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The Dramas of Criminal Law: Thurman Arnold’s Post-Realist Critique of Law Enforcement

Mark Fenster

University of Florida - Levin College of Law

March 12, 2016

The high legal realist period of the 1930s was not known for its criminal law scholarship, while until fairly recently, criminal law theory was not as well-developed as those fields that had faced a realist and post-realist critique. This Essay attempts to address these issues by describing in detail the criminal law scholarship of Thurman Arnold, a prominent realist whose best known academic writings were his mid-1930s monographs on the New Deal and resistance to it. Arnold’s criminal law scholarship serves as a forgotten link between the classical doctrinal work that dominated midcentury legal academic work on criminal law and the more socially- and culturally-focused scholarship of recent decades. Reconsidering Arnold’s sociological, doctrinal, and cultural analysis of criminal law, law enforcement, and the criminal trial informs our understanding of the history of criminal law scholarship, legal realism, and post-realist legal theory.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 35

Keywords: criminal law, criminal procedure, law enforcement, criminal justice, criminal trial, criminal attempt, Thurman Arnold, legal realism

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Date posted: January 16, 2009 ; Last revised: March 14, 2016

Suggested Citation

Fenster, Mark, The Dramas of Criminal Law: Thurman Arnold’s Post-Realist Critique of Law Enforcement (March 12, 2016). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1328681 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1328681

Contact Information

Mark Fenster (Contact Author)
University of Florida - Levin College of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
352-273-0962 (Phone)
352-392-3005 (Fax)

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