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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

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Goode on Commercial Law

Edited by: Ewan McKendrick
Price: £170.00

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Murder and the Reasonable Man

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Cynthia LeeProfessor of Law at George Washington University School of Law, USA

ISBN13: 9780814751152
ISBN: 0814751156
Published: January 2003
Publisher: New York University Press
Format: Hardback
Price: £53.00

A man murders his wife after she has admitted her infidelity; another man kills an openly gay teammate after receiving a massage; a third man, white, goes for a jog in a ""bad"" neighbourhood, carrying a pistol, and shoots an African American teenager who had his hands in his pockets. When brought before the criminal justice system, all three men argue that they should be found ""not guilty""; the first two use the defence of provocation, while the third argues he used his gun in self-defence.;Drawing upon these and similar cases, Cynthia Lee shows how two well-established, traditional criminal law defences - the doctrines of provocation and self-defence - enable majority-culture defendants to justify their acts of violence. While the reasonableness requirement, inherent in both defences, is designed to allow community input and provide greater flexibility in legal decision-making, the requirement also allows majority-culture defendants to rely on dominant social norms, such as masculinity, heterosexuality, and race (i.e., racial stereotypes), to bolster their claims of reasonableness. At the same time, Lee examines other cases that demonstrate that the reasonableness requirement tends to exclude the perspectives of minorities, such as heterosexual women, gays and lesbians, and persons of colour.;""Murder and the Reasonable Man"" not only shows how largely invisible social norms and beliefs influence the outcomes of certain criminal cases, but goes further, suggesting three tentative legal reforms to address problems of bias and undue leniency. Ultimately, Lee cautions that the true solution lies in a change in social attitudes.

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Female infidelity -- Unreasonable women, gay men, and men of color -- Gay panic -- Culture and crime -- An overview of the doctrine of self-defense -- Race and self-defense -- Race and police use of deadly force -- The elusive meaning of reasonableness -- Toward a normative conception of reasonableness -- The act-emotion distinction.