Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Articles 1 - 30 of 39

Full-Text Articles in Law

Wage Theft Criminalization, Benjamin Levin Jan 2021

Wage Theft Criminalization, Benjamin Levin

Articles

Over the past decade, workers’ rights activists and legal scholars have embraced the language of “wage theft” in describing the abuses of the contemporary workplace. The phrase invokes a certain moral clarity: theft is wrong. The phrase is not merely a rhetorical flourish. Increasingly, it has a specific content for activists, politicians, advocates, and academics: wage theft speaks the language of criminal law, and wage theft is a crime that should be punished. Harshly. Self-proclaimed “progressive prosecutors” have made wage theft cases a priority, and left-leaning politicians in the United States and abroad have begun to propose more criminal statutes ...


Imagining The Progressive Prosecutor, Benjamin Levin Jan 2021

Imagining The Progressive Prosecutor, Benjamin Levin

Articles

As criminal justice reform has attracted greater public support, a new brand of district attorney candidate has arrived: the “progressive prosecutors.” Commentators increasingly have keyed on “progressive prosecutors” as offering a promising avenue for structural change, deserving of significant political capital and academic attention. This Essay asks an unanswered threshold question: what exactly is a “progressive prosecutor”? Is that a meaningful category at all, and if so, who is entitled to claim the mantle? In this Essay, I argue that “progressive prosecutor” means many different things to many different people. These differences in turn reveal important fault lines in academic ...


What's Wrong With Police Unions?, Benjamin Levin Jan 2020

What's Wrong With Police Unions?, Benjamin Levin

Articles

In an era of declining labor power, police unions stand as a rare success story for worker organizing—they exert political clout and negotiate favorable terms for their members. Yet, despite broad support for unionization on the political left, police unions have become public enemy number one for academics and activists concerned about race and police violence. Much criticism of police unions focuses on their obstructionist nature and how they prioritize the interests of their members over the interests of the communities they police. These critiques are compelling—police unions shield officers and block oversight. But, taken seriously, they often ...


Criminal Law In Crisis, Benjamin Levin Jan 2020

Criminal Law In Crisis, Benjamin Levin

Articles

In this Essay, I offer a brief account of how the COVID-19 pandemic lays bare the realities and structural flaws of the carceral state. I provide two primary examples or illustrations, but they are not meant to serve as an exhaustive list. Rather, by highlighting these issues, problems, or (perhaps) features, I mean to suggest that this moment of crisis should serve not just as an opportunity to marshal resources to address the pandemic, but also as a chance to address the harsh realities of the U.S. criminal system. Further, my claim isn’t that criminal law is in ...


The Left's Law-And-Order Agenda, Aya Gruber Jan 2019

The Left's Law-And-Order Agenda, Aya Gruber

Articles

No abstract provided.


Mens Rea Reform And Its Discontents, Benjamin Levin Jan 2019

Mens Rea Reform And Its Discontents, Benjamin Levin

Articles

This Article examines the debates over recent proposals for “mens rea reform.” The substantive criminal law has expanded dramatically, and legislators have criminalized a great deal of common conduct. Often, new criminal laws do not require that defendants know they are acting unlawfully. Mens rea reform proposals seek to address the problems of overcriminalization and unintentional offending by increasing the burden on prosecutors to prove a defendant’s culpable mental state. These proposals have been a staple of conservative-backed bills on criminal justice reform. Many on the left remain skeptical of mens rea reform and view it as a deregulatory ...


Rethinking The Boundaries Of "Criminal Justice", Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

Rethinking The Boundaries Of "Criminal Justice", Benjamin Levin

Articles

This review of The New Criminal Justice Thinking (Sharon Dolovich & Alexandra Natapoff, eds.) tracks the shifting and uncertain contours of “criminal justice” as an object of study and critique.

Specifically, I trace two themes in the book:

(1) the uncertain boundaries of the “criminal justice system” as a web of laws, actors, and institutions; and

(2) the uncertain boundaries of “criminal justice thinking” as a universe of interdisciplinary scholarship, policy discourse, and public engagement.

