CrimProf Blog

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mitchell on Obstacles to Longer Halfway House Placements

Mitchell david S. David Mitchell  (University of Missouri) has posted Impeding Reentry: Agency and Judicial Obstacles to Longer Halfway House Placements on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Over 700,000 prisoners were released into their communities in 2008, at least 50,000 of those from federal custody. Once an obscure cause, nearly everyone agrees that prisoner reentry – the process by which former prisoners return to their community as free citizens – is of national importance. Absent adequate attention to transitional services, ex-offenders are often homeless, unemployed, and suffer from untreated substance abuse addictions. Accordingly, President Obama and his two predecessors have devoted considerable attention to the issue. Congress passed the Second Chance in 2007, amending two federal statutes, sections 3624(c) and 3621(b) and giving inmates a longer time in halfway houses to transition from incarceration to law-abiding citizens and requiring individualized inmate assessments prior to placement. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Prisons is ignoring both mandates, by categorically limiting the inmates’ time in halfway houses, trends that some courts have found violates the agency’s statutory authority.

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August 31, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stinneford on Proportionality under the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause

Stinneford_john John F. Stinneford  (University of Florida Levin College of Law) has posted Rethinking Proportionality under the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Although a century has passed since the Supreme Court started reviewing criminal punishments for excessiveness under the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, this area of doctrine remains highly problematic. The Court has never answered doubts about the legitimacy of proportionality review, leading a controlling plurality of the Court to insist that such review be limited to a narrow class of cases. The Court has also adopted an ever-shifting definition of excessiveness, making the very concept of proportionality incoherent. Finally, the Court’s method of measuring proportionality is unreliable and self-contradictory. As a result, very few offenders have benefited from the Court’s decision to engage in proportionality review. This area of doctrine needs rethinking.

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August 31, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Gender, Justice, and Victim Rights Symposium Feb. 25 at Wisconsin

Legal Scholarship Blog notes this symposium focusing on "A Gendered Perspective of Victims in the Criminal Justice System." Those interested in submitting papers should send an abstract by by October 31.

August 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reamey on Universality in Criminal Procedure

Reamey_gerald Gerald S. Reamey  (St. Mary's University School of Law) has posted Innovation or Renovation in Criminal Procedure: Is the World Moving Toward a New Model of Adjudication? (Arizona Journal International & Comparative Law, Vol. 27, p. 324, 2010) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

A universal system of criminal procedure offers the allure of efficiency, predictability, and enhanced crime control. For the first time in modern history, universality seems achievable. The criminal procedures employed by the world’s major legal systems are converging. What was once distinctively “civil” or “common law” is now a blend of the two. The adversarial adjudicative approach of most common law countries now can be found in the most unlikely places, and civil law characteristics adorn the processes of some of the world’s most aggressively adversarial systems.

While this movement has not gone unnoticed, the pace of change has accelerated, and the ways in which it has manifested itself have increased. This article begins by revealing how little systems actually differ in practice. It then analyzes how the gap that remains between these systems is closing by examining three illustrations of convergence: the growing use of lay judges and juries in civil law countries, the Italian reform movement incorporating adversarial techniques in a traditionally nonadversarial system, and the modernization of Chinese criminal procedure.

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August 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Haque on Criminal Law and Armed Conflict

Haque adil Adil Ahmad Haque  (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - School of Law-Newark) has posted Criminal Law and Morality at War (PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATIONS OF CRIMINAL LAW, R.A. Duff, Stuart P. Green, eds., 2010) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The purpose of this chapter is to identify the moral norms applicable to killing in armed conflict and determine whether and to what extent the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and international criminal law (ICL) track these moral norms, justifiably depart from them, or unjustifiably depart from them. Part I explores the moral and legal norms governing the killing of civilians not directly participating in hostilities, both as an intended means and as a foreseen side-effect, and defends one account of these norms against important philosophical challenges by Thomas Scanlon, Victor Tadros, Frances Kamm, and Jeff McMahan. I argue that these moral norms are best understood and defended using the distinctions drawn in criminal law theory between wrongdoing, justifiability, and justification. The LOAC tracks these moral norms quite closely. By contrast, ICL departs from these moral norms in ways that are difficult to defend, in part because ICL seems to mistakenly assign intention a wrong-making rather than a wrong-justifying function.

