Education

Master of Science -- Conflict Resolution & Negotiation, Columbia University, May 2013
Bachelor of Arts -- Psychology | Statistics, Ramapo College of New Jersey, 2010
email: sd2738@columbia.edu| Personal Blog: Stephan Dalal

Academic Interests

Criminal Law | Restorative Justice | Legal History | Public Policy | Technology Systems Design | Visual Perception

Professional Affiliations

Co-Chair, Association of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Students, (since 2013)
Associate Member, Eastern Psychological Association (since 2009)

Thesis/Research Concentration

My current research is broadly focused at the intersection between statutory minimum sentencing and guilty-pleas. We ask ourselves, in what conception of justice does the institution of the guilty plea fulfill? Nearly 95 percent of all federal criminal case dispositions are attributed to guilty-pleas. This staggering number of cases that never go to trial signal, perhaps, that our criminal justice system does not operate in a best world scenario. Now, some fifty years after Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Supreme Court incorporated the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel to state criminal defendants by way of the Fourteenth Amendment, called into question the due process that had predominated the status quo for a large majority of defendants prosecuted outside of federal courts. Still however, the Supreme Court has remained inconsistent and unwilling to make a categorical definition of prejudice caused by ineffective counsel.

The operational standard used today asks: if not but for the ineffective assistance of counsel, would the outcome have been different? But, how do we answer hypothetical questions that force hollow speculation about an alternate reality while attempting to render equity without compromising due process? This question extends itself to the focus of my current work, asking a deceivingly simple question of what proportion of justice is sacrificed when criminal defendants, facing significantly harsher statutory minimum sentencing exposure upon trial conviction instead plead guilty as a direct result of prosecutorial coercion, given that prosecutors have a nearly complete monopoly when deciding what charges to indict defendants with. The legislature, as a structure embedded in this relationship is viewed as an attractor element in the calculation of justice relevant to guilty-plea disposition, as the variation in sentencing is evermore increasing in lockstep with a plethora of criminal charges that vary from petty crimes to felonies. Granted, we trade our rights away all the time...if you're at work reading this you've most likely traded away your Second Amendment right to be in your office. Why should we care, in the same respect, about criminal defendants who plead guilty instead of pursuing a constitutionally guaranteed right to trial?

My research also focuses on making some statistical comparisons between the five percent of federal criminal defendants who pursue trial and their outcomes, and the 95 percent who plead-guilty, attempting to delienate some fundamental assumptions that affects the decision process, including strength of evidence and relationship of outcomes based on a proportion between quality of exculpatory evidence and culpatory evidence. What are the perceived gains and losses that affect a defendant's decision to plead or pursue trial? And, can we develop a model that explains a pattern of observable decision making reflected in this decision process?The operational standard used today asks: if not but for the ineffective assistance of counsel, would the outcome have been different? But, how do we answer hypothetical questions that force hollow speculation about an alternate reality while attempting to render equity without compromising due process? This question extends itself to the focus of my current work, asking a deceivingly simple question of what proportion of justice is sacrificed when criminal defendants, facing significantly harsher statutory minimum sentencing exposure upon trial conviction instead plead guilty as a direct result of prosecutorial coercion, given that prosecutors have a nearly complete monopoly when deciding what charges to indict defendants with. The legislature, as a structure embedded in this relationship is viewed as an attractor element in the calculation of justice relevant to guilty-plea disposition, as the variation in sentencing is evermore increasing in lockstep with a plethora of criminal charges that vary from petty crimes to felonies. Granted, we trade our rights away all the time...if you're at work reading this you've most likely traded away your Second Amendment right to be in your office. Why should we care, in the same respect, about criminal defendants who plead guilty instead of pursuing a constitutionally guaranteed right to trial? My research also focuses on making some statistical comparisons between the five percent of federal criminal defendants who pursue trial and their outcomes, and the 95 percent who plead-guilty, attempting to delienate some fundamental assumptions that affects the decision process, including strength of evidence and relationship of outcomes based on a proportion between quality of exculpatory evidence and culpatory evidence. What are the perceived gains and losses that affect a defendant's decision to plead or pursue trial?

 

Publications

Takings and the Ninteenth Century Railroad: Eaton v. Boston, C & M R.R.
Dalal, S.S, American Legal History Twiki. Columbia University. (2013) link to text

Social Media: A methodology for studying lightness contrast
Dalal, S.S., Cataliotti, J., Eastern Psychological Association, abstract (2010)

Lightness Contrast and the Superseer
Dalal, S.S., Cataliotti, J., Eastern Psychological Association,abstract (2009)

An introduction to the superseer and vector indexing in visual perception. Dalal, S.S., Ramapo College of New Jersey Psychology Symposium, invited speaker (2009)

Activities

Host of Afternoon Classical, WKCR 89.9FM NEW YORK

Playlist Links


Valedictory Address - Ramapo College of New Jersey 2010