Professor Sheldon Evans’ article, Categorical Nonuniformity, has been accepted for publication in the Columbia Law Review.
Here is the abstract:
The categorical approach, which is a method federal courts use to ‘categorize’ which state law criminal convictions can trigger federal sanctions, is one of the most impactful yet misunderstood legal doctrines in criminal and immigration law. For thousands of criminal offenders, the categorical approach determines whether a previous state law conviction—as defined by the legal elements of the crime—sufficiently matches the elements of the federal crime counterpart that justifies imposing harsh federal sentencing enhancements or even deportation for noncitizens. One of the normative goals courts have invoked to uphold this elements-based categorical approach is that it produces nationwide uniformity. Ironically, however, the categorical approach produces the opposite. By examining the categorical approach in the criminal sentencing and immigration contexts, this Article shows that relying on state criminal elements has produced nonuniformity due to the variations of state law.
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