Faculty in the News
Joshua Dressler Media Hits
The following is a list of selected media coverage for Joshua Dressler. The links below will direct you to sites that are not affiliated with the Moritz College of Law. They are subject to change, and some may expire or require registration as time passes.
Professor Joshua Dressler was interviewed for a story in the National Review regarding the 40,000 new laws (state, federal, and local) that will go into effect this year, according to media reports. With this increase, overcriminalization has become an issue and laws that carry criminal penalties have rapidly increased.
Another issue Dressler said, is that “many modern statutes are exceedingly intricate” and “even a person with a clear moral compass is frequently unable to determine accurately whether conduct is prohibited.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch article regarding the fact that the number of trials by juries or judges is dropping. Statistics show that only 2.5 percent of criminal cases in Ohio and 2.1 percent in Franklin County were resolved by going to trial in 2012.
Dressler said he believes that average citizens are misinformed by television shows and the media about the reality of the numbers.
“What the general public knows is Law and Order, where everything seems to go to trial,” he said. “It’s just not so.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in an article by the Duluth News Tribune regarding the issue that Carlton County authorities obtained information illegally about alleged landfill embezzler Joanne Wappe and are therefore unable to act on it. Police were informed of the alleged crime in 2010 by an individual arrested for burglarizing her home.
Dressler gave his opinion on the case.
“Because the burglar is not an agent of the state, his burglary and criminality does not prevent the police from using the information they received from him,” he said. “Therefore, they should have gone to get a search warrant, and if they could have convinced the judge that the burglar’s information was reasonably reliable, they would have been able to secure a valid search warrant.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was interviewed for a piece by ABC 6 about proposed House Bill 203, which would expand the instances in which it is legal to use deadly force in self-defense. Dressler said Ohio law currently goes by something called "castle defense," which permits the use of deadly force in self-defense within a person's home or personal sanctuary.
"Basically, what 203 would do is make everywhere in the world equivalent to the castle," Dressler said.
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in Purdue's The Exponent about Florida's Stand Your Ground Laws, which came into play in the trial of George Zimmerman. Dressler notes that the Stand Your Ground laws require a prosecutor to prove the defendant didn't act in self-defense, which can be tough.
“The statute itself places the burden of persuasion regarding self-defense on the prosecutor to prove that the defendant did not act in self-defense,” Dressler said. “In the past, in most states, if a defendant claimed self-defense, it was up to the defendant to prove he did act in self-defense.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in an article by Policy Mic about the Stand Your Ground Law in the wake of Trayvon Martin's murder and George Zimmerman's trial. Stand Your Ground Law allows the use of deadly force when "there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat first." Dressler discussed the legal implications of the law.
"The statute itself places the burden of persuasion regarding self-defense on the prosecutor — to prove that the defendant did NOT act in self-defense," Dressler said.
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted by Pacific Standard about the George Zimmerman trial and verdict. Dressler comments on whether race was an influential factor in Zimmerman's decision to shoot Trayvon Martin, and notes that the question will likely never be answered.
"Race was never expressly raised, but it was still there lurking," Dressler said. "The question that the criminal trial didn’t answer, and probably couldn’t is whether, had Trayvon Martin had been white, Zimmerman would have grown suspicion and confronted the person so aggressively."
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted by the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog following George Zimmerman's "not guilty" verdict. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter after he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year. Dressler said that the verdict was no surprise, but the trial left unanswered questions.
"Given the presumption of innocence and Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which places an even greater burden of proof on the prosecutor, the acquittal was no surprise in light of the conflicting evidence," Dressler said. "Race was never expressly raised, but it was still there lurking. The question that the criminal trial didn’t answer, and probably couldn’t is whether, had Trayvon Martin had been white, Zimmerman would have grown suspicion and confronted the person so aggressively."
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in The Wall Street Journal in an article about George Zimmerman's murder trial, which is set to begin more than a year after he shot and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. The case originally called attention to the so-called stand-your-ground laws (Florida's was enacted in 2005), which "removed a person's duty to try to flee in the face of danger before resorting to deadly force," according to the article.
Under the Florida law, people who claim to have killed in self-defense can seek a court to decide — before any trial — that they acted legally. But Zimmerman's lawyers chose against that option and intend to present his case directly to a jury.
"From a legal perspective, it will now be a traditional self-defense case," Dressler said. The law doesn't require Mr. Zimmerman to show his life was ever in real danger, only that he believed it to be, Dressler said.
