As a new 1L entering Stanford Law School, Professor Erik Luna’s immediate intention was to become a corporate attorney, “…of all things,” he says now with a chuckle. Instead, under the guidance of masterful teachers in criminal law and procedure, he began a career of scholarship and practice in criminal justice that has taken him to positions in San Diego, Chicago, and Salt Lake City before his arrival at Washington and Lee in 2009.
Beyond the personal influence of mentors, Professor Luna discovered that criminal law is an intellectual exercise involving the philosophical and practical questions of where societies draw their ultimate boundaries for proscribed conduct, and addressing those who cross the line.
In addition, Luna finds the criminal justice system to be a fascinating tableau where lawyers acting as defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges pursue diverging and often conflicting values and goals. As a new graduate he experienced this first hand while working in the San Diego prosecutor’s office. However, he was drawn back into academia where he found a congenial atmosphere of rigorous analytical thought allowing for a deep and satisfying immersion in criminal law.
Professor Luna’s intense intellectual curiosity fuels his research interests in many areas of criminal law. These include Federal sentencing, the law of terrorism, the drug war, search and seizure law, prosecutorial discretion, and comparative and international criminal law. His scholarship is a forceful and prolific voice on these issues. His forthcoming works are impressive. They include:
• Robinson v. California: From Revolutionary Constitutional Doctrine to Modest Ban on Status Crimes, in Criminal Law Stories, (Robert Weisberg & Donna Coker eds., Foundation Press, in press 2011)
• The Bin Laden Exception, 106 Northwestern University Law Review (2011) (solicited commentary on airport screening methods)
• Spoiled Rotten Social Background, 2 Alabama Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review – (forthcoming 2011) (symposium on “rotten social background” in criminal law)
• The Law of Terrorism (casebook with W. McCormack, 3d ed. LexisNexis, forthcoming 2012)
• Understanding the Law of Terrorism (supplement/treatise with W. McCormack, 3d ed. LexisNexis, forthcoming 2012)
• Psychopathy and Sentencing, in Handbook on Psychopathy and Law (K. Kiehl & W. Sinnott-Armstrong eds., Oxford University Press, forthcoming)
• Sense and Sensibility in Mandatory Minimum Sentencing, 23 Federal Sentencing Reporter 219 (2011) (solicited for special issue, with P. Cassell)
• The Prosecutor in Transnational Perspective (edited volume with M. Wade, Oxford University Press, in press 2011)
A recent professional highlight was acting as a visiting professional in the Prosecutor’s office at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, Netherlands. Although there were many questions raised by this institution, he came away with a new appreciation for the efforts of the attorney’s there to hold accountable some of the worst offenders in the world.
Despite this long trail of scholarship and honors, Luna can still keep things in perspective. “My classes are cops and robbers,” he smiles, “how do you beat that?”