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Saturday, December 25, 2004

CrimProf Blog Spotlight: Brooklyn Law's Michael Cahill

Cahill This week the CrimProf Blog spotlights Michael Cahill of Brooklyn Law School

Cahill writes: "I was delighted to come to Brooklyn in 2003, in part because I am a Northeast native. I grew up in northern New Jersey and lived in Manhattan for two years after finishing college at Yale in 1993. Between my two periods living in New York, though, I spent eight years bouncing around the upper Midwest

The first four of those years were in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I was working toward a joint degree from the University of Michigan’s Law School and School of Public Policy. I entered graduate school hoping to join the legal academy someday, but I initially planned to focus my scholarship on property law or health-care law — two subjects that remain interests of mine, and both of which I currently teach. It was only in my final year that I developed a strong interest in criminal law, thanks to a fortuitous collaboration with Paul Robinson, who was visiting Michigan that year from Northwestern (he is now at Penn). Paul and I wrote an article together, which proved to be the first of several joint projects; we are currently finalizing a book, entitled Law Without Justice, due out from Oxford University Press next year.

After graduation, I spent a year in Minneapolis clerking for Judge James B. Loken of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Minnesota was delightful, although the winter tested the mettle (and commitment) of my then-girlfriend Rosalyn, who grew up in Arizona and California. But she survived very well, as did the relationship; we’re now married.

To further test Ros’s tolerance for cold weather, after my clerkship I accepted a job in Chicago, working as staff director for a commission charged with revising the Illinois Criminal Code. The experience proved an invaluable opportunity to acquaint myself, on at least a basic level, with the full breadth of the substantive criminal law. As the commission was completing its final report, I was fortunate enough to obtain a position teaching at Chicago-Kent for a year, after which I came to Brooklyn Law School.

My current scholarship deals mainly with punishment and sentencing. At the moment, I am particularly interested in two sets of issues that are frequently discussed in their constitutional dimension, while their equally important substantive or policy dimension is ignored. The first relates to the allocation of sentencing and other punishment-related authority between the jury, the judge, and other institutions — a hot constitutional issue after Apprendi and Blakely, but one whose underlying policy considerations have received less direct attention. I have a forthcoming article in the Chicago Legal Forum dealing with one aspect of this set of concerns. The other group of issues surrounds the question of when (and how much) liability is appropriate for multiple offenses at once, which is typically seen through the constitutional lens of double jeopardy, but also relates fundamentally to issues of punishment theory and how criminal offenses are formulated and defined.  [To read abstracts to Cahill's scholarship, click here.]

I find these topics fascinating, though not nearly as fascinating as my seven-month-old son, Rowan, who also occupies a lot of my time these days."

Each Saturday, CrimProf Blog will spotlight on one of the 1500+ criminal justice professors in America's law schools. We hope to help bring the many individual stories of scholarly achievements, teaching innovations, public service, and career moves within the criminal justice professorate to the attention of the broader criminal justice community.  Please email us suggestions for future CrimProf profiles, particularly new professors in the field.

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