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Legal Education

2009

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The Anti-Case Method: Herbert Wechsler And The Political History Of The Criminal Law Course, Anders Walker Jan 2009

The Anti-Case Method: Herbert Wechsler And The Political History Of The Criminal Law Course, Anders Walker

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This article is the first to recover the dramatic transformation in criminal law teaching away from the case method and towards a more open-ended philosophical approach in the 1930s. It makes three contributions. One, it shows how Columbia Law Professor Herbert Wechsler revolutionized the teaching of criminal law by de-emphasizing cases and including a variety of non-case related material in his 1940 text Criminal Law and Its Administration. Two, it reveals that at least part of Wechsler's intention behind transforming criminal law teaching was to undermine Langdell's case method, which he blamed for producing a "closed-system" view of the law …