The Sex Crimes Blog was recently featured in a couple of places. First, the blog appeared in a list of the Top 50 Criminal Justice Blogs. Second, John Schwartz, of the New York Times, included Sex Crimes on his short list of recommended legal blogs. Meanwhile, the ABA is compiling its list of Best Legal Blogs. Like Crime & Consequences, we don't encourage a campaign for Sex Crimes (which the ABA does not want), but I certainly wouldn't object if you sent a message on our behalf.
To all our visitors, thanks for reading.
To all the JMLS students who began classes today, welcome or welcome back (as the case may be). If you happen to be in my Criminal Law class this semester, feel free to read along. Reading about the cases and issues here will certainly help you in your Criminal Law studies. If you are in my Sex Crimes class, then you should definitely read along as you will be posting here at some point during the semester.
I have just uploaded a draft of my new article, The Emerging Criminal War on Sex Offenders, to SSRN. You can find the article here. This is the abstract:
This article addresses four central questions. First, what is the difference between normal law enforcement policy and a “war” on crime? Second, assuming such a line can be discerned, has the enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (“AWA”) in combination with other sex offender laws triggered a transition to a criminal war on sex criminals? Third, if such a criminal war is emerging, what will be the likely effects of such a transition? Fourth, if such a criminal war is emerging with substantial negative consequences, how can it be stopped?
By reviewing America’s history of criminal wars, primarily the War on Drugs, the article identifies three essential characteristics of a criminal war: marshalling of resources, myth creation, and exception making. It concludes that the federalization of sex offender policy brought about by the AWA elevated law enforcement to a nascent criminal war on sex crimes. This change could have repercussions as substantial as the drug war has had on American criminal justice and society.
Although this has nothing to do with sex crimes, I have posted another article of mine Defining and Measuring Judicial Activism: An Empirical Study of Judges on the United States Courts of Appeals on SSRN. This is the abstract:
Existing empirical scholarship about judicial activism has almost exclusively focused on 1) the United States Supreme Court; and 2) actions by the judiciary which invalidate legislative, executive, and state actions. This article contends that such limitations give an extremely narrow, and potentially flawed, vision of activism and judicial decisionmaking. The Supreme Court is a less than ideal institution to study because the ever-shrinking docket of the Court creates small population sizes, the writ of certiorari process creates significant selection effects, the lack of restraints on Justices makes it difficult to identify a “correct” baseline to measure against, and the areas of law reviewed by the Court are quite limited. Studying the United States Courts of Appeals gives a fuller picture of activism, restraint, and decisionmaking among federal court judges. For the federal appellate courts, focusing on inter-branch and inter-governmental actions offers little insight because cases involving such issues constitute a very small percentage of the overall docket. Instead, this article considers the activity that is the primary duty of such courts: reviewing the judgments of federal district courts.
Activism, at its core, is about judges elevating their judgment above other constitutionally significant actors when a formal model of the law would predict otherwise. By analyzing how individual judges respect both deferential and non-deferential standards of review of district court judgments, this study captures a judge’s privileging of his or her judgment above others. Using a newly created dataset which includes 2008 cases which applied a standard of review from the eleven numbered circuits and the D.C. Circuit, the study is able to assess the activism of individual federal appellate judges. The article finds that there is no statistically significant correlation between activism of judges and the political party of the appointing President, the particular President who appointed the judge, and whether the majority of the Senate and the President were of the same party at the time of appointment. However, the study does find that individual Courts of Appeals vary substantially in their levels of judicial activism.
This draft analyzes data from nine Circuits including 6,626 cases and 19,869 judicial votes.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have quite a bit of data about Sotomayor's performance in 2008 as related to other appellate judges. I decided to break down some of her numbers as compared to her peers in criminal cases. Sotomayor, like many appellate judges, was a former prosecutor. As a result, one might expect her to not be particularly friendly to criminal defendants. However, the conventional wisdom is that appellate judges appointed by Democratic presidents are softer on crime. So, how did Sotomayor stack up? As to her overall record in finding for the criminal defendant, here is how she performed based upon my 2008 dataset: