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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Disutility Of Injustice, Paul H. Robinson, Geoffrey P. Goodwin, Michael Reisig Dec 2010

The Disutility Of Injustice, Paul H. Robinson, Geoffrey P. Goodwin, Michael Reisig

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

For more than half a century, the retributivists and the crime-control instrumentalists have seen themselves as being in an irresolvable conflict. Social science increasingly suggests, however, that this need not be so. Doing justice may be the most effective means of controlling crime. Perhaps partially in recognition of these developments, the American Law Institute's recent amendment to the Model Penal Code's "purposes" provision – the only amendment to the Model Code in the 47 years since its promulgation – adopts desert as the primary distributive principle for criminal liability and punishment. That shift to desert has prompted concerns by two ...


Realism, Punishment & Reform [A Reply To Braman, Kahan, And Hoffman, "Some Realism About Punishment Naturalism”], Paul H. Robinson, Owen D. Jones, Robert O. Kurzban Oct 2010

Realism, Punishment & Reform [A Reply To Braman, Kahan, And Hoffman, "Some Realism About Punishment Naturalism”], Paul H. Robinson, Owen D. Jones, Robert O. Kurzban

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Professors Donald Braman, Dan Kahan, and David Hoffman, in their article "Some Realism About Punishment Naturalism," to be published in an upcoming issue of the University of Chicago Law Review, critique a series of our articles: Concordance and Conflict in Intuitions of Justice (http://ssrn.com/abstract=932067), The Origins of Shared Intuitions of Justice (http://.ssrn.com/abstract=952726), and Intuitions of Justice: Implications for Criminal Law and Justice Policy (http://.ssrn.com/abstract=976026). Our reply, here, follows their article in that coming issue. As we demonstrate, they have misunderstood our views on, and thus the implications of ...


Do Judges Vary In Their Treatment Of Race?, David S. Abrams, Marianne Bertrand, Sendhil Mullainathan Sep 2010

Do Judges Vary In Their Treatment Of Race?, David S. Abrams, Marianne Bertrand, Sendhil Mullainathan

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Are minorities treated differently by the legal system? Systematic racial differences in case characteristics, many unobservable, make this a difficult question to answer directly. In this paper, we estimate whether judges differ from each other in how they sentence minorities, avoiding potential bias from unobservable case characteristics by exploiting the random assignment of cases to judges. We measure the between-judge variation in the difference in incarceration rates and sentence lengths between African-American and White defendants. We perform a Monte Carlo simulation in order to explicitly construct the appropriate counterfactual, where race does not influence judicial sentencing. In our data set ...


Abnormal Mental State Mitigations Of Murder – The U.S. Perspective, Paul H. Robinson Sep 2010

Abnormal Mental State Mitigations Of Murder – The U.S. Perspective, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper examines the U.S. doctrines that allow an offender's abnormal mental state to reduce murder to manslaughter. First, the modern doctrine of "extreme emotional disturbance," as in Model Penal Code Section 210.3(1)(b), mitigates to manslaughter what otherwise would be murder when the killing "is committed under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse." While most American jurisdictions are based upon the Mode Code, this is an area in which many states chose to retain their more narrow common law "provocation" mitigation. Second, the modern doctrine ...


The Modern Irrationalities Of American Criminal Codes: An Empirical Study Of Offense Grading, Paul H. Robinson, Thomas Gaeta, Matthew Majarian, Megan Schultz, Douglas M. Weck Jul 2010

The Modern Irrationalities Of American Criminal Codes: An Empirical Study Of Offense Grading, Paul H. Robinson, Thomas Gaeta, Matthew Majarian, Megan Schultz, Douglas M. Weck

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Model Penal Code made great advances in clarity and legality, moving most of the states from a mix of common law and ad hoc statutes to the modern American form of a comprehensive, succinct code that has served as a model around the world. Yet the decades since the wave of Model Code-based codifications have seen a steady degradation of American codes brought on by a relentless and accelerating rate of criminal law amendments that ignore the style, format, and content of the existing codes. The most damaging aspect of this trend is the exponentially increasing number of offense ...


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 ...


Documentation, Documentary, And The Law: What Should Be Made Of Victim Impact Videos?, Regina Austin Jan 2010

Documentation, Documentary, And The Law: What Should Be Made Of Victim Impact Videos?, Regina Austin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Since the Supreme Court sanctioned the introduction of victim impact evidence in the sentencing phase of capital cases in Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808 (1991), there have been a number of reported decisions in which that evidence has taken the form of videos composed of home-produced still photographs and moving images of the victim. Most of these videos were first shown at funerals or memorial services and contain music appropriate for such occasions. This article considers the probative value of victim impact videos and responds to the call of Justice John Paul Stevens, made in a statement regarding ...


The Ongoing Revolution In Punishment Theory: Doing Justice As Controlling Crime, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2010

The Ongoing Revolution In Punishment Theory: Doing Justice As Controlling Crime, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This lecture offers a broad review of current punishment theory debates and the alternative distributive principles for criminal liability and punishment that they suggest. This broader perspective attempts to explain in part the Model Penal Code's recent shift to reliance upon desert and accompanying limitation on the principles of deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation.