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August 26, 2013

Huzzah again to our eight great sentencing lawyers.... (POST-JURY-DUTY SERVICE update/warning)

I hope everyone shares my view the presentations by our sentencing lawyers today we are first rate, and I am grateful for everyone's participation as both judges and counsel in our role play. 

I will be tabulating results from all sentencing forms I received, and I am looking forward to talking collectively about the experience on Wednesday.  But folks should feel free to share comments or ask question in this forum via the comments before we get back together on Wednesday.

Speaking of Wednesday, as previously noted in this prior post, after our brief review of the role-play experience, we will then turn to our discussion of the Act requirement, with special attention on the Proctor case.  Though it is possible we could get to the omission materials on Wednesday, I suspect we will not get to the Jones case until Friday. 

UPDATE (Tuesday 8/27)I am pleased to be able to report on Tuesday that (1) I got to spend the entire morning watching a great local judge, and a former Moritz College of Law student (now anAssistant DA), and a prominent local defense attorney conduct voir dire in a serious criminal case, and (2) a full 12-person jury and an alternative was selected for the criminal trial before my juror number got called.  And I was especially excited that this former student take advantage of the opportunity to call on me during voir dire and asked me only "softball" questions while having me on the spot.

What all this means is for our class is that (a) we will be meeting at our usual times in our usual places this week, and (b) I am going to be extra eager to call on a current student to help me work through the act requirement materials (and especially the Proctor and Barger and Jones cases).  in other words, this updated posting is a warning of sorts that there is likely to be some hard-core Socratic Method action in the classes ahead.


August 26, 2013 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 23, 2013

Materials for Monday's sentencing role-play

Below for downloading is a copy of the PreSentencing Report (PSRs) Rachel Foster and Dan Schayes, which were handed out in hard-copy in class on Friday.

Also available below is a form all judges can use when sentencing Rachel Foster and Dan Schayes (whose PSRs are linked here). There is no need (or place) to put a name on the form, but I will collect them after our sentencing hearings in class on Monday, Aug. 26.

As you will see when you download the form (and as I suggested in class), judges should develop tentative ideas about likely sentences before coming to class to hear the advocates' presentations. By doing so, judges can get a better sense for whether and how advocacy can have an impact in this kind of setting.

Download 2013 PSRs for Role Play

Download 2013-sentencing-verdict-form 

August 23, 2013 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2013

Schedule clarification (and a great new example of a retributivist argument with a constitutional kicker)

A student reasonably asked for more clarity as to our schedule over the next few days, so I figured I would provide a clarification here (with some substantive links):

Friday (8/23): We will wrap up formal discussion of theories of punishment, with a focus on how traditional theories (and other considerations) find expression in some Eighth Amendment rulings the Supreme Court and in the Attorney General's big speech to the American Bar Association last week.  (In this old post from this blog , I asked students "Does the text or spirit of the US Constitution favor any particular theory of punishment?" and quoted lots of potentially relevant passages for considering this question.  And in this new post from one of my other blogs, another law professor makes a forceful theory-based argument in support of administering the death penalty in a particular way.)

Monday (8/26):  We will conduct our sentencing role-play -- for which I will need 8 student lawyer/volunteers.  (For a little more background on this fun opportunity, check out this old post from this blog.)

Wednesday (8/28): We will start discussion of the act requirement, with the Proctor and Jones cases getting lots of attention.

In addition, everyone should remember the special (optional) events after we wrap up class at 2:30pm for the next two fridays: 15 minutes of casual talk, followed by a (partial) showing of the PBS documentary Prohibition, followed by happy-hour activities around 5pm.

August 22, 2013 in Advice, Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 21, 2013

Any burning questions about general punishment theory (or desires to dig deeper)?

Though we will keep talking about general punishment theories this week and next, I felt pretty good that everyone (or at least everyone who spoke up in class) is feeling okay about the basic features, and also the basic pros and cons, of classic utilitarian and retributive theories of punishment.  But if folks have burning questions and/or worries about these important basics, feel free to use the comments to raise them.

