The New Common Law: Courts, Culture, and the Localization of the Model Penal Code

48 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2011 Last revised: 13 Oct 2011

See all articles by Anders Walker

Anders Walker

Saint Louis University - School of Law

Date Written: October 7, 2011


Few tropes in American law teaching are more firmly entrenched than the criminal law division between Model Penal Code and common law states. Yet, even a cursory look at current state codes indicates that this bifurcation is outmoded. No state continues to cling to ancient English common law, nor does any state adhere fully to the Model Penal Code. In fact, those states that adopted portions of the Code have since produced a substantial body of case law – what this article terms “new common law” – transforming it. Taking the controversial position that criminal law pedagogy is antiquated, this article proposes a radical update, emphasizing two objectives: 1) the need to stress the interplay between individual state cases and codes, and 2) the need to abandon the position that the MPC represents a bold new vision of criminal law reform, particularly since that vision is itself almost half a century old.

Keywords: criminal law, model penal code, common law

Suggested Citation

Walker, Anders, The New Common Law: Courts, Culture, and the Localization of the Model Penal Code (October 7, 2011). Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 62, No. 6, 2011; Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper, 2011-26. Available at SSRN:

Anders Walker (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States

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