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Ronald Sullivan

  • International coalition files United Nations appeal over reports of racism at border of Ukraine

    March 3, 2022

    An international coalition of activists and human rights attorneys on Wednesday announced they filed an appeal to the United Nations on behalf of African refugees facing racial discrimination in Ukraine and Poland. The filing follows numerous reports from Black refugees who said they faced segregation, racism and abuse as they tried to flee for safety from war-torn Ukraine to Poland. ... Ronald Sullivan, of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, called it "offensive" and said the media is comparing pain and suffering of different communities. "It is grotesquely ahistorical as well. Europe certainly cannot claim that it has been immune from the pillages of war," Sullivan said Wednesday. "It cannot stand as it's somehow superior in that regard to the Middle East and parts of Africa. So, they're [the media] not only getting the history wrong, but they're perpetrating a very ugly form of racial stereotyping."

  • In a flawed system, a Black prosecutor wonders if she’s pursuing justice or being complicit

    February 4, 2022

    An op-ed by Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.: When Laura Coates was a federal prosecutor, she learned that the victim in a car theft case she was prosecuting had an outstanding immigration warrant. He had illegally crossed the border at 16, but in the 20 years since then had worked, started a family and lived a law-abiding life. Coates was instructed by her superiors to have the witness come in as planned for the trial, but, instead of testifying, he would be arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  • ‘So few people have faith’: What do verdicts in Kenosha, Charlottesville and Brunswick say about America’s criminal justice system?

    December 1, 2021

    What do the results of these three different cases say about the American criminal justice system and the country's so-called “racial reckoning”? Ron Sullivan, Harvard Law professor and director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard and Renée Graham, Boston Globe columnist and associate editor, joined Jim Braude on Greater Boston to discuss.

  • Harvard Law Professor Ron Sullivan On The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial

    November 23, 2021

    Friday afternoon, the jury in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse came back to deliver the final verdict, not guilty. WORT Assistant News Director Nate Wegehaupt is joined by Harvard Law Professor Ron Sullivan to discuss the verdict, and the parallels to other cases here in Wisconsin.

  • Rittenhouse verdict flies in the face of legal standards for self-defense

    November 22, 2021

    An op-ed by Ronald S. Sullivan, Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law: In a two-week trial that reignited debate over self-defense laws across the nation, a Wisconsin jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse for shooting three people, two fatally, during a racial justice protest in Kenosha. ... As a professor of criminal law, I teach my students that the law of self-defense in America proceeds from an important concept: Human life is sacred, and the law will justify the taking of human life only in narrowly defined circumstances. The law of self-defense holds that a person who is not the aggressor is justified in using deadly force against an adversary when he reasonably believes that he is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. This is the standard that every state uses to define self-defense.

  • man in gray suit in front of field of wheat

    Faith and fellowship

    May 18, 2021

    Growing up with a father in the Air Force, Mark Gillespie ’21 moved around a lot as a child. But far from this being a negative, Gillespie says it gave him the sense that life’s possibilities were endless.

  • man wearing a blue shirt and jeans sitting in a wheel chair

    A brilliant second act

    May 11, 2021

    Zachary Weinstein ’21 didn’t always want to be a lawyer. In fact, for most of his life, he was more likely to be found in front of a camera than in front of a judge.

  • Fact check: Missing context in claim questioning whether Derek Chauvin received fair trial

    April 22, 2021

    The claim: Derek Chauvin did not get a fair trial for the killing of George Floyd. After weeks of jury selection, arguments, testimony and 10 hours of jury deliberation, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the killing of George Floyd...In some cases, Chauvin’s defense attorneys and prosecutors didn’t need a reason to strike a juror from the pool, as long as it was not based on race. Typically, defense attorneys in similar cases get five “peremptory” strikes, while prosecutors receive three, according to the Associated Press. In Chauvin’s case, defense attorneys were given 15 strikes compared with nine for prosecutors. “It shows the judge bent over backwards to give the defense more opportunities to exclude potentially bad jurors even if the juror didn’t meet the technical criteria for a challenge,” said Ron Sullivan, a professor at Harvard Law...All three experts interviewed by USA TODAY agreed that Chauvin received a fair trial. Harvard Law's Sullivan said an appellate court would have to determine if any of Chauvin’s challenges were “outcome determinative,” meaning that if those scenarios were different during the trial, it would have led to a different conclusion. While the defense might be able to argue, for example, that the judge gave prosecutors too much latitude in allowing lay witnesses to testify as experts, Sullivan said, it’s unlikely to succeed. “I think it was a clean trial,” said Sullivan.

