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The Criminogenic Effects Of Damaging Criminal Law’S Moral Credibility, Paul H. Robinson, Lindsay Holcomb Jul 2021

The Criminogenic Effects Of Damaging Criminal Law’S Moral Credibility, Paul H. Robinson, Lindsay Holcomb

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The criminal justice system’s reputation with the community can have a significant effect on the extent to which people are willing to comply with its demands and internalize its norms. In the context of criminal law, the empirical studies suggest that ordinary people expect the criminal justice system to do justice and avoid injustice, as they perceive it – what has been called “empirical desert” to distinguish it from the “deontological desert” of moral philosophers. The empirical studies and many real-world natural experiments suggest that a criminal justice system that regularly deviates from empirical desert loses moral credibility and thereby ...


Individualizing Criminal Law’S Justice Judgments: Shortcomings In The Doctrines Of Culpability, Mitigation, And Excuse, Paul H. Robinson, Lindsay Holcomb Jul 2021

Individualizing Criminal Law’S Justice Judgments: Shortcomings In The Doctrines Of Culpability, Mitigation, And Excuse, Paul H. Robinson, Lindsay Holcomb

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In judging an offender’s culpability, mitigation, or excuse, there seems to be general agreement that it is appropriate for the criminal law to take into account such things as the offender’s youthfulness or her significantly low IQ. There is even support for taking account of their distorted perceptions and reasoning induced by traumatic experiences, as in battered spouse syndrome. On the other hand, there seems to be equally strong opposition to taking account of things such as racism or homophobia that played a role in bringing about the offense. In between these two clear points, however, exists a ...


After The Crime: Rewarding Offenders’ Positive Post-Offense Conduct, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne Jul 2021

After The Crime: Rewarding Offenders’ Positive Post-Offense Conduct, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

While an offender’s conduct before and during the crime is the traditional focus of criminal law and sentencing rules, an examination of post-offense conduct can also be important in promoting criminal justice goals. After the crime, different offenders make different choices and have different experiences, and those differences can suggest appropriately different treatment by judges, correctional officials, probation and parole supervisors, and other decision-makers in the criminal justice system.

Positive post-offense conduct ought to be acknowledged and rewarded, not only to encourage it but also as a matter of fair and just treatment. This essay describes four kinds of ...


The Deregulation Deception, Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, Stuart Shapiro Jun 2021

The Deregulation Deception, Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, Stuart Shapiro

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

President Donald Trump and members of his Administration repeatedly asserted that they had delivered substantial deregulation that fueled positive trends in the U.S. economy prior to the COVID pandemic. Drawing on an original analysis of data on federal regulation from across the Trump Administration’s four years, we show that the Trump Administration actually accomplished much less by way of deregulation than it repeatedly claimed—and much less than many commentators and scholars have believed. In addition, and also contrary to the Administration’s claims, overall economic trends in the pre-pandemic Trump years tended simply to follow economic trends ...


Unrules, Cary Coglianese, Gabriel Scheffler, Daniel Walters Apr 2021

Unrules, Cary Coglianese, Gabriel Scheffler, Daniel Walters

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

At the center of contemporary debates over public law lies administrative agencies’ discretion to impose rules. Yet, for every one of these rules, there are also unrules nearby. Often overlooked and sometimes barely visible, unrules are the decisions that regulators make to lift or limit the scope of a regulatory obligation, for instance through waivers, exemptions, and exceptions. In some cases, unrules enable regulators to reduce burdens on regulated entities or to conserve valuable government resources in ways that make law more efficient. However, too much discretion to create unrules can facilitate undue business influence over the law, weaken regulatory ...


How Criminal Code Drafting Form Can Restrain Prosecutorial And Legislative Excesses: Consolidated Offense Drafting, Paul H. Robinson, Matthew Kussmaul, Muhammad Sarahne Mar 2021

How Criminal Code Drafting Form Can Restrain Prosecutorial And Legislative Excesses: Consolidated Offense Drafting, Paul H. Robinson, Matthew Kussmaul, Muhammad Sarahne

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Solving criminal justice problems typically requires the enactment of new rules or the modification of existing ones. But there are some serious problems that can best be solved simply by altering the way in which the existing rules are drafted rather than by altering their content. This is the case with two of the most serious problems in criminal justice today: the problem of overlapping criminal offenses that create excessive prosecutorial charging discretion and the problem of legislative inconsistency and irrationality in grading offenses.

