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Leo Wins 2009 Herbert Jacob Book Prize

June 24, 2009

USF School of Law Associate Professor Richard Leo received the prestigious 2009 Herbert Jacob Book Prize from the Law and Society Association at the organization's annual meeting in May.

Leo's book, Police Interrogation and American Justice (Harvard University Press, 2008) was the co-winner of the prize, which recognizes the most outstanding scholarship in law and society published each year.

"Richard A. Leo's Police Interrogation and American Justice is a major contribution in the classic tradition of socio-legal scholarship, revealing how a crucial—and in this case, a carefully hidden—aspect of the legal process actually works. Police Interrogation and American Justice is essential reading for anyone at all interested in the quality of the American criminal justice process," according to the Law and Society Association award citation.

Leo is a leading authority on police interrogation and confessions in the United States. He is internationally known for his pioneering empirical research on police interrogation practices, false confessions, and wrongful convictions. He has written five books and more than 60 articles and book chapters on these and closely related subjects. One such law review article was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in April in the Corley v. United States decision.

"Richard's work represents the best of what the law school is about, demonstrating that legal scholarship can play a critical role in the pursuit of a more humane and just society," Dean Jeffrey Brand said. "Richard is one of many great scholars on the faculty who understand that to change society we need creative ideas and careful research articulated in a powerful way. We are proud of Richard as he leads the way with his award-winning work."

Police Interrogation and American Justice, which also won the Pacific Sociological Association's 2009 Honorable Mention for Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship, chronicles more than a century of police interrogation in the United States, from the use of physical torture to the rise psychological manipulation and the lie detector test. In addition, it examines how interrogation techniques often elicit false confessions.

University of San Diego Distinguished Professor of Law Yale Kamisar, one of the nation's foremost authorities on criminal procedure who is known as the "Father of Miranda," called Leo's book "the best book on police interrogation I have ever read."