  • Chauvin’s Conviction, The Columbus Shooting And The Policing Debate

    April 22, 2021

    After a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on three charges of murder and manslaughter, Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged Wednesday to investigate the entire Minneapolis, Minnesota, police department. Meanwhile, an Ohio officer’s fatal shooting of a 16-year-old-girl Black girl on Tuesday spurred more nationwide debate over policing. Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Harvard Law School professor Ron Sullivan joined Jim Braude to discuss.

  • Intisar Rabb and Ronald Sullivan

    HLS professors win case for former Buffalo police officer fired for intervening in a chokehold

    April 20, 2021

    In a precedent-setting case, Harvard Law School professors secure reinstatement for a Buffalo police officer fired for intervening in a chokehold.

  • Litigators of the Week: This Kirkland/Harvard Law Team Vindicated a Fired Cop Who Intervened When a Colleague Used Excessive Force

    April 19, 2021

    In May 2008, the Buffalo Police Department fired Cariol Horne just months shy of her pension for 20 years of service vesting after she intervened when a fellow officer applied a chokehold to an unarmed Black man. This week a litigation team led by lawyers from Kirkland + Ellis and Harvard Law School won a ruling from a state court judge in New York awarding Horne back pay and benefits that she had previously been denied in another legal challenge to her firing more than a decade ago...Ronald Sullivan: “At stake was not only Cariol’s pension and her ability to support herself, but also the message being sent to other officers. She fulfilled her duty to protect and serve, but her first trip to court in 2010, where the court confirmed her termination, created a chilling effect on an officer’s duty to intervene. Despite what the official policy was, a court decision that terminated a fellow officer and denied her a pension did not encourage officers to follow Cariol’s lead—even though her behavior is what the nation was calling for and requiring.” ... Intisar Rabb: “Cariol presented a model for what we the people expect police officers to do when another officer is using excessive force against an unarmed civilian: She intervened to save a life and was punished for it. We thought it imperative that she get not only her pension, but that our laws are correct that led to the injustice of her losing it.”

  • State Ethics Commission clears Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins in alleged road rage incident

    March 30, 2021

    The state Ethics Commission has dropped its investigation into the alleged Christmas Eve road rage incident involving Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, telling the woman who filed the complaint that after “a careful review” the office has determined that “the matter doesn’t warrant further action by this office.” ... Ronald Sullivan, a private lawyer who represented Rollins in the investigations, said in a statement that the commission’s finding fully vindicated Rollins: “This few-second traffic encounter has been thoroughly reviewed and not a single criminal, civil rights, or ethical violation occurred. The District Attorney is not surprised by these outcomes, and sincerely hopes we can all return to the far more pressing matters facing the Commonwealth.”

  • A Georgetown professor trades her classroom for a police beat

    February 17, 2021

    A book review by Ronald SullivanA decade ago, Sudhir Venkatesh, a Columbia University professor of sociology, made quite a splash with his book “Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets.” His research consisted of shadowing a Chicago gang for 10 years, and it yielded valuable insights on the inner workings of the drug trade. Notwithstanding his book’s provocative title, however, Venkatesh never became a gang leader; rather, he closely observed gang life and culture by gaining unprecedented access. Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks took this a step further, as recounted in her fascinating book “Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City.” Brooks did not simply observe policing in America. This highly educated, tenured professor became the police...The two stories work together to show that race and class conspire to create conditions that leave poor, Black citizens with mostly bad choices in order to survive. These choices include committing crimes. But these crimes have victims, who are mostly poor and Black. The victims of crime require and request more policing. But more policing results in the negative interactions between the police and Black citizens that have sparked so many recent protests. This is what Harvard scholar Randall Kennedy calls a “negative good” in his groundbreaking work, “Race, Crime, and the Law.” It is a “good” for police to respond to neighborhoods with heightened crime, but a “negative” when over-policing leads to harms to the very community law enforcement purports to protect. “Tangled Up in Blue” puts this tension on full display.

  • Flint water charges escalate debate over officials’ failures

    January 19, 2021

    When a former Michigan public health director was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Flint water crisis, the man who previously held the job says a chilling thought crossed his mind: It could have been me. "I spent 14 years in that chair," said Jim Haveman, who served under two Republican governors — including Rick Snyder, another target of indictments released Thursday...He contends Snyder, former health chief Nick Lyon and seven others charged with various counts in one of the worst human-made environmental disasters in U.S. history are victims of Monday-morning quarterbacking that makes criminals of government officials guilty of nothing worse than honest mistakes. Prosecutors, however, say this is no ordinary matter of well-meant decisions that backfired...Snyder is the first governor in Michigan's 184-year history charged with crimes involving job performance. Ron Sullivan, a Harvard Law School professor, said he knew of no such cases in other states. Governors have been accused of taking bribes, violating campaign finance laws and personal misconduct. Sullivan helped prosecute a former Missouri governor on an invasion-of-privacy charge involving a sex scandal. But the Michigan matter, he said, is "odd" and he thinks the bar for a conviction will be high...Sullivan, the Harvard professor, agreed the case probably wouldn't produce many imitators. Prosecuting a governor or other high-ranking officials for what amounts to poor job performance — even if intentional — is an "extraordinarily aggressive" approach, he said.

