Legal Research and Analysis

ILJ’s expertise in the area of legal research and analysis is significant. Headed by ILJ’s president, Ed Connors, who is an attorney and has extensive criminal litigation experience, ILJ’s legal research and analysis team distills complex case law and legal research into relevant and useable findings, and provides timely recommendations on implementing them.

Past Projects

Police Use of Deadly Force

For this study, ILJ assisted the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in collecting data on police shootings from over 150 police departments. ILJ analyzed the data and produced findings and comparisons for the final report. The study resulted in a major publication cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in a landmark decision on police use of deadly force.

Data Collection on Police Use of Force

Dr. Tom McEwen prepared the report, National Data Collection on Police Use of Force, for the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. Police may be called on to use force when making an arrest, breaking up an altercation, or performing myriad other routine activities. The basic problem in this area has been a lack of routine, national systems for collecting data on use of force, both in the normal course of duty in incidents of excessive force. This report describes federal approaches and a national workshop in which 40 experts considered appropriate data collection involving the public, the police, and the courts.

National Assessment of Investigations of Computer Crimes by Local Police Departments and Prosecutors

ILJ developed a report for the National Institute of Justice on the experiences of local police departments and prosecutors' offices who have selected and trained full-time personnel to investigate and prosecute computer crimes. These crimes include unauthorized access to business and government computers via telephone lines (hacking), destruction of data and programs in a system ("Trojan horse"), modification of proprietary software for sale (software piracy), obtaining long-distance account numbers to avoid telephone charges, and altering data in a system in conjunction with other illegal acts (such as fraud and embezzlement schemes). The report also discussed recent changes in federal and state statutes governing computer crimes. Specific cases were documented to illustrate the various techniques and problems in investigating computer crimes.

State Stalking Laws and their Implementation in the 50 States

This project for the National Institute of Justice involved two research tracks. In the first track, ILJ researched legal and related materials (including reviews of legislation in the 50 states, court cases, research literature, bibliographies, and survey findings) for the Violence Against Women Act Office's Report to Congress. For the second track, ILJ studied promising anti-stalking projects in San Diego, San Jose, Colorado Springs, and Los Angeles.

Assessment of Alternative Sanctions for Drug Offenses

For the National Institute of Justice, ILJ conducted a research project on the relative merits of four drug arrest dispositions that serve as alternatives to incarceration for minor drug offenses: (1) suspension and postponement of driving privileges; (2) asset forfeiture; (3) local ordinances for minor drug offenses; and (4) land use controls, including nuisance abatement and zoning laws. The research design included a thorough assessment of the procedural and legal issues surrounding the alternatives; an assessment of their impact on the criminal justice system, especially prosecutors and judges; and an evaluation of their general and specific deterrence values.

Best Practices Compendium for Indigent Defense

With sponsorship of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (USDOJ), ILJ compiled a best-practices compendium for indigent defense. The project examined federal, state, and local court practices as they relate to:

  • Administration of defense services
  • Attorney performance
  • Appellate representation
  • Capital case representation
  • Juvenile representation

Exculpatory Use of DNA Testing in Post-Conviction Proceedings

For the Attorney General, ILJ completed a study of cases involving the exculpatory use of DNA testing to free convicted defendants from prison. A resulting publication was issued by the National Institute of Justice, Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science: Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence after Trial. A review of news articles, reported case decisions and reports from practitioners involved in DNA testing identified 28 cases in which there had been exculpatory DNA testing. Information about each case was gathered from these sources and from telephone interviews with the attorneys in the 28 cases.

Forum Selection Between State and Federal Courts

ILJ studied attorney reasons for forum selection in civil cases that could be filed in state or federal court. Two surveys were undertaken. The first, a mail survey of over 1,000 attorneys, concerned cases removed from state to federal court. The second was a snowball telephone survey of attorneys identified as having recent federal court experience in four districts selected on the basis of their unusual composition of removal cases or their federal court civil dockets. Study findings, "An Empirical Study of Forum Choices in Removal Cases Under Diversity of Federal Question Jurisdiction," were published in the American University Law Review, Vol. 41, 1991.

Impact of Case Assignment on Criminal Court Performance

For the National Institute of Justice, ILJ researched the effects on court performance of transferring certain cases from felony court jurisdiction to a lower court. Three aspects of performance were evaluated: effectiveness, or the total number of cases processed; efficiency, or the average cost per case; and quality, or change in sentence. The study focused on effects of innovative approaches to speedy trial requirements developed in two New Jersey Superior Court vicinages. Findings showed that one site emphasized early disposition in the lower court while the other stressed more effective management in the Superior Court. Both were instrumental in reducing delay and in processing cases more efficiently. A secondary evaluation of impact of case assignment on sentencing showed no substantial impact.

Sentencing Guidelines Examination

Under a subcontract with the National Center for State Courts, ILJ staff examined the cost implications of sentencing guidelines for courts. The study focused on the experience of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to assess the cost of developing and implementing such a reform. The results of the study were published as part of Sentencing Guidelines: Their Operations and Impact on the Courts (Williamsburg, VA: The National Center for State Courts, 1980).

Sample Publications and Products

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