Our criminal justice system is founded upon a belief that one is innocent until proven guilty. This belief is what foists the burden of proving a person’s guilt upon the government and belies a statutory presumption in favor of allowing a defendant to remain free pending trial at the federal level. Though there are certainly circumstances in which a federal magistrate judge may—and sometimes must—remand a defendant to jail pending trial, it is well-settled that pretrial detention itself inherently prejudices the quality of a person’s defense. In some cases, a defendant’s pretrial conditions become so onerous that they become punitive and even burden his or her constitutional rights, including the Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to due process and the effective assistance of counsel, respectively. Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) consist of a variety of confinement conditions that the attorney general may impose on an individual defendant at his or her discretion. Their purpose is to severely restrict communication by defendants with the demonstrated capacity to endanger the public through their third-party contacts. Although Congress did not create SAMs with terrorists in mind, their use in terrorism cases is almost routine. This Note explores the constitutional implications of SAMs when they are imposed on terrorism defendants who are detained pending trial. Specifically, my interview with criminal defense attorney Joshua Dratel sheds critical light on the deleterious impact SAMs have on a defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to due process and Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel.
Special Administrative Measures and the War on Terror: When do Extreme Pretrial Detention Measures Offend the Constitution?,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol19/iss2/5