  • Fired Buffalo officer takes new legal steps over 2008 police action

    October 2, 2020

    Cariol Holloman-Horne's legal team made the first step Wednesday toward a new lawsuit over her firing 12 years ago from the Buffalo Police Department. Her attorneys filed in State Supreme Court in Buffalo paperwork seeking an index number assigned to her old case. It is a procedural motion, but it signals the start of a new legal fight to have her firing overturned and to get a full police pension. Horne was fired in 2008 following an arbitration hearing. She was accused of attacking a fellow officer as he was trying to arrest a man during a domestic dispute on Nov. 1, 2006. Horne said then and has maintained over the years that she was trying to stop the officer from choking the man. At the time, she had 19 years on the job, which meant she was one year shy of the 20 years required to receive a full police pension upon retirement. That meant she would have to wait until she was 55 to retire and receive a partial pension from the state. This is not Horne's first attempt to have her case overturned. Several months after she was fired, she sued to be reinstated,  but then-State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Makowski ruled against her on several procedural matters. Horne's case took on renewed interest after the officer she had fought, Greg Kwiatkowski, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in an unrelated federal police brutality case. Kwiatkowski, who testified against two other officers who were acquitted in that case, waws sentenced to four months in prison. The uproar earlier this year over the video-recorded death of George Floyd, who suffocated under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer while three others officers stood nearby, also drew new attention to Horne's firing. Horne is represented by a legal team led by Ronald Sullivan and Intisar Rabb of Harvard Law School. Sullivan and his team represented the family of Michael Brown, a Black teenager whose shooting death by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., sparked protests there in 2014. The attorneys were not available for comment Wednesday.

  • Fired officer’s long quest for vindication: ‘Cariol did what those officers didn’t do’

    September 8, 2020

    For 14 years, Cariol Holloman-Horne has held firm that she did the right thing when she tried to stop a fellow Buffalo cop who she says was choking a man he was trying to arrest. Horne lost her job and also her full police pension. She's worked odd jobs, mostly recently as a truck driver. At times, she has lived out of her car. She tried numerous times and through numerous avenues to try to get her pension and also pass laws to require police to intervene when another one is going too far...The cellphone video of George Floyd dying under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer set off a firestorm of outrage, not just at Derek Chauvin but also the three other police officers who are seen standing by and doing nothing to stop Chauvin. Suddenly, Horne’s story has new resonance...Horne recently gained powerful new allies: She is represented by a legal team that includes Ronald Sullivan and Intisar Rabb of Harvard Law School. Sullivan and his team represented the family of Michael Brown, a Black teenager whose shooting death by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., sparked unrest there in 2014. “Honored to now represent @CariolHorne – former Buffalo police officer terminated after she intervened when a fellow officer employed a chokehold against an unarmed black man,” he tweeted July 10. The Common Council appears poised to enact at least part of Horne's proposal by making the duty to intervene a law and not just a police department policy, as it is now.

  • St. Louis couple who aimed guns at protesters charged with felony weapons count

    July 21, 2020

    The St. Louis couple who emerged from their mansion in a gated community and aimed weapons at protesters marching past them last month were each charged Monday with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon. Lawyers Mark McCloskey, 61, and Patricia McCloskey, 63, have said they were merely defending their home on a private street in an upscale neighborhood from a crowd that was marching to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house to protest racial injustice. Video and photographs showing Mark McCloskey wielding a rifle and Patricia McCloskey aiming a pistol at the marchers created a firestorm of controversy between those who felt the couple was legally defending their home and those who felt they were menacing peaceful protesters...The McCloskeys and their supporters have said that the “castle doctrine” in Missouri law, and elsewhere, empowers a homeowner to stand their ground and use deadly force when threatened. But Harvard Law School Professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. said Friday that “the law is crystal clear in Missouri, that a reasonableness argument is necessary for a defendant to take advantage of the Castle doctrine. The defendant has to be reasonably afraid of being in imminent danger.” Sullivan said that despite the McCloskeys’ claim that the entire Portland Place neighborhood was private property, and the protesters were immediately trespassing, “the castle doctrine would still be unavailable. The doctrine removes one’s duty to retreat. But they could only use deadly force if they reasonably felt they were in imminent danger. Based on the video evidence, that’s a very difficult argument to make,” because the protesters were unarmed and did not move toward the McCloskey residence, Sullivan said. “Otherwise,” Sullivan said, “the castle doctrine would swallow up all of the existing law and we’d have a ‘Wild Wild West’ out there.”

