Digital Tools Explain Collateral Consequences of Criminal Charges

New Web-Based Tools Shed Light on Collateral Consequences of Criminal Charges

Professor Conrad Johnson Presents at New York State Judicial Institute Seminar

Press Contact: Sonia von Gutfeld, 212-854-1453, [email protected]

July 2, 2008 (NEW YORK) – Columbia Law School Professor Conrad Johnson this summer has presented to New York State judges two digital resources on the collateral consequences of criminal charges. The Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic, which Johnson co-directs, played a major role in developing the programs.

The first program, the Four Cs Web site (, brings together a wealth of legal information about what collateral consequences a criminal defendant in New York State may face if convicted. Unlike direct consequences, such as prison terms or parole eligibility, collateral consequences may not be explicitly stated but nevertheless can be devastating. They include loss of public housing, relinquishment of voting rights, or even deportation.

The Four Cs Web site is a leading resource for judges, attorneys and scholars to understand the full impact of criminal conviction, which cuts across many areas of law—such as immigration, housing, civic participation, family and finance. It also provides a forum for judges and practitioners to exchange information and ideas about this issue. It is the most often visited site concerning collateral consequences in New York State.

The second program, the Collateral Consequences Calculator, provides users with an at-a-glance overview of the collateral consequences of criminal charges. The tool generates charts with the civil penalties that will definitely, probably or possibly result for each of New York’s nearly 500 penal code offenses and allows comparisons between two different offenses. Columbia Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic has partnered with the Columbia Center for New Media, Teaching and Learning to build the calculator, which will launch this fall.

The Clinic created the Web site in collaboration with a working group from the Partners in Justice colloquium, organized by New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye in 2005 to promote better understanding of the collateral consequences of criminal prosecutions in New York. Kaye called the site a “fabulous online resource” and the calculator “a groundbreaking initiative” in her 2007 report on the state of the judiciary.

Johnson’s presentations – one given June 23 and the next slated for July 7 – are part of the judicial seminar series sponsored by the New York State Judicial Institute, a center for education and research designed to enhance the quality of the courts in New York. Its programs include seminars and conferences, as well as cooperative education programs with other state and federal judicial systems. Created in 2003, the institute is located at Pace Law School in White Plains.

Johnson, Clinical Professor of Law, co-directs with Professor Mary Marsh Zulack and Director of Educational Technology Brian Donnelly Columbia Law School’s Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic, which they co-founded in 2001. The clinic explores the impact of technology on law practice and the profession through client work and collaborative projects with major public interest legal organizations and prominent jurists.

Johnson served as director of Clinical Education at Columbia Law School from 1992 to 1996. He also co-founded and for eleven years directed Columbia Law School’s Fair Housing Clinic, which specialized in civil rights litigation. He joined the Columbia faculty in 1989 after two years as an assistant professor at the City University of New York School of Law. Prior to teaching, Johnson was the attorney-in-charge of the Harlem neighborhood office of The Legal Aid Society of New York City.

Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, and criminal law.