The Prohibition Era and Policing: A Legacy of Misregulation - CLE

Event Date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Event Location:

Event Audience:

Costs Vary

Join us on Thurs., March 15, when Assoc. Dean Wesley Oliver discusses his new book, The Prohibition Era and Policing: A Legacy of Misregulation (Vanderbilt Press). The program will be presented for one hour of continuing legal education credit, and guests are invited to stay for a special reception and book signing. 


About the Book and Program

Oliver’s book asserts that intrusive searches for alcohol during Prohibition destroyed Americans' faith in police and ushered in a new basis for controlling police conduct. State courts in the 1920s began to exclude reliable evidence obtained in illegal searches. Then, as Prohibition drew to a close, a presidential commission awakened the public to torture in interrogation rooms, prompting courts to exclude coerced confessions irrespective of whether the technique had produced a reliable statement.

Legal precedents created during Prohibition have lingered, says Oliver, leaving search-and-seizure law much better defined than limits on police use of force, interrogation practices, or eyewitness identification protocols. Racial tensions and police brutality were bigger concerns in the 1960s than illegal searches, yet when the Supreme Court imposed limits on officers' conduct in 1961, searches alone were regulated. Interrogation law during the 1960s, fundamentally reshaped by the Miranda ruling, ensured that suspects who invoked their rights would not be subject to coercive tactics, but did nothing to ensure reliable confessions by those who were questioned. Explicitly recognizing that its decisions excluding evidence had not been well-received, the Court in the 1970s refused to exclude identifications merely because they were made in suggestive lineups. 

This continuing legal education program will explore Prohibition’s legacy and consider issues such as why an unlawful trunk search is guarded against more thoroughly than an unnecessary shooting or a wrongful conviction. 

The program will conclude with a discussion of whether America needs to refocus the rules of criminal procedure on those concerns from which Prohibition distracted us: conviction accuracy and the use of force by police. 


The Speaker

Wesley M. Oliver is associate dean for faculty scholarship, director of the criminal justice program, and professor of law at Duquesne University School of Law. He teaches in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, and constitutional law. His scholarship has examined numerous areas of criminal law and procedure, including search and seizure, interrogations, material witness detentions, wiretapping, plea bargaining, and the history of policing. 

A sought-after expert, Oliver has been interviewed on national television and quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, and other publications. He holds J.S.D. and LL.M. degrees from Yale University and J.D. and B.A. degrees from the University of Virginia. He is licensed to practice law in Tennessee. 


Acclaim for the Book

"As police departments change course and tactics across the country, Wes Oliver's book is a revelation that will spur change."

     —Jeff Pegues, CBS News Justice and Homeland Security Correspondent and author of Black and Blue: Inside the Divide between the Police and Black America 

Read more comments about The Prohibition Era and Policing: A Legacy of MisregulationDuquesne’s Barnes & Noble bookstore will have copies for sale before and after the presentation. 


CLE Credit

The program offers one (1) hour of substantive credit. 



$50 – Program with CLE credit and reception.

Free – Comp. registration, scholarship, or Duquesne Law faculty member or student.


Members of the Duquesne Law Alumni Association receive a $25 discount for one CLE course each fall and spring. Join or renew DLAA membership today and watch it pay for itself.

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Public parking is available on campus in the Forbes Avenue Garage. Enter across from the Power Center on Forbes Avenue. View the campus map.

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