My contribution to this symposium is short and negative: There are no theoretical problems that attach to one’s causing the conditions that permit him to claim a defense to some otherwise criminal act. If one assesses the culpability of an actor at each of the various times he acts in a course of conduct, then it is obvious that he can be nonculpable at T2 but culpable at T1, and that a nonculpable act at T2 has no bearing on whether (...) an actor was culpable at T1 when he caused the circumstances that are exculpatory with respect to his act (or conduct) at T2. Moreover, as I interpret the Model Penal Code, it gets matters close to right on this point. (shrink)
The Philosophy of Criminal Law collects 17 of Doug Husak’s articles on legal theory, 16 of which have been previously published, spanning a period of over two decades. In sum, these 17 articles make a huge and lasting contribution to criminal law theory. There is much wisdom contained in them; and I find surprisingly little to disagree with, making my job as a critical reviewer quite challenging. Most of the points on which Doug and I disagree can be found in (...) my other published work in this field, so I will have little to say about them, except where they illuminate those few points of disagreement that arise in the particular essays I discuss. Most of what I will say will be in accord with Doug’s views and will principally explore their wider implications. The 17 essays in the book cover too many and too varied topics for one review essay. Therefore, I will focus on just three of them: “Rapes Without Rapists: Consent and Reasonable Mistake” (co-authored by George C. Thomas); “Mistakes of Law and Culpability”; and “Already Punished Enough.” Although I generally agree with the upshots of Doug’s arguments in these chapters, I think the issues they raise are worth further exploration. (shrink)
Orthodox criminal law doctrine treats mistakes of law and mistakes of fact differently for purposes of both exculpation and inculpation. Kenneth Simonsâ paper in general defends this orthodoxy. I have earlier criticized the criminal lawâs attempt to distinguish mistakes of law from mistakes of fact, and I continue to maintain, in opposition to Simons, that the distinction is problematic.
Iconoclasts? Who, Us? A Reply to Dolinko Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s11572-012-9143-3 Authors Larry Alexander, San Diego, CA, USA Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, Camden, NJ, USA Journal Criminal Law and Philosophy Online ISSN 1871-9805 Print ISSN 1871-9791.
Previous research has identified several factors (such as remuneration, workload, negative perceptions of criminal defendants) which may lead to a barrister not acting in the defendant's best interests, when advising on plea or engaging in plea bargaining. This article applies aspects of the principal – agent problem to the relationship between defence barristers and defendants in England and Wales in order to analyse the extent to which incentives can align the interests of the agent (the barrister) with those of the (...) principal (the defendant) in order to prevent moral hazard caused by the agent's competing interests. Coercive, material and moral incentives are considered, and the role of the solicitor and the significance of the barrister's reputation are also discussed. It is argued that none of the forms of incentive which would traditionally reduce the risk of moral hazard do so to any great extent in the barrister – defendant relationship, and that this is due in part to the complexity of the overlapping principal – agent dynamics within which the barrister – defendant relationship lies. (shrink)
Chemical castration laws, such as one recently adopted in the U.S. State of Louisiana, raise challenging ethical concerns for physicians. Even if such interventions were to prove efficacious, which is far from certain, they would still raise troubling concerns regarding the degree of medical risk that may be imposed upon prisoners in the name of public safety as well as the appropriate role for physicians and other health care professionals in the administration of pharmaceuticals to competent prisoners over the inmates’ (...) unequivocal objections. This paper argues that the concerns raised by chemical castration are grave enough that, until they are adequately addressed by policymakers, physicians ought not to participate in the process. (shrink)
abstract Martha Nussbaum's concern is to limit the role that emotions can legitimately play in the definition of the criminal law. She would allow nuisance laws to curtail the occasioning of disgust but only disgust of a certain kind. Problems arise for her account when she extends this analysis to the prevention of offensiveness. Unavoidable is an evaluation of those beliefs subscription to which explains the taking of offence. Hence the principal problem for a liberalism of the kind Nussbaum defends (...) is how to combine Mill's harm principle with a Rawlsian understanding of the reasonableness of belief. (shrink)
Against Patrick Devlin, H. L. A. Hart rejects the enforcement of morals as such. Hart defends an expanded version of John Stuart Mill’s harm principle, but this expanded version is no more defensible than Mill’s original claim. Hart’s discussion fails to clarify what is really at stake in controversies regarding the moral acceptability of criminal prohibition of such activities as suicide and assisted suicide, recreational drug use, prostitution, and so on. Regarding the enforcement of morals as such, we should acknowledge (...) that the jury is still out. (shrink)
This is a study of possession offences, with the focus on those intended to penalise the risk of a serious harm. Offences of this kind are examined in the light of basic doctrines of the criminal law, and in the light of the proper limits of endangerment offences. They are found wanting in both respects, and are also found to pose particular sentencing problems. The conclusion is that many risk-based possession offences are unfair, save those that require proof of a (...) further intent or those aimed at a failure properly to safeguard a dangerous object. (shrink)
