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Internal And External Challenges To Culpability, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2021

Internal And External Challenges To Culpability, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This article was presented at “Guilty Minds: A Virtual Conference on Mens Rea and Criminal Justice Reform” at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. It is forthcoming in Arizona State Law Journal Volume 53, Issue 2.

The thesis of this article is simple: As long as we maintain the current folk psychological conception of ourselves as intentional and potentially rational creatures, as people and not simply as machines, mental states will inevitably remain central to ascriptions of culpability and responsibility more generally. It is also desirable. Nonetheless, we are in a condition of unprecedented internal ...


Neurohype And The Law: A Cautionary Tale, Stephen J. Morse Jan 2019

Neurohype And The Law: A Cautionary Tale, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This chapter suggests that for conceptual, empirical, and practical reasons, neuroscience in general and non-invasive brain imaging in particular are not likely to revolutionize the law and our conception of ourselves, but may make modest contributions to legal policy and case adjudication if the legal relevance of the science is properly understood.


A General Mitigation For Disturbance-Driven Crimes?: Psychic State, Personal Choice, And Normative Inquiries, Paul H. Robinson Oct 2018

A General Mitigation For Disturbance-Driven Crimes?: Psychic State, Personal Choice, And Normative Inquiries, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It is argued here that the narrow provoked “heat of passion” mitigation available under current law ought to be significantly expanded to include not just murder but all felonies and not just “heat of passion” but potentially all mental or emotional disturbances, whenever the offender’s situation and capacities meaningfully reduce the offender’s blameworthiness for the violation. In determining eligibility for mitigation, the jury should take into account (a) the extent to which the offender was acting under the influence of mental or emotional disturbance (the psychic state inquiry), (b) given the offender’s situation and capacities, the extent ...


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 ...


Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations Across The 50 States: Chapter One: Distributive Principles Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams Jan 2018

Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations Across The 50 States: Chapter One: Distributive Principles Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This first chapter from the recently published book Mapping American Criminal Law: Variations across the 50 States documents the alternative distributive principles for criminal liability and punishment — desert, deterrence, incapacitation of the dangerous — that are officially recognized by law in each of the American states. The chapter contains two maps visually coded to display important differences: the first map shows which states have adopted desert, deterrence, or incapacitation as a distributive principle, while the second map shows which form of desert is adopted in those jurisdictions that recognize desert. Like all 38 chapters in the book, which covers a wide ...


A Brief Summary And Critique Of Criminal Liability Rules For Intoxicated Conduct, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2018

A Brief Summary And Critique Of Criminal Liability Rules For Intoxicated Conduct, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay provides an overview of the legal issues relating to intoxication, including the effect of voluntary intoxication in imputing to an offender a required offense culpable state of mind that he may not actually have had at the time of the offense; the effect of involuntary intoxication in providing a defense by negating a required offense culpability element or by satisfying the conditions of a general excuse; the legal effect of alcoholism or addiction in rendering intoxication involuntary; and the limitation on using alcoholism or addiction in this way if the offender can be judged to be reasonably responsible ...


Crimes That Changed Our World: Tragedy, Outrage, And Reform: Chapter One: 1911 Triangle Factory Fire: Building Safety Codes, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Jan 2018

Crimes That Changed Our World: Tragedy, Outrage, And Reform: Chapter One: 1911 Triangle Factory Fire: Building Safety Codes, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This first chapter of the recently published book Crimes That Changed Our World: Tragedy, Outrage, and Reform, examines the process by which the tragic 1911 Triangle Factory Fire provoked enormous outrage that in turn created a local then national movement for workplace and building safety that ultimately became the foundation for today’s building safety codes. What is particularly interesting, however, is that the Triangle Fire was not the worst such tragedy in its day. Why should it be the one that ultimately triggers social progress?

The book has 21 chapters, each of which traces the tragedy-outrage-reform dynamic in a ...


Brief Of Amici Curiae Of 11 Addiction Experts In Support Of Appellee, Gene M. Heyman, Scott O. Lilienfeld, Stephen J. Morse, Sally L. Satel Sep 2017

Brief Of Amici Curiae Of 11 Addiction Experts In Support Of Appellee, Gene M. Heyman, Scott O. Lilienfeld, Stephen J. Morse, Sally L. Satel

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This brief is a critique of the brain disease model and many supposed implications of that model. It begins with a brief history of the model and moves to a discussion of the motivations behind the characterization of addiction as a “chronic and relapsing brain disease.” We follow with an enumeration of fallacious inferences based upon the brain disease model, including the very notion that addiction becomes a “brain disease” simply because it has neurobiological correlates. Regardless of whether addiction is labeled a brain disease, the real question, we contend, is whether the behavioral manifestations of addiction are unresponsive to ...


Tragedy, Outrage & Reform: Crimes That Changed Our World: 1983 – Thurman Beating - Domestic Violence, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Aug 2017

Tragedy, Outrage & Reform: Crimes That Changed Our World: 1983 – Thurman Beating - Domestic Violence, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Can a crime make our world better? Crimes are the worst of humanity’s wrongs but, oddly, they sometimes do more than anything else to improve our lives. As it turns out, it is often the outrageousness itself that does the work. Ordinary crimes are accepted as the background noise of our everyday existence but some crimes make people stop and take notice – because they are so outrageous, or so curious, or so heart-wrenching. These “trigger crimes” are the cases that this book is about.