  • The Justice Dept.’s Attempt to Drop the Michael Flynn Case, Explained

    May 18, 2020

    Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is presiding over the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, has appointed a former mafia prosecutor and retired federal judge, John Gleeson, to argue against Attorney General William P. Barr’s attempt to drop the case. The case against Mr. Flynn was developed by the F.B.I. agents working on the Trump-Russia investigation, brought by the office of the former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and is now being attacked by Mr. Barr as illegitimate. It has raised a complex stew of issues for Judge Sullivan to sort through...Is Mr. Barr’s attempt to drop the case unusual? Highly unusual. Legal experts have struggled to identify any precedent for the Justice Department dropping such a case after obtaining a guilty plea, and more than 2,300 department veterans accused Mr. Barr in an open letter of subverting a justice system that is supposed to treat everyone equally. “I would be astonished if the Department of Justice made these arguments in any other case in the country,” said Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge who now teaches at Harvard Law School. “This is the Flynn rule.” ...Did the F.B.I. set out to see whether Mr. Flynn would lie? There are reasons to believe agents did so — raising the question of whether that would be an abuse, as Mr. Flynn’s supporters maintain, or a normal investigative step...Hundreds of people every year are charged and convicted of lying to federal authorities, and in the courtroom, entrapment defenses rarely work. Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., a former federal defense lawyer who teaches criminal law at Harvard Law School, said that he objected to the way the F.B.I. treated criminal suspects, but that if Mr. Flynn’s case was tossed out on that basis, legions of other cases should be, too. “The F.B.I. did what the F.B.I. normally does,” he said. “General Flynn is getting a form of special justice that is repugnant to the very foundation on which our justice system rests.”

  • Multicolored hands layered over each other

    How can law students help in the midst of COVID-19?

    April 29, 2020

    Lee Mestre helped to coordinate Harvard Law School student aid efforts after natural disasters in New Orleans and Puerto Rico. Now she's using that experience to help law students support people in Massachusetts affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Why Harvard’s Admissions Case Win May Be Fleeting

    October 4, 2019

    As Congress and the White House are locked in an impeachment battle, the highest court in the third branch of government is set to open its term, and may soon take up big cases — including the Harvard affirmative action case. And might Rep. Richard Neal reveal another whistleblower? The retirement  last year of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored a 2016 opinion that narrowly allowed colleges to consider race among a number of admission factors, has court-watchers predicting a high court victory for the group challenging Harvard’s policy. “If SCOTUS accepts this inevitable appeal, I think [it's] unlikely the Court will continue to recognize diversity as a goal for race-conscious admission,” tweeted Harvard Law School professor Ronald Sullivan.

  • Classroom of students

    JET-Powered Learning

    August 21, 2019

    1L January Experiential Term courses focus on skills-building, collaboration and self-reflection

  • The Interview: Harvard Law Professor Ronald Sullivan Jr.

    August 13, 2019

    When word got out earlier this year that law professor Ronald Sullivan Jr. had joined Harvey Weinstein’s legal defense team, all hell broke loose at Harvard College. Students protested, #MeToo activists clamored, and the school administration ultimately terminated his appointment as the in-residence faculty dean of an undergrad dorm. But Sullivan—who’s spent his career securing exonerations for the wrongfully convicted and representing notable figures such as Aaron Hernandez—is no stranger to controversy. Which might explain why, as he prepares to move off-campus for the first time in 10 years, he was eager to meet in his office and talk about the circumstances prompting his sudden change of address.

  • Why Harvard Was Wrong to Make Me Step Down

    June 25, 2019

    An op-ed by Ronald Sullivan:  In May, Harvard College announced that it would not renew the appointment of me and my wife, Stephanie Robinson, as faculty deans of Winthrop House, one of Harvard’s undergraduate residential houses, because I am one of the lawyers who represented the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in advance of his coming sexual assault trial. The administration’s decision followed reports by some students that they felt “unsafe” in an institution led by a lawyer who would take on Mr. Weinstein as a client. I am willing to believe that some students felt unsafe. But feelings alone should not drive university policy. Administrators must help students distinguish between feelings that have a rational basis and those that do not. In my case, Harvard missed an opportunity to help students do that.

  • Harvey Weinstein trial is causing a legal drama at Harvard

    May 5, 2019

    In the tumultuous few months since students began objecting to Harvard Law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.’s decision to defend Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein at his rape trial, the college has been reviewing the living climate at Winthrop House, the residential community he leads as faculty dean. But, suffice it to say, the climate is anything but copacetic. ...“It’s a constitutional right that [Weinstein] would have a defense,” Harvard Law professor Janet Halley said. “Some of us would represent Harvey Weinstein. Some of us would never, ever. Telling someone else they can’t do it? Or if they do it they’re not fit to walk the halls of a residential house, that they’re a danger to the community or somehow not respectable anymore? Those are bad things for our leadership to be thinking.”

  • A Harvard Law School Professor Defends His Decision to Represent Harvey Weinstein

    March 8, 2019

    A Q&A with Ronald Sullivan: Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., a clinical professor at Harvard Law School, is among the most high-profile criminal-defense lawyers in the country. Sullivan represented Aaron Hernandez in his acquittal for a double homicide and helped the family of Michael Brown reach a $1.5-million-wrongful-death settlement with the city of Ferguson, Missouri. Sullivan has also devoted much of his career to representing less-privileged defendants: he is the director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School and previously served as the director of the Washington, D.C., Public Defender Service. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he helped free thousands of Louisianans who had been incarcerated without due process. ...I recently spoke twice by phone with Sullivan to discuss his career and his decision to represent Weinstein. During our conversations, which have been edited for length and clarity, we also discussed the state of campus debate and his belief that racism contributed to Harvard’s decision to conduct the climate survey.

  • ‘Whose Side Are You On?’: Harvard Dean Representing Weinstein Is Hit With Graffiti and Protests

    March 5, 2019

    The graffiti showed up on the door of a Harvard University building last week: “Our rage is self-defense,” and “Whose side are you on?” The unexpected target was Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., who is an accomplished lawyer, the director of Harvard’s criminal-law clinic and the first African-American to be appointed as a faculty dean. Earlier this year, Mr. Sullivan joined a team of lawyers representing the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who heads to trial in June in Manhattan on rape and related charges. ... In his first public remarks, Mr. Sullivan said in a phone interview on Monday that he did not anticipate the level of backlash he has received. He has a long history of taking on high-profile and, at times, controversial clients, as well as representing students who have been victims of sexual assault, he said. “Lawyers are not an extension of their clients,” Mr. Sullivan said. “Lawyers do law work, not the work of ideology. When I’m in my lawyer capacity, representing a client, even one publicly vilified, it doesn’t mean I’m supporting anything the client may have done.” ... But many of Mr. Sullivan’s colleagues have come to his defense. Dozens of law professors from the university on Feb. 14 sent a letter to the college in support of Mr. Sullivan. On Feb. 28, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article by Randall Kennedy, a Harvard law professor, who wrote: “Those calling for Sullivan’s resignation or dismissal as a faculty dean solely because he is serving as Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer in a rape prosecution are displaying an array of disturbingly widespread tendencies.

  • Harvard Shouldn’t Punish Harvey Weinstein’s Lawyer

    March 5, 2019

    An op-ed by Stephen L. Carter:  If you’re able to shift your attention for a moment from the drama being played out in Washington, take a moment to worry about the drama being played out in Cambridge, where a professor at Harvard Law School is under fire for choosing to represent an unpopular client. The professor in question is Ronald Sullivan, an experienced criminal defense lawyer, and the client in question is Harvey Weinstein, which of course means that the fat was in the fire from the first. For signing on to defend one of the most hated men in America, Sullivan (so say a group of Harvard students) should no longer be permitted to serve as a faculty dean of Winthrop House, one of several residence halls for Harvard undergraduates. Ron Sullivan is a friend of long standing, and one of the most generous and decent men I have ever known. The things his critics are saying about him have nothing to do with what kind of person he is; they all stem from his choice of clients. So let’s focus on that.

  • In Defense of Harvey Weinstein’s Harvard Lawyer

    March 4, 2019

    The law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. is among the most accomplished people at Harvard. He has helped to overturn scores of wrongful convictions and to free thousands from wrongful incarceration. ... Sullivan faces this “clamor of popular suspicions and prejudices” because he agreed to act as a criminal-defense attorney for an object of scorn and hatred: Harvey Weinstein. ... Catharine MacKinnon, Harvard’s James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law, emailed: The issue is not whether Ron can represent reviled clients accused of crimes and still be the faculty dean of a college. Of course he can. The issue is substantive. ...The Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig echoes the argument that it’s possible to be a survivor of sexual assault and feel comfortable with Sullivan’s choice. ...“The skills, capacities, and dispositions that would help to make a person a valued defense counsel are also the skills, capacities, and dispositions that would help to make a person a valued Faculty Dean,” [Randall Kennedy] argued.  ... The Harvard professor Jeannie Suk Gersen emailed me her concerns with such “processes”: "Professor Sullivan has chosen to represent and defend persons whom many people would not defend. Strong disagreement with those choices is of course part of the exploration of differences of principle and opinion that we’d hope for in a university." ... “Little more than half a century ago, mainstream lawyers were frightened away from defending alleged Communists who faced congressional witch hunts, blacklisting, criminal trials, and even execution,” Harvard Law’s Alan Dershowitz wrote. ... The Harvard professor Janet Halley calls Harvard’s actions “deeply disturbing.” She explained in an email: The right to counsel even for the most despised defendants, the basic role of counsel in our legal order, the presumption of innocence, academic freedom, and the right of University employees to assist persons accused in the University’s Title IX proceedings—are all implicated here. ... The Harvard law professor Scott Westfahl, however, defended the idea of a climate review, also by email. ... “We are all better off as a result,” and he noted, “I completely support the right of Professor Sullivan, an extremely talented defense lawyer, to take on a very difficult case. Should Mr. Weinstein be convicted, there will be absolutely no doubt that he received a fair hearing with the best possible defense counsel.”

