: Opportunities and Limits to Prosecutors Seeking Reform on Wednesday, September 20, 2017.

The panel discussed how progressive attorneys -- many of whom are men and women of color -- are seeking to leverage their roles as prosecutors to combat racial and economic disparities in the criminal justice system. The speakers explore the following questions: How can prosecutors use their discretion and influence to pursue racial and economic justice? What constraints, both legal and systemic, limit a prosecutor's ability to achieve reform? What are the ethical obligations to pursue prosecutions, even in cases where the law disparately impacts people of color or the economically vulnerable?


Ian Gershengorn, Partner, Jenner & Block LLP; former United States Solicitor General, keynote

Roger A. Fairfax, Jr., Jeffrey and Martha Kohn Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School; former Federal Prosecutor, U.S. Department of Justice, Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, moderator

Aramis Ayala, State Attorney, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida

Lenese Herbert, Professor of Law, Howard University School of Law; former Assistant United States Attorney, District of Columbia

Sonja Ralston, Appellate Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division

Thiru Vignarajah, Partner, DLA Piper; former Deputy Attorney General, State of Maryland