With the publication of his new book, Arizona Law Professor Andrew Coan (at right) has the distinction of being the primary source of information and insight for the top news story in the nation: the role of special prosecutors in American politics.
Last Thursday evening the College of Law hosted a thought-provoking and timely conversation between Dean Emerita Toni Massaro and Professor Coan about the book, "Prosecuting the President: How Special Prosecutors Hold Presidents Accountable and Protect the Rule of Law." 

In this edition, we feature our Q&A with Professor Coan. (You can also view last week's discussion at the college here.)

Until the footnotes,


Q&A with "Prosecuting the President" Author Andrew Coan

Arizona Law Professor Andrew Coan is the author of the new book, "Prosecuting the President: How Special Prosecutors Hold Presidents Accountable and Protect the Rule of Law" (Oxford University Press). 

In this Q&A he explains the impetus for writing the book, the surprising history of special prosecutors and what may be next in current special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election.

You can find additional Q&A, and links to more media coverage here.
What made you want to write this book?
I wrote the book because everyone I knew -- and lots of people I didn't know -- were desperate to understand how special prosecutors work. It turned out no one had written a book about them for a general audience. So I decided to do it myself.
What did you find out about the history of this role that surprised you?
Many people know that Richard Nixon fired the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, but he was not the first president to do so. Ulysses Grant fired the first special prosecutor in U.S. history when his investigation got too close to Grant's inner circle. Harry Truman also fired a special prosecutor. Grant and Truman were good presidents and admirable men in many ways, but these episodes represent a major stain on their legacies, especially Grant's.
January 10 book discussion with Dean Emerita Toni Massaro (l) and Professor Andrew Coan (r).
Did special prosecutors become more famous in the 20th century, or does it simply seem this way due to the way they have been covered by the media?
More special prosecutors have been appointed since 1973 than in all prior years combined, but the institution is hardly a modern innovation. Ulysses S. Grant appointed the first special prosecutor in 1875. Ever since, presidents of both parties have appointed special prosecutors to neutralize political scandals and signal their commitment to the rule of law. There was a bit of a lull in the mid-20th century.
Are there any parallels between previous special prosecutor investigations and the Mueller investigation today?
The most important parallel is that political pressure has forced President Trump to put up with Mueller's investigation, basically against his will. It is pretty remarkable if you think about it. Trump loves to violate longstanding norms. And he clearly has the power to fire Robert Mueller if he thinks he can get away with it. But Mueller still has a job, even as his investigation appears to close in on the president and his closest advisors. Of course, we don't know what that investigation will turn up. But this is exactly how the Watergate special prosecutors managed to bring down Richard Nixon.
Why can the special prosecutor be fired by the president at any time? Isn't that counterintuitive?
It is counterintuitive, it hasn't always been that way, and many other countries take a different approach. On the other hand, the American system isn't entirely crazy. The basic idea behind it is this: Special prosecutors, no less than presidents, can abuse their power. To prevent this, they must be accountable to someone, preferably an elected official. As the head of the federal executive branch, the president is the logical choice-and arguably the only constitutional one. If he exercises that power corruptly or capriciously, special prosecutors have no legal remedy. But they are not unprotected. The president must ultimately answer to the American people. This has proved a surprisingly powerful deterrent, though also a fragile one.
What is the one thing you hope readers of the book will remember?
Special prosecutors can do much to hold presidents accountable, but they are incapable of saving us from ourselves. Ultimately, only the American people can decide whether the president is above the law.



Around the College
Volunteers Sought for National Trial Competition in Tucson, January 25-27

The College of Law will host the regional competition for the 44th Annual National Trial Competition on January 25-27, 2019, at the Pima County Superior Court in downtown Tucson. Twelve law schools from Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and California will be competing at this event, which is co-sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Texas Young Lawyers Association.
Professor Barbara Bergman, who directs the college's Advocacy Program, invites volunteers from the Arizona Law community to serve as bailiff/timekeepers or as backup witnesses in these mock trials.
If you are interested in helping, please contact Professor Bergman or Debbie Martin.

Register to Attend a Presentation by David Wenner: Juror Bias and Decision-making

David Wenner, M.S.W., J.D. is nationally recognized as an authority on juror bias and decision-making. As a partner in the Phoenix law firm of Snyder & Wenner, P.C., Mr. Wenner has spent the last two decades prosecuting wrongful death and catastrophic injury accident cases, speaking to lawyers across the country on juror bias and decision-making, and creating a successful juror bias model. He has spent hundreds of hours conducting focus groups around the country identifying the way jurors make decisions and how attitudes, prejudices, and biases play into outcomes. He is a co-author of Winning Case Preparation:  Understanding Jury Bias (2018).

Monday, January 28, 2019
12 - 1:15 p.m.
Room 156

Lunch provided and may be eligible for CLE credit. All members of the community are welcome to attend.

Register for April "Taking and Defending Depositions" Short Course, 
Open to Practicing Attorneys

A short course, "Taking and Defending Depositions" will take place  April 12-14 and April 19-21, 2019, at the College of Law. 
Whether you are new to depositions or want to refresh your skills, this two-weekend "learn-by-doing" course will give you the tools you need to succeed. In it, you will learn how to:
  • Effectively prepare your witnesses
  • Defend the deposition
  • Deal with obstreperous counsel
  • Get the answers within time constraints
  • Optimize information from expert witnesses
  • Test theories
  • Close off avenues of escape 
The class is limited to seven practicing attorneys and 25 law students, and may be eligible for CLE credit.* The cost for the class is $1,000, and you will find the syllabus hereCourse sessions take place at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

*The State Bar of Arizona does not approve or accredit CLE activities for the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirement. This course may qualify for up to 31 hours toward your annual CLE requirement for the State Bar of Arizona, including 4.5 hours of professional responsibility.

Plan to Attend the Law College Association Awards, March 1

We are pleased to share the names of the four alumni who will be honored at this year's Law College Association Awards on Friday, March 1, 2019. Registration details will be available soon. Save the date!
The 2019 honorees are:
Brenda Burman , JD Class of 1996, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation of the U.S. Department of Interior
Jennifer Shasky Calvery , JD Class of 1997, Global Head of Financial Crime Compliance for HSBC
Nguyen Khanh Ngoc , LLM in International Trade 1999, Vice-Minister of Justice for Vietnam
Sally Rider , JD Class of 1986, Associate Dean for Administration and Chief of Staff, James E. Rogers College of Law, and Director of The William H. Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structure of Government

In the News

The Washington Post, opinion by professor Andrew Coan
MSNBC "Morning Joe" interview with professor Andrew Coan

It's exciting when our work resonates with our academic peers and our students. 

It's also exciting when our work resonates with the public and illuminates legal questions for a broader audience. 

We're proud that Professor Coan's thoughtful work -- on an important and timely legal topic -- is reaching a broader audience.





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