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W&L’s Hasbrouck Publishes Article in the Virginia Law Review Prof. Brandon Hasbrouck published "On Lenity: What Justice Gorsuch Didn’t Say" examining the decision in Wooden v. United States.

BrandonHasbroucknew W&L's Hasbrouck Publishes Article in the Virginia Law ReviewProf. Brandon Hasbrouck

Washington and Lee law professor Brandon Hasbrouck has published an article in the Virginia Law Review. The article, “On Lenity: What Justice Gorsuch Didn’t Say,” examines the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Wooden v. United States that held series of burglaries committed at a single address on a single night did not count as more than one “occasion” under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

“Justice Gorsuch observed that courts have weakened the rule of lenity over time, culminating in the Court’s current interpretation, which requires a finding of a ‘grievous ambiguity’ before courts can apply lenity and find in favor of the defendant. This narrow rule of lenity is one factor that perpetuates mass incarceration and its concomitant racial disparities. But Justice Gorsuch does not say why this shift in the rule of lenity occurred. This Essay presents the narrowing of the historical doctrine of lenity as an offshoot of mass incarceration’s racist roots. That is, lenity—or rather, its narrowing—is one tool courts use to lock up Black, Brown, and poor people, and to keep them locked up,” writes Hasbrouck.

The article is available online at the Virginia Law Review website.

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