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August 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Somalia piracy suspect pleads guilty in US court"

Jurist has this interesting story, recounting the charges that have been filed against "pirates" in light of a federal judge's ruling that the federal piracy statute does not apply to "violence or aggression committed on the high seas" and discussing the controversy about whether these prosecutions should occur in federal court.

August 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top-Ten Recent SSRN Downloads

Ssrn logo are here. The usual disclaimers apply.

Rank Downloads Paper Title
1 2739 A Legal Labyrinth: Issues Raised by Arizona Senate Bill 1070 Gabriel J. Chin, Carissa Byrne Hessick, Toni M. Massaro, Marc L. Miller,
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, Arizona State, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, University of Arizona College of Law, University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law,
Date posted to database: May 29, 2010
2 200 Broken Lives from Broken Windows: The Hidden Costs of Aggressive Ordermaintenance Policing
Babe Howell,
CUNY School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 18, 2010
3 183 Palestine and the International Criminal Court: Asking the Right Question
Michael G. Kearney,
Unaffiliated Authors - affiliation not provided to SSRN,
Date posted to database: July 3, 2010
4 168 Status as Punishment: A Critical Guide to Padilla v. Kentucky
Gabriel J. Chin, Margaret Colgate Love,
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, Law Office of Margaret Love,
Date posted to database: July 10, 2010 [6th last week]
5 159 Those Who Can't, Teach: What the Legal Career of John Yoo Tells Us About Who Should be Teaching Law
Lawrence Rosenthal,
Chapman University - School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 27, 2010
6 145 More Different than Life, Less Different than Death
William W. Berry,
University of Mississippi School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 25, 2010 [4th last week]
7 134 Selected Salient Evidentiary Issues in Employment Discrimination Cases
Lynn McLain,
University of Baltimore School of Law,
Date posted to database: July 12, 2010
8 120 Cracked Mirror: SB1070 and Other State Regulation of Immigration through Criminal Law
Gabriel J. Chin, Marc L. Miller,
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law,
Date posted to database: July 26, 2010 [new to top ten]
9 113 One-hundred Years of Getting It Wrong? Wrongful Convictions After a Century of Research
Jon B. Gould, Richard A. Leo,
George Mason University - School of Public Policy, University of San Francisco - School of Law,
Date posted to database: May 27, 2010 [8th last week]
10 100 Therapeutic Jurisprudence and its Application to Criminal Justice Research and Development
David B. Wexler,
University of Puerto Rico - School of Law,
Date posted to database: June 23, 2010

August 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Laurin on Herring and the Exclusionary Rule

Laurin_jennifer Jennifer E. Laurin (University of Texas) has posted Trawling for Herring: Lessons in Doctrinal Borrowing and Convergence on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Herring v. United States has prompted both criticism and puzzlement concerning the source, meaning, and implications of the new culpability-based framework that it announced for the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule. This Article proposes that Herring may be better understood not solely by reference to the exclusionary rule precedents to which the majority opinion claims fidelity, but rather in the context of the important and largely unexamined influence that constitutional tort doctrine has had in shaping exclusionary rule jurisprudence. That influence has been driven by the interrelated processes of borrowing and convergence – the former, a deliberate tactic employed when the Court in United States v. Leon drew from qualified immunity jurisprudence to define the contours of the exclusionary rule’s good faith exception; the latter, a gradual and progressive effect of that initial borrowing, whereby first the good faith exception, and eventually other areas of exclusionary rule doctrine, have increasingly drawn from and grown aligned with constitutional tort doctrine.