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch article about a parent who was prosecuted for homicide when his three-year old son accidentally shot himself with a gun he found. “I think that prosecutors would look at a case like this and feel that, at a minimum, you want to send a message to parents that they need to take better care of their loaded weapons. Juries frequently feel in cases of this sort that the parent has been punished enough just by the death of their child, and therefore tend not to want to convict at a high level," Dressler said.
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in an article in the New York Times, which centered on former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov being arrested again, charged with state crimes.
“It’s very rare that double jeopardy would come into play in a case like this,” Dressler said. “The Supreme Court decided this in 1922 and it’s been settled law ever since.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in an article by the Coschocton Tribune regarding Ohio possibly implementing Stand Your Ground legislation. Dressler said the law is dependent on a state’s definition of a “reasonable’ threat.
Dressler said “you should never use deadly force unless absolutely necessary.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted by the Springfield News-Sun in an article about the acquittal of a former prosecutor in a fatal hit-skip case. The case, involving an 81-year-old defendant, was tried before a judge. Dressler, an expert in criminal law, said hit-skip cases are tough to prosecute and that prosecutors faced a higher burden of proof in this case because a judge ruled and it involved a former prosecutor.
“Law-trained people take proof beyond a reasonable doubt much more seriously than lay people,” Dressler said. “It’s not insignificant the defendant in this case is a former prosecutor. This is a person who has prosecuted these kinds of cases before, he is a member of the bar. The judge has to consider whether he would lie under oath. He could say I believe him because he was a prosecutor, but if it were you or me, maybe not.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Springfield News article about the acquittal of a man accused of a hit-and-run which resulted in a death. Dressler said hit-skip cases are tough to prosecute. Prosecutors faced a higher burden of proof in this case because a judge ruled and it involved a former prosecutor. “Law-trained people take proof beyond a reasonable doubt much more seriously than lay people,” Dressler said. “It’s not insignificant the defendant in this case is a former prosecutor. This is a person who has prosecuted these kinds of cases before, he is a member of the bar. The judge has to consider whether he would lie under oath. He could say I believe him because he was a prosecutor, but if it were you or me, maybe not.”
NJ.com mentioned Professor Joshua Dressler in a column analyzing whether an overuse of technology by law enforcement tests the Fourth Amendment’s right to privacy.
The column, which stems from a U.S. Supreme Court argument regarding whether law enforcement may put a GPS in someone’s car without a warrant, quotes Dressler saying courts are deeming warrantless searches as becoming more reasonable.
10TV referred to Professor Joshua Dressler as “one of the most respected authorities of criminal law in the U.S.” in a report about the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision to make it legal for sex offenders convicted before 1997 to drop off the Ohio sex offender registry, leaving such offenders’ locations unknown to the public.
Dressler was cited explaining the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the previous law requiring sex offenders to register. He said requiring offenders to register violated the Ohio Constitution.
"They seem to have carefully considered both the concerns of society to be protected but also the concerns of the individuals who has to register to make sure they are given their due process and their constitutional rights," Dressler said.
