CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gray & Huber on Retribution for Progressives

Gray david c David C. Gray (pictured) (University of Maryland - School of Law) and Jonathan J. Huber have posted Retributivism for Progressives: A Response to Professor Flanders (Maryland Law Review, Vol. 70, No. 141, 2010) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In his engaging article "Retributivism and Reform," published in the Maryland Law Review, Chad Flanders engages two claims he ascribes to James Q. Whitman: 1) that American criminal justice is too "harsh," and 2) that Americans’ reliance on retributivist theories of criminal punishment is implicated in that harshness. In this invited response, to which Flanders subsequently replied, we first ask what "harsh" might mean in the context of a critique of criminal justice and punishment. We conclude that the most likely candidate is something along the lines of "disproportionate or otherwise unjustified." With this working definition in hand, we measure some current American criminal justice practices using a roughly hewn retributivist yardstick. We conclude that American criminal justice may well be too "harsh" as measured by retributivist standards. If this is right, then Whitman and others may be wrong to condemn retributivism as a theory of criminal punishment. To the contrary, the resources needed to justify many progressive reforms may lie in embracing retributivism rather than rejecting it. While further work will be necessary to reach any final conclusions, we suggest that retributivism might be particularly useful in addressing overcriminalization, long prison sentences, and brutal prison conditions, each of which a retributivist might well regard as "disproportionate or otherwise unjustified" and therefore "harsh."

February 5, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Levenson on Redrafting the ABA Standards of Conflicts in Criminal Cases

Levenson Laurie Laurie L. Levenson (Loyola Law School Los Angeles) has posted Conflicts Over Conflicts: Challenges in Redrafting the ABA Standards for Criminal Justice on Conflicts of Interest on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Currently, an ABA Task Force faces the considerable challenge of redrafting the ABA Standards for Criminal Justice. Prosecutors and defense counsel need clear guidance on how to handle conflicts of interest rules. However, the initial challenge is in identifying those questions a code of ethics should answer when it comes to conflict situations. With the help of prominent lawyers, academics and judges who participated in a series of roundtables on the new ABA standards, this article identifies forty of the key questions to ask about conflicts of interests. These questions allow real progress to be made toward creating a code that will direct the bench and the bar in the handling of criminal cases.

February 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bergelson on Strict Liability and Affirmative Defenses

Bergelson vera Vera Bergelson (Rutgers Law School - Newark) has posted A Fair Punishment for Humbert Humbert: Strict Liability and Affirmative Defenses (New Criminal Law Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, Winter 2011) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In this article, I focused on the intersection of strict liability offenses and affirmative defenses. I sought to explore and evaluate a peculiar discrepancy: all states, as well as the Model Penal Code, deny to a defendant charged with a strict liability offense the defense of mistake, yet at the same time, allow most other affirmative defenses. Is this discrepancy warranted? Consider the following scenarios inwhich Humbert Humbert is charged with the statutory rape of Lolita:

If Humbert Humbert tried to argue that he had acted under a mistaken belief that Lolita was above the age of consent, he most likely would not prevail. He would not prevail even if he made all possible efforts to find out Lolita’s true age (e.g., checked Lolita’s birth certificate and received a signed sworn affidavit from Lolita’s mother) or if he fell prey to Lolita’s own deception.

Continue reading

February 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Slate on "The Subjective Experience of Punishment" (Kolber)

Chris Beam at Slate has written a piece entitled, "Hard Time," about the so-called "giant" Dutch prisoner who is challenging his comparatively tiny conditions of confinement under the European Convention on Human Rights. (See also here).  Beam also describes some of the academic commentary on the issues raised by the case, including my discussion in "The Subjective Experience of Punishment."

I'm told that the prisoner may receive a decision in his case as early as February 8.  So stay tuned! (Cross-posted.)


