Democratizing Criminal Law

Friday, November 18, and Saturday, November 19, 2016

Overview | Conference Goals | Participants | Conference Schedule 


A major conference on the subject of criminal justice reform will take place at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law on November 18-19, 2016. The conference's purpose is to define and defend a shared vision of democratic criminal justice. Proceedings will be published in a special issue of the Northwestern University Law Review. The conference is led by Professors Joshua Kleinfeld of Northwestern Law School and Richard Bierschbach of Cardozo Law School. Due to space constraints, please contact Cara Peterson at if you would like to attend.  

Conference Goals

This conference aims, not only to bring scholars together to discuss a subject of common interest, but also

  • to identify and critically examine the core ideas of the democratization movement,
  • to project the democratization movement's ideas into the national conversation, and
  • to act publicly and collectively on matters of democratic criminal justice reform.


Laura Appleman, Willamette University College of Law

Stephanos Bibas, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Richard A. Bierschbach, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

Kenworthey Bilz, University of Illinois College of Law

Josh Bowers, University of Virginia School of Law

John Braithwaite, Australian National University

Robert P. Burns, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Paul Butler, Georgetown University Law Center

Antony Duff, University of Stirling

Albert Dzur, Bowling Green State University

Thomas F. Geraghty, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Joshua Kleinfeld, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Adriaan Lanni, Harvard Law School 

Marah Stith McLeod, Notre Dame Law School

Tracey L. Meares, Yale Law School

Janice Nadler, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and American Bar Foundation

Anthony O'Rourke - University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Joan Petersilia, Stanford Law School

Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, Senior Advisor to the Chicago Police Department; Former Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department; former Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia

Honorable Jed S. Rakoff, United States District Court, Southern District of New York

Alice Ristroph, Seton Hall University School of Law

Dorothy E. Roberts, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Paul H. Robinson, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Ilya Rudyak, University of Pennsylvania Law School 

Jonathan Simon, University of California Berkeley School of Law

Jocelyn Simonson, Brooklyn Law School 

Tom R. Tyler, Yale Law School

Ekow N. Yankah, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

Conference Schedule


Welcome Reception - drinks and hors d'oeuvres
7:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile/MileNorth Hotel - 166 East Superior Street


Opening Remarks - Manifesto of Democratic Criminal Justice
9:00 am - 9:30 am
Joshua Kleinfeld

Panel - Constitutional Foundations and Community Voice
9:30 am - 11:00 am
Panelists: Laura Appleman, Richard Bierschbach, Josh Bowers
Moderator: Robert Burns

Panel - De-Bureaucratization: Police and Prosecutors 
11:30 am - 1:00 pm 
Panelists: Stephanos Bibas, Tracey Meares, Albert Dzur
Moderator: Anthony O'Rouke

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Judge Jed Rakoff, U.S. District Court, SDNY: Why Prosecutors Rule the Criminal Justice System—and What Can Be Done About It

Panel - Community and Racial Justice
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Panelists: Paul Butler, Dorothy Roberts, Jonathan Simon
Moderator: Jocelyn Simonson

Panel - Empirical Foundations: Shared Norms, Lay Intuitions, Legitimacy, and Compliance
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Panelists: Janice Nadler, Paul Robinson, Tom Tyler
Moderator: Kenworthey Bilz

Conference Dinner
7:00 pm
Devon Seafood Grill - 39 East Chicago Avenue 


Panel - Philosophical Foundations: Criminal Law's Democratic Nature
9:00 am - 10:30 am
Panelists: John Braithwaite, Joshua Kleinfeld, Alice Ristroph
Moderator: Ekow Yankah

Roundtable - Policy Proposals
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Moderator: Richard Bierschbach

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Roundtable - Toward a White Paper
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Moderator: Joshua Kleinfeld

Closing Remarks
3:30 pm - 4:00 pm 
Richard Bierschbach