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W&L Law’s J.D. King Receives Fulbright to Study Criminal Defense Role in Chile

Washington and Lee law professor J.D. King has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant to study the evolution of criminal defense in Chile. He will work on his project during fall 2014 at the Universidad Viña del Mar in Chile.

At W&L, King is the director of the Criminal Justice Clinic, where law students represent indigent people facing criminal charges in local trial courts. His research focuses on criminal defense, prosecution ethics and the right to counsel. In Chile, he will study the evolving role of the public defender as the country’s criminal justice system continues its transition from an inquisitorial system to a more adversarial system like the U.S.

“Nowhere have the structural changes to the criminal defense system been more pronounced than in Chile over the past quarter-century,” says King. “The 1988 plebiscite ending the Pinochet dictatorship and allowing for the restoration of democracy ushered in a new movement to modernize and reform many aspects of the functioning of the judicial system.”

King notes that in a relatively short period of time, Chile undertook a radical overhaul of its criminal justice system, reforms that were just one part of the broader transition toward a restoration of democracy in Chile.

King’s research will also explore the culture of criminal defense within this rapidly evolving system and compare this with public defender organizations in the U.S.

“In studying our own public defender system, leading scholars have examined the motivations, challenges and goals of lawyers occupying these positions in order to improve indigent criminal defense,” says King. “In Chile, I will explore the extent to which the structural changes have led to corresponding cultural changes in the nature of criminal defense and in the attitudes and practices of Chilean public defenders.”

In addition to directing the Criminal Justice Clinic, King teaches Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and Professional Responsibility. He has a B.A. in History and Religious Studies from Brown University, a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, and a LL.M. in Advocacy from Georgetown University Law Center.

Prior to teaching, J.D. was a supervising attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, a Prettyman Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, and a law clerk to United States District Judge Richard H. Kyle.

The Fulbright Program is America’s flagship international educational exchange program, and is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grants are viewed as among the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholar Program.