Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Articles 1 - 30 of 36

Full-Text Articles in Law

The Moral Ambiguity Of Public Prosecution, Gabriel S. Mendlow Mar 2021

The Moral Ambiguity Of Public Prosecution, Gabriel S. Mendlow

Articles

Classic crimes like theft and assault are in the first instance wrongs against individuals, not against the state or the polity that it represents. Yet our legal system denies crime victims the right to initiate or intervene in the criminal process, relegating them to the roles of witness or bystander—even as the system treats prosecution as an institutional analog of the interpersonal processes of moral blame and accountability, which give pride of place to those most directly wronged. Public prosecution reigns supreme, with the state claiming primary and exclusive moral standing to call offenders to account for their wrongs ...


May The State Punish What It May Not Prevent?, Gabriel S. Mendlow Jul 2020

May The State Punish What It May Not Prevent?, Gabriel S. Mendlow

Articles

In Why Is It Wrong To Punish Thought? I defended an overlooked principle of criminalization that I called the Enforceability Constraint. The Enforceability Constraint holds that the state may punish transgressions of a given type only if the state in principle may forcibly disrupt such transgressions on the ground that they are criminal wrongs. As I argued in the essay, the reason why the state is forbidden from punishing thought is that the state is forbidden from forcibly disrupting a person’s mental states on the ground that they are criminally wrongful (as opposed to, say, on the ground that ...


New Environmental Crimes Project Data Shows That Pollution Prosecutions Plummeted During The First Two Years Of The Trump Administration, David M. Uhlmann Jan 2020

New Environmental Crimes Project Data Shows That Pollution Prosecutions Plummeted During The First Two Years Of The Trump Administration, David M. Uhlmann

Other Publications

The latest data from the Environmental Crimes Project at the University of Michigan Law School shows a dramatic drop in pollution prosecutions during the first two years under President Donald J. Trump. The data, which now includes 14 years of cases from 2005–2018, shows a 70 percent decrease in Clean Water Act prosecutions under President Trump, as well as a more than 50 percent decrease in Clean Air Act prosecutions. The data again shows that most defendants charged with pollution crime commit misconduct involving one or more of the aggravating factors identified in my previous scholarship, so prosecutors continue ...


Domestic Violence Convictions And Firearms Possession: The Law As It Stands And As It Moves, Kate E. Britt Jul 2019

Domestic Violence Convictions And Firearms Possession: The Law As It Stands And As It Moves, Kate E. Britt

Law Librarian Scholarship

Legislatures have attempted to curb instances of gun use in fatal and nonfatal domestic violence by passing statutes restricting possession of firearms for perpetrators of domestic violence. This article explains federal and Michigan law as it stands and discusses current efforts to further limit perpetrators’ access to firearms.


The Elusive Object Of Punishment, Gabriel S. Mendlow Jun 2019

The Elusive Object Of Punishment, Gabriel S. Mendlow

Articles

All observers of our legal system recognize that criminal statutes can be complex and obscure. But statutory obscurity often takes a particular form that most observers have overlooked: uncertainty about the identity of the wrong a statute aims to punish. It is not uncommon for parties to disagree about the identity of the underlying wrong even as they agree on the statute’s elements. Hidden in plain sight, these unexamined disagreements underlie or exacerbate an assortment of familiar disputes—about venue, vagueness, and mens rea; about DUI and statutory rape; about hate crimes, child pornography, and counterterrorism laws; about proportionality ...


Divine Justice And The Library Of Babel: Or, Was Al Capone Really Punished For Tax Evasion?, Gabriel Mendlow Oct 2018

Divine Justice And The Library Of Babel: Or, Was Al Capone Really Punished For Tax Evasion?, Gabriel Mendlow

Articles

A criminal defendant enjoys an array of legal rights. These include the right not to be punished for an offense unless charged, tried, and proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; the right not to be punished disproportionately; and the right not to be punished for the same offense more than once. I contend that the design of our criminal legal system imperils these rights in ways few observers appreciate. Because criminal codes describe misconduct imprecisely and prohibit more misconduct than any legislature actually aspires to punish, prosecutors decide which violations of the code merit punishment, and judges decide how much ...