They offer some incredible stories about how people, good and bad, change the world around ...


Trigger Crimes & Social Progress: The Tragedy-Outrage-Reform Dynamic In America, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Aug 2017

Trigger Crimes & Social Progress: The Tragedy-Outrage-Reform Dynamic In America, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Can a crime make our world better? Crimes are the worst of humanity’s wrongs but, oddly, they sometimes do more than anything else to improve our lives. It is often the outrageousness itself that does the work. Ordinary crimes are accepted as the background noise of everyday existence but some crimes make people stop and take notice – because they are so outrageous or so heart-wrenching.

This brief essay explores the dynamic of tragedy, outrage, and reform, illustrating how certain kinds of crimes can trigger real social progress. Several dozen such “trigger crimes” are identified but four in particular are ...


Involuntary Competence In United States Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse Feb 2017

Involuntary Competence In United States Criminal Law, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This is a draft of a chapter that has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the forthcoming book Fitness to Plead: International and Comparative Perspectives edited by Ronnie Mackay and Warren Brookbanks due for publication in May 2018. It addresses whether the state may forcibly medicate an unwilling defendant or prisoner to restore competence in the criminal process, including competence to stand trial, competence to plead guilty and to waive trial rights, competence to represent oneself, and competence to be sentenced. It begins with a description of the doctrinal and mental health background information and the right ...


Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 20 Statutory Rape, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams Jan 2017

Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 20 Statutory Rape, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It is common for criminal law scholars from outside the United States to discuss the “American rule” and compare it to the rule of other countries. As this volume makes clear, however, there is no such thing as an “American rule.” Because each of the states, plus the District of Columbia and the federal system, have their own criminal law, there are fifty-two American criminal codes.

American criminal law scholars know this, of course, but they too commonly speak of the “general rule” as if it reflects some consensus or near consensus position among the states. But the truth is ...


Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 5 Felony-Murder Rule, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams Jan 2017

Mapping American Criminal Law Variations Across The 50 States: Ch. 5 Felony-Murder Rule, Paul H. Robinson, Tyler Scot Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It is common for criminal law scholars from outside the United States to discuss the “American rule” and compare it to the rule of other countries. As this volume makes clear, however, there is no such thing as an “American rule.” Because each of the states, plus the District of Columbia and the federal system, have their own criminal law, there are fifty-two American criminal codes.

American criminal law scholars know this, of course, but they too commonly speak of the “general rule” as if it reflects some consensus or near consensus position among the states. But the truth is ...


Democratizing Criminal Law: Feasibility, Utility, And The Challenge Of Social Change, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2017

Democratizing Criminal Law: Feasibility, Utility, And The Challenge Of Social Change, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The notion of “democratizing criminal law” has an initial appeal because, after all, we believe in the importance of democracy and because criminal law is so important – it protects us from the most egregious wrongs and is the vehicle by which we allow the most serious governmental intrusions in the lives of individuals. Given criminal law’s special status, isn’t it appropriate that this most important and most intrusive governmental power be subject to the constraints of democratic determination?

But perhaps the initial appeal of this grand principle must give way to practical realities. As much as we are ...


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 ...


Tragedy, Outrage & Reform Crimes That Changed Our World: 1911 – Triangle Factory Fire – Building Safety Codes, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Dec 2016

Tragedy, Outrage & Reform Crimes That Changed Our World: 1911 – Triangle Factory Fire – Building Safety Codes, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Can a crime make our world better? Crimes are the worst of humanity’s wrongs but, oddly, they sometimes do more than anything else to improve our lives. As it turns out, it is often the outrageousness itself that does the work. Ordinary crimes are accepted as the background noise of our everyday existence but some crimes make people stop and take notice – because they are so outrageous, or so curious, or so heart-wrenching. These “trigger crimes” are the cases that this book is about.

They offer some incredible stories about how people, good and bad, change the world around ...


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 ...


Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use Of Neuroscientific Evidence In Criminal Cases, Stephen J. Morse Jun 2016

Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use Of Neuroscientific Evidence In Criminal Cases, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This invited commentary for Journal of Law & the Biosciences considers four empirical studies previously published in the journal of the reception of neuroscientific evidence in criminal cases in the United States, Canada, England and Wales, and the Netherlands. There are conceded methodological problems with all, but the data are nonetheless instructive and suggestive. The thesis of the comment is that the courts are committing the same errors that have bedeviled the reception of psychiatric and psychological evidence. There is insufficient caution about the state of the science, and more importantly, there is insufficient understanding of the relevance of the neuroscientific ...


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 ...


Family Ties: Salman And The Scope Of Insider Trading, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2016

Family Ties: Salman And The Scope Of Insider Trading, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

On October 5, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Salman v. United States. Salman raises questions about the scope of insider trading liability for tippees under the personal benefit test previously articulated in Dirks v. SEC. Some critics have argued the Second Circuit’s decision last year in United States v. Newman demonstrates that the personal benefit test is unduly restrictive and should be reconsidered. Salman offers an opportunity for the Supreme Court to do so.

