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Criminal Law Exceptionalism, Benjamin Levin Jan 2022

Criminal Law Exceptionalism, Benjamin Levin

Publications

For over half a century, U.S. prison populations have ballooned and criminal codes have expanded. In recent years, a growing awareness of mass incarceration and the harms of criminal law across lines of race and class has led to a backlash of anti-carceral commentary and social movement energy. Academics and activists have adopted a critical posture, offering not only small-bore reforms, but full-fledged arguments for the abolition of prisons, police, and criminal legal institutions. Where criminal law was once embraced by commentators as a catchall solution to social problems, increasingly it is being rejected, or at least questioned. Instead of …


When We Breathe: Re-Envisioning Safety And Justice In A Post-Floyd Era, Aya Gruber Jan 2021

When We Breathe: Re-Envisioning Safety And Justice In A Post-Floyd Era, Aya Gruber

Publications

10th Annual David H. Bodiker Lecture on Criminal Justice delivered on Wed., Oct. 21, 2020 at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.


Imagining The Progressive Prosecutor, Benjamin Levin Jan 2021

Imagining The Progressive Prosecutor, Benjamin Levin

Publications

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 …


Women’S Votes, Women’S Voices, And The Limits Of Criminal Justice Reform, 1911–1950, Carolyn B. Ramsey Jan 2021

Women’S Votes, Women’S Voices, And The Limits Of Criminal Justice Reform, 1911–1950, Carolyn B. Ramsey

Publications

Deriving its vigor from the work of grassroots organizations at the state and local levels, the League of Women Voters (LWV) sought, in the first half of the twentieth century, to provide newly enfranchised women with a political education to strengthen their voice in public affairs. Local branches like the San Francisco Center learned from experience—through practical involvement in a variety of social welfare and criminal justice initiatives. This Article, written for a symposium commemorating the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, assesses the role of LWV leaders in California and especially San Francisco in reforming three aspects of the criminal …


The Fourth Amendment’S Forgotten Free-Speech Dimensions, Aya Gruber Jan 2021

The Fourth Amendment’S Forgotten Free-Speech Dimensions, Aya Gruber

Publications

No abstract provided.


Policing And "Bluelining", Aya Gruber Jan 2021

Policing And "Bluelining", Aya Gruber

Publications

In this Commentary written for the Frankel Lecture symposium on police killings of Black Americans, I explore the increasingly popular claim that racialized brutality is not a malfunction of policing but its function. Or, as Paul Butler counsels, “Don’t get it twisted—the criminal justice system ain’t broke. It’s working just the way it’s supposed to.” This claim contradicts the conventional narrative, which remains largely accepted, that the police exist to vindicate the community’s interest in solving, reducing, and preventing crime. A perusal of the history of organized policing in the United States, however, reveals that it was never mainly about …


Response: Race-Of-Victim Disparities And The "Level Up" Problem, Aya Gruber Jan 2020

Response: Race-Of-Victim Disparities And The "Level Up" Problem, Aya Gruber

Publications

No abstract provided.


The Failure Of The Criminal Procedure Revolution, William T. Pizzi Jan 2020

The Failure Of The Criminal Procedure Revolution, William T. Pizzi

Publications

No abstract provided.


Criminal Law In Crisis, Benjamin Levin Jan 2020

Criminal Law In Crisis, Benjamin Levin

Publications

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 some way …


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

What's Wrong With Police Unions?, Benjamin Levin

Publications

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 sound like …


Race, Space, And Surveillance: A Response To #Livingwhileblack: Blackness As Nuisance, Lolita Buckner Inniss Jan 2020

Race, Space, And Surveillance: A Response To #Livingwhileblack: Blackness As Nuisance, Lolita Buckner Inniss

Publications

This article is an invited response to an American University Law Review article titled “#LivingWhileBlack: Blackness as Nuisance” that has been widely discussed in the news media and in academic circles.


De-Democratizing Criminal Law, Benjamin Levin Jan 2020

De-Democratizing Criminal Law, Benjamin Levin

Publications

No abstract provided.


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

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

Publications

No abstract provided.


Mens Rea Reform And Its Discontents, Benjamin Levin Jan 2019

Mens Rea Reform And Its Discontents, Benjamin Levin

Publications

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 vehicle …


Character Flaws, Frederic Bloom Jan 2018

Character Flaws, Frederic Bloom

Publications

Character evidence doctrine is infected by error. It is riddled with a set of pervasive mistakes and misconceptions—a group of gaffes and glitches involving Rule 404(b)’s “other purposes” (like intent, absence of accident, and plan) that might be called “character flaws.” This Essay identifies and investigates those flaws through the lens of a single, sensational case: United States v. Henthorn. By itself, Henthorn is a tale worth telling—an astonishing story of danger and deceit, malice and murder. But Henthorn is more than just a stunning story. It is also an example and an opportunity, a chance to consider character …


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

The Consensus Myth In Criminal Justice Reform, Benjamin Levin

Publications

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); and …


Criminal Employment Law, Benjamin Levin Jan 2018

Criminal Employment Law, Benjamin Levin

Publications

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 …


Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber Jan 2018

Equal Protection Under The Carceral State, Aya Gruber

Publications

McCleskey v. Kemp, the case that upheld the death penalty despite undeniable evidence of its racially disparate impact, is indelibly marked by Justice William Brennan’s phrase, “a fear of too much justice.” The popular interpretation of this phrase is that the Supreme Court harbored what I call a “disparity-claim fear,” dreading a future docket of racial discrimination claims and erecting an impossibly high bar for proving an equal protection violation. A related interpretation is that the majority had a “color-consciousness fear” of remedying discrimination through race-remedial policies. In contrast to these conventional views, I argue that the primary anxiety …


