Friday, October 16, 2015

          Professor Evan Lee Publishes Article about California’s 2nd Degree Felony Murder Rule

          New article argues that the Rule is overly vague and therefore unconstitutional.
          Professor Lee

          Published in Constitutional Law Quarterly, “Why California's Second-Degree Felony-Murder Rule is Now Unconstitutionally Vague” is already creating a stir in prison populations across the state.

          “Several inmates are using the article as a blueprint to challenge their convictions,” says Professor Lee. “In fact, former Justice Cruz Reynoso enlisted the help of a firm to mount one of these challenges on behalf of a lifer he has represented for more than 30 years.”

          For years, justices on the California Supreme Court (CSC) have engaged in public soul-searching about whether to overrule the state’s second-degree felony-murder doctrine. Now there is a powerful external reason for the CSC to revisit the question: The United States Supreme Court has just struck down the so-called “residual clause” of the federal three-strikes statute as unconstitutionally vague.

          Although the immediate intuition of experienced judges and lawyers will be to deny that this decision has any application to the felony-murder rule, Professor Lee demonstrates that, from the standpoint of vagueness, the two provisions are materially indistinguishable.

          Download the article from SSRN here.

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