This essay argues that Salman does not require the Court to reexamine the parameters of insider trading liability. Instead, the Court can ...


Identifying Criminals’ Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick Jan 2016

Identifying Criminals’ Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

There is a 250 year old presumption in the criminology and law enforcement literature that people are deterred more by increases in the certainty rather than increases in the severity of legal sanctions. We call this presumption the Certainty Aversion Presumption (CAP). Simple criminal decision making models suggest that criminals must be risk-seeking if they behave consistently with CAP. This implication leads to disturbing interpretations, such as criminals being categorically different than law abiding people, who often display risk-averse behavior while making financial decisions. Moreover, policy discussions that incorrectly rely on criminals’ risk attitudes implied by CAP are ill-informed, and ...


Predicting The Knowledge–Recklessness Distinction In The Human Brain, Iris Vilares, Michael J. Wesley, Woo-Young Woo-Young Ahn, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Stephen J. Morse, Gideon Yaffe, Terry Lohrenz, Read Montague Jan 2016

Predicting The Knowledge–Recklessness Distinction In The Human Brain, Iris Vilares, Michael J. Wesley, Woo-Young Woo-Young Ahn, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Stephen J. Morse, Gideon Yaffe, Terry Lohrenz, Read Montague

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Criminal convictions require proof that a prohibited act was performed in a statutorily specified mental state. Different legal consequences, including greater punishments, are mandated for those who act in a state of knowledge, compared with a state of recklessness. Existing research, however, suggests people have trouble classifying defendants as knowing, rather than reckless, even when instructed on the relevant legal criteria.

We used a machine-learning technique on brain imaging data to predict, with high accuracy, which mental state our participants were in. This predictive ability depended on both the magnitude of the risks and the amount of information about those ...


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 Opening Of American Law: Neoclassical Legal Thought, 1870-1970: Epilogue, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Feb 2015

The Opening Of American Law: Neoclassical Legal Thought, 1870-1970: Epilogue, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Opening of American Law examines changes in American legal thought that began during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, and extending through the Kennedy/Johnson eras. During this period American judges and legal writers embraced various conceptions of legal "science," although they differed about what that science entailed. Beginning in the Gilded Age, the principal sources were Darwinism in the biological and social sciences, marginalism in economics and psychology, and legal historicism. The impact on judicial, legislative, and later administrative law making is difficult to exaggerate. Among the changes were vastly greater use of behavioral or deterrence based theories of ...


Punishment: Drop City And The Utopian Communes, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Jan 2015

Punishment: Drop City And The Utopian Communes, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Using stories from the utopian non-punishment hippie communes of the late 1960's, the essay challenges today’s anti-punishment movement by demonstrating that the benefits of cooperative action are available only with the adoption of a system for punishing violations of core rules. Rather than being an evil system anathema to right-thinking people, punishment is the lynchpin of the cooperative action that has created human success.

This is Chapter 3 from the general audience book Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers: Lessons from Life Outside the Law. Chapter 4 of the book is also available on SSRN at http://papers.ssrn.com ...


Some Skepticism About Skepticism: A Comment On Katz, Mitchell N. Berman Jan 2015

Some Skepticism About Skepticism: A Comment On Katz, Mitchell N. Berman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Several different, if related, questions are swirling about in this fascinating and wide‐ranging symposium. One question asks whether “law” is “autonomous.” A second inquires into the “determinacy” of “legal doctrine.” Yet a third concerns whether there are ever legally correct answers to legal questions. I take this third question to be equivalent to asking whether legal propositions are truth‐apt and, if so, whether any are true.

If I read him correctly, this third question is the focus of Professor Leo Katz's characteristically inventive and thought‐provoking contribution, Nine Takes on Indeterminacy, with Special Emphasis on the Criminal ...


Justice: 1850s San Francisco And The California Gold Rush, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson Jan 2015

Justice: 1850s San Francisco And The California Gold Rush, Paul H. Robinson, Sarah M. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Using stories from the 1848-1851 California gold miners, the 1851 San Francisco vigilante committees, Nazi concentration camps of the 1940s, and wagon trains of American westward migration in the 1840s, the chapter illustrates that it is part of human nature to see doing justice as a value in itself—in people’s minds it is not dependent for justification on the practical benefits it brings. Having justice done is sufficiently important to people that they willingly suffer enormous costs to obtain it, even when they were neither hurt by the wrong nor in a position to benefit from punishing the ...


The Rise And Fall And Resurrection Of American Criminal Codes, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2015

The Rise And Fall And Resurrection Of American Criminal Codes, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This brief essay summarizes the virtues of the modern American codification movement of the 1960s and 70s, putting it in a larger global context, then describes how these once-enviable codes have been systematically degraded with thoughtless amendments, a process of degradation that is accelerating each year. After exploring the political dynamics that promote such degradation, the essay suggests the principles and procedures for fixing the current codes and, more importantly, structural changes to the process that could avoid the restart of degradation in the future.