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in an Associated Press story about a man accused of attempted murder for forcing his pregnant girlfriend to drive to an abortion clinic. The story says: “Convicting Holt-Reid of the attempted murder charge may be difficult because of the chain of events that would have to have occurred for the fetus to be in danger, said Joshua Dressler, an Ohio State University criminal law professor. ‘There were a number of other steps that would have to go on before it could ever reach the stage of actual termination,’ Dressler said Wednesday. ‘Is this really now attempted murder...particularly since he can't, if you will, pull the trigger?’ Dressler said. ‘It's going to have to be done by someone else.’”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a 10TV story about the red light traffic cameras in Columbus. The story talks about how those charged with a ticket from the cameras have to pay their fines in advance of a hearing to determine whether or not they are actually guilty. Dressler was quoted regarding this policy: “‘I think the City of Columbus should be ashamed of itself,’ said Joshua Dressler, a nationally renowned law professor, who has authored volumes of articles and textbooks on criminal law. According to Dressler, the system violates a fundamental concept of American justice.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Huffington Post story about a U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding privacy and how it relates to personal communications on government-owned devices. The story states: “Joshua Dressler, an Ohio State University law professor, said the court probably was wise to rule narrowly. ‘With modern technology quickly moving in directions the justices could not have imagined even a decade ago, it is increasingly obvious that the Supreme Court will need to determine the limits of government surveillance of our cell phone conversations, text messages, and other nonwire transmissions,’ Dressler said.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in an Associated Press story about a Supreme Court decision regarding the privacy of personal messages sent on government-owned devices. The story states: “Joshua Dressler, an Ohio State University law professor, said the court probably was wise to rule narrowly. ‘With modern technology quickly moving in directions the justices could not have imagined even a decade ago, it is increasingly obvious that the Supreme Court will need to determine the limits of government surveillance of our cell phone conversations, text messages, and other non-wire transmissions,’ Dressler said.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch story about a man representing himself in a federal fraud trial. The story states: “A 1975 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld a defendant's right to self-representation ‘has been the bane of judges and prosecutors,’ said Joshua Dressler, a professor at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law who specializes in criminal law. Self-representation ‘almost always results in an inefficient trial that will take much longer than required and often, even to an outside observer, looks like a train wreck,’ he said.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was mentioned in a National Law Journal story about problems within the country’s indigent defense systems. The story states: "‘I can imagine this Court taking the view that, with county and state budget crises, they don't want to jump in,’ Dressler said. ‘To me that would be shameful if it's the reason for not taking it on.’”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Newsweek story about a man accused of killing an abortion doctor. A Kansas Circuit judge ruled that the man could present a defense for voluntary manslaughter, instead of murder. The story states: “As Joshua Dresser, a criminal-law expert at Ohio State's Moritz College of Law, told me, ‘He can get up and say, I honestly in my head believed this would prevent an imminent death of a fetus, who is a person, even if that is unreasonable. But if he says that, the real argument is mental illness.’”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a New York Times story about a Cleveland man accused of killing 11 people and recently pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. “It’s fair to say that the defense of insanity is the defense of last resort for any criminal defense attorney,” said Joshua Dressler, a professor at the Michael E. Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. “Juries don’t like the defense. Despite the fact that there are so many myths about the defense, that it’s easy and people get off on it, it’s actually an extraordinarily hard defense.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch article regarding police actions on the Lewis-murder case. The story states: "In many criminal investigations, police develop a suspect and then put "blinders" on regarding other possible suspects or theories of the crime, said Joshua Dressler, a criminal-law professor at Ohio State's Moritz College of Law. In this case, that might have combined with some sloppy procedures to put Derris Lewis in jail, Dressler said. 'The message to the public is, even without malice, without someone being reckless, mistakes happen,' he said."
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch story about a Virginia fraud trial that has roots in Ohio. The story states: “‘This defense is almost never used,’ said Joshua Dressler, a criminal-law expert and professor at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law. ‘In a sense, what the argument would be is ignorance of the law.’”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a New York Times story about the dismissal of the ethics commission against former Senator Ted Stevens. The story stated: “Prof. Joshua Dressler of the Ohio State University law school said, however, that the failure to be convicted in a criminal trial does not, by itself, confer innocence on someone. ‘The decision by the judge to dismiss the case is certainly not a statement that the defendant is innocent,’ Professor Dressler said, ‘but that the prosecutors didn’t play by the rules, and for that reason alone we have to use this strong remedy’ to deter other prosecutors from similar misbehavior.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a National Law Journal story regarding two 6th Amendment right to counsel cases that are expected to go before the U.S. Supreme Court. “The Sixth Amendment right to counsel has been treated by the Supreme Court with a bit more care and as having value, more so than a number of the other criminal procedural rights,” said criminal law scholar Joshua Dressler of Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law. “While one may automatically assume the Supreme Court will come down on the side of the government in Fourth Amendment and Miranda cases, it's a little less obvious they will do so when you come to the right to counsel,” added Dressler, who signed a law professors' amicus brief supporting Rothgery. “In a number of other areas, they have shown a willingness to assert that right with power.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Pittsburg Post-Gazette story regarding former Allegheny County, Pa., Coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht’s attempt to stop prosecutors from dropping 43 of the 84 counts against him. “Joshua Dressler, who teaches at Ohio State University's law school, said it is odd for more than half of a prosecutor's case to be dismissed that close to trial. It's common for the government to indict on a large number of charges, he said, especially because it can help pressure a person into taking a plea bargain. … ‘If a prosecutor were really concerned about that, they would have thought about that a lot earlier in the ballgame,’ Mr. Dressler said.”