  • Harvard’s sacred spaces

    Harvard’s sacred spaces

    October 18, 2018

    A new space at HLS is one of several on campus offering students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to engage in meditation and prayer. Also new at Winthrop House is the Tufnell Park Meditation Room, which reflects Faculty Deans Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Stephanie Robinson’s commitment to students finding agency for self-care.

  • Where The A.J. Baker Case Stands Now

    July 3, 2018

    ...Two days later, WBZ-TV reported that the alleged groper was Andrew “A.J.” Baker — a son of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Ever since, a big question has been whether A.J. Baker, who still hasn’t been charged, is being treated impartially by the criminal-justice system...in the airplane audio, there’s no indication the crew knows the alleged groper is the governor’s son — which suggests State Police might not have known, either. Eventually, says Harvard Law School Professor Ronald Sullivan, they probably figured it out. So if and when that happened, how did the State Police respond? "At what point did they realize they were talking to the governor’s son, and once they did realize they were speaking with the governor’s son, did any supervisor make a decision with respect to a conflict-of interest analysis?" Sullivan said. It's also possible the State Police proceeded as if A.J. Baker were any other interviewee. If so, Sullivan says, that was a mistake.

  • Former state chief justice will review Harvard student’s arrest

    May 29, 2018

    Officials in Cambridge have tapped the former chief justice of the state’s highest court to review the Police Department’s internal probe of the forcible arrest last month of a visibly distressed black Harvard University student who was naked and allegedly hallucinating on drugs. In a statement Friday, City Manager Louis DePasquale and Police Commissioner Branville Bard Jr. announced that former chief justice Roderick L. Ireland of the Supreme Judicial Court will conduct “an independent review of the Police Department’s internal review associated” with the April 13 apprehension of Selorm Ohene...City officials said the Police Department’s internal review of the incident is ongoing, and that once it’s completed, Ireland will “review the findings and issue his report.” Ireland’s findings will be made public, but there’s no timetable for completion. “No charges have been filed against the student,” the release said. Ohene’s attorneys, Harvard Law professors Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Dehlia Umunna, also weighed in Friday, saying in a separate statement that they were “delighted to learn that no charges will be filed” against their client.

  • As Greitens looks on, lawyers begin narrowing jury pool for invasion-of-privacy trial

    May 11, 2018

    Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens watched Thursday as his attorneys scrutinized potential jurors for his criminal trial next week. Greitens, who was joined by two state troopers, arrived Thursday morning at the St. Louis courthouse for the first day of jury selection...Ronald Sullivan, a Harvard Law School professor who is assisting prosecutors in the case, argued that jurors who have opinions of Greitens but say they can set them aside should not be struck. He said the attorneys need to find jurors who can credibly “in good faith ... set aside previous knowledge.” He said they would need to “exclude the entire state” if the judge used the defense’s standard.

  • Faust Forms Committee to ‘Review’ Lead-Up to Arrest of Black Student

    May 1, 2018

    University President Drew G. Faust has formed a “review committee” to determine the exact “sequence of events” leading to the forcible arrest of a black undergraduate April 13 and to undertake a “systematic examination” of a wide variety of Harvard policies. “The committee will start by determining the sequence of events leading to the student’s events,” Faust wrote in an email to students Monday. The results of that determination will then "inform a more systematic examination of opportunities for improvement across a range of institutional activities," Faust wrote...Harvard Law School and History professor Annette Gordon-Reed will chair the committee, according to Faust’s email. The group will include six other individuals including professors at the Business School, Kennedy School, Graduate School of Education, and Medical School, as well as a House faculty dean...BLSA has called the incident an instance of police brutality, and Cambridge Mayor Marc C. McGovern and Faust later called the incident “disturbing.” Harvard Law professors Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Dehlia Umunna, who lead the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute, are now legally representing the student.

