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June 4, 2009

If you enjoy conversing about criminal law...

Clc be sure to get yourself a copy of this new publication from Oxford University Press, Criminal Law Conversations.  This book, to which I contributed a chapter and some additional commentary, was put together skillfully by Professors Paul Robinson, Stephen Garvey, and Kimberly Ferzan.  Here is the publisher's description of the effort:

Criminal Law Conversations provides an authoritative overview of contemporary criminal law debates in the United States.  This collection of high caliber scholarly papers was assembled using an innovative and interactive method of nominations and commentary by the nation's top legal scholars.  Virtually every leading scholar in the field has participated, resulting in a volume of interest to those both in and outside of the community.  Criminal Law Conversations showcases the most captivating of these essays, and provides insight into the most fundamental and provocative questions of modern criminal law.

June 4, 2009 at 02:08 PM | Permalink


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I was considering buying this, but then I saw the price; I may have to wait and see if my loan is approved! (Or wait for the paperback, or try to snag it on a used book website later... or, of course, ask my friendly local law library to order it)

Posted by: Observer | Jun 4, 2009 7:42:41 PM

ps- I just printed this (to take to my friendly local law library), and it took 6 pages of printer paper. Prof. Berman, if you have any control over the functionality of the site, could you put in a request for a "print this post" link! This is not the first time I've had this frustration. (A "share this post" link wouldn't be bad either, and would likely increase your traffic...)

Posted by: Observer | Jun 4, 2009 7:46:46 PM

Can any of these scholars utter the V word, without a trip to the emergency room?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 4, 2009 11:20:41 PM

You could try reading the book, SC.

Posted by: Gray | Jun 5, 2009 9:21:37 AM

I will.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 5, 2009 1:20:01 PM

$150. Over 700 pages. Not on Kindle. Not available yet.

I am going to review it here, without having read it. Everything is very complicated in the management of crime, they will say. More funding is needed for all involved. More procedures are required to prevent the false convictions of innocent defendants. It is unsettled if the death penalty has any benefit. Discretionary sentencing guidelines have had very little impact on the criminal law. The US has too many people in the system. Rehabilitation programs pay for themselves several times over, yet are underfunded. All poor people should be made rich before the problem of crime can be settled. In a very brief chapter, hidden, a scholar will imply, we may have too many laws. The chapters are of variable quality.

Here is what is left out. Victims. Failure of all goals of the criminal law. Great success at its secret, true goal, generating lawyer jobs. Most criminal laws have no proof of benefit. There is a 1 in 100 chance of suffering any consequence after an FBI Index felony, making the lawyer client nearly, absolutely immune. The dose-response curve of the death penalty requires 10,000 executions, to break even with a reduction in the murder rate. In lawyer neighborhoods, the death penalty is at the scene if a criminal mistakenly wanders into the neighborhood. So on.

I will read the book. I predict the review after reading it will be about the same as the list of cliches above. There is nothing going on, despite the high intelligence of these scholars. They will not allow the utterance of any idea that may impact the crime rate because so many lawyer jobs depend on it.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 5, 2009 2:37:10 PM

SC, far too often the victim is a citizen wrongly accused of a crime.

Posted by: John K | Jun 5, 2009 6:17:58 PM

That is a major failure of the criminal law, false positive rate. The criminal law uses concepts of evidence from 1250 AD, with the scientific validation of the trial by ordeal, namely, none. All of it is Medieval garbage.

It is totally incompetent: over 20% false positive rate, 99% false negative rate. The 20% comes from death penalty invalidation of false convictions. Imagine its real rate in the ordinary trial. Imagine its real rate in the plea bargain.

This is so outrageous, such utter failure, the entirety of the hierarchy must be forcibly removed. Imagine what would happen to a plumber who could not fix 99 of 100 broken toilets. Of the toilets he fixed over 20% were not broken. He just took your money to fix a toilet that was not broken. Imagine his taking a $million for each job. You would have to beat him badly, then kill him. There is no way he would be allowed to go on.

Those are toilets. What about innocent people?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 5, 2009 7:24:14 PM

"Of the toilets he fixed over 20% were not broken. He just took your money to fix a toilet that was not broken. Imagine his taking a $million for each job."

Actually, if you look at the auto mechanic business research has shown that about 50% of all repairs are unnecessary at an estimated $5 billion a year nationally. Yet I don't see anyone beating them; in fact, they sponsor a great many Little League softball teams if my own community is any guide. You seem to be angry that Americans put fraudsters on a pedestal. Why. That's the nature of our culture.

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 5, 2009 8:31:56 PM

For $150, I'll wait for the movie.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jun 7, 2009 9:08:26 AM

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