Judge Rakoff to Speak at UVA Law Criminal Journal Symposium on Sentencing

Keynote speaker Judge Jed Rakoff served on the MacArthur Foundation's Law and Neuroscience project and co-chaired the recent National Academy of Sciences Committee on eyewitness identification evidence.

February 18, 2015

U.S. Judge Jed Rakoff will speak about abolishing federal sentencing guidelines at a symposium hosted by the University of Virginia School of Law Feb. 27.

"The Future of Sentencing," a symposium sponsored by the student-run Virginia Journal of Criminal Law, also will feature a panel on sentencing in Virginia's state courts from 1-2 p.m. in Caplin Pavilion. Attendees can register online, and parking is available in the Law School's D2 lots.

"Sentencing affects every defendant, from what plea deals are offered and accepted, to what amount of time a defendant will serve in prison if found guilty," said third-year law student Sean Welsh, editor-in-chief of the journal. "We chose to focus on sentencing in Virginia and the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines because last year, judges complied with the guidelines in 78 percent of cases. This means the guidelines are hugely important to what happens in our criminal justice system."

Rakoff, a federal judge for the Southern District of New York since 1996, has been a leading critic of sentencing guidelines, the death penalty, and the Securities and Exchange Commission's non-prosecution agreements with companies in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Before joining the federal bench, Rakoff was a partner at two large law firms in New York and an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he served as chief of the Securities Fraud Unit. He is a member of the American Law Institute and is an adviser to the ALI project regarding the sentencing provisions of the Model Penal Code.

Rakoff also served on the MacArthur Foundation's Law and Neuroscience project (along with UVA Law professors Richard Bonnie, John Monahan and Frederick Schauer) and co-chaired the recent National Academy of Sciences Committee on eyewitness identification evidence, on which UVA Law professor Brandon Garrett also served. Rakoff has written leading treatises on corporate sentencing and other criminal law topics, and is an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, where he teaches courses in white-collar crime, science and the law, class actions, and the interplay of civil and criminal law.

Later in the day on Feb. 27, at 4 p.m. in room WB104, Rakoff will discuss the changing role of forensic science and eyewitness identifications in an informal Q&A moderated by Garrett and Monahan.

Schedule: "The Future of Sentencing"

All events will be held in Caplin Pavilion.

9:30-10 a.m.
Check In
10:15-10:30 a.m.

10:30-11:30 a.m.
Keynote Speech: U.S. Judge Jed Rakoff, Southern District of New York

11:30 a.m.-Noon
Noon-1 p.m.

1-2 p.m.
Panel on Virginia Sentencing 

  • John Monahan, John S. Shannon Distinguished Professor of Law, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatric Medicine, University of Virginia
  • Meredith Farrar-Owens, Legislative Director, Virginia Sentencing Commission
  • Linda Bryant, Deputy Attorney General, Virginia; Member, Virginia Sentencing Commission
  • Steven Benjamin, Special Counsel to the Virginia Senate's Courts of Justice Committee; Past President, Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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