  • Condemning Police Brutality at Harvard

    April 20, 2018

    On Friday night, the Cambridge Police Department arrested a black undergraduate on Massachusetts Avenue just outside the Law School. The incident has drawn national attention as Harvard affiliates and onlookers nationwide question whether the arrest and the proceedings leading up to the arrest were in accordance with University and Cambridge city protocol.Those who have witnessed or watched video of the arrest have seen what can only be described as a case of police brutality...we stand with the Black Law Students Association and others in strongly criticizing the arrest...n the aftermath of this troubling event, we call on Harvard to do everything it can to defend the student’s legal rights and rights as a student and are grateful for the work of the Law School professors, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Dehlia Umunna, who will represent him.

  • Two Harvard law school professors will represent student arrested by Cambridge police

    April 17, 2018

    The Harvard College student whose arrest by Cambridge and Transit police officers has sparked debate over police use of force is now represented by two Harvard Law School professors who said their client won’t be speaking publicly any time soon. Selorm Ohene, 21, a mathematics major at Harvard, was arrested by police last Friday during an encounter...In a statement Tuesday, Harvard Law School professors Ronald F. Sullivan Jr. and Dehlia Umunna said they now represent him. Sullivan is the director and Umunna is the deputy director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard. “He is currently recovering from injuries sustained during his encounter with the Cambridge Police Department,’’ the attorneys wrote in a joint statement. “This has been and continues to be a trying ordeal for Selorm and for his family.”

  • Video Shows Police Tackling and Punching Black Harvard Student

    April 17, 2018

    The Cambridge police have launched an internal investigation into an incident on Friday night in which officers tackled and punched a black Harvard student they were trying to arrest as he stood naked in the median of a busy street. The police, who released a video of the scene on Sunday amid complaints about the officers’ conduct, said that the student, Selorm Ohene, 21, was apparently high on drugs and acting in an aggressive and unruly manner when they approached him and tried to calm him down. He came at them, the police said, with clenched fists...Mr. Ohene is studying mathematics, according to a statement from his lawyers, Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. and Dehlia Umunna, both of whom are professors at Harvard. They said he is still recovering from his injuries, but offered few other details about the arrest on Friday. The lawyers said it had been a trying ordeal for their client and his family, and they asked the public and the media to respect his privacy.

  • After Forcible Arrest of Black Student, Harvard Affiliates Meet, Reflect, and Organize

    April 15, 2018

    In the wake of the forcible arrest of a black Harvard undergraduate Friday, hundreds of University affiliates came together at multiple events held across campus to talk through the incident and to share their concern and support for one another. Cambridge Police Department officers arrested a Harvard undergraduate Friday night after a physical encounter with law enforcement on charges including indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, and assault. Shortly after the incident, the Harvard Black Law Students Association tweeted out a statement calling the arrest an instance of police brutality...BLSA hosted the meeting to update Harvard affiliates about what happened Friday and to provide students a place to heal and work through the arrest, according to BLSA member Emanuel Powell III [`19]. He specifically credited black women involved with BLSA for their participation in the event, noting the women facilitated conversation and ensured the gathering served as a “space of healing.”...BLSA member Amber A. James ’11 [`19], who spoke at the event, said she agrees with Powell and that she thinks the meeting served a key function in allowing Harvard affiliates to “[build] for the future.”...Several Faculty Deans sent emails to students in their Houses following the arrest Friday. Some announced they plan to hold House events to discuss the details of the incident and to offer students a space to respond and reflect. In an email to Winthrop House residents sent midday Saturday, Winthrop Faculty Deans Stephanie Robinson and Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.—who serves as an advisor to BLSA—wrote they plan to provide students with a place to share their thoughts about the arrest. “Winthrop House will provide a space for students to process the incident itself, as well as the broader issues implicated by this particular incident,” Sullivan and Robinson wrote.

  • Missouri Governor Can’t Bar Harvard Professor From Mistress Case, Judge Says

    March 27, 2018

    ...Eric Greitens lost his requests to dismiss his indictment, hold his trial before a judge without a jury and disqualify a Harvard law professor from working on the team that’s prosecuting him...Greitens, a Republican and a Rhodes scholar, objected to the St. Louis city prosecutor hiring Professor Ronald Sullivan because of a Missouri law that makes it a crime for the same person to simultaneously serve as a prosecutor and a defense lawyer. Sullivan previously represented the family of Michael Brown, the black teenager whose killing by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 set off nationwide protests. The professor currently represents a trader facing a criminal securities fraud trial in Connecticut in April. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, the lead prosecutor, argued that that the conflict-of-interest law would only apply if the professor was doing defense work in Missouri. State Judge Rex Burlison ruled against Greitens without explanation.

