Sara Beale Receives Major Law Reform Appointment

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Sara Sun Beale, Charles L. B. Lowndes Professor of Law, has been appointed reporter to the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules, which drafts rules of federal criminal procedure. In his letter of appointment, Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the United States Supreme Court called Beale a “superb choice” for the position, citing her extensive writing on criminal law and procedure, as well as her public and private experience as an attorney.

Sara Sun BealeBeale is the co-author of Federal Criminal Law and Its Enforcement (2d ed. 1993 & 3d ed. 2000), Federal Criminal Law and Related Actions: Crimes, Forfeiture, the False Claims Act and RICO (1998), and Grand Jury Law and Practice (1986 & 2d ed. 1997), in addition to numerous scholarly articles. A veteran of both the Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of the Solicitor General in the U.S. Department of Justice and a member of the Duke Law faculty since 1979, Beale has long been active in law reform efforts relating to the federal government’s role in criminal justice, including those of the American Bar Association. Beale says the opportunity to serve the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules (“the Committee”) ideally suits her interest in law reform.

“I enjoy my scholarly writing and teaching greatly, but they have a very indirect effect. This is a direct application of law reform, because these rules govern all federal cases. The Committee’s recommendations are extremely influential, so if one is concerned about the actual processing of real cases, then the work of this Committee is a way to have a part in improving the process.”

The Committee has the responsibility of determining the underlying policy and the specific wording of rules that govern all of the trial process and many aspects of the pretrial process, explains Beale.

“The rules are constantly being updated. Some changes are experience-based, and may deal with issues of style and clarity, and others are policy driven–there’s some kind of new problem, procedure or process that has to be incorporated into the rules.”

Under the Rules Enabling Act, advisory committees for criminal, civil, bankruptcy, and appellate procedure draft proposed rules. These proposals are reviewed by the Judicial Conference, and then submitted to the Supreme Court.

Beale will assume the reporter’s role in October 2005.