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White Supremacy, Police Brutality, And Family Separation: Preventing Crimes Against Humanity Within The United States, Elena Baylis Jan 2022

White Supremacy, Police Brutality, And Family Separation: Preventing Crimes Against Humanity Within The United States, Elena Baylis

Articles

Although the United States tends to treat crimes against humanity as a danger that exists only in authoritarian or war-torn states, in fact, there is a real risk of crimes against humanity occurring within the United States, as illustrated by events such as systemic police brutality against Black Americans, the federal government’s family separation policy that took thousands of immigrant children from their parents at the southern border, and the dramatic escalation of White supremacist and extremist violence culminating in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In spite of this risk, the United States does ...


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 ...


Prosecutorial Declination Statements, Jessica A. Roth Jan 2020

Prosecutorial Declination Statements, Jessica A. Roth

Articles

This Article examines how prosecutors convey to various audiences their decisions not to charge in discrete cases. Although prosecutors regularly issue public statements about their declinations—and anecdotal evidence suggests that declination statements are on the rise—there is an absence of literature discussing the interests that such statements serve, the risks that they pose, and how such statements are consistent with the prosecutorial function. Prosecutors also operate in this space without clear ground rules set by law, policies, or professional standards. This Article attempts to fill that void. First, it theorizes the interests potentially advanced by such statements—characterized ...


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 ...


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 ...


De-Democratizing Criminal Law, Benjamin Levin Jan 2020

De-Democratizing Criminal Law, Benjamin Levin

Articles

No abstract provided.


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 ...


The Culture Of Misdemeanor Courts, Jessica A. Roth Jan 2018

The Culture Of Misdemeanor Courts, Jessica A. Roth

Articles

The misdemeanor courts that preside over the majority of criminal cases in the United States represent the “front porch” of our criminal justice system. These courts vary in myriad ways, including size, structure, and method of judicial appointment. Each also has its own culture – i.e., a settled way of doing things that reflects deeper assumptions about the court’s mission and its role in the community – which can assist or impede desired policy reforms. This Article, written for a Symposium issue of the Hofstra Law Review, draws upon the insights of organizational culture theory to explore how leaders can ...


The Necessity Of The Good Person Prosecutor, Jessica A. Roth Jan 2018

The Necessity Of The Good Person Prosecutor, Jessica A. Roth

Articles

In a 2001 essay, Professor Abbe Smith asked the question whether a good person—i.e., a person who is committed to social justice—can be a good prosecutor. Although she acknowledged some hope that the answer to her question could be “yes,” Professor Smith concluded that the answer then was “no”—in part because she saw individual prosecutors generally as having very little discretion to “temper the harsh reality of the criminal justice system.” In this Online Symposium revisiting Professor Smith’s question seventeen years later, my answer to her question is “yes”—a good person can be a ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 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 ...


Zone Of Nondeference: Chevron And Deportation For A Crime, Rebecca Sharpless Jan 2017

Zone Of Nondeference: Chevron And Deportation For A Crime, Rebecca Sharpless

Articles

No abstract provided.


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 ...


Sonic Jihad — Muslim Hip Hop In The Age Of Mass Incarceration, Spearit Jan 2015

Sonic Jihad — Muslim Hip Hop In The Age Of Mass Incarceration, Spearit

Articles

This essay examines hip hop music as a form of legal criticism. It focuses on the music as critical resistance and “new terrain” for understanding the law, and more specifically, focuses on what prisons mean to Muslim hip hop artists. Losing friends, family, and loved ones to the proverbial belly of the beast has inspired criticism of criminal justice from the earliest days of hip hop culture. In the music, prisons are known by a host of names like “pen,” “bing,” and “clink,” terms that are invoked throughout the lyrics. The most extreme expressions offer violent fantasies of revolution and ...


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.


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 ...


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 ...


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.