  • Lawyer for Michael Brown’s Family Joins Greitens Prosecution

    March 6, 2018

    A Harvard Law School professor whose past clients include the family of the 18-year-old fatally shot in 2014 by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, has joined the prosecution team in the criminal case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Circuit Judge Rex Burlison on Monday approved Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's motion to have Ronald S. Sullivan join the prosecution. Greitens was indicted in February on felony invasion of privacy. He is accused of taking a compromising photo of a woman with whom he was having an affair without her permission in 2015, before he was elected.

  • Winthrop Admins Threaten Disciplinary Action After Vandalism

    February 8, 2018

    After repeated reports of “vandalism, theft, and destruction of property,” Winthrop House administrators sent multiple emails to House residents condemning the perpetrators and warning of potential consequences...Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. and Stephanie Robinson, Winthrop’s faculty deans, sent a more extensive email to Winthrop residents Monday afternoon, citing other instances of “vandalism” to Standish Hall in addition to those in the third floor bathrooms. According to the email, unidentified perpetrators threw toilet paper out of the hall’s windows to litter the courtyard below and also stole a wetsuit from one of the restrooms.

  • On the Bookshelf: HLS Library Books 2017 12

    On the Bookshelf: HLS Authors

    December 14, 2017

    This fall, the Harvard Law School Library hosted a series of book talks by HLS authors, with topics ranging from Justice and Leadership in Early Islamic Courts to a Citizen's Guide to Impeachment. As part of this ongoing series, faculty authors from various disciplines shared their research and discussed their recently published books.

  • Legal Scholar Hopes Massachusetts Legislature Takes Firm Action On Criminal Justice Reform (audio)

    December 4, 2017

    With Massachusetts lawmakers considering sweeping criminal justice reforms, one legal scholar hopes the state will take decisive action. Harvard Law professor Ron Sullivan says there are key areas that lawmakers need to address — specifically, bail reform so people aren't jailed for financial reasons — and mandatory minimum sentences. Many of the proposed reforms before lawmakers are based on recommendations from a report that state public safety officials tout. That's because it shows Massachusetts has the second lowest incarceration rate in the nation.

  • Mentors, Friends and Sometime Adversaries 4

    Mentors, Friends and Sometime Adversaries

    November 29, 2017

    Mentorships between Harvard Law School professors and the students who followed them into academia have taken many forms over the course of two centuries.

  • Episode 9 of the Constitutional podcast: ‘Fair punishment’ (audio)

    October 23, 2017

    ...In the ninth episode of The Washington's Post "Constitutional" podcast, we explore the prison's origins and the pivotal court case, Gates v. Collier, in which Haber brought to light the constitutional violations that permeated Parchman Farm. This episode features the voices of Haber; Ron Sullivan, a professor at Harvard Law School and director of the Criminal Justice Institute; and David Oshinsky, author of “Worse Than Slavery” and a professor at New York University.

  • Aaron Hernandez lawyers go to bat for Jemele Hill

    October 11, 2017

    Two high-powered attorneys who helped win an acquittal for former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez took to Twitter Tuesday to defend Jemele Hill, the embattled ESPN anchor whom the network suspended Monday over some of her tweets. The lawyers, Linda Kenney Baden and Ronald Sullivan Jr., who defended Hernandez during his second murder trial and continue to represent his estate, suggested Tuesday that ESPN might have violated Connecticut state law when it disciplined Hill...Sullivan, a Harvard Law professor, echoed Kenney Baden’s comments in his own postings. He tweeted that Hill “has enforceable rights under state law. Limits to when ESPN can silence valid speech.”

  • In Presidential Search, Calls for Diversity

    September 21, 2017

    Over the course of four centuries, Harvard has seen presidents of many stripes. They’ve been clergymen and classicists, ambassadors and governors, chemists and botanists, and secretaries of State and the Treasury. Their training and trades may have varied—but to date, all have been white. And, until current University President Drew G. Faust, male...Ten years later, some would like to see Harvard make history yet again. “The school has made wonderful strides with respect to the student population,” Law professor and Winthrop Faculty Dean Ronald Sullivan said. “There’s still work to be done with respect to the faculty, and there’s even more work that needs to be done with respect to the top levels of administrators at the University.”

  • How Brooklyn’s Conviction Review Unit Became a National Model

    August 28, 2017

    An op-ed by Ronald Sullivan. There is no greater injustice than an innocent person being convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. And even when a defendant may not be factually innocent, confidence in our criminal a justice system, and fundamental fairness, is undermined when a defendant doesn’t receive a fair trial. In 2012 and 2013, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office came under intense criticism for the number of wrongful convictions that had occurred under the then-District Attorney and his predecessors. Ken Thompson, now sadly deceased, was elected in 2013 on a promise to investigate and overturn wrongful convictions and restore fairness and integrity to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Soon after Thompson’s election, the current Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Thompson’s Special Counsel, reached out to me and asked that I design and implement what became Brooklyn’s Conviction Review Unit.