After examining these two problems and demonstrating their serious effects in perverting criminal justice, the essay ...


A Remedy For The Least Well Off: The Case For Preliminary Damages, Gideon Parchomovsky, Alex Stein Feb 2021

A Remedy For The Least Well Off: The Case For Preliminary Damages, Gideon Parchomovsky, Alex Stein

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Historically, the law helped impecunious plaintiffs overcome their inherent disadvantage in civil litigation. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case: modern law has largely abandoned the mission of assisting the least well off. In this Essay, we propose a new remedy that can dramatically improve the fortunes of poor plaintiffs and thereby change the errant path of the law: preliminary damages. The unavailability of preliminary damages has dire implications for poor plaintiffs, especially those wronged by affluent individuals and corporations. Resource constrained plaintiffs cannot afford prolonged litigation on account of their limited financial means. Consequently, they are forced to either ...


Pretrial Detention And The Value Of Liberty, Megan Stevenson, Sandra G. Mayson Feb 2021

Pretrial Detention And The Value Of Liberty, Megan Stevenson, Sandra G. Mayson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

How dangerous must a person be to justify the state in locking her up for the greater good? The bail reform movement, which aspires to limit pretrial detention to the truly dangerous—and which has looked to algorithmic risk assessments to quantify danger—has brought this question to the fore. Constitutional doctrine authorizes pretrial detention when the government’s interest in safety “outweighs” an individual’s interest in liberty, but it does not specify how to balance these goods. If detaining ten presumptively innocent people for three months is projected to prevent one robbery, is it worth it?

This Article ...


Leases As Forms, David A. Hoffman, Anton Strezhnev Feb 2021

Leases As Forms, David A. Hoffman, Anton Strezhnev

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

We offer the first large scale descriptive study of residential leases, based on a dataset of ~170,000 residential leases filed in support of over ~200,000 Philadelphia eviction proceedings from 2005 through 2019. These leases are highly likely to contain unenforceable terms, and their pro-landlord tilt has increased sharply over time. Matching leases with individual tenant characteristics, we show that unlawful terms are surprisingly likely to be associated with more expensive leaseholds in richer, whiter parts of the city. This result is linked to landlords' growing adoption of shared forms, originally created by non-profit landlord associations, and more recently ...


Criminal Law’S Core Principles, Paul H. Robinson Feb 2021

Criminal Law’S Core Principles, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Modern criminal law scholars and policymakers assume they are free to construct criminal law rules by focusing exclusively on the criminal justice theory of the day. But this “blank slate” conception of criminal lawmaking is dangerously misguided. In fact, lawmakers are writing on a slate on which core principles are already indelibly written and realistically they are free only to add detail in the implementation of those principles and to add additional provisions not inconsistent with them. Attempts to do otherwise are destined to produce tragic results from both utilitarian and retributivist views.

Many writers dispute that such core principles ...


Before And After Hinckley: Legal Insanity In The United States, Stephen J. Morse Feb 2021

Before And After Hinckley: Legal Insanity In The United States, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This chapter first considers the direction of the affirmative defense of legal insanity in the United States before John Hinckley was acquitted by reason of insanity in 1982 for attempting to assassinate President Reagan and others and the immediate aftermath of that acquittal. Since the middle of the 20th Century, the tale is one of the rise and fall of the American Law Institute’s Model Penal Code test for legal insanity. Then it turns to the constitutional decisions of the United States Supreme Court concerning the status of legal insanity. Finally, it addresses the substantive and procedural changes ...


Undemocratic Crimes, Paul H. Robinson, Jonathan C. Wilt Jan 2021

Undemocratic Crimes, Paul H. Robinson, Jonathan C. Wilt

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

One might assume that in a working democracy the criminal law rules would reflect the community’s shared judgments regarding justice and punishment. This is especially true because social science research shows that lay people generally think about criminal liability and punishment in consistent ways: in terms of desert, doing justice and avoiding injustice. Moreover, there are compelling arguments for demanding consistency between community views and criminal law rules based upon the importance of democratic values, effective crime-control, and the deontological value of justice itself.

