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

"Celebrity Justice and Gossip Blogs: Demographic Characteristics of Victimized and Allegedly Criminal Celebrities Featured on Top Gossip Blogs" Free Download
J L & Soc Deviance 5, 244, 2013

CARMEN M. CUSACK, Nova Southeastern University

In the song “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,? the band Good Charlotte articulates the problem with society’s fascination with celebrities involved in the criminal justice system. Good Charlotte sings: Always see it on T.V. or read it in the magazines, celebrities want sympathy. All they do is piss and moan inside the Rolling Stone, talking about how hard life can be. I'd like to see them spend a week living life out on the street. I don't think they would survive, if they could spend a day or two walking in someone else's shoes. I think they'd stumble and they'd fall...Lifestyles of the rich and the famous...Well, did you know when you were famous you could kill your wife and there's no such thing as 25 to life? As long as you've got the cash, to pay for Cochran; and did you know if you were caught and you were smoking could always just run for mayor of D.C.

This paper neither defends, nor denies Good Charlotte’s perspective. Instead, this paper asks: Who are the subjects of these T.V./magazine stories? Once this question is answered, this article asks: What significance the answer could have for celebrity justice; the effect of the press and public opinion on the criminal justice system; and the criminal justice system on the press and public opinion; the effect of society, media, and the criminal justice system on celebrity; and the effect of celebrity criminality or celebrity justice on crime.

This article relies on law review articles and original research on celebrity blogs between the years 2008 and 2013. Section II reviews the concepts of celebrity justice and jury bias towards certain demographic characteristics that could relate to the perceived phenomenon of celebrity justice and media coverage of criminal cases involving celebrities. Section III discusses the methods used to sample data from four top celebrity gossip blogs. This section also presents findings on the gender, race, and occupation of the most widely covered celebrities involved in criminal cases, sampled in the collected data. Section IV questions the purpose and effects of these celebrity demographics, and proposes new research questions. These new suggested angles should be investigated in order to formulate the fullest picture of the interplay between media, criminal justice, society, and celebrities. The article concludes by summarizing the practical and potential importance of understanding which demographic of celebrities celebrity bloggers commonly identify as victims and perpetrators of crimes.

"The Neuroscientific Case Against Retributive Justice" Free Download

ROBERT C. ROBINSON, City University of New York (CUNY)

Retributive Justice is the theory of justice according to which individuals are either rewarded or punished as payback for the moral rights/wrongs they have committed. Consequentialist considerations such as deterrence and prevention do not figure into justifications for treatment from this perspective. This theory also holds that the severity of the punishment ought to be in proportion to the severity of the crime. The central tenant of the retributive model of justice -- namely, that reward/punishment gives people what they deserve -- relies crucially upon the intuition that people are sometimes accountable for their actions in some strong metaphysical sense. In particular, we may intuitively feel justified in holding someone morally responsible if her actions were intentional, rather than accidental or coerced. This common view is captured by what we call the "Principle of Retribution": i.e., the view that it is fair to hold an agent morally responsible, and therefore punish her for her crimes, only if her actions were freely willed, intentional, and uncoerced. It follows from this that unless free will exists for human beings, retributivist justice (at least insofar as human beings are concerned) cannot be justified.

We begin by looking back at how theories of retributive justice grew up alongside theories of distributive justice and we describe how those theories have subsequently grown apart. From there we argue that current empirical research in the field of neuroscience casts doubt on the legitimacy of the retributive model of justice insofar as it undermines a particular understanding of free will that appears necessary for its own justification. Much of the recent work on neuroscience's impact on the subject of free will has centered on the work of Benjamin Libet, whose experiments provided evidence that people's actions were initiated by unconscious brain processes that occurred prior to any conscious awareness of decision making on the part of the actor. We argue that the strongest case that neuroscience makes against the type of free will at issue comes not from Libet's work, but rather from more recent studies indicating that human behavior can be predicted with a high degree of accuracy based on unconscious neural processes. Furthermore, the case against the relevant sort of free will is bolstered by extensive research suggesting that much, if not all, of the explanations for human behavior involving conscious causes are no more than confabulations that attempt to put a conscious narrative upon actions that have strictly unconscious origins. Finally, we provide empirical evidence that determinism is -- for all intents and purposes -- the correct position with regard to human cognition, decision making, and choice. We then argue that insofar as retributive justice seems to require that some actions depend on actions that are non-determined, neuroscience suggests that retributive justice is unjustifiable.

We conclude by providing insight for revising our thinking about criminal justice and what we owe to those who commit crimes. In particular, we discuss how the common theory of distributive justice -- which remains intact and includes principles guaranteeing individual liberty and equality of opportunity -- gives advice on how we have failed people antecedent to their crimes, and how a person is best dealt with after her crime has been committed.

"Death Penalty Drugs and the International Moral Marketplace" Free Download
Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 103, 2015 (Forthcoming)

JAMES GIBSON, University of Richmond School of Law
CORINNA LAIN, University of Richmond - School of Law

Across the country, executions have become increasingly problematic as states have found it more and more difficult to procure the drugs they need for lethal injection. At first blush, the drug shortage appears to be the result of pharmaceutical industry norms; companies that make drugs for healing have little interest in being merchants of death. But closer inspection reveals that European governments are the true instigators of the shortage. For decades, those governments have tried — and failed — to promote abolition of the death penalty through traditional instruments of international law. Turns out that the best way to export their abolitionist norms was to stop exporting their drugs.

