The Shadow Criminal Law of Municipal Governance

64 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2008

See all articles by Wayne A. Logan

Wayne A. Logan

Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: 2001


Although it often escapes attention, municipal governments possess significant authority to enact criminal laws consistent with their expansive home rule and police powers. In this article, Professor Logan explores the numerous ways in which this authority manifests, and reflects upon, several of the main concerns presented by the "shadow criminal law" thereby created. These concerns include the negative practical consequences for individuals and entire communities associated with the proliferation of criminal laws, in which municipalities play a significant part; the specter that such governments will indulge punitive or parochial tendencies; and the pitfalls associated with intra-state diversification of the criminal law. Professor Logan argues that while localization has intuitive appeal, consistent with the potent historic pull of local autonomy in American governance more generally, this should not blind courts and policy makers to its potential untoward effects. Rather than continuing to focus on police discretion to enforce local laws, heretofore the predominant concern of courts and commentators, Logan urges that attention be directed at the critically important role localities now play in the actual creation of the criminal law.

Suggested Citation

Logan, Wayne A., The Shadow Criminal Law of Municipal Governance (2001). Ohio State Law Journal, Vol. 62, 2001, FSU College of Law, Public Law and Legal Theory Series Paper, Available at SSRN:

Wayne A. Logan (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

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