2010-11 Chair Appointments

Christopher Slobogin

Milton R. Underwood Chair in Law
Christopher Slobogin

The fact that Christopher Slobogin directs a program named "Criminal Justice" at Vanderbilt Law School reflects the broad-ranging nature of his scholarship. Professor Slobogin has authored or coauthored more than 100 articles, books and chapters on topics relating to criminal law, criminal procedure, mental health law, evidence, and juvenile justice, and has served on national task forces addressing law enforcement and technology, the death penalty and the insanity defense.

Slobogin's most recent book, Juveniles at Risk: A Plea for Preventive Justice, coauthored with Mark Fondacaro, was released by Oxford University Press in March 2011. Slobogin and Fondacaro argue that the legal system should continue to maintain a separate juvenile court, but one that is preventive in orientation, with a new emphasis on rehabilitation and with more flexible procedures. "The American legal system has been extremely ambivalent on how to handle juvenile offenders," Slobogin said. "Should they be treated like adults or children? Should they be punished severely or receive treatment?" Slobogin and Fondacaro assert that the current punitive approach, modeled after the adult criminal justice system, either ignores or misapplies current knowledge about the causes of juvenile crime and effective ways to reduce it.

Another book Slobogin co-authored with another lawyer and two psychologists, Psychological Evaluations for the Courts, is considered the standard-bearer in forensic mental health. Because of his expertise in that area, he holds a secondary faculty appointment in Vanderbilt School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry. He also serves as an editor for a number of journals that specialize in publishing articles about law and human behavior.

In his Underwood Chair lecture in January 2010, Professor Slobogin discussed another focus of his recent research: the effect of technology on the privacy protections granted under the Fourth Amendment. "With the introduction of devices that can see through walls and clothes, monitor public thoroughfares 24 hours a day, and access millions of records in seconds," he said, "police are relying much more heavily on what might be called 'virtual searches,' investigative techniques that don't require physical access to premises, people, papers or effects, and that can often be carried out covertly from far away. This technological revolution is well on its way to drastically altering the way police go about looking for evidence of crime, and yet the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fourth Amendment has both failed to anticipate this revolution and continued to ignore it."

Slobogin joined Vanderbilt's faculty in 2008, having previously held the Stephen C. O'Connell chair at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law.

Top of page
Top of Page