October 6, 2015

Law lecture to examine police misconduct and uses of force

By Carissa Woytach

Inspired by recent judiciary proceedings involving police misconduct, Cleveland Marshall College of Law will host “Preventing Police Misconduct: the Dirty Harry Syndrome” in the Moot Court room on Monday, Oct. 5 from 1 to 2 p.m

The Federalist Society chapter at Cleveland Marshall, a group that seeks to promote and discuss awareness of issues pertaining to libertarian and federalist members in the law community, is sponsoring this event.

Joshua Castro-White, event organizer and chapter president, chose to host the event because of its topical and timely nature following a recent Department of Justice consent decree addressing concerns of Cleveland police use of force policies and practices.

While the Federalist Society does work as a counterpoint to other more liberal groups on campus, it created this event — as well as other debate series — to inform the public so citizens can make decisions for themselves based on the content presented.

“We try to go about [creating a counterpoint] by doing debates or providing speakers who are less ideologically one way or another [to try] to give a more objective view of a topic,” Castro-White said.

Speaker Alicia Hilton was chosen by the Federalist Society from a list of lecturers who had worked with other chapters. She was chosen due to her timely response to the group’s inquiry as well as her viewpoint on the issue, which focused on prevention rather than causation and blame.

“The way that she phrased her topic, the discussion that she’d done in the past seemed to fit well with what we were trying to do,” he said. “We reached out to her… [she] was most in line with what we were trying to do, more of a preventing and ways to remedy what’s going on as to why.”

Castro-White contacted Professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich, who has worked at Cleveland-Marshall for the past seven years and focuses on criminal procedure and law theory, to act as the commentator for the event.

Witmer-Rich agreed with Castro-White that the event was timely and topical in its addressing of the recent police-related violence.

“With [new] technology, we’re getting a lot more examples in the news [where] we can watch a video of what police did in a specific circumstance, and its allowing the public to have a more informed discussion in whether the police are engaging in misconduct and what should be done about it — so I think it’s a really big topic at the moment,” Witmer-Rich said.

This event is specifically important in Cleveland following recent events that have sparked protests in the area, including the police related shooting deaths of Tamir Rice in 2014 as well as Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in 2012.

Police use of force and accountability is being closely monitored by interest groups, according to Witmer-Rich.

“In Cleveland there are a lot of groups with a lot of interest in when the police use force, how they use it, how we should monitor that and how police should be held accountable for misuse of force, topics like that,” he said. “So I think it’s just a really big issue in the city of Cleveland right now.”

The event is free and open to the public with no registration required, and lunch will be provided afterward.


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