At least three lessons follow. First, while the Supreme Court heatedly debates the use of international norms in Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, that debate has largely become an academic sideshow; in the death penalty context, the market has replaced the positive law as the primary means by which international norms constrain domestic death penalty practice. Second, international norms may have entered the United States through the moral marketplace, but from there they have seeped into the zeitgeist, impacting the domestic death penalty discourse in significant and lasting ways. Finally, international norms have had such a pervasive effect on the death penalty in practice that they are now poised to influence even seemingly domestic Eighth Amendment doctrine. In the death penalty context, international norms are having an impact — through the market, through culture, and ultimately through doctrine — whether we formally recognize their influence or not.

"Easier Said than Done: Victim Participation at the ICC The Double Implementation Gap between the Substantive Right to Participate and its Procedural and Jurisprudential Limitations" Free Download

ANA GÓMEZ ROJO, Utrecht University - Faculty of Law

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) establishes for the first time in the history of international criminal law the participation of victims in criminal proceedings. Specifically, Article 68 (3) of the Rome Statute (RS) establishes the general terms of the victim participatory scheme at the ICC. From such a provision, it can be deduced that there are two modes of victim participation: direct and indirect participation. Nonetheless, following a teleological interpretation, vicarious participation through a legal representative seems to be an ad latere option to the main, individual, direct participation. Article 68 (3) of the Statute also establishes three principal limitations to the participation of victims in ICC proceedings: (1) first, the personal interests of the victims must be affected for them to be able to participate in the proceedings; (2) secondly, the participation of victims must be considered appropriate by the Court; (3) and, finally, victim participation must not be prejudicial to or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial. However, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE), in developing the procedural aspects of victims’ participation rights, focus solely on the rights of the legal representative for victims (LRV) and impose conditions that might be seen as limiting the scope of victim participation. Further, the application and varying interpretation of these rules by the different Chambers has resulted in a confusing participatory scheme which heavily relies in the discretionary criteria of the Judge or Chamber who is knowing of the case. The current piece will aim to identify whether there is in effect a gap between the substantive right of victims to participation at the ICC set in Article 68 (3) RS and its procedural development through the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Furthermore, by examining the practice of the different Chambers, the present study also attempts to establish the existence of a jurisprudential implementation gap. And if such a gap does indeed exist, would not it be in contravention of Article 21 of the Rome Statute which enshrines the principle of legality, the principle of hierarchy of norms and the interpretation of the Statute in accordance with internationally recognised human rights? More importantly, does this double implementation gap –procedural and jurisprudential – curtail the right of those whom the Court pledged to protect – the victims of the most serious crimes of international concern - to the extent of making them more symbolic than real?

"The Pre-History of Piracy as a Crime & Its Definitional Odyssey" Free Download
Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Vol. 46, No. 1, 2013

MICHAEL J. KELLY, Creighton University School of Law, American Society of International Law

This essay traces the origins of the legal definition of piracy as an international crime from its origins to the present day disputes among federal courts within the United States over how to define piracy. Customary law definitions are examined as well as that contained in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"A Claim on Her Future: A Criminalized Woman's Right to Self-Defense" 

JASMINE SYEDULLAH, University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Politics

This paper takes up the tradition of critical race theory Harris helped inaugurate to think about the history of justified violence against black women’s bodies embedded within the legal determinations of innocence, security, and the lawful bounds of deadly force. In a 1975 issue of Ms. Magazine Angela Davis theorizes a “Dialectics of Rape? to explain the mutually reinforcing logics of white supremacy and patriarchy that threatened to make acts of rape and lynching justifiable long after the institution of chattel slavery was lawfully abolished. In her article Davis identifies JoAnn Little as “one of the most recent victims in this racist and sexist tradition? and, “the cultural grandchild of Cordella Stevenson,? a black woman raped and lynched outside Columbus, Mississippi in 1915 in retaliation for the destruction of a barn her son was rumored to have set on fire. The 1975 case then asked when, and by whom, the use of self-defense might be enjoyed. In “Whiteness as Property? Harris suggests that the right to have rights is not merely a matter of social standing in the present, but a claim on the expectations one has of one’s future. In this paper Syedullah is interested in the implications cases like Little’s have for shifting the legal parameters of self-defense from an expectation of one's natural right to self-preservation, to an inalienable claim on one’s right to have a future, particularly for those wards of the state whose futures customarily fall outside the “embrace of the law.? How might their imaginations of the meanings of imminence change the way the law tells time?

"The Prevalence of Sexual Violence, Campus Response, and Complicating Factors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities" 

TAYLER J. MATHEWS, Clark Atlanta University
IDAI ZHOU, Clark Atlanta University

The aim of this study is twofold: to assess current policies and to inform future policies on the subject of sexual violence at HBCUs. Utilizing the Atlanta University Center, the researchers analyze the scope of sexual violence via a campus climate survey. Research questions include: What are HBCUs perspectives on the competency of their sexual violence response, mediation, and prevention efforts? What are the discrepancies between campus sexual violence policies and procedures? What complicates student reporting of sexual violence, particularly for Black college students? Are there differences in student perceptions of sexual violence based on sex? This research will add to the growing body of knowledge concerning sexual violence on Black college campuses and inform polices in a way which meets the needs of these communities.


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