DiscussionNotesWeek5 - Discussion Notes Week 5 Principle of...

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Discussion Notes Week 5 Principle of Legality (Moore excerpt—FCL, p. 208): 1. Fairness —shouldn’t “surprise citizens with liability . . . when they reasonably relied on their actions not being criminal at the time they were done.” 2. Liberty —having the ability to clearly know the law allows people to shape their behavior accordingly 3. Democracy —the politically accountable branch of the government should decide what’s criminal or not 4. Equality —“those who are in all morally relevant respects alike be treated alike” Discretion: Whose discretion? Police, prosecutors, courts Why might discretion be a good thing? What are some of the potential drawbacks of granting too much discretion? Statutory interpretation: In class, Kutz emphasized the struggle that legislatures face in choosing language that captures the conduct they intend to target. But on the other side of law-making, courts likewise are faced with the challenge of figuring out how to interpret statutory language and do so in a way that is consistent with legislative intent. To this end, courts have developed a number of tools that guide judges in examining statutes, including what are called “canons of statutory interpretation.” Particularly relevant to criminal law is the canon called the ‘rule of lenity,’ which states that ambiguous statutory language should be construed in favor of the defendant and against the state. Can you see how this rule reinforces the principle of legality and protects due process rights of defendants? Many of the other canons can perhaps be seen as the court’s
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