I argue that these two themes speak to critically important questions about the nature of criminal justice scholarship and reform efforts. Without a firm understanding of what constitutes the “criminal justice system,” it is difficult to agree on the proper targets of critique or to determine what legal, social, and political problems are properly the province of “criminal justice thinking.” And, deciding which voices to accept and privilege in these ...


Criminal Employment Law, Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

Criminal Employment Law, Benjamin Levin

Articles

This Article diagnoses a phenomenon, “criminal employment law,” which exists at the nexus of employment law and the criminal justice system. Courts and legislatures discourage employers from hiring workers with criminal records and encourage employers to discipline workers for non-work-related criminal misconduct. In analyzing this phenomenon, my goals are threefold: (1) to examine how criminal employment law works; (2) to hypothesize why criminal employment law has proliferated; and (3) to assess what is wrong with criminal employment law. This Article examines the ways in which the laws that govern the workplace create incentives for employers not to hire individuals with ...


The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin

Articles

It has become popular to identify a “consensus” on criminal justice reform, but how deep is that consensus, actually? This Article argues that the purported consensus is much more limited than it initially appears. Despite shared reformist vocabulary, the consensus rests on distinct critiques that identify different flaws and justify distinct policy solutions. The underlying disagreements transcend traditional left/right political divides and speak to deeper disputes about the state and the role of criminal law in society.

The Article maps two prevailing, but fundamentally distinct, critiques of criminal law: (1) the quantitative approach (what I call the “over” frame ...


The Chow: Depictions Of The Criminal Justice System As A Character In Crime Fiction, Marianne Wesson Jan 2017

The Chow: Depictions Of The Criminal Justice System As A Character In Crime Fiction, Marianne Wesson

Articles

Having been honored by a request to contribute to a Symposium honoring my talented friend Alafair Burke, I composed this essay describing the various ways the criminal justice system has been depicted in English-language crime fiction. This survey, necessarily highly selective, considers portrayals penned by writers from Dickens to Tana French. Various dimensions of comparison include the authors’ apparent beliefs about the rule of law (from ridiculously idealistic to uncompromisingly cynical), the characters’ professional perspectives (private detective, police officer, prosecutor, defense lawyer, judge, victim, accused), and the protagonists’ status as institutional insiders or outsiders or occupants of the uncomfortable middle ...


The Lgbt Piece Of The Underenforcement-Overenforcement Puzzle, Aya Gruber Jan 2016

The Lgbt Piece Of The Underenforcement-Overenforcement Puzzle, Aya Gruber

Articles

No abstract provided.


Zero-Tolerance Comes To International Law, Aya Gruber Jan 2016

Zero-Tolerance Comes To International Law, Aya Gruber

Articles

No abstract provided.


Response, Values And Assumptions In Criminal Adjudication, Benjamin Levin Jan 2016

Response, Values And Assumptions In Criminal Adjudication, Benjamin Levin

Articles

This Response to Andrew Manuel Crespo's Systemic Facts: Toward Institutional Awareness in Criminal Courts proceeds in two Parts. In Part I, I argue that Crespo presents a compelling case for the importance of systemic factfinding to the task of criminal court judges. If, as a range of scholars has argued, criminal courts are increasingly serving a quasi-administrative function, then shouldn’t they at least be administrating accurately? Systemic Facts provides a novel account of how — with comparatively little institutional reform — courts might begin to serve as more effective administrators. However, in Part II, I also argue that Crespo’s ...


Criminal Labor Law, Benjamin Levin Jan 2016

Criminal Labor Law, Benjamin Levin

Articles

This Article examines a recent rise in civil suits brought against unions under criminal statutes. By looking at the long history of criminal regulation of labor, the Article argues that these suits represent an attack on the theoretical underpinnings of post-New Deal U.S. labor law and an attempt to revive a nineteenth century conception of unions as extortionate criminal conspiracies. The Article further argues that this criminal turn is reflective of a broader contemporary preference for finding criminal solutions to social and economic problems. In a moment of political gridlock, parties seeking regulation increasingly do so via criminal statute ...


