Trump Issues EO on Overcriminalization

On his last full day in office, President Donald Trump issued an executive order attacking the scourge of federal overcriminalization. From the text: In the interest of fairness, Federal criminal law should be clearly written so that all Americans can understand what is prohibited and act accordingly. Some statutes have authorized executive branch agencies to… Continue Reading

Tolman: Agency Guidance Documents Are Not Law

On Monday, Bloomberg Law’s ‘United States Law Week’ section published a compelling column on overcriminalization by former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman. In the piece, Tolman describes the broader problem of overcriminalization and also the specific issue of prosecuting individuals for violating administrative interpretations that Congress never passed into law. An excerpt: A federal prosecution needs… Continue Reading

Online Event: NACDL Presidential Summit & Symposium on Sentencing

Another OIA-recognized Leader in overcriminalization reform, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, is hosting an online symposium on criminal sentencing from October 19-22. Although sentencing is not directly related to mens rea and related topics explored here on OIA, the event features legal luminaries from across the political and ideological spectrum that should pique… Continue Reading

Online Event: Cato Constitution Day 9/17/20

Every year on September 17, the Cato Institute puts on a great all-day program celebrating Constitution Day. Geared for lawyers but interesting to anyone concerned with the state of American law, the event focuses on the most compelling cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. The day features several different panels focused on themes the Court… Continue Reading

Judge orders Dr. Paulus Released; Conviction Reversed

On March 5, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated the conviction of Doctor Richard Paulus and released him from prison where he was serving a draconian five-year sentence because the federal prosecutor withheld key exculpatory evidence the jury should have considered  in deciding whether to convict him.  The court ruled… Continue Reading

The Impact of Overcriminalization in the United States

The federal criminal code has been part of United States law since the First U.S. Congress. The country’s first criminal code featured laws that addressed a mere 30 crimes, in part because the Framers of the Constitution believed that a large criminal code would compromise the United States’ hard-won freedom and the liberties of its… Continue Reading