It may then come as a surprise, and a disappointment, that a wide range of ...


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 ...


Indoctrination And Social Influence As A Defense To Crime: Are We Responsible For Who We Are?, Paul H. Robinson, Lindsay Holcomb Jan 2021

Indoctrination And Social Influence As A Defense To Crime: Are We Responsible For Who We Are?, Paul H. Robinson, Lindsay Holcomb

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A patriotic POW is brainwashed by his North Korean captors into refusing repatriation and undertaking treasonous anti-American propaganda for the communist regime. Despite the general abhorrence of treason in time of war, the American public opposes criminal liability for such indoctrinated soldiers, yet existing criminal law provides no defense or mitigation because, at the time of the offense, the indoctrinated offender suffers no cognitive or control dysfunction, no mental or emotional impairment, and no external or internal compulsion. Rather, he was acting purely in the exercise of free of will, albeit based upon beliefs and values that he had not ...


What Regulators Can Learn From Global Health Governance, Cary Coglianese Jan 2021

What Regulators Can Learn From Global Health Governance, Cary Coglianese

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Great Pandemic of 2020 shows how much public health around the world depends on effective global and domestic governance. Yet for too long, global health governance and domestic regulatory governance have remained largely separate fields of scholarship and practice. In her book, Global Health Justice and Governance, Jennifer Prah Ruger offers scholars and practitioners of regulatory governance an excellent opportunity to see how domestic regulation shares many of the same problems, strategies, and challenges as global health governance. These commonalities reinforce how much national and subnational regulators can learn from global health governance. Drawing on insights from Prah Ruger ...


Prosecuting Civil Asset Forfeiture On Contingency Fees: Looking For Profit In All The Wrong Places, Louis S. Rulli Jan 2021

Prosecuting Civil Asset Forfeiture On Contingency Fees: Looking For Profit In All The Wrong Places, Louis S. Rulli

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Civil asset forfeiture has strayed far from its intended purpose. Designed to give law enforcement powerful tools to combat maritime offenses and criminal enterprises, forfeiture laws are now used to prey upon innocent motorists and lawful homeowners who are never charged with crimes. Their only sins are that they are carrying legal tender while driving on busy highways or providing shelter in their homes to adult children and grandchildren who allegedly sold small amounts of low-level drugs. Civil forfeiture abuses are commonplace throughout the country with some police even armed with legal waivers for property owners to sign on the ...


Fair Questions: A Call And Proposal For Using General Verdicts With Special Interrogatories To Prevent Biased And Unjust Convictions, Charles Eric Hintz Jan 2021

Fair Questions: A Call And Proposal For Using General Verdicts With Special Interrogatories To Prevent Biased And Unjust Convictions, Charles Eric Hintz

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Bias and other forms of logical corner-cutting are an unfortunate aspect of criminal jury deliberations. However, the preferred verdict system in the federal courts, the general verdict, does nothing to counter that. Rather, by forcing jurors into a simple binary choice — guilty or not guilty — the general verdict facilitates and encourages such flawed reasoning. Yet the federal courts continue to stick to the general verdict, ironically out of a concern that deviating from it will harm defendants by leading juries to convict.

This Essay calls for a change: expand the use of a special findings verdict, the general verdict with ...


Is Executive Function The Universal Acid?, Stephen J. Morse Nov 2020

Is Executive Function The Universal Acid?, Stephen J. Morse

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay responds to Hirstein, Sifferd and Fagan’s book, Responsible Brains (MIT Press, 2018), which claims that executive function is the guiding mechanism that supports both responsible agency and the necessity for some excuses. In contrast, I suggest that executive function is not the universal acid and the neuroscience at present contributes almost nothing to the necessary psychological level of explanation and analysis. To the extent neuroscience can be useful, it is virtually entirely dependent on well-validated psychology to correlate with the neuroscientific variables under investigation. The essay considers what executive function is and what the neuroscience adds to ...