Why Is It Wrong To Punish Thought?, Gabriel S. Mendlow Jun 2018

Why Is It Wrong To Punish Thought?, Gabriel S. Mendlow

Articles

It’s a venerable maxim of criminal jurisprudence that the state must never punish people for their mere thoughts—for their beliefs, desires, fantasies, and unexecuted intentions. This maxim is all but unquestioned, yet its true justification is something of a mystery. In this Essay, I argue that each of the prevailing justifications is deficient, and I conclude by proposing a novel one. The proposed justification captures the widely shared intuition that punishing a person for her mere thoughts isn’t simply disfavored by the balance of reasons but is morally wrongful in itself, an intrinsic (i.e., consequence-independent) injustice ...


Race And Wrongful Convictions In The United States, Samuel R. Gross, Maurice Possley, Klara Stephens Mar 2017

Race And Wrongful Convictions In The United States, Samuel R. Gross, Maurice Possley, Klara Stephens

Other Publications

African Americans are only 13% of the American population but a majority of innocent defendants wrongfully convicted of crimes and later exonerated. They constitute 47% of the 1,900 exonerations listed in the National Registry of Exonerations (as of October 2016), and the great majority of more than 1,800 additional innocent defendants who were framed and convicted of crimes in 15 large-scale police scandals and later cleared in “group exonerations.” We see this racial disparity for all major crime categories, but we examine it in this report in the context of the three types of crime that produce the ...


Process Costs And Police Discretion, Charlie Gerstein, J. J. Prescott Apr 2015

Process Costs And Police Discretion, Charlie Gerstein, J. J. Prescott

Articles

Cities across the country are debating police discretion. Much of this debate centers on “public order” offenses. These minor offenses are unusual in that the actual sentence violators receive when convicted — usually time already served in detention — is beside the point. Rather, public order offenses are enforced prior to any conviction by subjecting accused individuals to arrest, detention, and other legal process. These “process costs” are significant; they distort plea bargaining to the point that the substantive law behind the bargained-for conviction is largely irrelevant. But the ongoing debate about police discretion has ignored the centrality of these process costs ...


Prosecutorial Discretion And Environmental Crime, David M. Uhlmann Jan 2015

Prosecutorial Discretion And Environmental Crime, David M. Uhlmann

Articles

In January 1991, just four weeks after joining the Justice Department’sEnvironmental Crimes Section as an entry-level attorney, I traveled to NewOrleans to attend an environmental enforcement conference. The conferencewas attended by hundreds of criminal prosecutors and civil attorneys from theJustice Department, as well as enforcement officials from the EnvironmentalProtection Agency (“EPA”). It was a propitious time for environmental protec-tion efforts in the United States. Less than two months earlier, President GeorgeH. W. Bush had signed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, culminating aremarkable twenty-year period that created the modern environmental law sys-tem in the United States. My new ...


Racial Disparity In Federal Criminal Sentences, M. Marit Rehavi, Sonja B. Starr Dec 2014

Racial Disparity In Federal Criminal Sentences, M. Marit Rehavi, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

Using rich data linking federal cases from arrest through to sentencing, we find that initial case and defendant characteristics, including arrest offense and criminal history, can explain most of the large raw racial disparity in federal sentences, but significant gaps remain. Across the distribution, blacks receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than those of comparable whites arrested for the same crimes. Most of this disparity can be explained by prosecutors’ initial charging decisions, particularly the filing of charges carrying mandatory minimum sentences. Ceteris paribus, the odds of black arrestees facing such a charge are 1.75 times higher ...


Sex Offender Law And The Geography Of Victimization, Amanda Y. Agan, J. J. Prescott Dec 2014

Sex Offender Law And The Geography Of Victimization, Amanda Y. Agan, J. J. Prescott

Articles

Sex offender laws that target recidivism (e.g., community notification and residency restriction regimes) are premised—at least in part—on the idea that sex offender proximity and victimization risk are positively correlated. We examine this relationship by combining past and current address information of registered sex offenders (RSOs) with crime data from Baltimore County, Maryland, to study how crime rates vary across neighborhoods with different concentrations of resident RSOs. Contrary to the assumptions of policymakers and the public, we find that, all else equal, reported sex offense victimization risk is generally (although not uniformly) lower in neighborhoods where more ...


