Meet Ralah Sanadiki, EIC Elect, Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law
Hometown: Dana Point, California
Legal Interests: Criminal law
Education: Northeastern University, Criminal Justice (Bachelor’s)
What led you to Moritz?
I took a class with a public defender in college, and I ended up clerking with her for a while. That started me down the path of taking classes related to ones like hers. I took a race and gender class as well as a race and justice class.
What challenges come with being the EIC of a journal?
The consequences of decision-making and attention to detail aren’t confined to a classroom. The work is published and the reputation of the journal rests on the EIC’s final reads with the help of the chief-of-staff. If you make a mistake, it’s out there in black and white for everyone to see. Having said that, the job would be virtually impossible without the cooperation and coordination of the editors that work tirelessly before the pieces actually make their way to me. Shout out to them for making what would otherwise be an impossible job, possible.
Why is criminal writing and research important to the law?
Criminal research and writing are indispensable to the practice of law. Litigation doesn’t just happen in a courtroom, and the gravitas of a legal argument can often depend on being substantiated by empirical proof. For example, the defense community relies on mental health research to argue a lesser degree of culpability for their client. [Ohio Governor Mike] DeWine recently ordered a stay of all executions in Ohio pending a more constitutionally sound method of carrying them out. That doesn’t happen without the writings of professors, practitioners and scientists who find that the mentally ill are less culpable, and that the lethal injection causes unconstitutional pain and suffering.
What do you bring individually to the journal?
It’s maybe by coincidence that our next issue is going to be on the death penalty. I am working in capital defense and hopefully will continue working in capital defense after I graduate. In addition, I have really invested a lot of time in the journal. I was nominated by our executive board last year as an outstanding staff editor for the fall of my 1L year. On the most basic level, I genuinely enjoy blue-booking and editing and writing, generally. That is why I have come to this position and why I am passionate about it.
How do you see your experience with the journal helping your career?
There isn’t a cap on how much practice writing and editing a lawyer should have. The Bluebook will follow us all throughout our careers. Successful appellate practice in particular relies largely on the motions and arguments made on paper before it is ever used before a judge. The tools I expect to pick up as EIC will be coming with me [after graduation].
What is your next step after graduation?
I am going to be taking the bar in California. That’s where I was born and where my family resides. Fortunately for me in terms of practice, but unfortunately for defendants, California is a death penalty state, so I will continue to practice capital defense there. I am hoping to get some trial experience under my belt. It is not easy to break into the area of capital defense in terms of trial litigation, but I am going to do my best and then work my way up to appellate capital defense.