Covid And Crime: An Early Empirical Look, David S. Abrams Nov 2020

Covid And Crime: An Early Empirical Look, David S. Abrams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Data from 25 large U.S. cities is assembled to estimate the impact of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic on crime. There is a widespread immediate drop in both criminal incidents and arrests most heavily pronounced among drug crimes, theft, residential burglaries, and most violent crimes. The decline appears to precede stay-at-home orders, and arrests follow a similar pattern as reports. There is no decline in homicides and shootings, and an increase in non-residential burglary and car theft in most cities, suggesting that criminal activity was displaced to locations with fewer people. Pittsburgh, New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia ...


How Medicalization Of Civil Rights Could Disappoint, Allison K. Hoffman Jul 2020

How Medicalization Of Civil Rights Could Disappoint, Allison K. Hoffman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay reflects on Craig Konnoth’s recent Article, Medicalization and the New Civil Rights, which is a carefully crafted and thought-provoking description of the refashioning of civil rights claims into medical rights frameworks. He compellingly threads together many intellectual traditions—from antidiscrimination law to disability law to health law—to illustrate the pervasiveness of the phenomenon that he describes and why it might be productive as a tool to advance civil rights.

This response, however, offers several reasons why medicalization may not cure all that ails civil rights litigation’s pains and elaborates on the potential risks of overinvesting ...


Sobering Up After The Seventh Inning: Alcohol And Crime Around The Ballpark, Jonathan Klick, John M. Macdonald Apr 2020

Sobering Up After The Seventh Inning: Alcohol And Crime Around The Ballpark, Jonathan Klick, John M. Macdonald

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Objectives: This study examines the impact of alcohol consumption in a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium on area level counts of crime. The modal practice at MLB stadiums is to stop selling alcoholic beverages after the seventh inning. Baseball is not a timed game, so the duration between end of the seventh inning (last call for alcohol) and the end of the game varies considerably, providing a unique natural experiment that allows us to estimate the relationship between alcohol consumption and crime near a stadium on game days to non-game days and to areas around sports bars that fans also ...


The Saga Of Pennsylvania’S “Willie Horton” And The Commutation Of Life Sentences In The Commonwealth, Regina Austin Feb 2020

The Saga Of Pennsylvania’S “Willie Horton” And The Commutation Of Life Sentences In The Commonwealth, Regina Austin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In 1994, Reginald McFadden’s sentence of life without the possibility of parole was commuted by the governor of Pennsylvania, and he was shipped to New York to be supervised by a bunch of amateurs. Within roughly 90 days, he murdered two people, raped and kidnapped a third, and possibly murdered a fourth. McFadden proved to be Lieutenant Governor Mark Singel’s “Willie Horton.” Singel, who had voted for McFadden’s release as a member of the Board of Pardons, lost the gubernatorial election to his Republican opponent who ran on a “life-means-life” platform. Compounding the tragedy of McFadden’s ...


The Cost Of Doing Business: Corporate Crime And Punishment Post-Crisis, Dorothy S. Lund, Natasha Sarin Feb 2020

The Cost Of Doing Business: Corporate Crime And Punishment Post-Crisis, Dorothy S. Lund, Natasha Sarin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

For many years, law and economics scholars, as well as politicians and regulators, have debated whether corporate criminal enforcement overdeters beneficial corporate activity or in the alternative, lets corporate criminals off too easily. This debate has recently expanded in its polarization: On the one hand, academics, judges, and politicians have excoriated the DOJ for failing to send guilty bankers to jail in the wake of the financial crisis; on the other, the DOJ has since relaxed policies aimed to secure individual lability and reduced the size of fines and number of prosecutions.

A crucial and yet understudied piece of evidence ...


The Expansive Reach Of Pretrial Detention, Paul Heaton Feb 2020

The Expansive Reach Of Pretrial Detention, Paul Heaton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Today we know much more about the effects of pretrial detention than we did even five years ago. Multiple empirical studies have emerged that shed new light on the far-reaching impacts of bail decisions made at the earliest stages of the criminal adjudication process. The takeaway from this new generation of studies is that pretrial detention has substantial downstream effects on both the operation of the criminal justice system and on defendants themselves, causally increasing the likelihood of a conviction, the severity of the sentence, and, in some jurisdictions, defendants’ likelihood of future contact with the criminal justice system. Detention ...


