Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

 See the
Conversations with History Blog

See a webcast of this interview:
 Neufeld

A Passion for Justice: Conversation with Peter Neufeld, Attorney and Director of the Innocence Project; 4/27/01 by Harry Kreisler.

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Peter Neufeld, who is one of the leading criminal attorneys in the United States. book coverHe co-founded and directs the Innocence Project at the Benjamin Cardoza School of Law, Yeshiva University. He's also the author, with Barry Scheck and Jim Dwyer, of Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted.

  1. Background ... born a Dodgers fan ... influence of parents ... emphasis on social justice ... interest in the movies ... books read ... education ... protest
  2. Being a Lawyer ... seeing the law as a vehicle for social change ... law is like making a movie ... taking cases that will make a difference ... total absorption in the work ... excitement of the possibility of changing things ... impact of the sixties ... the bully pulpit
  3. The Innocence Project ... bringing science to the courtroom ... learning new things in the interest of your client ... forensic psychiatry ... defending battered women ... discovering the power of DNA ... establishing a legal clinic to reopen cases
  4. The Criminal Justice System ... DNA as solid evidence ... a window into the criminal justice system ... failures of the system ... issues of class and race ... racial profiling ... pervasive racism
  5. Reforming the Criminal Justice System ... the politics of reforming the system ... reluctance to investigate more broadly ... compared to other institutions ... compared to other countries ... comparing Illinois to Texas and Virginia ... eyewitness testimony ... false confessions ... appealing to self interest ... levers of change ... legislation ... introduction of science ... changing the way business is conducted
  6. Conclusion ... burgeoning civil rights movement ... death penalty ... criminalizing social behavior ... most satisfying case ... a passion for one's work ... another screenplay

See the Innocence Project website

See also the interview with co-author Barry Scheck: DNA and the Criminal Justice System (July 2003)

© Copyright 2001, Regents of the University of California

Photos by Jane Scherr. Site questions: Email iis_webmgr at berkeley.edu.