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University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

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Criminal Procedure

Criminal law

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The Subversions And Perversions Of Shadow Vigilantism, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Jan 2018

The Subversions And Perversions Of Shadow Vigilantism, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This excerpt from the recently published Shadow Vigilantes book argues that, while vigilantism, even moral vigilantism, can be dangerous to a society, the real danger is not of hordes of citizens, frustrated by the system’s doctrines of disillusionment, rising up to take the law into their own hands. Frustration can spark a vigilante impulse, but such classic aggressive vigilantism is not the typical response. More common is the expression of disillusionment in less brazen ways by a more surreptitious undermining and distortion of the operation of the criminal justice system.

Shadow vigilantes, as they might be called, can affect ...


Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2017

Rationing Criminal Justice, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Of the many diagnoses of American criminal justice’s ills, few focus on externalities. Yet American criminal justice systematically overpunishes in large part because few mechanisms exist to force consideration of the full social costs of criminal justice interventions. Actors often lack good information or incentives to minimize the harms they impose. Part of the problem is structural: criminal justice is fragmented vertically among governments, horizontally among agencies, and individually among self-interested actors. Part is a matter of focus: doctrinally and pragmatically, actors overwhelmingly view each case as an isolated, short-term transaction to the exclusion of broader, long-term, and aggregate ...


How Being Right Can Risk Wrongs, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Aug 2016

How Being Right Can Risk Wrongs, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This is a chapter from the new book The Vigilante Echo. Previous chapters have made clear that some vigilantism can be morally justified where the government has failed in its promise under the social contract to protect and to do justice. But this chapter explains how even moral vigilante action can be problematic for the larger society. Vigilantes may try to do the right thing but are likely to lack the training and professional neutrality of police. They may be successful, but only on pushing the crime problem to an adjacent neighborhood. Because their open lawbreaking may seem admirable to ...


Shadow Vigilante Officials Manipulate And Distort To Force Justice From An Apparently Reluctant System, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Aug 2016

Shadow Vigilante Officials Manipulate And Distort To Force Justice From An Apparently Reluctant System, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The real danger of the vigilante impulse is not of hordes of citizens, frustrated by the system’s doctrines of disillusionment, rising up to take the law into their own hands. Frustration can spark a vigilante impulse but such classic aggressive vigilantism is not the typical response. More common is the expression of disillusionment in less brazen ways, by a more surreptitious undermining and distortion of the operation of the criminal justice system.

Shadow vigilantes, as they might be called, can affect the operation of the system in a host of important ways. For example, when people act as classic ...


What's Wrong With Sentencing Equality?, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2016

What's Wrong With Sentencing Equality?, Richard A. Bierschbach, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Equality in criminal sentencing often translates into equalizing outcomes and stamping out variations, whether race-based, geographic, or random. This approach conflates the concept of equality with one contestable conception focused on outputs and numbers, not inputs and processes. Racial equality is crucial, but a concern with eliminating racism has hypertrophied well beyond race. Equalizing outcomes seems appealing as a neutral way to dodge contentious substantive policy debates about the purposes of punishment. But it actually privileges deterrence and incapacitation over rehabilitation, subjective elements of retribution, and procedural justice, and it provides little normative guidance for punishment. It also has unintended ...


Moore On The Mind, Stephen J. Morse Dec 2015

Moore On The Mind, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In revised form, this chapter will be published in a volume, Legal, Moral, and Metaphysical Truths: The Philosophy of Michael S. Moore, a festschrift for Michael Moore edited by Professor Kimberly Ferzan and me for Oxford University Press. The chapter first addresses a particular approach to foundational metaphysical issues in the philosophy of mind, action and responsibility that I term “Spockian solutions,” which are home remedies modeled on those found in the baby and child care book of famed pediatrician, the late Dr. Benjamin Spock. It then engages with Moore’s work on a variety of topics concerning action and ...


Criminal Law And Common Sense: An Essay On The Perils And Promise Of Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse Dec 2015

Criminal Law And Common Sense: An Essay On The Perils And Promise Of Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

No abstract provided.