Guns And Drugs, Benjamin Levin Jan 2016

Guns And Drugs, Benjamin Levin

Articles

This Article argues that the increasingly prevalent critiques of the War on Drugs apply to other areas of criminal law. To highlight the broader relevance of these critiques, this Article uses as its test case the criminal regulation of gun possession. This Article identifies and distills three lines of drug war criticism and argues that they apply to possessory gun crimes in much the same way that they apply to drug crimes. Specifically, this Article focuses on: (1) race- and class-based critiques; (2) concerns about police and prosecutorial power; and (3) worries about the social and economic costs of mass ...


When Theory Met Practice: Distributional Analysis In Critical Criminal Law Theorizing, Aya Gruber Jan 2015

When Theory Met Practice: Distributional Analysis In Critical Criminal Law Theorizing, Aya Gruber

Articles

Progressive (critical race and feminist) theorizing on criminal law exists within an overarching American criminal law culture in which the U.S penal system has become a "peculiar institution" and a defining governance structure. Much of criminal law discourse is subject to a type of ideological capture in which it is natural to assume that criminalization is a valid, if not preferred, solution to social dysfunction. Accordingly, progressives’ primary concerns about harms to minority victims takes place in a political-legal context in which criminalization is the technique of addressing harm. In turn, progressive criminal law theorizing manifests some deep internal ...


Rethinking Domestic Violence, Rethinking Violence, Aya Gruber Jan 2014

Rethinking Domestic Violence, Rethinking Violence, Aya Gruber

Articles

No abstract provided.


Inmates For Rent, Sovereignty For Sale: The Global Prison Market, Benjamin Levin Jan 2014

Inmates For Rent, Sovereignty For Sale: The Global Prison Market, Benjamin Levin

Articles

In 2009, Belgium and the Netherlands announced a deal to send approximately 500 Belgian inmates to Dutch prisons, in exchange for an annual payment of £26 million. The arrangement was unprecedented, but justified as beneficial to both nations: Belgium had too many prisoners and not enough prisons, whereas the Netherlands had too many prisons and not enough prisoners. The deal has yet to be replicated, nor has it triggered sustained criticism or received significant scholarly treatment. This Article aims to fill this void by examining the exchange and its possible implications for a global market in prisoners and prison space ...


Murder, Minority Victims, And Mercy, Aya Gruber Jan 2014

Murder, Minority Victims, And Mercy, Aya Gruber

Articles

Should the jury have acquitted George Zimmerman of Trayvon Martin's murder? Should enraged husbands receive a pass for killing their cheating wives? Should the law treat a homosexual advance as adequate provocation for killing? Criminal law scholars generally answer these questions with a resounding "no." Theorists argue that criminal laws should not reflect bigoted perceptions of African Americans, women, and gays by permitting judges and jurors to treat those who kill racial and gender minorities with undue mercy. According to this view, murder defenses like provocation should be restricted to ensure that those who kill minority victims receive the ...


Leniency As A Miscarriage Of Race And Gender Justice, Aya Gruber Jan 2013

Leniency As A Miscarriage Of Race And Gender Justice, Aya Gruber

Articles

No abstract provided.


De-Naturalizing Criminal Law: Of Public Perceptions And Procedural Protections, Benjamin Levin Jan 2013

De-Naturalizing Criminal Law: Of Public Perceptions And Procedural Protections, Benjamin Levin

Articles

Innocence, it turns out, is a complex concept. Yet the Innocence Movement has drawn power from the simplicity of the wrong-person story of innocence, as told most effectively by the DNA cases. The purity of that story continues to have power, but that story alone cannot sustain the Innocence Movement. It is too narrow. It fails to accommodate the vast majority of innocent people in our justice system. It fails to embrace innocence in its full complexity. . . . [I]n the end, for virtually all purposes, innocence must be understood under the objective rules that have long governed the criminal justice ...


American Gangsters: Rico, Criminal Syndicates, And Conspiracy Law As Market Control, Benjamin Levin Jan 2013

American Gangsters: Rico, Criminal Syndicates, And Conspiracy Law As Market Control, Benjamin Levin

Articles

In an effort to reexamine legal and political decisions about criminalization and the role of the criminal law in shaping American markets and social institutions, this Article explores the ways in which criminal conspiracy laws in the United States have historically been used to subdue nonstate actors and informal markets that threatened the hegemony of the state and formal market. To this end, the Article focuses primarily on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as illustrative of broader trends in twentieth-century criminal policy. Enacted in 1970, RICO provides criminal sanctions for individuals engaged in unacceptable organized activities and ...


