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Full-Text Articles in Law

Proportionality, Constraint, And Culpability, Mitchell N. Berman Sep 2021

Proportionality, Constraint, And Culpability, Mitchell N. Berman

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Philosophers of criminal punishment widely agree that criminal punishment should be “proportional” to the “seriousness” of the offense. But this apparent consensus is only superficial, masking significant dissensus below the surface. Proposed proportionality principles differ on several distinct dimensions, including: (1) regarding which offense or offender properties determine offense “seriousness” and thus constitute a proportionality relatum; (2) regarding whether punishment is objectionably disproportionate only when excessively severe, or also when excessively lenient; and (3) regarding whether the principle can deliver absolute (“cardinal”) judgments, or only comparative (“ordinal”) ones. This essay proposes that these differences cannot be successfully adjudicated, and one …


Blameworthiness, Desert, And Luck, Mitchell N. Berman Sep 2021

Blameworthiness, Desert, And Luck, Mitchell N. Berman

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Philosophers disagree about whether outcome luck can affect an agent’s “moral responsibility.” Focusing on responsibility’s “negative side,” some maintain, and others deny, that an action’s results bear constitutively on how “blameworthy” the actor is, and on how much blame or punishment they “deserve.” Crucially, both sides to the debate assume that an actor’s blameworthiness and negative desert are equally affected—or unaffected—by an action’s results. This article challenges that previously overlooked assumption, arguing that blameworthiness and desert are distinct moral notions that serve distinct normative functions: blameworthiness serves a liability function (removing a bar to otherwise impermissible treatments), whereas desert serves …


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

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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 positive …


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

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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 …


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

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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 that …


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

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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 …


Sustaining Lawyers, Seema Saifee Jan 2021

Sustaining Lawyers, Seema Saifee

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Many lawyers are drawn to a career in social justice, in part, to help others and, in part, to fulfill their own path to wellness. Advocacy that sustains personal well-being, however, also poses considerable obstacles to well-being. Some of these obstacles are inherent to social justice work but some are embedded within organizational culture. These cultural norms impair the health of advocates, harm the communities with whom they work, and portend far-reaching consequences for the future of progressive struggles for freedom. Drawing on the author's personal experience, this Essay identifies three cultural norms, described as pathologies, that are rarely discussed …


Exposing Police Misconduct In Pre-Trial Criminal Proceedings, Anjelica Hendricks Jan 2021

Exposing Police Misconduct In Pre-Trial Criminal Proceedings, Anjelica Hendricks

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This Article presents a unique argument: police misconduct records should be accessible and applicable for pre-trial criminal proceedings. Unfortunately, the existing narrative on the value of police misconduct records is narrow because it exclusively considers how these records can be used to impeach officer credibility at trial. This focus is limiting for several reasons. First, it addresses too few defendants, since fewer than 3% of criminal cases make it to trial. Second, it overlooks misconduct records not directly addressing credibility—such as records demonstrating paperwork deficiencies, failures to appear in court, and “mistakes” that upon examination are patterns of abuse. Finally, …


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

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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 …


Criminal Legal Education, Shaun Ossei-Owusu Jan 2021

Criminal Legal Education, Shaun Ossei-Owusu

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The protests of 2020 have jumpstarted conversations about criminal justice reform in the public and professoriate. Although there have been longstanding demands for reformation and reimagining of the criminal justice system, recent calls have taken on a new urgency. Greater public awareness of racial bias, increasing visual evidence of state-sanctioned killings, and the televised policing of peaceful dissent have forced the public to reckon with a penal state whose brutality was comfortably tolerated. Scholars are publishing op-eds, policy proposals, and articles with rapidity, pointing to different factors and actors that produce the need for reform. However, one input has gone …


Kangaroo Courts, Shaun Ossei-Owusu Jan 2021

Kangaroo Courts, Shaun Ossei-Owusu

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Kangaroo courts are seemingly everywhere and nowhere. Legal actors often use this term to describe substandard and defective tribunals across various areas of American law. Yet there are few scholarly treatments of this evocative term. Without embracing this specific description, Professor Alexandra Natapoff’s Criminal Municipal Courts provides vivid insights into a rarely explored world of administration that has many of the trappings of kangaroo courts. Natapoff catalogs how municipal courts — also referred to as “town,” “summary,” “justice,” “mayor,” and “police” courts — are sometimes replete with conflicts of interests, shockingly staffed with nonlawyer judges, and often flouting standard criminal …


Ai In Adjudication And Administration, Cary Coglianese, Lavi M. Ben Dor Jan 2021

Ai In Adjudication And Administration, Cary Coglianese, Lavi M. Ben Dor

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The use of artificial intelligence has expanded rapidly in recent years across many aspects of the economy. For federal, state, and local governments in the United States, interest in artificial intelligence has manifested in the use of a series of digital tools, including the occasional deployment of machine learning, to aid in the performance of a variety of governmental functions. In this paper, we canvas the current uses of such digital tools and machine-learning technologies by the judiciary and administrative agencies in the United States. Although we have yet to see fully automated decision-making find its way into either adjudication …


Taking Aim At Pointing Guns? Start With Citizen’S Arrest, Not Stand Your Ground: A Reply To Joseph Blocher, Samuel W. Buell, Jacob D. Charles, And Darrell A.H. Miller, Pointing Guns, 99 Texas L. Rev. 1173 (2021), Kimberly Kessler Ferzan Jan 2021

Taking Aim At Pointing Guns? Start With Citizen’S Arrest, Not Stand Your Ground: A Reply To Joseph Blocher, Samuel W. Buell, Jacob D. Charles, And Darrell A.H. Miller, Pointing Guns, 99 Texas L. Rev. 1173 (2021), Kimberly Kessler Ferzan

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No abstract provided.


#Believewomen And The Presumption Of Innocence: Clarifying The Questions For Law And Life, Kimberly Kessler Ferzan Jan 2021

#Believewomen And The Presumption Of Innocence: Clarifying The Questions For Law And Life, Kimberly Kessler Ferzan

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The presumption of innocence and #BelieveWomen both embody compelling considerations, and we may wonder how to reconcile them. My project does not aim to reconcile the positions, but rather, it is prior to it. My goal in this paper is to better explicate the claims that underlie both #BelieveWomen and the presumption of innocence in law and life, as well as to identify instances in which cross-pollination, between our everyday evaluations and the legal system, is contaminating our thinking.

First, I begin with #BelieveWomen and sort through various ways to interpret this demand (though my survey is not exhaustive). I …


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

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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 …


Abolish Municipal Courts: A Response To Professor Natapoff, Brendan Roediger Jan 2021

Abolish Municipal Courts: A Response To Professor Natapoff, Brendan Roediger

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If we are serious about disrupting the generational reproduction of the racial social order, we are going to have to learn to let go. Taking up the legacy of criminal municipal courts and racial control, this Response argues against the practice of prescribing from the traditional “medication list” of liberal reforms (substantive, procedural, and “democratizing”) without grappling with whether a system or apparatus is so inextricably bound up with the maintenance of race and class hierarchy that it should be demolished. I assert that we should always ask whether something is redeemable before we ask whether it is reformable. In …