February 4, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Green on Leading Issues in Criminal Justice

Green bruce Bruce A. Green (Fordham University School of Law) has posted Criminal Justice – What’s Ahead? Roadblocks and New Directions (Criminal Justice, Vol. 25, p. 4, 2011) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The leadership of the ABA Criminal Justice Section was asked to identify the most important issues of criminal justice policy of the next three to five years. This column by the Section’s Chair identifies the subjects that the responding prosecutors, defense lawyers, academics and others anticipated to be most important, ranging alphabetically from “alternatives to incarceration” to “wrongful convictions.”

February 3, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Forcible rape" in the new abortion legislation

Two recent posts--one at The Huffington Post and one at the Washington Post's PostPartisan blog--address the question of whether the proposed federal legislation, which limits abortion funding to cases of "forcible rape," is intented to and should distinguish among the various situations currently combined in the rape category by modern codifications, including for example rapes accomplished as a "result of a woman being drugged, drunk, mentally disabled or date rape." Thanks to Ken Simons for calling these to our attention.

February 3, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rapping on Indigent Defense

Rapping jonathan Jonathan Rapping (Atlanta's John Marshall Law School) has posted National Crisis, National Neglect: Realizing Justice Through Transformative Change (Journal of Law and Social Change, Vol. 13, p. 331, 2009-2010) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Since the Supreme Court decided Gideon v. Wainright nearly 50 years ago, there has been a Constitutional mandate that people accused of crimes are entitled to effective assistance of counsel. Despite that mandate, competent representation for poor people remains the exception. The Court’s response to this development has only compounded the crises, as the legal standards developed to determine when lawyers fall below the constitutional floor encourage incompetent representation. States have also proven to be inadequate guardians of this precious right as lawyers for the poor are excused for failing to live up to their professional obligations to their clients. While indigent defense advocates frequently cite financial and structural reform efforts as the panacea, few commentators appreciate the role that the culture of injustice, that has become acceptable in criminal justice systems nationally, plays in perpetuating the status quo. In this paper I argue that there is a role for the federal government to play in ensuring that the right to counsel, a principle central to the value system of our nation, is realized by all of its citizens. I further argue that an effective strategy for achieving the promise of Gideon must include investment in the human resources (i.e. the public defenders) necessary to carry out this mandate. Through the development of a generation of public defenders who embrace the values consistent with excellent representation, we can ensure that these lawyers for the poor will both begin to deliver on Gideon’s promise immediately as well as develop into the future leaders necessary to hold the states accountable for their failures to meet their constitutional obligations. In this paper I discuss the work of the Southern Public Defender Training Center, an organization dedicated to building a community of reformers through the recruitment, training, and mentoring of a new generation of public defenders in the region. I then introduce a bold new initiative called the Public Defender Corps, committed to building on the work of the SPDTC to create a national movement through a public defender fellowship program and suggest that there is a significant role for the federal government to play in supporting this effort. Finally I suggest that without an effort to groom a new generation of public defenders committed to the work and the clients they serve, financial and structural fixes, while necessary, will not be sufficient to bring about the reform needed. I advocate a national push to transform the existing culture of indigent defense as part of any comprehensive reform strategy.

February 2, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hughes on Proliferation of Criminal Law

Hughes jula Jula Hughes (University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law) has posted Restraint and Proliferation in Criminal Law (Review of Constitutional Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2010) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This paper considers why the criminal law continues to grow despite broad-based policy consensus on the harms of over-criminalization. I argue that political expediency combines with the Canadian constitutional arrangement under ss. 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867 to drive the expansion of Canadian criminal law. The federal power to criminalize and the provincial responsibility for enforcement amounts to a constitutionally directed unfunded mandate. In a case study of the Westray Bill, the paper examines the political mechanisms and institutional forces that further the expansion of the criminal law and that result in ineffective, inefficient and ultimately harmful prohibitions. The paper concludes that it is legitimate to invoke the constitutional power of the courts to limit the scope of the criminal law and shows how this can be achieved without abandoning established constitutional and criminal law principles and precedent.

