The Brief: Law School News and Events

Bibas and Vázquez Win Award for Supreme Court Litigation

Stephanos Bibas  
Stephanos Bibas
Penn Law professor Stephanos Bibas and clinical supervisor and lecturer Yolanda Vázquez have received the 2011 Jack Wasserman Memorial Award from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) for their work on the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court Case Padilla v. Kentucky.

Bibas and Vázquez were among a twelve-member team of pro bono attorneys selected for excellence in litigation in the field of immigration law. Students in Penn Law's Supreme Court Clinic, which Bibas directs, also worked on the case.

Penn Law's Supreme Court Clinic is the nation's first to closely integrate students' practical experience on U.S. Supreme Court matters with a semester-long academic seminar on the workings of the Court. Students conduct research, draft briefs, and help prepare strategy. In the past two years students have worked on three Supreme Court cases that clinic instructors argued on the merits, and many more as amici, co-counsel, or at the cert stage.

Yolanda Vázquez  
Yolanda Vázquez
The AILA recognized the Padilla team for improving the rights of immigrants in the U.S. court system by successfully arguing to the Supreme Court that "criminal defense lawyers must advise their noncitizen clients about the risk of deportation if they accept a guilty plea."

Bibas is a former assistant U.S. attorney and a leading scholar of criminal procedure with expertise in criminal charging, plea bargaining and sentencing. He studies the powers, incentives, information, and psychology that shape how prosecutors, defense counsel, defendants, and judges behave. Bibas has litigated a wide range of Supreme Court cases, both criminal and civil, and is writing a book (Assembly-Line Criminal Justice, Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2011) on how criminal justice should do more to encourage acceptance of responsibility, remorse, apology, and forgiveness.

Vázquez, a former public defender in the District of Columbia and Chicago, is an expert on the intersection of immigration and criminal law and its impact on defendants, society, and the criminal justice system. Her research focuses on defense counsels' duty to advise noncitizen defendants on the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. Vázquez also studies the effect of the intersection of immigration and criminal law in the criminal justice system on Latinos, arguing that the incorporation of immigration law and enforcement into the criminal justice system has become the primary means to subordinate and socially marginalize Latinos living in the United States. She co-teaches in the Civil Practice Clinic in addition to teaching a Crimmigration seminar.