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a New Orleans Times-Picayune story regarding the FBI investigation into Rep. William Jefferson's actions. "By hiding all of that information and making it seem like a casual conversation, (FBI agents) can claim he wasn't in custody and he can't make any realistic claim about constitutionality," said Joshua Dressler, an Ohio State University legal scholar and author of several volumes on criminal procedure. "They are under no obligation to show him their cards."
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in a story regarding discrepancies in prosecutors’ decisions to charge parents when those parents accidentally leave children locked in a car. "Prosecutors have almost unbridled discretion to decide whether or not to prosecute based on facts they have," said Joshua Dressler, a law professor at Ohio State University. "Even if you have two cases that were exactly alike, you would not necessarily get the same outcome from two prosecutors looking at the same facts."
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch story regarding the President’s decision to commute the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. The story says that although President Bush called Libby’s 2 1/2-year prison sentence “excessive,” three-fourths of people convicted of similar charges were sent to prison. “To call it excessive is to suggest the guidelines are wrong,” said Dressler, an expert in criminal procedure.
Criminal law Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and over 250 other publications, regarding the Supreme Court's decision in Scott v. Harris. In a surprising decision, the Court ruled in favor of police who rammed a suspect's car during a 90 mph high speed chase. "The clear trend of police departments in major urban areas has been to limit police chases in general," Dressler said. "There have been so many injuries and deaths as a result of police chases and such great risk of harm to innocent bystanders."
Professor Joshua Dressler was quoted in this Associated Press story on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's claims that he was responsible for dozens of successful, foiled and imagined attacks in the past 15 years. "In light of the rambling nature of his statements, and the views of some that he is prone to exaggerate his importance, we cannot feel confident we know exactly the level of his involvement in various prior attacks," said Dressler.
In this Columbus Dispatch article on the success rate of drug seraches by Columbus police, Professor Joshua Dressler said 80 percent is an excellent success rate, but he cautioned against broad, formulaic language in warrants. That might violate a person's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches, he said. "I worry that it does mean the police are given authority to search areas of a person's home that perhaps they shouldn't be allowed," he said.
In this Columbus Dispatch article on the fairness of a judge's decision to allow two convicted Kenton (Ohio) high-school athletes to delay a juvenile-detention stay until after football season, professor Joshua Dressler said the whole point of juvenile law is rehabilitation, not retribution. "One of the difficult things for any judge when sentencing a child is trying to figure out what will make that person change their behavior in the future," he said. "Sometimes you run the risk that if you treat the defendant leniently, that it will send the wrong message, that it will say, 'You don't have to take responsibility.'"
Professor Joshua Dressler is quoted in this Columbus Dispatch article about an appeal based, among other allegations, that the trial court's decision to forbid jurors to smoke during deliberations in a Licking County murder trial caused a rush to judgment. "It's a great argument in the sense it's very creative," said Dressler. "One of the difficulties that will exist in this case is there is no hard evidence. It is speculative that the request to smoke would cause the jurors to change their vote." Also see the Associated Press story (via the Cleveland Plain Dealer), Death row inmate's appeal cites ban on juror smoking.
Professor Joshua Dressler is quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle story on the investigation surrounding Barry Bonds. Dressler said the high visibility of the Bonds case is no doubt influencing the government's desire to operate cautiously, which may be one of the reasons prosecutors did not seek an indictment from the first grand jury.
Professor Joshua Dressler is quoted in a Wall Street Journal story about the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals. (subscription required)
In a Christian Science Monitor story about the sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, Professor Joshua Dressler said that jurors are being reminded of all the emotions they felt on September 11.
In a Christian Science Monitor story about the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, Professor Joshua Dressler said that the government wanted to find somebody they could hold responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
On National Public Radio's All Things Considered, Professor Joshua Dressler comments on the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that rules that police without a warrant cannot search a home when the residents disagree about whether the police can enter.
In a Chillicothe Gazette story about the potentially illegal strip search of female students at a Piketon school, Professor Joshua Dressler said that the Fourth Amendment still applies to schools.
Lawyer convicted of torturing wife; Most serious charge upheld; life sentence possible as lurid trial for former prosecutor endsJanuary 11, 2006
In this Sacramento Bee story about the conviction of a former defense attorney on domestic violence charges, Professor Joshua Dressler is quoted.
In a report broadcast on WCMH-NBC 4 (Columbus) about the possible appeal of convicted Columbus terrorist, Iyman Faris, Professor Joshua Dressler said that Faris should not expect to be freed.
