CrimProf Blog

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Robinson on Proximate Cause in the Model Penal Code

Robinson paulPaul H. Robinson (University of Pennsylvania Law School) has posted The Model Penal Code's Conceptual Error on the Nature of Proximate Cause, and How to Fix it on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The Model Penal Code reconceptualized proximate cause to see it as part of the offense culpability requirements rather than as, in the traditional view, a minimum requirement for the strength of the connection between the actor's conduct and the prohibited result. That conceptual error, rare in the well-thought-out Model Code, invites misinterpretation and misapplication of the proximate cause provision, and can produce improper liability results. The failure is all the more unfortunate because the Model Code drafters did have an important improvement to offer in dealing with the challenging issue of proximate cause. Their jettison of fixed detailed rules in favor of a useful general standard – "not too remote or accidental in its occurrence to have a [just] bearing on the actor's liability or on the gravity of his offense" – could have significantly simplified and improved proximate cause analysis, but their conceptual error created needless problems that helped lead most states to reject the Model Code provision.

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