Criminal Justice between Purity and Pluralism: A Series from May 3 - July 2, 2017 in Frankfurt
with Professors Bernard E. Harcourt, Klaus Günther, Beatrice Brunhöber, David von Mayenburg, Frank Meyer, and Malcolm Thorburn
In a traditional reading, criminal justice bears the charm of purity: One sovereign representing one people metes out justice by means of a coherent and systematic criminal law. Criminal law is, by its very nature as the ultima ratio of ordered violence, distinct from other bodies of law such as private or administrative law. The criminal legal process establishes the truth about a criminal incident in order to achieve a predetermined goal such as deterrence or communal healing. Indeed, criminal justice rests on a common legal culture and speaks to the shared history of a normative order. – Or so the narrative goes.
Today, criminal justice faces many complex chal-lenges, both real and imagined. In this lecture series, we will explore whether these challenges are due to a loss of purity and the emergence of pluralism. After all, criminal justice is no longer the domaine réservé of the nation state. Indeed, the very aims of criminal law become more diverse, and its enforcement more particularized. In addition, due to the interdependence of legal orders and the internal pluralization of societies, the very notion of autonomous legal cultures and of uniform histories is becoming questionable.
The question, then, is whether we are we to accept this pluralization by embracing the openness it grants, by shaping the complexities it entails and by negotiating the colliding norms, interests and demands it comprises? Or should we rather give in to the seduction of purity, unity and coherence? Are we, for example, to reinvent the rule of the people(s) in a trans-, inter- und supranational set-ting? Or are we rather to invocate the nation state as the ultimate democratic bastion for the admin-istration of criminal justice? Should we appreciate criminal justice in light of its normative openness, e.g. its many fragmented rationales and objectives? Or should we rather seek an uncontested proprium of a criminal law that is uninfringed by regulatory or merely symbolic allusions etc.? These are but some of the questions that we address in the lecture series on Criminal Justice between Purity and Pluralism.