In this Note, Valerie Roddy studies the continuing hesitancy of U.S. courts to include foreign relevant conduct in federal sentences, despite the expansive inclusion of domestic relevant conduct. Roddy analyzes the courts’ principal concerns and concludes that the distinctions that courts are drawing between foreign and domestic relevant conduct are illusory. She argues that to achieve consistency in sentencing and proportional sentencing for international defendants, foreign and domestic conduct must be treated identically. Finally, she contends that distinguishing foreign relevant conduct and subjecting it to a special analysis is best viewed as a means of retaining a measure of discretion in a federal sentencing system struggling with both the potent effect of relevant conduct on sentences and the shrinking judicial discretion over sentences.
Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything
The government possesses a variety of tools to control the populace. Obvious examples include the criminal justice system, administrative regulation, and taxation. Because these tools involve varying degrees of coercion, the federal government’s choice of tools in addressing a particular problem has considerable impact on citizens, both financially and in terms of individual rights.
In practice, the problem of law enforcement is half a matter of what the government does to catch violators and half a matter of what violators do to avoid getting caught. In the theory of law enforcement, however, although the state’s efforts at “detection” play a decisive role, offenders’ efforts at “detection avoidance” are largely ignored. Always problematic, this imbalance has become critical in recent years as episodes of corporate misconduct spur new interest in punishing process crimes like obstruction of justice and perjury. This Article adds detection avoidance to the existing theoretical frame with an eye toward informing the current policy debate. The exercise leads to several conclusions. First, despite recent efforts to strengthen laws governing obstruction and perjury, sanctioning is relatively inefficacious at discouraging detection avoidance. Sanctions send a mixed message to the offender: Do less to avoid detection, but to the extent you still do something, do more to avoid detection of your detection avoidance. The Article argues that detection avoidance is often more effectively deterred through the structural design of evidentiary procedure (inclusive of investigation). Specifically advocated are devices that exploit the cognitive psychological shortcomings of individuals and the sociological fragility of their collusive arrangements.
Opponents of the death penalty typically base their opposition on contingent features of its administration, arguing that the death penalty is applied discriminatorily, that the innocent are sometimes executed, or that there is insufficient evidence of the death penalty’s deterrent efficacy. Implicit in these arguments is the suggestion that if these contingencies did not obtain, serious moral objections to the death penalty would be misplaced. In this Article, Professor Finkelsteindeterrence and retributivismis capable of justifying the death penalty. More generally, she suggests that while each theory captures an important part of the justification for punishment, each must appeal to some further limiting principle to accommodate common intuitions about appropriate punishments for crimes. Professor Finkelstein claims that contractarianism supplies this additional principle, by requiring that individuals consent to the system of punishment under whose threat they must live. Moreover, on the version of contractarianism for which she argues, they must do so based on a belief that they will benefit under the terms of that system as compared with how they would fare in its absence. While the notion of benefit is often best understood in terms of maximizing one’s expected utility, Professor Finkelsteingambling” decision rule. She then argues that rational contractors applying this conception of benefit would reject any system of punishment that includes the death penalty. For while contractors would recognize the death penalty’s deterrent value, they must also consider the high cost they would pay in the event they end up subject to such a penalty. This Article presents both a significant new approach to the death penalty and a general theory of punishment, one that incorporates the central intuitions about deterrence and desert that have made competing theories of punishment seem compelling.
A great gulf divides insiders and outsiders in the criminal justice system. The insiders who run the criminal justice system—judges, police, and especially prosecutors—have information, power, and self-interests that greatly influence the criminal justice system’s process and outcomes. Outsiders—crime victims, bystanders, and most of the general public— find the system frustratingly opaque, insular, and unconcerned with proper retribution. As a result of this gulf, a spiral ensues: Insiders twist rules as they see fit, outsiders try to constrain them through new rules, and insiders find ways to evade or manipulate the new rules. The gulf between insiders and outsiders undercuts the instrumental, moral, and expressive efficacy of criminal procedure in serving the criminal law’s substantive goals. The gulf clouds the law’s deterrent and expressive messages, as well as its efficacy in healing victims; it impairs trust in and the legitimacy of the law; it provokes increasingly draconian reactions by outsiders; and it hinders public monitoring of agency costs. The most promising solutions are to inform crime victims and other affected locals better and to give them larger roles in criminal justice. It also might be possible to do a better job monitoring and checking insiders, but the prospects for empowering and educating the general public are dim.
Elected judges often run “tough on crime” campaigns, which raises concerns that they will be biased against criminal defendants once on the bench. Indeed, studies show that elected judges give harsher punishments to criminal defendants as elections near. Nevertheless, in Republican Party of Minnesota v. White, the Supreme Court found that an elected judge can still be considered impartial even if he knows that his decisions throughout a case might affect his job security. This Note argues that the Supreme Court’s decision in White failed to account for a key factor complicating the election of unbiased judges: media coverage of crime and elections. The media dynamics at work in elections and the particular way judges respond to them may lead to criminal cases being heard by judges who are biased against defendants. To correct this problem, states must affirmatively act to protect criminal defendants’ right to a fair trial by adopting broad recusal requirements. States must change their codes of judicial conduct to allow for mandatory recusal of judges who run tough-on-crime election campaigns.
