About R. Michael Cassidy
Professor R. Michael Cassidy teaches and writes in the areas of Criminal Law, Evidence, and Professional Responsibility. He is considered an expert on the subject of prosecutorial ethics, and provides training nationally to public sector attorneys on their responsibilities under the Rules of Professional Conduct. He is quoted frequently by the media on subjects relating to criminal law and ethics, including appearing in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Boston Herald. He is the Faculty Director of the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy.
During his extensive career as a government lawyer prior to joining the BC community, Professor Cassidy prosecuted hundreds of serious felony cases involving narcotics trafficking, organized and white collar crime, and public corruption. He has also briefed and argued numerous high-profile criminal matters before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. From 1993 to 1996, Professor Cassidy served as Chief of the Criminal Bureau in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office under then Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.
Among his many professional and community activities, Professor Cassidy has served as a member of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, as Editor-in-Chief of the Massachusetts Law Review, as a member of the Governor's Commission on Corrections Reform, as a hearing officer for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, as a member of the Criminal Justice Section Council of the Boston Bar Association, as an Advisor to the National District Attorneys' Association, and as a member of the Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Commission. Professor Cassidy was recently appointed to serve a three year term on the Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct. He is active in local government, youth sports and religious education in his hometown of Winchester, Massachusetts. Professor Cassidy was elected to the American Law Institute in 2012.
Professor Cassidy received his B.A. degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame, and his J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. Following law school he served as law clerk to the Honorable Edward F. Hennessey, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and then as a litigation associate at the Boston law firm of Foley, Hoag.
Professor Cassidy served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2007-2010 and as Associate Dean for Administration and Finance from 1996 to 2002. He is currently serving as the faculty director of the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy. He has three times been awarded the Emil Slizewski prize for distinguished teaching by the graduating class at commencement.
- Fall 2016: Evidence
- Spring 2017: Criminal Law, Prosecutorial Ethics
R. Michael Cassidy
Professor of Law and Law School Fund Scholar
Boston College Law School
885 Centre Street
Newton Center, MA 02459
Forthcoming Works (1)
Silencing Grand Jury Witnesses Indiana Law Journal (2016)
The investigations of local police officers for causing the deaths of unarmed civilians in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York have generated significant national discourse about the fairness and transparency of grand jury proceedings. ...
Prosecutorial Ethics (1)
Criminal Law and Procedure (9)
Promoting Diversity in the Criminal Justice System Boston Bar Journal (2015)
The decisions of grand juries in Missouri and New York not to indict police officers responsible for shooting unarmed black men has sparked intense debate in this country about racial disparities in our criminal justice ...
The Model Penal Code’s Wrong Turn: Renunciation as a Defense to Criminal Conspiracy Florida Law Review (2012)
While the Model Penal Code was certainly one the most influential developments in criminal law in the past century, the American Law Institute (ALI) took a seriously wrong turn by recognizing a defense of “renunciation” ...
Plea Bargaining, Discovery, and the Intractable Problem of Impeachment Disclosures Vanderbilt Law Review (2011)
In a criminal justice system where guilty pleas are the norm and trials the rare exception, the issue of how much discovery a defendant is entitled to before allocution has immense significance. This article examines ...
Legal Ethics (8)
(Ad)ministering Justice: A Prosecutor's Ethical Duty to Support Sentencing Reform Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal (2014)
This article stakes out an ethical argument in favor of prosecutorial leadership on sentencing reform. Prosecutors have a duty as “ministers of justice” to go beyond seeking appropriate conviction and punishment in individual cases, and ...
Some Reflections on Ethics and Plea Bargaining: An Essay in Honor of Fred Zacharias San Diego Law Review (2011)
In this article the author explores what it means for a prosecutor to “do justice” in a plea bargaining context. Although the vast majority of criminal cases in the United States are resolved by guilty ...
The Prosecutor and the Press: Lessons (Not) Learned from the Mike Nifong Debacle Law and Contemporary Problems (2008)
Using the Mike Nifong disciplinary case in North Carolina as a focal point, the author examines the disciplinary rules pertaining to public speech by attorneys during the pendency of an adjudicatory proceeding. The author argues ...
Character and Context: What Virtue Theory Can Teach Us About a Prosecutor's Ethical Duty to "Seek Justice." Notre Dame Law Review (2006)
A critical issue facing the criminal justice system today is how best to promote ethical behavior by public prosecutors. The legal profession has left much of a prosecutor’s day-to-day activity unregulated, in favor of a ...
'Soft Words of Hope:' Giglio, Accomplice Witnesses, and the Problem of Implied Inducements Northwestern University Law Review (2004)
Many scholars have criticized the government's practice of rewarding accomplices with leniency in exchange for their cooperation in criminal cases, because such practice provides the accomplice with a tremendous inducement to fabricate in order to ...
Toward a More Independent Grand Jury: Recasting and Enforcing the Prosecutor’s Duty to Disclose Exculpatory Evidence Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics (2000)
This Article analyzes the Supreme Court’s decision in Williams, in which the Court struck down an attempt by the Tenth Circuit to impose an obligation on federal prosecutors to disclose substantial exculpatory evidence to the ...
Reconsidering Spousal Privileges after Crawford American Journal of Criminal Law (2006)
In this article the author explores how domestic violence prevention efforts have been adversely impacted by the Supreme Court’s new “testimonial” approach to the confrontation clause. Examining the Court’s trilogy of cases from Crawford to ...
Sharing Sacred Secrets: Is it (Past) Time for a Dangerous Person Exception to the Clergy-Penitent Privilege? William & Mary Law Review (2003)
In this article, the author discusses the important and previously unexplored topic of whether the law should recognize a future harms exception to the clergy-penitent privilege, similar to that recognized in the area of psychotherapist-patient ...
Legal Education (5)
Reforming the Law School Curriculum from the Top Down Journal of Legal Education (2015)
With growing consensus that legal education is in turmoil if not in crisis, law schools need to take advantage of industry upheaval to catalyze innovation in the way they train their students. Curriculum reform, long ...
Strategic Austerity: How Some Law School Affordability Initiatives Could Actually Improve Learning Outcomes Chapman Law Review (2013)
The legal profession is facing profound and perhaps irreversible changes. Whether you view these striking demographics as a “crisis” likely depends on the location of your perch. If you are a tenured professor at a ...
Beyond Practical Skills: Nine Steps for Improving Legal Education Now Boston College Law Review (2012)
It has been five years since the Carnegie Report “Educating Lawyers” called upon law schools to adopt an integrated approach to professional education that teaches practical skills and professionalism across the curriculum. Yet so far, ...