The Article identifies and traces these dynamics of borrowing and convergence in the arena of the exclusionary rule, illuminating the specific mix of historical contingency, adjudicatory pragmatism, and, perhaps most interestingly, tactical considerations that drove the influence of constitutional tort doctrine on the exclusionary rule generally, in Herring more specifically. This examination affords greater understanding of the source, contours, and likely trajectory of the exclusionary rule framework that Herring enunciates. Moreover, close examination of borrowing and convergence in this particular context provides a basis for mapping a more systematic understanding of why and how disparate strands of doctrine come to cross-fertilize – in the particular realm of criminal procedure, in the broader arena of constitutional remedies, and in the law more generally. The story of these dynamics in the exclusionary rule context offers a largely cautionary tale of the risks that convergence poses to substantive legal standards as well as jurisprudential values such as transparency, particularly in constitutional remedial jurisprudence.

August 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Blagojevich Watch

Jurist updates the situation: Prosecutors will retry the former Illinois governor, convicted on just one of 24 counts, but will drop charges against his brother, alleged to have been involved in attempting to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat.

August 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)


Balkin jack That's the title of the conference at Florida State on Oct. 7-8, co-sponsored by FSU and the American Constitution Society. Keynote address Thursday evening, Oct. 7, by Steve Bright of the Southern Center for Human Rights; Friday's opening remarks are by Jack Balkin (Yale) (pictured). The symposium is "dedicated to an exploration of current and future developments in crime control and equality, punishment and the Constitution, national security and liberty, and citizenship and community." The proceedings will be available by streaming video. Details are here. The panels and the excellent array of speakers follow the jump.

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August 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kerr on applying the Fourth Amendment to the internet

Orin Kerr (George Washington) has published Applying the Fourth Amendment to the Internet: A General Approach at The Legal Workshop. It is based on his article of the same name in the Stanford Law Review. The beginning:

This Article proposes a general approach to applying the Fourth Amendment to the Internet. It assumes that courts will try to apply the Fourth Amendment to the Internet so that the Fourth Amendment has the same basic function online that it has offline. The Article reaches two major conclusions. First, Fourth Amendment protections online should depend on whether the data is content or non-content information. The contents of communications, like e-mail and remotely stored files, ordinarily should be protected. On the other hand, non-content information, such as IP addresses and e-mail addresses, ordinarily should not be protected. Second, courts should ordinarily require a search warrant if the government seeks to obtain the contents of protected Internet communications. Further, the scope of warrants should be based on individual users rather than individual accounts.

August 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Switzerland activists withdraw from campaign to reinstate death penalty"

Jurist has the story.

The advocacy group did not give a reason for its sudden withdrawal from the campaign, though it continues to argue that the Swiss criminal justice system hurts victims by failing to adequately punish those convicted of serious crimes. On Tuesday, the Swiss government set a six-month deadline for the group to accumulate at least 100,000 signatures in support of the measure in order to force a national popular vote. . . . Capital punishment was abolished from Switzerland's criminal code in 1942 and remained part of the country's military laws until 1992. The last military execution, however, took place in 1944.

August 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

When does a burglary end?

Martin shaun My colleague, Shaun Martin, raises this question over at California Appellate Report, in connection with this intermediate state appellate decision applying the felony-murder rule. Defendant was driving away from the scene of his burglary, and no one was in pursuit, but he saw a police car, though (erroneously) that the officer knew about the crime, and hit the accelerator, ultimately leading to an accident and death. Held, over a dissent: the felony-murder rule applies.

