News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Archive for May 4th, 2018


Professor Witmer-Rich Publishes Article in American Criminal Law Review

Professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich’s article, “The Heat of Passion and Blameworthy Reasons to be Angry,” (55 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 409 (2018)) has been published in the American Criminal Law Review, the nation’s leading criminal law journal.  The article resolves a long-standing conceptual puzzle in voluntary manslaughter cases, when a defendant kills in the “heat of passion” after being provoked.  For decades courts in provocation cases have struggled to determine which features of a particular defendant are properly relevant when assessing the adequacy of provocation.

The article solves this puzzle by identifying a hidden normative component of the heat of passion doctrine: provocation is not adequate if the reason the defendant became extremely angry is due to some blameworthy belief or attribute of the defendant.  A belief is blameworthy if it contradicts the fundamental values of the political community.

The blameworthiness principle also explains when the heat of passion defense should be denied to some defendants—such as possessive men who kill independent women, or defendants who claim “gay panic” or “trans panic”—while allowed for other defendants in arguably similar circumstances.

May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health America (MHA) and other organizations promote May as Mental Health Month. MHA’s theme for this May is Fitness #4Mind#Body. This theme focuses on how diet and nutrition, exercise, the gut-brain connection, sleep, and stress impact our wellbeing and mental health. For example, did you know that your gut microbiome (the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in your gut) can have a brain connection to anxiety and depression? The MHA website gives you more information on the mental health impact of diet and nutrition, exercise, the gut-brain connection, sleep, and stress. You can also download a helpful toolkit.

So what will you do in the month of May to benefit your mental health and wellbeing?