February 2, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Duncan on "Qualified" Notice-and-Demand Statutes

Samuel M. Duncan has posted 'Qualified' Notice-and-Demand Statutes Unconstitutionally Eliminate a Criminal Defendant’s Sixth Amendment Right to 'True' Confrontation: Live Testimony from Witnesses (Hamline Law Review, Vol. 34, 2011) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This Article contends that "qualified" notice-and-demand statutes, enacted in many states, violate a criminal defendant's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation. Plain notice-and-demand statutes allow a prosecutor to introduce a witness' testimony in written form unless the defendant demands live testimony. Qualified statutes require some showing above a timely demand before requiring that the witness testify in person. These statutes are unconstitutional because the Confrontation Clause, properly understood, protects a defendant's right to "true" confrontation - live testimony from prosecution witnesses - as well as the right to cross-examination. This interpretation is well supported by case law and the history of confrontation at common law, and furthers the reasoning of and principles behind Crawford v. Washington. Further, this Article argues that qualified notice-and-demand statutes are invalid because they conflict with the current interpretation of the Confrontation right, by forcing waiver of objections that would be unquestionably valid under Crawford.

February 1, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hodgson on Prosecutors in France

Hodgson jacqueline Jacqueline Hodgson (University of Warwick - School of Law) has posted The French Prosecutor in Question (Washington and Lee Law Review, Vol. 67, p. 1361, 2010) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Both the pre-trial and dispositive roles of the French prosecutor have continued to expand over the last decades with a resulting shift in power away from the trial judge and the juge d’instruction. The recommendations of the Léger Commission in 2009 went beyond the redistribution of authority and proposed the abolition of the juge d’instruction, placing the prosecutor in charge of all criminal investigations, even the most serious, complex, and sensitive. At the same time, the prosecutor’s role and status has been challenged in a number of ways — in particular concerning her function as judicial supervisor of the detention and interrogation of suspects in the garde à vue. The case of Medvedyev v. France called into question the prosecutor’s status as a judge and the string of cases beginning with Salduz v. Turkey has caused several jurisdictions, including France, to reconsider the provision made for custodial legal advice. There is a real tension between the direction of reforms proposed within France and the pressure from Europe to ensure more effective due process safeguards. As a result of domestic litigation and constitutional challenge, the French government is slowly relenting and allowing lawyers a greater role. It has yet to grasp the nettle of the independence of the prosecutor, however. The ECtHR has made it clear that a judge must be independent of the executive and of the case parties — both of which are contested in relation to the French prosecutor. Within a procedural model in which defense rights are secondary to the supposed truth-seeking ideology of the judicial supervisor, the independence of the prosecutor is crucial.

February 1, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Gless on the exclusionary rule in Germany

Sabine Gless (University of Basel) has posted Truth or Due Process? The Use of Illegally Gathered Evidence in Criminal Trials - Germany on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Theories of admissibility of evidence provide insights into concepts that ensure the reconstruction of facts, reliability of proof, fair trial and respect for individual rights in a nutshell. In the German criminal justice system different frameworks form a rather complex system for monitoring the use of illegally gathered evidence. Overall, however, two issues constantly occur: (a) references to the adherence to the rule of law, which mingle with a more modern concept of “fair trial,” and (b) growing emphasis on the protection of the individual’s right to privacy – may it concern a suspect, a victim or a witness. The paper discusses the relevant constitutional and statutory rules as well as legal doctrine and case law, marking the tension between the duty to determine the truth and exclusionary rules. During the last two decades, new, especially covert methods of information gathering were established that challenge traditional concepts, such as the defendant’s rights and potential consequences for the exclusion of evidence. This requires new solutions for balancing the right to privacy, principles of fair trial and law enforcement tasks.

