The Center for Law, Society, and Culture ( is sponsored by the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. The Center actively supports and promotes multidisciplinary understanding of law and legal problems through scholarship, teaching, and discussion. The Center is located in the School of Law on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University, but produces, presents and coordinates research conducted by more than 70 scholars from schools and departments across Indiana University. The Center's affiliated scholars hold appointments in African-American studies, business, criminal justice, journalism, history, economics, English, law, and gender studies, among others, and are dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the role of law in society and culture. The Center supports research related to the law in a broad sense, including the cultural aspects of law expressed through political theory and scientific aspects of law expressed through technological advances in biotechnology, environmental science and information technology.

Sponsored by: Indiana University Maurer School of Law

"The Merciful Corpus: The Rule of Lenity, Ambiguity and Corpus Linguistics" Free Download

DANIEL ORTNER, Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Students

This article looks to application of the Rule of Lenity by the Supreme Court and lower courts. In particular, it considers four standards articulated by the Supreme Court to determine whether sufficient ambiguity exists to trigger the rule of lenity and looks to how these standards have been applied to either apply or reject application of the Rule of Lenity. Then, Corpus Linguistics is employed in the context of five cases where usage of the Rule of Lenity divided the Supreme Court. Ultimately, this analysis reveals the widely disparate standards employed by Justices and suggests that a large portion of the Court has turned the Rule of Lenity on its head by putting a heavy burden on a defendant seeking to invoke the Rule of Lenity.

"Break on Through: An Analysis of Computer Damage Cases" Free Download
Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law & Policy, Volume XIV – Spring 2014, pp. 158-201. DOI 10.5195/tlp.2014.139

IOANA VASIU, Babes-Bolyai University - Faculty of Law
LUCIAN VASIU, Independent

This article is an extensive inquiry into computer damage cases through a comprehensive study of over three hundred computer damage cases. Based on an empirical categorization of the essential aspects of computer damage cases, the article analyzes the most relevant issues, interpretations, and arguments available for each computer damage category. These categories include fundamental facets, such as legal elements; motive and intent; results; profile of perpetrators; and means of perpetration, including, if applicable, the software involved.

"Sentencing Discretion and Burdens of Proof" Free Download

ALEX LUNDBERG, Emory University

Typically, judges retain sentencing discretion in criminal cases, but in some states this discretion is given to juries. One criticism of jury sentencing is that jurors will be tempted to issue "compromise verdicts," where they return a guilty verdict but a light sentence when they are uncertain about the facts of a case. A simple expected utility model shows that, under reasonable assumptions, any fact finder with sentencing discretion (juror or judge) should engage in behavior that is observationally equivalent to a compromise verdict. Intuitively, the fact finder chooses a more lenient sentence than the punishment that fits the crime because he wants to mitigate the potential cost of a wrongful conviction; in turn, a lower cost of a wrongful conviction leads him to reduce his standard of proof. Whether compromise verdicts occur in practice remains an open empirical question.

"Privacy and National Security in the Digital Age. European and Comparative Constitutional Perspectives" Free Download
20 Tilburg Law Review (2015)

FEDERICO FABBRINI, University of Copenhagen - iCourts - Centre of Excellence for International Courts

The article introduces the theme of the protection of the right to privacy in a world characterized by rapid developments in digital technology and the need to fight terrorism. It identifies the challenges that surveillance policies raise on privacy and data protection and explains how the contributions to the Special Issue connect to the ongoing legal and policy debate in the field of European and comparative constitutional law.

"Human Rights Protections for People with Mental Health and Cognitive Disability in Prisons" 
(2015) Psychiatry, Psychology and Law

ANITA MACKAY, Melbourne Law School

People with a mental health or cognitive disability are vastly over-represented in the Australian prison system. Investigatory reports by Ombudsmen and similar organisations reveal that there is considerable scope for improving the treatment of this cohort. One avenue for doing so is using a human rights framework, given that Australia’s international human rights law obligations require (among other things) that imprisoned people be treated with respect for their human dignity and, furthermore, recent international research demonstrating that fair and respectful treatment in prison may improve psychological well-being. However, there are considerable challenges involved in implementing this requirement in overcrowded and hierarchical prison settings. It is even more difficult to comply with the legal requirements given the web of provisions at the international, national and State/Territory levels, causing complexity and a lack of clarity as to their interrelationship. This article condenses the requirements into four principles and discusses how these have been applied by courts in relevant international and domestic cases. This analysis aims to assist correctional managers and policymakers seeking to comply with these legal requirements. Such compliance should form part of a multifaceted approach to protecting these vulnerable individuals from further harm.

"Confronting the Shadow State: Developing International Legal Responses to State Organised Crime" 

HENRI DECOEUR, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

This thesis explores avenues of action to address the phenomenon of state organised crime through international law. In certain countries, senior state officials acting in their official capacity use the material and human resources of the state to facilitate or participate in organised criminal activities, in pursuit of policy objectives or personal profit. The thesis shows that existing international criminal law instruments on organised crime and corruption are inadequate to address this phenomenon, and sketches proposals to develop an international legal framework for its suppression.

The thesis describes the phenomenon of state organised crime, discussing its context, its actors, its means of commission and its underlying motives. It makes a theoretical argument for establishing state organised crime as an international crime, suggesting that this phenomenon constitutes an abuse of state authority, a threat to international peace and security, a violation of human rights, and a subversion of the rule of law and of the functioning of interstate cooperation. The thesis further makes a practical argument for developing international legal responses against state organised crime, highlighting the formal, procedural and substantive limits of the existing law, and drawing attention in particular to its expressive failure. It then discusses possible courses of action to suppress state organised crime at the international level. It proposes the adoption of a universal treaty requiring states parties to criminalise the use by senior public officials of state resources for criminal purposes, and to either investigate or extradite suspected offenders. The thesis also considers the potential role of the UN Security Council in requiring states to criminalise state organised crime and to freeze the assets of suspected offenders. Finally, it discusses the potential role of international criminal courts and tribunals in prosecuting perpetrators.


About this eJournal

Sponsored by: Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

This eJournal distributes working and accepted paper abstracts of empirical or theoretical scholarship on topics related to crime, criminal law, and criminal punishment (including the death penalty), from any disciplinary perspective. Covered topics include victims' rights, criminal sentencing rules, criminal sentencing procedures, criminal punishment, theories of criminal punishment, alternatives to traditional criminal punishment, criminal law doctrine, and administration of criminal justice.


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Advisory Board

Law & Society: Public Law - Crime, Criminal Law, & Punishment eJournal

Roscoe C. O'Byrne Professor of Law, Indiana University-Bloomington, Maurer School of Law

Professor of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law

George H. Young-Bascom Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School

Willard and Margaret Carr Professor of Labor and Employment Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Director, Center for the Study of Law and Society, Agnes Roddy Robb Professor of Law and Professor of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence & Social Policy Program and Center for the Study of Law and Society

Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas, Wellesley College - Department of Anthropology

Voss-Bascom Professor of Law, Professor of Sociology [Emeritus] Review Section Editor - Law & Social Inquiry, University of Wisconsin Law School

Professor of Law, Adjunct Professor of Latino Studies, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Indiana University Maurer School of Law

John & Rylla Bosshard Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison

Co-Director, Center for Law, Society and Culture, Professor of History & Law, Indiana University-Bloomington, Maurer School of Law

Professor of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Editorial Advisory Board, Law and Society Review, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Sociology

Professor of Law and Political Science, SUNY Buffalo Law School

Professor of Law, University of Denver Sturm College of Law