Reflections on Joshua Dressler's Understanding Criminal Law
27 Pages Posted: 11 May 2018 Last revised: 15 May 2018
Date Written: April 27, 2018
Joshua Dressler, through his treatise "Understanding Criminal Law," his criminal law casebook, and his editorship of the "Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice," has become America's preeminent, even indispensable, criminal law teacher. In a tribute to Josh's contributions to scholarship and pedagogy, I reflect on three themes in Understanding Criminal Law: Josh's definition of criminal law; his distinction between justification and excuse; and his conception of the basic elements of criminal responsibility. I conclude with a unifying theme that connects the other three, namely, Josh's distinctive view of the role of "harm" in criminal law.
Keywords: criminal law, justification and excuse, criminal responsibility, harm principle
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