August 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ramsey on Domestic Violence and State Intervention

Ramsey carolyn Carolyn B. Ramsey  (University of Colorado Law School) has posted Domestic Violence and State Intervention in the American West and Australia, 1860-1930
(Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 86, 2011) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This article calls into question stereotypical assumptions about the presumed lack of state intervention in the family and the patriarchal violence of Anglo-American frontier societies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By analyzing previously unexamined cases of domestic assault and homicide in the American West and Australia, Professor Ramsey reveals a sustained (but largely ineffectual) effort to civilize men by punishing violence against women. Husbands in both the American West and Australia were routinely arrested or summoned to court for beating their wives in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Judges, police officers, journalists, and others expressed dismay over domestic assaults. However, legal authorities struggled with the dilemma of how to deter batterers whose victims were reluctant to prosecute. To be sure, the state’s response was not as aggressive as under modern mandatory arrest laws and no-drop prosecution policies. Yet the “why didn’t she leave?” question actually may have seemed easier to answer in the late 1800s and early 1900s than it did later in the twentieth century. Due to the failure of the state to prevent recidivist domestic violence, juries and even judges often deemed the actions of women who killed their abusive husbands wholly or partially justified. In contrast, husbands who killed their wives tended to be convicted of murder because their crimes violated the ideal of the “respectable family man” that was vital to the efforts of both the American West and Australia to project a civilized image.

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August 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"4th Amendment Violating Mobile X-Ray Scanners Hit The Streets"

This story is on Prison Planet (hat tip: and includes a neat picture. Here's the lead:

As we warned at the beginning of the year, X-ray body scanners currently being used and abused in airports across the world are set to hit the streets as American Science & Engineering reveals that “more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents” have been sold to government agencies.

August 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Innocence claim rejected: Troy Davis loses challenge"

Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy excerpts this post by Lyle Denniston at ScotusBlog discussing the upshot of last summer's Supreme Court order.

August 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beale on Honest Services

Beale sara sun Sara Sun Beale  (Duke University - School of Law) has posted An Honest Services Debate (Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This commentary employs a fictional debate to explore the issues raised by the Supreme Court’s decision in Skilling v. United States, 130 S. Ct. 2896 (2010), which dramatically cut back on “honest services” prosecutions under the mail and wire fraud statutes. In response to an earlier decision by the Supreme Court reading these statutes narrowly, Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. § 1346, which extends mail and wire fraud to schemes to deprive another of “the intangible right of honest services.” In 2009 the Supreme Court granted certiorari in three cases presenting questions concerning the “honest services” provision. One of the cases involved the indictment of state legislator who failed to disclose he was seeking employment from a large corporation while voting on legislation affecting the company. The other cases involved honest services convictions for deception and self dealing in the private sector by news magnate Conrad Black and former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, whose false statements about the Enron’s financial situation propped up its stock price as it careened towards collapse.

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August 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"L.A. has rare weekend with no killings"

Sad news and happy news all in one L.A. Times headline:

August 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

"The Bad Parent Defense"

Kent Scheidegger has this post at Crime and Consequences on "the single most popular way to argue against the death penalty," excerpting a newspaper account of a prisoner's recorded statement disclaiming his attorney's effort to present such a defense.

August 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Slobogin on Empirical Desert

Slobogin_big Christopher Slobogin  (Vanderbilt Law School) has posted Some Hypotheses About Empirical Desert (Arizona State Law Journal, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Paul Robinson has written a series of articles advocating the view that empirical desert should govern development of criminal law doctrine. The central contention of empirical desert is that adherence to societal views of “justice” – defined in terms of moral blameworthiness – will not only satisfy retributive urges, but will also often be as efficacious at controlling crime as a system that revolves around other utilitarian purposes of punishment. Constructing criminal laws that implement empirical desert has the latter effect, Robinson argues, because it enhances the moral credibility of the law, thus minimizing citizens’ desire to engage in vigilantism and other forms of non-compliance and increasing their willingness to accept controversial government decisions to criminalize or de-criminalize. In keeping with the utilitarian spirit of Robinson’s agenda, the main goal of this paper is to propose hypotheses (ten in all) that test possible vulnerabilities of his argument. Robinson’s work on empirical desert is provocative, but requires further empirical support.

August 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)