Prosecutorial Discretion And Environmental Crime, David M. Uhlmann Jan 2014

Prosecutorial Discretion And Environmental Crime, David M. Uhlmann

Articles

Prosecutorial discretion exists throughout the criminal justice system but plays a particularly significant role for environmental crime. Congress made few distinctions under the environmental laws between acts that could result in criminal, civil, or administrative enforcement. As a result, there has been uncertainty about which environmental violations will result in criminal enforcement and persistent claims about the overcriminalization of environmental violations. To address these concerns — and to delineate an appropriate role for criminal enforcement in the environmental regulatory scheme — I have proposed that prosecutors should reserve criminal enforcement for violations that involve one or more of the following aggravating factors ...


Interpersonal Power In The Criminal System, Kimberly A. Thomas Jan 2013

Interpersonal Power In The Criminal System, Kimberly A. Thomas

Articles

This Article identifies the workings of interpersonal power in the criminal system and considers the effect of these cases on criminal theory and practice. By uncovering this phenomenon, this Article hopes to spark a legal academic dialogue and inquiry that has, until now, been unspoken. This Article has roots in my former work as a Philadelphia public defender and in my current work as a clinical professor with students who appear in criminal and juvenile court. As an advocate for the poor in a busy courthouse, one of a lawyer's tasks is to discover the multiple "real" stories behind ...


Did Booker Increase Sentencing Disparity? Why The Evidence Is Unpersuasive, Sonja B. Starr Jan 2013

Did Booker Increase Sentencing Disparity? Why The Evidence Is Unpersuasive, Sonja B. Starr

Articles

The Sentencing Commission’s recent report on the effects of United States v.Booker makes a number of very worri- some claims.The most alarming is that the gap in sen- tences between otherwise similar Black and White men has nearly quadrupled: from 4.5 percent before Booker, to 15 percent after it, to 19.5 percent after United States v. Kimbrough and United States v.Gall. 1 The Commission further claims that interjudge disparity has increased in two-thirds of the federal districts, and that interdistrict variation has also increased.2 If its findings were accurate, and if these changes ...


Prosecuting Worker Endangerment: The Need For Stronger Criminal Penalties For Violations Of The Occupational Safety And Health Act, David M. Uhlmann Jan 2009

Prosecuting Worker Endangerment: The Need For Stronger Criminal Penalties For Violations Of The Occupational Safety And Health Act, David M. Uhlmann

Articles

A recent spate of construction deaths in New York City, similar incidents in Las Vegas, and scores of fatalities in recent years at mines and industrial facilities across the country have highlighted the need for greater commitment to worker safety in the United States and stronger penalties for violators of the worker safety laws. Approximately 6,000 workers are killed on the job each year1—and thousands more suffer grievous injuries—yet penalties for worker safety violations remain appallingly small, and criminal prosecutions are almost non-existent. In recent years, most of the criminal prosecutions for worker safety violations have been ...


Jesting Pilate, Carl E. Schneider Jul 2008

Jesting Pilate, Carl E. Schneider

Articles

I have two goals this month. First, to examine a case that's in the news. Second, to counsel skepticism in reading news accounts of cases. Recently, I was talking with an admirable scholar. He said that transplant surgeons sometimes kill potential donors to obtain their organs efficiently. He added, "This isn't just an urban legend - there's a real case in California." A little research turned up California v. Roozrokh. A little Googling found stories from several reputable news sources. Their headlines indeed intimated that a transplant surgeon had tried to kill a patient to get transplantable organs ...


Exonerations In The United States 1989 Through 2003, Samuel R. Gross, Kriten Jacoby, Daniel J. Matheson, Nicholas Montgomery, Sujata Patil Jan 2005

Exonerations In The United States 1989 Through 2003, Samuel R. Gross, Kriten Jacoby, Daniel J. Matheson, Nicholas Montgomery, Sujata Patil

Articles

On August 14, 1989, the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, Illinois, vacated Gary Dotson's 1979 rape conviction and dismissed the charges.1 Mr. Dotson-who had spent ten years in and out of prison and on parole for this conviction-was not the first innocent prisoner to be exonerated and released in America. But his case was a breakthrough nonetheless: he was the first who was cleared by DNA identification technology. It was the beginning of a revolution in the American criminal justice system. Until then, exonerations of falsely convicted defendants were seen as aberrational. Since 1989, these once-rare events ...