The Moral Vigilante And Her Cousins In The Shadows, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2015

The Moral Vigilante And Her Cousins In The Shadows, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

By definition, vigilantes cannot be legally justified – if they satisfied a justification defense, for example, they would not be law-breakers – but they may well be morally justified, if their aim is to provide the order and justice that the criminal justice system has failed to provide in a breach of the social contract. Yet, even moral vigilantism is detrimental to society and ought to be avoided, ideally not by prosecuting moral vigilantism but by avoiding the creation of situations that would call for it. Unfortunately, the U.S. criminal justice system has adopted a wide range of criminal law rules ...


Perpetuating The Marginalization Of Latinos: A Collateral Consequence Of The Incorporation Of Immigration Law Into The Criminal Justice System, Yolanda Vazquez Jun 2011

Perpetuating The Marginalization Of Latinos: A Collateral Consequence Of The Incorporation Of Immigration Law Into The Criminal Justice System, Yolanda Vazquez

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Latinos currently represent the largest minority in the United States. In 2009, we witnessed the first Latina appointment to the United States Supreme Court. Despite these events, Latinos continue to endure racial discrimination and social marginalization in the United States. The inability of Latinos to gain political acceptance and legitimacy in the United States can be attributed to the social construct of Latinos as threats to national security and the cause of criminal activity.

Exploiting this pretense, American government, society and nationalists are able to legitimize the subordination and social marginalization of Latinos, specifically Mexicans and Central Americans, much to ...


Mental Disorder And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse Apr 2011

Mental Disorder And Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Mental disorder among criminal defendants affects every stage of the criminal justice process, from investigational issues to competence to be executed. As in all other areas of mental health law, at least some people with mental disorders, are treated specially. The underlying thesis of this Article is that people with mental disorder should, as far as is practicable and consistent with justice, be treated just like everyone else. In some areas, the law is relatively sensible and just. In others, too often the opposite is true and the laws sweep too broadly. I believe, however, that special rules to deal ...


Gene-Environment Interactions, Criminal Responsibility, And Sentencing, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2011

Gene-Environment Interactions, Criminal Responsibility, And Sentencing, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This chapter in, Gene-Environment Interactions in Developmental Psychopathology (K. Dodge & M. Rutter, eds. 2011), considers the relevance of GxE to criminal responsibility and sentencing. It begins with a number of preliminary assumptions that will inform the analysis. It then turns to the law’s view of the person, including the law’s implicit psychology, and the criteria for criminal responsibility. A few false starts or distractions about responsibility are disposed of briefly. With this necessary background in place, the chapter then turns specifically to the relation between GxE and criminal responsibility. It suggests that GxE causes of criminal behavior have ...


Neuroscience And The Future Of Personhood And Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2011

Neuroscience And The Future Of Personhood And Responsibility, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This is a chapter in a book, Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change, edited by Jeffrey Rosen and Benjamin Wittes and published by Brookings. It considers whether likely advances in neuroscience will fundamentally alter our conceptions of human agency, of what it means to be a person, and of responsibility for action. I argue that neuroscience poses no such radical threat now and in the immediate future and it is unlikely ever to pose such a threat unless it or other sciences decisively resolve the mind-body problem. I suggest that until that happens, neuroscience might contribute to the reform ...


Lost In Translation?: An Essay On Law And Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2010

Lost In Translation?: An Essay On Law And Neuroscience, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The rapid expansion in neuroscientific research fuelled by the advent of functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] has been accompanied by popular and scholarly commentary suggesting that neuroscience may substantially alter, and perhaps will even revolutionize, both law and morality. This essay, a contribution to, Law and Neuroscience (M. Freeman, Ed. 2011), will attempt to put such claims in perspective and to consider how properly to think about the relation between law and neuroscience. The overarching thesis is that neuroscience may indeed make some contributions to legal doctrine, practice and theory, but such contributions will be few and modest for the ...