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Comments On [Israeli] Proposal For Structuring Judicial Discretion In Sentencing, Paul H. Robinson Mar 2011

Comments On [Israeli] Proposal For Structuring Judicial Discretion In Sentencing, Paul H. Robinson

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In this essay, Professor Robinson supports the current Israeli proposal for structuring judicial discretion in sentencing, in particular its reliance upon desert as the guiding principle for the distribution of punishment, its reliance upon benchmarks, or “starting-points,” to be adjusted in individual cases by reference to articulated mitigating and aggravating circumstances, and the proposal’s suggestion to use of an expert committee to draft the original guidelines.


The Ex Ante Function Of The Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley, Kevin M. Carlsmith Jun 2001

The Ex Ante Function Of The Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley, Kevin M. Carlsmith

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Criminal legal codes draw clear lines between permissible and illegal conduct, and the criminal justice system counts on people knowing these lines and governing their conduct accordingly. This is the "ex ante" function of the law; lines are drawn, and because citizens fear punishments or believe in the moral validity of the legal codes they do not cross these lines. But do people in fact know the lines that legal codes draw? The fact that several states have adopted laws that deviate from other state laws enables a field experiment to address this question. Residents (N = 203) of states …


Structuring Criminal Codes To Perform Their Function, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2000

Structuring Criminal Codes To Perform Their Function, Paul H. Robinson

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This paper argues that criminal codes have two distinct functions. First, a code must ex ante announce the rules of conduct. Second, it must set out the principles of for adjudicating, ex post, violations of those rules. These two functions often are in tension with one another. Each calls for a different kind of code, addressed to a different audience, with different objectives: To be effective ex ante, the rules of conduct must be formulated in a way that they will be understood, remembered, and able to be applied in daily life by lay persons with a wide range of …


The Five Worst (And Five Best) American Criminal Codes, Paul H. Robinson, Michael T. Cahill, Usman Mohammad Jan 2000

The Five Worst (And Five Best) American Criminal Codes, Paul H. Robinson, Michael T. Cahill, Usman Mohammad

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Each American jurisdiction has a criminal code. Most jurisdictions have substantially restructured and improved their codes since 1962, when the American Law Institute first promulgated its Model Penal Code. Such reform efforts are worthwhile, especially in criminal law, because many advantages flow from the thoughtful codification of criminal law rules. By compiling all criminal rules in a single comprehensive source, codification makes access to these rules easier, increasing the chance that citizens will know what the criminal law commands. A codified rule has the advantage of increased precision, which is likely to increase the uniformity of its application. Uncodified rules--or, …


Making Criminal Codes Functional: A Code Of Conduct And A Code Of Adjudication, Paul H. Robinson, Peter D. Greene, Natasha R. Goldstein Jan 1996

Making Criminal Codes Functional: A Code Of Conduct And A Code Of Adjudication, Paul H. Robinson, Peter D. Greene, Natasha R. Goldstein

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A traditional criminal code performs several functions. It announces the law's commands to those whose conduct it seeks to influence. It also defines the rules to be used in deciding whether a breach of the law's commands will result in criminal liability and, if so, the grade or degree of liability. In serving the first function, the code addresses all members of the public. In performing the second function, it addresses lawyers, judges, jurors, and others who play a role in the adjudication process. In part because of these different audiences, the two functions call for different kinds of documents. …


A Functional Analysis Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1994

A Functional Analysis Of Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson

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The criminal law has three primary functions. First, it must define and announce the conduct that is prohibited (or required) by the criminal law. Such rules of conduct, as they have been called, provide ex ante direction to members of the community as to the conduct that must be avoided (or that must be performed) upon pain of criminal sanction. This may be termed the rule articulation function of the doctrine. When a violation of the rules of conduct occurs, the criminal law takes on a different role. It must decide whether the violation merits criminal liability. This second function, …


Are Criminal Codes Irrelevant?, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1994

Are Criminal Codes Irrelevant?, Paul H. Robinson

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After planning the effort for twenty years, the American Law Institute spent ten years debating and drafting a model criminal code. Twenty-eight drafters and forty-two advisors produced thirteen reports that were debated at eight annual meetings. Twenty years later, seven reporters with twenty-five advisors completed six volumes of official commentaries. This monumental drafting effort served as only the starting point for nearly two-thirds of the states that have recodified their criminal codes since the Model Penal Code was promulgated in 1962. In every instance a commission, legislative committee, or both, devoted additional time and energy redebating and revising the 1962 …


Four Predictions For The Criminal Law Of 2043, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1988

Four Predictions For The Criminal Law Of 2043, Paul H. Robinson

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The Model Penal Code has all the markings of an historic document. It is a sophisticated and enlightened model for penal reform that has put the United States in the front row of reformers. And many believe that the likes of such an historic reform will not come again for more than another century. In my view, it can hardly be disputed that the Code is an historic document. It is less clear, however, that we should not expect a dramatically different code before another century.


Legality And Discretion In The Distribution Of Criminal Sanctions, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1988

Legality And Discretion In The Distribution Of Criminal Sanctions, Paul H. Robinson

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The judicial system now responds to criminal conduct in two rather divergent steps. A judge or jury first determines if a defendant should be held liable for a criminal offense. If so, then the judge or jury goes on to choose a penalty. Precise rules, designed to ensure fairness and predictability, govern the first stage, liability assignment. In the second stage, sentencing, however, judges and juries exercise broad discretion in meting out sanctions. In this Article, Professor Robinson argues that both liability assignment and sentencing are part of a single process of punishing criminal behavior and should be made more …


Element Analysis In Defining Criminal Liability: The Model Penal Code And Beyond, Paul H. Robinson, Jane A. Grall Jan 1983

Element Analysis In Defining Criminal Liability: The Model Penal Code And Beyond, Paul H. Robinson, Jane A. Grall

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The pursuit of fairness and effectiveness has inspired and guided criminal code reformers of the past two decades. Because penal law protects the most important societal interests and authorizes the most serious sanctions the government may impose - the stigma of conviction, imprisonment, and even death - a criminal code, more than any other body of law, should be rational, clear, and internally consistent. Only a precise, principled code that sufficiently defines forbidden conduct can achieve its goals of condemnation and deterrence. Such a code gives citizens fair warning of what will constitute a crime, limits governmental discretion in determining …


A Brief History Of Distinctions In Criminal Culpability, Paul H. Robinson Jan 1980

A Brief History Of Distinctions In Criminal Culpability, Paul H. Robinson

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The Model Penal Code identifies five levels of culpable states of mind significant to criminal liability. Professor Robinson reviews the evolution and refinement of those distinctions and considers current and future implications of viewing the Model Penal Code scheme as one stage in a continuing development.