Relatedly, if any philosopher-type folks want to read more about so-called "mixed" or "hybrid" theories that try to figure out ways to embrace the "best" parts of both classic utilitarian and retributive theories of punishment, here are links to two notable papers that give it a shot:

I highly encourage students NOT to read these linked papers unless and until they have done evrything else they want/need to do first (for classes and for themselves).  But I thought it would be useful to showcase that smart professors have spent a lot of time writing lots of pages with lots of words to explain how they think they have figured all this out.  And I could link to, literally, hundreds of additional examples.

August 21, 2013 in Class reflections | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 19, 2013

Getting a running start on our discussion of punishment theory, pot prohibition and Parker consumption

Though I was grateful to hear everyone in our class speak (and report their favorite law-related movies), I was disappointed my own excessive blathering meant we did not start talking about how theories of punishment can and should inform debate over (1) whether and why the criminal law should condemn and harm persons who grow marijuana, and (2) whether and why the criminal law should condemn and harm the persons who murdered Richard Parker.   Though we will take these issues up at lengthy in our class on Wednesday, I would love to get a running start on these topics via comments to this post.

In order to connect this debate with key punishment theory concepts and terms, I would be especially excited is student comments focused at least somewhat on which theories of punishment seem to provide the best (or perhaps the worst) justifications for condemning/harmimg persons who grow marijuana and/or the for persons who murdered Richard Parker.

And, to provide a little Ohio criminal law context for your extra engagement, let me quote the first part (and link to the full text) of Ohio's basic criminal statutes covering these offenses:

Ohio Revised Code Section 2903.01: Aggravated murder.

(A) No person shall purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the death of another...

Ohio Revised Code Section 2925.04: Illegal manufacture of drugs - illegal cultivation of marihuana - methamphetamine offenses.

(A) No person shall knowingly cultivate marihuana....

In addition, if you are looking for some more "current events" which can allow you to think about theories of punishment, check out this notable New York Times op-ed from today's paper headlined "Graying Prisoners."  See if you can identify how theories of punishment are (indirectly?) used by the author of this commentary in the main argument of the commentary.

August 19, 2013 in Class reflections, Reflections on class readings | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

August 14, 2013

Welcome to the Moritz College of Law, Criminal Law with Prof. Berman & version 4.0 of this class blog

I have made a habit in recent years to use blogs to support and supplement my instruction in law school classes. Some of these class blogs have served my purposes and goals well, others have meet with mixed results. Undaunted, I remain convinced (but not entirely confident) that the blog technology (rather than a propriety law-school-support technology like TWEN) provides the best on-line tool for supporting and supplement law school courses.

I will continue my bloggy ways in the Fall 2013 semester at the Moritz College of Law through this blog to supplement my first-semester 1L small-section Crim Law course. And, as the version 4.0 label highlights, I have built this "new" blog directly atop the blog I used when teaching this very same course twice before (in Fall 2008 and Fall 2010) and when teaching a Comparative Criminal Procedure course (in Summer 2012).

I am hopeful that some new 1Ls will benefit from (or at least find reassuring) seeing some of the posts (and comments) that were generated in this forum at other times.  You might focus especially on the archives from Aug-Dec 2008 to and Aug-Dec 2010 to see some of the "action" in this class from the last two times I taught it.  

So, welcome to the latest re-launch of this 1L Crim Law blogging adventure. I am always pleased when this blog helps to promote a new type of student engagement, and it also provides an effective means for me to share both required and optional materials and ideas.







UPDATE: It dawned on me after completing this initial post that it would be useful to point you to a few items to be found deep in this blog's archives that you might already find interesting or useful.  For example, these two prior posts and the student comments thereto (one from Aug 2008 and the other from Aug 2010) might be worthwhile as you gear up for our first week of class discussions:

In addition,in the archives from 2008 I found these links with lots and lots of (old but still timely) advice for incoming 1Ls:





ANOTHER UPDATE: It dawned on me after receiving an e-mail from someone in this class that not everyone realizes where to find the "magic boxes" where the syllabus and course description are located, and also that I promised to post this stuff in this on-line space.  So, for now, here is a copy of the first part of the syllabus:

Download 2013 Criminal Law Syllabus (Part 1)




August 14, 2013 in About this blog | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack