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Corporate Bodies and Guilty Minds

The Failure of Corporate Criminal Liability

We live in an era defined by corporate greed and malfeasance—one in which unprecedented accounting frauds and failures of compliance run rampant. In order to calm investor fears, revive perceptions of legitimacy in markets, and demonstrate the resolve of state and federal regulators, a host of reforms, high-profile investigations, and symbolic prosecutions have been conducted in response. But are they enough?

In this timely work, William S. Laufer argues that even with recent legal reforms, corporate criminal law continues to be ineffective. As evidence, Laufer considers the failure of courts and legislatures to fashion liability rules that fairly attribute blame for organizations. He analyzes the games that corporations play to deflect criminal responsibility. And he also demonstrates how the exchange of cooperation for prosecutorial leniency and amnesty belies true law enforcement. But none of these factors, according to Laufer, trumps the fact that there is no single constituency or interest group that strongly and consistently advocates the importance and priority of corporate criminal liability. In the absence of a new standard of corporate liability, the power of regulators to keep corporate abuses in check will remain insufficient.
A necessary corrective to our current climate of graft and greed, Corporate Bodies and Guilty Minds will be essential to policymakers and legal minds alike.
“[This] timely work offers a dispassionate analysis of problems relating to corporate crime.”—Harvard Law Review


“Laufer’s critique of modern corporate criminal liability begins with a fascinating account of the development of corporate criminal law in the United States. . . . [This] timely work offers a dispassionate analysis of problems relating to corporate crime.”

Harvard Law Review

Table of Contents


Part I. The Law’s Ambivalence
1. The Evolution of Corporate Criminal Law
2. Recognizing Personhood
3. Constructing Fault

Part II. The Law’s Status Quo
4. Playing Games
5. Shifting Blame
6. Crafting a Soul
7. Making and Unmaking the Pessimist’s Account


National White-Collar Crime Research Consortium: Outstanding Book Award (NWCCRC)

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