Brady v. Maryland requires prosecutors to disclose to criminal defendants all material, favorable evidence in the government’s possession. Evidence is material if its disclosure would have created a reasonable probability of a different verdict. Though materiality may correctly guide appellate courts in deciding when to reverse convictions, the author contends that it is both impractical and unconstitutional to ask prosecutors to use materiality as the measure of their disclosure obligations before trial. It is impractical because it requires prosecutors convinced of the defendant’s guilt to decide what combination of evidence, if disclosed, would create a reasonable probability of an acquittal at the end of a trial that has yet to begin. It is unconstitutional so long as due process means something other than that which produces the right outcome. This Note suggests that prosecutors should employ a balancing test based on the interaction of Brady disclosure rules and the defendant’s right to a trial by jury to determine when favorable evidence must be disclosed. This balancing test provides prosecutors with a disclosure standard that is simple, constitutional, and compatible with courts’ continued use of the materiality standard after trial.
The growing use of brain imaging technology to explore the causes of morally, socially, and legally relevant behavior is the subject of much discussion and controversy in both scholarly and popular circles. From the efforts of cognitive neuroscientists in the courtroom and the public square, the contours of a project to transform capital sentencing both in principle and in practice have emerged. In the short term, these scientists seek to play a role in the process of capital sentencing by serving as mitigation experts for defendants, invoking neuroimaging research on the roots of criminal violence to support their arguments. Over the long term, these same experts (and their like-minded colleagues) hope to appeal to the recent findings of their discipline to embarrass, discredit, and ultimately overthrow retributive justice as a principle of punishment. Taken as a whole, these short- and long-term efforts are ultimately meant to usher in a more compassionate and humane regime for capital defendants.
This Article seeks to articulate, analyze, and provide a critique of this project according to the metric of its own humanitarian aspirations. It proceeds by exploring the implications of the project in light of the mechanics of capital sentencing and the heterogeneous array of competing doctrinal rationales in which they are rooted. The Article concludes that the project as currently conceived is internally inconsistent and would, if implemented, result in ironic and tragic consequences, producing a death penalty regime that is even more draconian and less humane than the deeply flawed framework currently in place.
In response to the broad scope of the Enron-era frauds, the federal government has adopted novel strategies to investigate and prosecute corporate crimes. This Article examines the use of stringent cooperation requirements and deferred prosecution agreements, pursuant to which corporate internal investigations have become extensions of government enforcement efforts. At the same time, liability has shifted markedly to the employee level: Over one thousand individuals have been indicted and convicted since the July 2002 creation of the Corporate Fraud Task Force, while few corporations have been charged. The convergence of corporate cooperation doctrine with the focus on individual targets results in significant unfairness for employees who are compelled to incriminate themselves in the context of internal investigations that are directed by the government. Because of the awkward partnering of public governmental investigations with private corporate compliance efforts, that normative burden on employees may not be offset by enforcement benefits. This Article suggests that the government’s application of a civil regulatory model to criminal cases creates distortions because individual liberty rather than a financial sanction is at stake, because prosecutors do not engage in negotiated governance, and because judicial oversight at the investigative stage is minimal. This Article also addresses the constitutional implications of outsourcing corporate criminal investigations and argues that employees interviewed by internal investigators pursuant to the terms of a pending deferred prosecution agreement should enjoy immunity analogous to the Garrity shield that protects public employees. Several strands of Fifth Amendment theory are consistent with the argument that economic pressure, such as the threat of job loss, can rise to the level of constitutionally significant coercion. When that pressure is brought to bear pursuant to a deferred prosecution agreement, it is delegated coercion, but may be attributed to the government as state action.
DNA databases enable extremely accurate criminal identification, and a database with appropriate privacy safeguards could be a boon not only for law enforcement but for civil libertarians as well. Unfortunately, current DNA databases lack important precautions and expose DNA donors to serious risks of abuse. The courts that have heard Fourth Amendment challenges to these databases have uniformly upheld them using one of two different rationales. Some courts have held that DNA databases serve a special need, and others have held that the convicted offenders targeted by current statutes have diminished privacy interests in their DNA. However, neither rationale provides a convincing justification for compelling individuals to provide DNA for a database, with or without safeguards. The problem is not with the substantive reasonableness of DNA collection for an ideal database, but with crafting a judicial decision procedure that allows only reasonable databases and not unreasonable ones. The solution proposed by this Note, accordingly, is an alternative decisionmaking procedure that enlists the assistance of the political process. Under the “universality exception” to the warrant requirement proposed by this Note, a search is reasonable if it is authorized by a statute that truly applies equally to every member of the population. The political process leading to the enactment of a universal DNA database, which this exception would require, would ensure that any such database had appropriate safeguards.