Michelle Miao

Michelle Miao is an Assistant Professor of Law from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and currently a Harvard Yenching Scholar (2019-20). Her research interests include the intersections between the domains of criminal justice, socio-legal studies and comparative law. Michelle’s recent scholarship focused on the administration of criminal law and policies in China and the United States. She has conducted research in the capacity of New York University’s Global Fellow, University of Oxford’s Howard League Fellowship and British Academy’s prestigious Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Michelle has authored book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles published in the American Journal of Comparative Law, Hastings International & Comparative Law Review, Cardozo Journal of International & Comparative Law and Cardozo Public Law, British Journal of Criminology, Theoretical Criminology, International & Comparative Law Quarterly and International Journal of Law, Crime & Justice. Her scholarship and commentaries have been featured in various international media outlets, including The Guardian, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal.

Designation: The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Institution: The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Paper: The Unimpactful Counsel: The Effect of Legal Representation on the Sentencing of Death-Eligible Drug Offenders in China
Abstract: The conviction and sentencing of death-eligible drug offenders have long been a focal point of media attention and public discourses in countries where the death penalty is administered. For countries where drug offenses are not subject to the ultimate punishment, what amount of punishment should be proportionately meted out to drug offenders and how should the trial and sentencing process be structured in such a way to ensure fairness and justice have also long been primary sources of ethic controversy and policy debate. Yet, many of these policy discussions and decisions take place without being informed by concrete evidence of and knowledge about the judicial process which determines whether a particular criminal offender receive the harsh punishment or escape such a destiny. Until now, we know very little about how judges make such decisions, how they weigh different factors and who might affect their decisions. For instance, a meaningful empirical question which should be answered prior to the formulation of state policy concerning the allocation of judicial resources in capital trials would be: when judges make sentencing decisions in capital cases, are they influenced by the quantity and quality of legal assistance available to criminal defendants? This research is aimed at filling these gaps in the existing academic literature and policy research.