January 31, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Subjective Experience of Being a "Giant" in Prison (Kolber)

Kolberaj_photo According to this BBC article, a 6' 9'', 500+ pound Dutch prisoner is arguing that keeping him in an ordinary cell violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

The issue relates to a more general phenomenon that I discuss in The Subjective Experience of Punishment (as well as here and here).  Namely, not all prisoners experience conditions of confinement in the same way.  Though we typically ignore differences in punishment experience, I argue that, according to our best justifications of punishment, we are morally required to take such differences into account.

In many cases, it is difficult to accurately assess or anticipate an inmate's punishment experiences.  In a case like this one, however, it is easy to see why the prisoner will have an especially difficult time.  According to the article, he has to duck his head to fit in the door of his cell.  He cannot fit comfortably on his bed, and in order to shower, "he must first wedge himself into the cubicle, then crouch down under the head."  No doubt, we must consider the costs involved in accommodating this prisoner, but we cannot pretend that he is likely to experience the confined conditions of incarceration in the same way as the average prisoner. 

Continue reading

January 31, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wexler on Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Sentencing Guidelines

Wexler David B. Wexler (University of Puerto Rico - School of Law) has posted Advice for the U.S. Sentencing Commissioners: The Relevance of Therapeutic Jurisprudence and its Literature (Federal Sentencing Reporter, Vol. 23, 2011) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This short essay will be part of an issue of the Federal Sentencing Reporter devoted to recommended action for the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The present essay calls attention to the relevance of therapeutic jurisprudence to the sentencing function. It looks at some legal rules and guidelines that do not effectively motivate convicted persons to focus on the future, and it also shows how judges need guidance not only on what sentences to impose but also on the manner and process of sentence imposition.

January 31, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Top-Ten Recent SSRN Downloads

Ssrn logo are here. The usual disclaimers apply.

Rank Downloads Paper Title
1 238 Plan Now or Pay Later: The Role of Compliance in Criminal Cases
Charlotte Simon, Ryan D. McConnell, Jay Martin,
University of Houston - Law Center, Haynes and Boone LLP, Unaffiliated Authors - affiliation not provided to SSRN,
Date posted to database: January 11, 2011 [5th last week]
2 213 Theorizing Mental Health Courts
E. Lea Johnston,
University of Florida - Fredric G. Levin College of Law,
Date posted to database: November 21, 2010 [3rd last week]
3 190 The Age of Conflict: Rethinking Childhood, Law, and Age Through the Israeli-Palestinian Case
Hedi Viterbo,
London School of Economics - Law Department,
Date posted to database: December 8, 2010 [4th last week]
4 189 Is the Fourth Amendment Relevant in a Technological Age?
Christopher Slobogin,
Vanderbilt University - Law School,
Date posted to database: January 10, 2011 [8th last week]
5 182 The Substance-Procedure Relationship in Criminal Law
Donald W. Dripps,
University of San Diego - School of Law,
Date posted to database: December 8, 2010 [6th last week]
6 174 Who May Be Held? Military Detention Through the Habeas Lens
Robert Chesney,
University of Texas School of Law,
Date posted to database: December 16, 2010 [7th last week]
7 137 Must Virtue Be Particular?
Frederick Schauer,
University of Virginia School of Law,
Date posted to database: January 14, 2011 [new to top ten]
8 131 Searching for the Fourth Amendment: Looking for Law in All the Wrong Cases
Stanley A. Goldman,
Loyola Marymount University - Loyola Law School Los Angeles,
Date posted to database: November 26, 2010 [10th last week]
9 124 Torture, Suicide, and Determinatio
Jeremy Waldron,
New York University (NYU) - School of Law,
Date posted to database: December 11, 2010 [new to top ten]
10 117 Children of Incarcerated Parents: The Child’s Constitutional Right to the Family Relationship
Chesa Boudin,
Yale University - Law School,
Date posted to database: November 14, 2010 [new to top ten]

January 30, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0)