Accused persons who are subjected to a saturation level of negative media coverage may be denied an impartial hearing, which is perhaps the most important aspect of the right to a fair hearing. Despite this, the courts have generally held that the social imperative of prosecuting accused trumps the interests of the accused. The justification for an impartial hearing stems from the repugnance of convicting the innocent. Viewed dispassionately, this imperative is not absolute, given that every legal system condones (...) procedures which result in the conviction of some innocent people. While the importance of guarding against wrongful convictions has been overstated, the imperative to bring to trial all accused has been even more exaggerated. The legal system has displayed a capacity to deal with cases where the guilty walk free. The institutional integrity of the criminal justice system would be significantly compromised by convictions that are tarnished by pre-judgment. Confidence in the criminal justice system is more important than individual criminal accountability. The inability to receive an impartial hearing should result in a permanent stay. The only exception is where the alleged crime has the capacity to cause widespread fear or social unrest. This only applies in relation to serious acts of terrorism. This article focuses on recent legal fair trial developments in Australia, however, the analysis, reasoning and conclusion applies in relation to all jurisdictions where juries determine guilt and innocence. (shrink)
The problem of pursuing and achieving justice in a free society involves three different areas of analysis. First, the types of acts that are to be proscribed must be specified. Part of this analysis is methodological, requiring us to settle on the way in which such questions are to be decided. Second, once an offense has been defined, the remedy for its commission must be determined in a manner that is consistent with the theory of justice that defined the criminal (...) act. Finally, the structure of the legal order that will efficiently enforce these principles and at the same time not violate them must be explored. (shrink)
Justifications and excuses are defenses that exculpate. They are therefore much more like each other than like such defenses as diplomatic immunity, which does not exculpate. But they exculpate in different ways, and it has proven difficult to agree on just what that difference consists in. In this paper I take a step back from justification and excuse as concepts in criminal law, and look at the concepts as they arise in everyday life. To keep the task manageable, I focus (...) primarily on excuses and excusing activities, distinguishing them from justifications as well as from other close relatives, in particular, forgiving and pardoning. I draw upon J.L. Austinâs classic A Plea for Excuses, but expand on his account, suggesting that we offer excuses for reasons besides those he mentions. My hope is that my examination of excuses and excusing activities will help us rethink our views on just how justifications and excuses differ, views which often are worked out without much attention to how these concepts function in everyday life and to the connection between offers of excuses and justifications and the rules of civility. (shrink)
In his review of Getting Even: Revenge as a Form of Justice (Open Court: Chicago. 1999). Michael Davis challenges the view put forward in the book that revenge is personal retributive punishment. Davis also claims that “the purpose Barton seeks to achieve under the banner of ‘victims rights’ has no more to do with punishment than with revenge.” In my response, I argue that Davis’s views and conclusions are based partly on a misreading of Getting Even, and partly on mistaken (...) assumptions about the nature of victim rights, justice, punishment, and revenge. (shrink)
With the growing prominence of restorative justice interventions, criminal justice is being reconceptualized in terms of a new paradigm of justice. The central concept of this new paradigm is victim-offender empowerment. The paper articulates the meaning and application of this idea in restorative justice philosophy and practice.
Christopher Bennett presents a theory of punishment grounded in the practice of apology, and in particular in reactions such as feeling sorry and making amends. He argues that offenders have a 'right to be punished' - that it is part of taking an offender seriously as a member of a normatively demanding relationship (such as friendship or collegiality or citizenship) that she is subject to retributive attitudes when she violates the demands of that relationship. However, while he claims that punishment (...) and the retributive attitudes are the necessary expression of moral condemnation, his account of these reactions has more in common with restorative justice than traditional retributivism. He argues that the most appropriate way to react to crime is to require the offender to make proportionate amends. His book is a rich and original contribution to the debate over punishment and restorative justice. (shrink)
The defense of necessity, also known as the “choice of evils,” reflects popular moral intuitions and common sense: sometimes, breaking the rules is the right—indeed, the only—thing to do in order to avoid a greater evil. Citing a classic example, mountain climbers may break into a cabin to wait out a deadly snow storm and appropriate the owner’s provisions because their property violations are a lesser evil compared to the loss of life. At the same time, this defense contradicts the (...) fundamental principles of criminal responsibility in that it authorizes violation of rights of innocent bystanders. By allowing the mountain climbers to override the property rights of the cabin owner, the defense effectively forbids the cabin owner to use force in response—a different rule would perpetuate violence. This outcome is at odds with the basic criminal law doctrines. There is no general duty to rescue in Anglo-American law. Yet, by forbidding the cabin owner to use force, the defense of necessity essentially imposes on him the duty to forego his interests in favor of those of the mountain climbers. The paper explores the origins and boundaries of the defense of necessity. It argues that the existing public and private theories of necessity are unsatisfactory and concludes that a viable theory of necessity should be able to explain why it is sometimes permissible to override individual rights of citizens without their consent or fault. (shrink)
In this article, I confront Garveyâs argument that a weak-willed individual deserves partial excuse for trying to resist a strong desire that pushes him toward commission of a criminal act even though in the end he unreasonably abandons his resistance and commits the crime. I attempt to refute Garveyâs argument on two counts: one, I question whether the law should indeed provide mitigation to such an offender; and two, I argue that, even if it should, this mitigation may not come (...) in the form of a partial defense. Defenses, even partial, are desert based, and there is nothing in Garveyâs offenderâs circumstances that makes him less blameworthy for the crime he committed. A court may choose to treat such an offender more leniently but it should not be mandated to do so. (shrink)