Recently elected to The Fellows of the American Bar Association in recognition of his service to the profession, Laurence Benner has been an active participant, educator and consultant in the criminal justice arena for over three decades. His scholarship has been cited in the United States Supreme Court as well as leading criminal justice textbooks and treatises on criminal procedure. Excerpts from his critique of the law on confessions, entitled “Requiem for Miranda” and his empirical research on search warrants have been extensively relied upon by both courts and scholars. The Other Face of Justice, which he co-authored, has also been nationally recognized as a basic resource for improving criminal defense representation for the indigent accused.
A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Professor Benner joined the law faculty of California Western School of Law following a distinguished career as a trial and appellate advocate. He was National Director of Defender services for the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, was Director & Chief Trial Counsel of the Office of the Defender in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and taught as a Clinician at the University of Chicago Law School’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. He also served in the South Pacific as Chief Legal Counsel to the Ombudsman Commission of Papua New Guinea, a constitutional office established to protect human rights.
Professor Benner is a past member of the Board of Directors of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) and is currently Co-Chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Defense Function Committee. He is also a member of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, the ABA Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section, Scribes, the Law & Society Program Advisory Committee of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Club. He served as a Commissioner on the U.S. Justice Department’s National Study Commission on Criminal Defense Services, which promulgated national standards for the delivery of indigent defense services, was NLADA’s liaison to the ABA Special Committee on Criminal Justice Administration, and is a past member of the Executive Committee of the American Association of Law School’s (AALS) Litigation Section. He has been a consultant to numerous governmental agencies, including the U.S. Justice Department, the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, San Diego County and The Constitutional Review Commission of Papua New Guinea.
Professor Benner is Managing Director of Criminal Justice Programs at California Western School of Law, where he co-founded the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy, which operates the California Innocence Project and the Janeen Kerper National Trial Skills Academy. He lectures regularly at NLADA’s annual ‘Life in the Balance’ Death Penalty Training Conference and the Advanced Appellate Defender Training Conference. He currently teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Advanced Criminal Justice, and directs the San Diego Search Warrant Project and CWSL’s Bail Project. He pioneered CWSL’s faculty exchange program with Victoria University in New Zealand, where he taught Comparative Criminal Law and Procedure and he teaches undergraduate courses in the Law & Society Program at UCSD.