Road Work: Racial Profiling And Drug Interdiction On The Highway, Samuel R. Gross, Katherine Y. Bames Jan 2002

Road Work: Racial Profiling And Drug Interdiction On The Highway, Samuel R. Gross, Katherine Y. Bames

Articles

Hypocrisy about race is hardly new in America, but the content changes. Recently the spotlight has been on racial profiling. The story of Colonel Carl Williams of the New Jersey State Police is a wellknown example. On Sunday, February 28, 1999, the Newark Star Ledger published a lengthy interview with Williams in which he talked about race and drugs: "Today... the drug problem is cocaine or marijuana. It is most likely a minority group that's involved with that."4 Williams condemned racial profiling - "As far as racial profiling is concerned, that is absolutely not right. It never has been ...


Justification By Faith, Carl E. Schneider Jan 1999

Justification By Faith, Carl E. Schneider

Articles

In June 1997 a sixteen-year-old girl named Shannon Nixon began to feel ill. Her parents belonged to the Faith Tabernacle Church, one of a number of American sects which believe that illness should be treated spiritually rather than medically. Accordingly, the Nixons prayed for Shannon and took her to be anointed at their church. Shannon reported that she felt better and that the spiritual treatment had gained her her victory-her recovery. Before long, however, Shannon again felt ill. She became weaker and weaker and then fell into a coma. A few hours later she died. An autopsy revealed that she ...


Lost Lives: Miscarriages Of Justice In Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross Jan 1999

Lost Lives: Miscarriages Of Justice In Capital Cases, Samuel R. Gross

Articles

In case after case, erroneous conviction for capital murder has been proven. I contend that these are not disconnected accidents, but systematic consequences of the nature of homicice prosecution in the general and capital prosecution in particular - that in this respect, as in others, death distorts and undermines the course of the law.


Hard Cases, Carl E. Schneider Mar 1998

Hard Cases, Carl E. Schneider

Articles

Robert Latimer was born in 1953 on a farm on the prairies of Saskatchewan and grew up to own a 1,280-acre farm. In 1980 he married, and that year Tracy, the first of four children, was born. During her birth, Tracy's brain was terribly damaged by lack of oxygen, and severe cerebral palsy ensued. By 1993 Tracy could laugh, smile, and cry, and she could recognize her parents and her siblings. But she could not understand her own name or even simple words like "yes" and "no." She could not swallow well and would so often vomit her ...


Corporations, Criminal Law And The Color Of Money, Joseph Vining Jan 1997

Corporations, Criminal Law And The Color Of Money, Joseph Vining

Articles

This part of From Newton's Sleep, published by Princeton University Press in 1995 and in a paperback edition in early 1997, is reprinted by permission of the publisher. From Newton's Sleep is a book on the legal form of thought and its meaning for science and religion. It consists of some two hundred and fifty self-contained pieces arranged in eight sections. In its form, the book is much like and is meant to be much like the material with which lawyers routinely deal. Here, Law Quadrangle Notes excerpts a piece that touches on a subject of lively debate ...


Review Of Kingship, Law And Society: Criminal Justice In The Reign Of Henry V, Thomas A. Green Jan 1992

Review Of Kingship, Law And Society: Criminal Justice In The Reign Of Henry V, Thomas A. Green

Reviews

Edward Powell's splendid study of Henry V's strategy for keeping peace among magnate and gentry factions represents an important contribution to the history of criminal justice. After providing a panoramic view of the machinery of criminal justice, Powell analyzes the extent to which that machinery was effective as between the Crown, at the center, and the upper echelons of society in the provinces. His conclusion, not surprisingly, is that the regular processes of common-law criminal administration could not easily be deployed at those levels. But Powell does not let the matter drop there. Kingship, Law, and Society presents ...


