Thursday, March 22, 2007
New version of Connectedness and its Discontents
Just a heads up that I've revised and posted a new draft of my essay on the construction of criminal histories for migrant offenders. The piece is called Connectedness and its Discontents: The Difficulties of Federalism and Criminal Law, and it's coming out soon in a new issue of the peer-reviewed journal, the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. The issue promises to be very interesting, with a symposium on mercy, one of my favorite topics. The issue will include contributions from, among others, my colleague Wayne Logan (who's replying to my response to his earlier piece), Steve Garvey (Cornell), Heidi Hurd (Illinois), Mary Sigler (ASU), Jeffrie Murphy (ASU), Judge Nancy Gertner (D.Mass.), Chris Slobogin (Florida/Stanford), Antony Duff (Stirling, UK), Stephanos Bibas (Penn), and David Dolinko (UCLA).
After the jump is my abstract of the essay, which you can download here. I believe the citation will be something like 4 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 573 (2007). This was my first time writing on "horizontal federalism" and criminal law issues, and I'm grateful to have had the chance to do so; it's a wonderfully rich area.
This essay raises questions about the appropriate way for states to construe the criminal history of offenders migrating across states.
In a recent article, Professor Wayne Logan asked two important questions that have been given spare and insufficient attention. The first focuses on how states construct the criminal histories of the offenders who are now in their midst. The second asks what tradeoffs are implicated as states make their choices regarding how to interpret the pasts of these itinerant offenders as they relate to registration requirements or sentence enhancements for recidivism. Answering the first question, Logan observes the existence of two archetypal approaches a state might adopt when assessing an offender's prior record: an internal one and an external one. Under the internal approach, the use of out-of-state convictions, and any punishment resulting from those convictions, [must] satisfy the eligibility requirements of the forum state's registration or recidivist enhancement law. On this view, for example, a state would not apply a recidivist sentencing enhancement to an offender on the basis of a conviction in another state for conduct that would not be illegal in the forum state. By contrast, under the external approach, a forum state faithfully implements the consequences of the legal judgments of its fellow sovereign states, rather than re-examining those determinations to see if the underlying circumstances (or length of sentence) would have initiated the same legal consequences in the forum state. Consequently, with the external approach, an offender's former actions potentially trigger a marked trail effect in the new forum state. Of course, jurisdictions need not be consistent between recidivism and registration requirements: some states might adopt, for instance, an internal approach with respect to recidivist sentencing enhancements but an external approach to sex offender registration laws.
With respect to the second question, Logan capably shows how the competing internal and external approaches raise difficult theoretical and practical policy questions. Indeed, simply by ventilating the various issues as he does, Logan helpfully foregrounds many otherwise easily obscured value trade-offs, and thus makes a profound contribution to the study of federalism and American criminal law.
This essay registers no real quarrel with Logan's analysis of the scope and nature of criminal justice connectedness. My focus instead is on the normative argument in Logan's apparent preference for the internal approach. I choose this focus not because I am convinced that the external approach is the obviously superior one. Rather, I think Logan overestimates its deficiencies. The goal here, then, is simply to adumbrate a few of the rejoinders available in defense of the external approach against Logan's criticisms. To the extent these responsive arguments are persuasive, then state courts and/or legislatures will be in a better-informed position to select an approach more consonant with their particular concerns and objectives.
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is adumbrate the right word to use there? I ask this sincerely.
Posted by: anon | Mar 23, 2007 3:13:48 AM
It means to sketch or outline so it makes sense to me.
Posted by: anony | Mar 23, 2007 9:51:11 AM
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