Duncan Kennedy's Third Globalization, Criminal Law, And The Spectacle, Aya Gruber Jan 2012

Duncan Kennedy's Third Globalization, Criminal Law, And The Spectacle, Aya Gruber

Articles

No abstract provided.


Rethinking Attempt Under The Model Penal Code, William T. Pizzi Jan 2012

Rethinking Attempt Under The Model Penal Code, William T. Pizzi

Articles

No abstract provided.


Note, A Defensible Defense?: Reexamining Castle Doctrine Statutes, Benjamin Levin Jan 2010

Note, A Defensible Defense?: Reexamining Castle Doctrine Statutes, Benjamin Levin

Articles

Recent years have seen a proliferation of so-called “castle doctrine” statutes – laws that provide home dwellers with more expansive self-defense protections if they resort to lethal force in confrontations with intruders. The passage of such laws and subsequent uses of the defense have captured the public imagination, prompting significant media attention, as well as skeptical and critical scholarship from the legal academic community.

Considering the current prevalence of castle laws and the often polarized nature of the debate concerning their application, this Article argues that it is important to excavate the doctrine from the culture wars rhetoric in which it ...


The False Promise Of Retributive Proportionality, Aya Gruber Jan 2010

The False Promise Of Retributive Proportionality, Aya Gruber

Articles

No abstract provided.


A Distributive Theory Of Criminal Law, Aya Gruber Jan 2010

A Distributive Theory Of Criminal Law, Aya Gruber

Articles

In criminal law circles, the accepted wisdom is that there are two and only two true justifications of punishment-retributivism and utilitarianism. The multitude of moral claims about punishment may thus be reduced to two propositions: (1) punishment should be imposed because defendants deserve it, and (2) punishment should be imposed because it makes society safer. At the same time, most penal scholars notice the trend in criminal law to de-emphasize intent, centralize harm, and focus on victims, but they largely write off this trend as an irrational return to antiquated notions of vengeance. This Article asserts that there is in ...


Rape, Feminism, And The War On Crime, Aya Gruber Jan 2009

Rape, Feminism, And The War On Crime, Aya Gruber

Articles

Over the past several years, feminism has been increasingly associated with crime control and the incarceration of men. In apparent lock step with the movement of the American penal system, feminists have advocated a host of reforms to strengthen state power to punish gender-based crimes. In the rape context, this effort has produced mixed results. Sexual assault laws that adopt prevailing views of criminality and victimhood, such as predator laws, enjoy great popularity. However, reforms that target the difficulties of date rape prosecutions and seek to counter gender norms, such as rape shield and affirmative consent laws, are controversial, sporadically-implemented ...


The Expanding Use Of The Res Gestae Doctrine, H. Patrick Furman, Ann England Jan 2009

The Expanding Use Of The Res Gestae Doctrine, H. Patrick Furman, Ann England

Articles

This article provides a brief history of the doctrine of res gestae and an analysis of its current usage in both Colorado state and federal courts.


Righting Victim Wrongs: Responding To Philosophical Criticisms Of The Nonspecific Victim Liability Defense, Aya Gruber Jan 2004

Righting Victim Wrongs: Responding To Philosophical Criticisms Of The Nonspecific Victim Liability Defense, Aya Gruber

Articles

Modern criminal law is intensely one-sided in its treatment of victims and defendants. Crime victims and criminal defendants do not enter the trial process on an equal moral footing. Rather, from the beginning victims are assumed blameless, truthful, and even beyond doubt, while defendants are guilty, not worthy of credence, and immoral. This one-sided view of victims, however, is a fiction. As any other people, victims differ in their characterizations. Some are indeed trustworthy, truthful, blameless and ultimately innocent. Others, however, are bad actors themselves, have memory failures, falsely identify, provoke, and even lie. Some victims are in fact, and ...