Mitigations: The Forgotten Side Of The Proportionality Principle, Paul H. Robinson Jan 2020

Mitigations: The Forgotten Side Of The Proportionality Principle, Paul H. Robinson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In the first change to the Model Penal Code since its promulgation in 1962, the American Law Institute in 2017 set blameworthiness proportionality as the dominant distributive principle for criminal punishment. Empirical studies suggest that this is in fact the principle that ordinary people use in assessing proper punishment. Its adoption as the governing distributive principle makes good sense because it promotes not only the classic desert retributivism of moral philosophers but also crime-control utilitarianism, by enhancing the criminal law’s moral credibility with the community and thereby promoting deference, compliance, acquiescence, and internalization of its norms, rather than suffering ...


Rejoining Treaties, Jean Galbraith Jan 2020

Rejoining Treaties, Jean Galbraith

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Historical practice supports the conclusion that the President can unilaterally withdraw the United States from treaties which an earlier President joined with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate, at least as long as this withdrawal is consistent with international law. This Article considers a further question that to date is deeply underexplored. This is: does the original Senate resolution of advice and consent to a treaty remain effective even after a President has withdrawn the United States from a treaty? I argue that the answer to this question is yes, except in certain limited circumstances. This answer ...


The Opposite Of Punishment: Imagining A Path To Public Redemption, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne Jan 2020

The Opposite Of Punishment: Imagining A Path To Public Redemption, Paul H. Robinson, Muhammad Sarahne

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The criminal justice system traditionally performs its public functions – condemning prohibited conduct, shaming and stigmatizing violators, promoting societal norms – through the use of negative examples: convicting and punishing violators. One could imagine, however, that the same public functions could also be performed through the use of positive examples: publicly acknowledging and celebrating offenders who have chosen a path of atonement through confession, apology, making amends, acquiescing in just punishment, and promising future law abidingness. An offender who takes this path arguably deserves official public recognition, an update of all records and databases to record the public redemption, and an exemption ...


The Concept Of Criminal Law, Sandra G. Mayson Jan 2020

The Concept Of Criminal Law, Sandra G. Mayson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

What distinguishes “criminal law” from all other law? This question should be central to both criminal law theory and criminal justice reform. Clarity about the distinctive feature(s) of criminal law is especially important in the current moment, as the nation awakens to the damage that the carceral state has wrought and reformers debate the value and the future of criminal law institutions. Foundational though it is, however, the question has received limited attention. There is no clear consensus among contemporary scholars or reformers about what makes the criminal law unique.

This Essay argues that Antony Duff’s The Realm ...


Misdemeanors By The Numbers, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan T. Stevenson Jan 2020

Misdemeanors By The Numbers, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan T. Stevenson

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Recent scholarship has underlined the importance of criminal misdemeanor law enforcement, including the impact of public-order policing on communities of color, the collateral consequences of misdemeanor arrest or conviction, and the use of misdemeanor prosecution to raise municipal revenue. But despite the fact that misdemeanors represent more than three-quarters of all criminal cases filed annually in the United States, our knowledge of misdemeanor case processing is based mostly on anecdote and extremely localized research. This Article represents the most substantial empirical analysis of misdemeanor case processing to date. Using multiple court-record datasets, covering several million cases across eight diverse jurisdictions ...


Boots And Bail On The Ground: Assessing The Implementation Of Misdemeanor Bail Reforms In Georgia, Andrea Woods, Sandra G. Mayson, Lauren Sudeall, Guthrie Armstrong, Anthony Potts Jan 2020

Boots And Bail On The Ground: Assessing The Implementation Of Misdemeanor Bail Reforms In Georgia, Andrea Woods, Sandra G. Mayson, Lauren Sudeall, Guthrie Armstrong, Anthony Potts

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article presents a mixed-methods study of misdemeanor bail practice across Georgia in the wake of reform. We observed bail hearings and interviewed system actors in a representative sample of fifty-five counties to assess the extent to which pretrial practice conforms to legal standards clarified in Senate Bill 407 and Walker v. Calhoun. We also analyzed jail population data published by county jails and by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. We found that a handful of counties have made promising headway in adhering to law and best practices, but that the majority have some distance to go. Most counties ...