Bringing Criminal Law Principles and Controversies to a Popular Audience




Colin S. Diver Professor of Law

Project Summary

This summer, I was working with Professor Robinson from the Law School on bringing criminal law principles and controversies to a popular audience. Essentially, the goal of our project was to draft narratives for a number of different case studies to be used in different contexts. Specific aspects of the project included showing how the tragedy of one case sparked outrage and then reform (e.g. the death of Cari Lightner at the hands of a drunk driver brought about legislation governing drunk driving), how laws and penalties for the same crime have changed over time (e.g. adultery used to be heavily penalized, whereas now, it is barely considered to be even a crime), and how different emotions drive people to commit crimes (e.g. out of disillusionment with the failure of law enforcement, a town kills off the town bully and to this day, it remains an unresolved case as to who the suspect is).

In order to construct all of these cases, I sifted through a myriad of sources from news articles to scholarly journals to case opinions. By doing so, not only have I learned how the laws have changed and how specific cases have called for legislative reform, but I have also obtained a much firmer understanding of the law and how it is approached by those in the legal field. As a student who is considering potentially going to law school, the research this summer has broached a number of legal matters to me from transferred intent to catastrophe endangerment. It has shown me how the law is not a simple matter of differentiating between right and wrong, but an application of previous rulings, which are mixed and matched by the judge and jury in accordance with his/her beliefs. All in all, the research of this summer has given me a peek into the complexities of the law and how it is used in real life.