UVA Law Professor Brandon Garrett Wins McFarland Prize

Brandon Garrett

UVA Law professor Brandon Garrett is a frequent commentator on his research in the media and in academic forums, and his work is widely cited by the courts.

May 29, 2015

University of Virginia School of Law professor Brandon Garrett, whose work has brought new insights into corporate prosecution and criminal convictions, has received the Law School's Carl McFarland Prize. The prize is awarded each year in the spring to a junior faculty member for outstanding research.

A faculty member since 2005, Garrett called the award "an enormous honor."

"I cannot say enough about how incredibly generous and thoughtful my colleagues at UVA Law and Dean Paul Mahoney have been in supporting my research over the years," he said.

Garrett's latest book, " Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations ," examines how corporate offenders often avoid sentencing and jail time through deals with prosecutors. The book was published by Harvard University Press in the fall, and sheds light on the relatively new practice of entering into non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements with white-collar criminals, and the implications for justice and culpability.

Before the book, "There was a fair bit of prior scholarship about the theory behind corporate criminal responsibility, but nothing that gave a ground-level look at bargaining between prosecutors and corporate defendants," Mahoney said. "Brandon became the nation's leading academic expert on corporate criminal prosecution by doing just that. The book offers a treasure trove of information and insight about the ways corporate defendants and prosecutors reach deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreements to serve the private goals of each, arguably without serving the deterrent and retributive goals of the criminal justice system."

Mahoney said "Too Big to Jail" is a worthy successor to Garrett's 2011 book, " Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong ," also published by Harvard. In it, Garrett examines the cases of the first 250 people to be exonerated by DNA testing. Garrett studied how such factors as misidentification by eyewitnesses, bad forensics and jailhouse informants resulted in false convictions. The research has influenced model police policies and jury instructions , and the book received numerous honors, including an honorable mention for the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award and a Constitutional Commentary Award.

Garrett maintains publicly available databases for the two books to facilitate inquiry and discussion. His work has been widely cited by courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, lower federal courts, state supreme courts and courts in other countries, such as the Supreme Courts of Canada and Israel. Garrett also frequently speaks about criminal justice matters before legislative and policymaking bodies, groups of practicing lawyers, law enforcement, and to local and national media.

Garrett is also the co-author of the first comprehensive casebook on habeas corpus, " Federal Habeas Corpus: Executive Detention and Post-Conviction Litigation " (2013), and author of dozens of articles, book chapters, essays, book reviews and reports.

Currently, Garrett is a visiting fellow at All Souls College at the University of Oxford. He is working on a comparative article examining changes to new evidence of innocence claims around the world. He said he also plans a follow-up to his corporate crime research, and new projects examining the decline of the death penalty in Virginia, and in the United States more broadly.

Garrett earned his law degree from Columbia University and his bachelor's from Yale University.

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