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

Rethinking The Boundaries Of "Criminal Justice", Benjamin Levin

Publications

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 …


"Make Him An Offer He Can't Refuse"-- Mezzanatto Waivers As Lynchpin Of Prosecutorial Overreach, Christopher B. Mueller Jan 2017

"Make Him An Offer He Can't Refuse"-- Mezzanatto Waivers As Lynchpin Of Prosecutorial Overreach, Christopher B. Mueller

Publications

Plea bargaining is the dominant means of disposing of criminal charges in the United States, in both state and federal courts. This administrative mechanism has become a system that is grossly abusive of individual rights, leading to many well-known maladies of the criminal justice system, which include overcharging, overincarceration, convictions on charges that would likely fail at trial, and even conviction of “factually innocent” persons. Instrumental in the abuses of plea bargaining is the so-called Mezzanatto waiver, which takes its name from a 1995 Supreme Court decision that approved the practice of getting defendants to agree that anything they say …


An Expressive Theory Of Privacy Intrusions, Craig Konnoth Jan 2017

An Expressive Theory Of Privacy Intrusions, Craig Konnoth

Publications

The harms of privacy intrusions are numerous. They include discrimination, reputational harm, and chilling effects on speech, thought, and behavior. However, scholarship has yet to fully recognize a kind of privacy harm that this article terms "expressive."

Depending on where the search is taking place and who the actors involved are--a teacher in a school, the police on the street, a food inspector in a restaurant--victims and observers might infer different messages from the search. The search marks the importance of certain societal values such as law enforcement or food safety. It can also send messages about certain groups by …


Firearms In The Family, Carolyn B. Ramsey Jan 2017

Firearms In The Family, Carolyn B. Ramsey

Publications

This Article considers firearms prohibitions for domestic violence offenders, in light of recent Supreme Court decisions and the larger, national debate about gun control. Unlike other scholarship in the area, it confronts the costs of ratcheting up the scope and enforcement of such firearms bans and argues that the politicization of safety has come at the expense of a sound approach to gun control in the context of intimate-partner abuse. In doing so, it expands scholarly arguments against mandatory, one-size-fits-all criminal justice responses to domestic violence in a direction that other critics have been reluctant to go, perhaps because of …


Threaten Sentencing Enhancement, Coerce Plea, (Wash, Rinse,) Repeat: A Cause Of Wrongful Conviction By Guilty Plea, Wes R. Porter Jan 2016

Threaten Sentencing Enhancement, Coerce Plea, (Wash, Rinse,) Repeat: A Cause Of Wrongful Conviction By Guilty Plea, Wes R. Porter

Publications

Our American criminal justice system is too often described as broken. It was not a clean break in a single, isolated location. Instead, our criminal justice system suffers from many, many little nicks, bumps, and bruises at the hands of its keepers. The evolution of sentencing enhancements within our criminal justice system represents the latest nagging, reoccurring injury. In the ultimate Trojan horse to criminal defendants, the Supreme Court sought to protect the individual rights of the accused with its recent decisions on sentencing enhancements. But at the hands of lawmakers, the judiciary, and prosecutors, criminal defendants suffer more. Our …


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

Response, Values And Assumptions In Criminal Adjudication, Benjamin Levin

Publications

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 account …


Guns And Drugs, Benjamin Levin Jan 2016

Guns And Drugs, Benjamin Levin

Publications

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 …


Comparative Reflections On Duncan V. Louisiana And Baldwin V. New York, William Pizzi Jan 2016

Comparative Reflections On Duncan V. Louisiana And Baldwin V. New York, William Pizzi

Publications

No abstract provided.


Just Between Yoo And He: Two Justice Department Lawyers' Imaginary Torturous Email, Stephen A. Rosenbaum Jan 2015

Just Between Yoo And He: Two Justice Department Lawyers' Imaginary Torturous Email, Stephen A. Rosenbaum

Publications

On December 9, 2014, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its long-awaited Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, which The New York Times described as “a portrait of depravity that is hard to comprehend and even harder to stomach.” The Times had reported four years earlier that a number of Department of Justice (DoJ) emails were determined to be missing during the Office of Professional Responsibility's investigation of the Bush Administration memoranda providing legal justification for “enhanced interrogations,” the so-called torture memos. What follows is an imaginary exchange of emails between two young …


Revisiting The Mansions And Gatehouses Of Criminal Procedure: Reflections On Yale Kamisar's Famous Essay, William T. Pizzi Jan 2015

Revisiting The Mansions And Gatehouses Of Criminal Procedure: Reflections On Yale Kamisar's Famous Essay, William T. Pizzi

Publications

In 1965, Yale Kamisar published a now-famous essay entitled, Equal Justice in the Gatehouses and Mansions of American Criminal Procedure: From Powell to Gideon, from Escobedo to... to make his case that the Court needed to take action to protect citizens in interrogation rooms, Kamisar used the powerful metaphors of the gatehouse and the mansion to contrast the treatment received in interrogation rooms in the back of police stations with the way defendants were treated when they arrived at courthouses where the power of the state was restricted and they had strong constitutional protections.

On its 50th anniversary since publication, …


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

Publications

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 tensions. …


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

Publications

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. …