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"Prosecutor King”

ethics and public policy  

On Friday, April 29, from 6–8 pm, UMD’s Center for Ethics and Public Policy is sponsoring a public lecture by Professor Erik Luna (Arizona State University) regarding prosecutorial discretion. The event will take place at UMD’s Solon Campus Center room 120.

This event is free and open to the public.

ABSTRACT: “Professor Luna examines prosecutorial discretion through the lens of the Republic, analogizing Plato’s model city to American criminal justice. The latter system is dominated by prosecutors with broad discretion, which includes not only the power to enforce the law but also the effective authority to adjudicate cases and set the scope of criminal law. Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, the reign of American prosecutors is not entirely unique; prosecutors in Europe also rule their respective systems through impressive case-resolution powers. What distinguishes European prosecutors is their Platonic mindset and background, which is oriented toward truth-seeking in the style of judicial professionals. By contrast, American prosecutors are partisans in an adversarial process vaguely reminiscent of a Spartan timocracy. Professor Luna's antitotalitarian critique of the Republic helps demonstrate another transatlantic difference: the American propensity to expand criminal liability and thus the power wielded by prosecutors.”

Erik Luna teaches and writes primarily in the areas of criminal law and procedure. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California and received his J.D. with honors from Stanford Law School. Upon graduation, Luna was a prosecutor in the San Diego District Attorney’s Office and a fellow and lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. He has served as the senior Fulbright Scholar to New Zealand, where he taught at Victoria University Law School (Wellington, NZ) and conducted research on sentencing alternatives. He has also been a visiting scholar with the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (Freiburg, DE), a visiting professor with the Cuban Society of Penal Sciences (Havana, CU), a visiting professional in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (The Hague, NL), and a research fellow with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Bonn, DE).

Prior to coming to ASU, Luna was the Sydney and Frances Lewis Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University, and before that, he was the Hugh B. Brown Professor of Law at the University of Utah. Among other professional affiliations, he is an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute and a member of the American Law Institute. He has testified before Congress and the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and his commentary has appeared in print and broadcast media (e.g., The New York Times, The Economist, and National Public Radio). 

Funding for this lecture was provided by the Institute for Humane Studies through a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.  

For more information about this event and The Center for Ethics and Public Policy, see

April 2016.
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Cheryl Reitan,

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