Dreams, Prophecy And Sorcery: Blaming The Secret Offender In Medieval Iceland, William I. Miller Jan 1986

Dreams, Prophecy And Sorcery: Blaming The Secret Offender In Medieval Iceland, William I. Miller

Articles

An eminent legal historian once noted that the fundamental problem of law enforcement in primitive societies is that of the secret offender. The Icelandic legal and dispute processing systems depended on a wrongdoer publishing his deed, or at least committing it in an open and notorious manner. No state agencies existed to investigate and discover the non-publishing wrongdoer. But there were strong normative inducements to wrong openly; one's name was at stake. There was absolutely no honor in thievery, only the darkest shame; the ransmadr, on the other hand, suffered no shame for his successful raids, even if he ...


Some Non-Religious Views Against Proposed 'Mercy-Killing' Legislation Part Ii, Yale Kamisar Jan 1976

Some Non-Religious Views Against Proposed 'Mercy-Killing' Legislation Part Ii, Yale Kamisar

Articles

There have been and there will continue to be compelling circumstances when a doctor or relative or friend will violate The Law On The Books and, more often than not, receive protection from The Law In Action. But this is not to deny that there are other occasions when The Law On The Books operates to stay the hand of all concerned, among them situations where the patient is in fact ( 1 ) presently incurable, ( 2) beyond the aid of any respite which may come along in his life expectancy, suffering ( 3 ) intolerable and ( 4) unmitigable pain and of a ( 5 ...


Juvenile Obscenity Statutes: A Proposal And Analysis, Jerold H. Israel, Rita Ann Burns Jan 1976

Juvenile Obscenity Statutes: A Proposal And Analysis, Jerold H. Israel, Rita Ann Burns

Articles

The article that follows is based largely upon a Study Report on juvenile obscenity statutes prepared for the Michigan Law Revision Commission. The objectives of the Report were (1) to analyze the various issues presented in drafting a juvenile obscenity provision, (2) to survey the treatment of those issues in statutes adopted by various states and statutes proposed by several distinguished commissions, and (3) to propose a comprehensive model statute that offers a choice of alternative provisions on key areas of controversy. Certain limitations placed upon the scope of the Report (and this article) should be noted. First, we were ...


Some Non-Religious Views Against Proposed 'Mercy-Killing' Legislation Part I, Yale Kamisar Jan 1976

Some Non-Religious Views Against Proposed 'Mercy-Killing' Legislation Part I, Yale Kamisar

Articles

In essence, Williams' specific proposal is that death be authorized for a person in the above situation "by giving the medical practitioner a wide discretion and trusting to his good sense." This, I submit, raises too great a risk of abuse and mistake to warrant a change in the existing law. That a proposal entails risk of mistake is hardly a conclusive reason against it. But neither is it irrelevant. Under any euthanasia program the consequences of mistake, of course, are always fatal. As I shall endeavor to show, the incidence of mistake of one kind or another is likely ...


Review Of The King's Pardon For Homicide To A.D. 1307, Thomas A. Green Jan 1972

Review Of The King's Pardon For Homicide To A.D. 1307, Thomas A. Green

Reviews

NAOMI D. Hurnard's The King's Pardon for Homicide before AD 1307 is significant and instructive for both legal and social historians. The author has painstakingly pieced together the available evidence from a variety of classes of mediaeval English public records to achieve a clear statement of the law of excusable homicide, i.e., non-felonious but requiring a royal pardon. She has lucidly presented the procedure which marks out the legal life story of persons deserving pardon, from the pardonable slaying to the formal proclamation of the king's peace. But she has also accomplished much more. Through careful ...


Joy Riding, Simple And Compound, Edgar N. Durfee Jan 1918

Joy Riding, Simple And Compound, Edgar N. Durfee

Articles

The wrongful use of another's automobile, even though accompanied by a trespassory taking, cannot, if followed by a return to the owner or an abandonment, be easily brought within the definition of larceny at common law or under the ordinary larceny statutes, because of the requirement of intent to deprive the owner permanently of his property. Smith v. State, 146 S. W. 547; State v. Boggs (Iowa, 1917), 164 N. W. 759; McClain, Criminal Law, § 566. Of course, such intent, at the time of taking, might be found in spite of return or abandonment, though it is doubtful whether ...