Professor Ray Chao met with St. Francis School of Law’s Juris Doctor students online this week to discuss his career including his work as a prosecutor in Chicago. Prof. Chao also practiced law in Manhattan, and has now relocated to California. Prof. Chao was instrumental in designing St. Francis’ criminal law course and he just completed teaching the criminal procedure course for St. Francis students.
Discussing differences between the distinct geographic areas where he has practiced, Prof. Chao observed that law practice in Chicago was very formal in contrast to practice in New York, and that his observation is that Southern California seems informal by comparison. He emphasized the importance of understanding the style and culture, and the particular judge, where you are practicing law.
In discussing recent reports of increased exonerations, Prof. Chao indicated that this topic is an important one, and has received much more publicity than in the past. He commented on the need to address wrongful convictions, and the efforts of the criminal justice system to do so.
Professor Chao has extensive experience with legal matters involving juveniles and discussed the brain science indicating that juveniles’ judgment is not fully developed. One example he cited was that juveniles may not fully understand Miranda warnings regarding their rights, and should have either an attorney or parent with them during any interrogation in order for Mirandawarnings to be effective.
The Supreme Court recently has taken developmental science regarding juveniles into consideration in addressing the inappropriateness of juvenile sentences of life without the possibility of parole in Miller v. Alabama and very recently held in Montgomery v. Louisiana that juveniles sentenced to life must have parole eligibility.
Students in the St. Francis Juris Doctor program enjoy the opportunity to participate in the Career Insights series, where experienced practitioners participate in open forums welcoming student inquiries.