Professor Joshua Dressler said that defense attorneys shouldn't assume the risk that the government will try to charge them with a crime simply for assisting the accused in this Columbus Dispatch story about a Cleveland lawyer who defends child-pornography defendants.
Professor Joshua Dressler is quoted in this Columbus Dispatch article about the increasing difficulty that Franklin County jurors are experiencing when reaching agreements. "From 2001 to 2004, the county averaged 13 hung juries a year on criminal cases. So far this year, 20 juries have deadlocked," said Dressler. He further said although he knows of no statistical studies on the topic, some cases are more likely to be a problem for jurors than others."
Professor Joshua Dressler explains the difference between "knowingly" and "inadvertent" in this Dayton Daily News story about whether Ohio Governor Bob Taft's failure to disclose free golf outings on his financial disclosure statements violated state ethics law.
In a Columbus Dispatch story about the high bail set for a woman accused of running two brothels, Professor Joshua Dressler said a 10-digit bail is "exceptionally unusual."
Ex-principal alleges bias: Woman in middle of rape case at Mifflin says city prosecutor is singling her outJune 23, 2005
Professor Joshua Dressler discussed "Garrity" statements - a legal principle that employees cannot be prosecuted by using self-incriminating statements made during mandatory investigations by their employers - in this Columbus Dispatch story.
In an Associated Press story in the Columbus Dispatch about a statement yesterday from Michael Jackson's attorney which said that the pop star is going to be more careful from now on and not let children into his bed, Professor Joshua Dressler said that it was a surprise that the jury found Jackson not guilty on all the charges.
In a St. Petersburg Times story about a judge who failed to alert attorneys during a murder trial that a juror may have been sleeping, Professor Joshua Dressler said that it was an unwise decision on the part of the judge not to acknowledge the situation.
In an Associated Press story printed in the Guardian (U.K.) about mistrial declared in the highway shooter case, Professor Joshua Dressler said that it was a minor victory for the defense.
In an Associated Press story (printed in the Akron Beacon Journal) about the upcoming trial of a man charged in highway sniper shootings, Professor Joshua Dressler said that the most realistic outcome is prison.
In a Columbus Dispatch story about conflicting psychological test results about the alleged Central Ohio highway sniper, Professor Joshua Dressler said that it would be rare for the court to order a third round of tests.
In a Columbus Dispatch story about the suspect in the killing of a police officer, Professor Joshua Dressler said that cellphone companies can give police access to the phone numbers a person is calling and receiving calls from.
Professor Joshua Dressler said in a Marion Star story about the alleged central Ohio highway shooter, that the plea of guilty by reason of insanity plea is a "plea of last resort."
Two Moritz Law faculty were quoted in the Columbus Dispatch regarding charges filed against the man suspected of the Linden-area rapes. Professor Joshua Dressler said that the statute of limitations would not permit some of the rape charges because they occurred more than six years ago. In spite of the defendant's request for a speedy trial, Professor Ric Simmons said that a motion filed by the defendant's attorney to dismiss some of the charges would stop the clock until the motion is heard.
In a Columbus Dispatch story about a motion to suppress statements made by the alleged highway shooter, Charles A. McCoy Jr., Professor Joshua Dressler said that case law is on the side of the prosecution.
In a Columbus Dispatch story, Professor Joshua Dressler says having a mental illness but being competent to stand trial is not rare.
In a Cleveland Plain Dealer story about the death of a crime victim following an altercation with a homeless man, Professor Joshua Dressler said that most states would not allow prosecutors to seek murder charges based on an assault.
Professors Joshua Dressler and Douglas Berman were quoted in a Cincinnati Post story about a Supreme Court ruling that could make federal sentencing rules unconstitutional. They said that the June 24 decision in Blakely, along with the subsequent ruling on Tuesday by a federal judge in Utah may mean reworking the federal sentencing guideline system.
Ohio Sniper Shootings: Indictment says McCoy was gunman in 12 cases; prosecutors pursue possible death penaltyApril 2, 2004
In the Toledo Blade, Professor Joshua Dressler said he believes a plea agreement will be reached in the serial highway shooting case in Central Ohio.
In the Cincinnati Enquirer, Professor Joshua Dressler noted that the family of the suspected serial highway shooter was not obligated to tell authorities if they suspected he might be involved.