+Green, Stuart P., Looting, Law, and Lawlessness(provided by: SSRN) (Tulane Law Review, Vol. 81, Hurricane Katrina Symposium Issue, 2007) (PDF — 381K)
"As recent incidents in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters have illustrated, the moral content of looting spans a wide continuum: At one end are predatory and exploitative acts that seem deserving of even greater punishment than ordinary acts of burglary and larceny. At the other end are cases of necessity, involving otherwise law-abiding citizens who, as a result of forces beyond their control, find themselves hungry and exposed to the elements. In between these two poles lies a wide range of conduct that often involves impoverished and alienated citizens living on the edges of society, encouraged to engage in lawlessness by powerful group dynamics and the apparent suspension of civil order.
"This article begins by examining the various meanings - both literal and metaphorical - of looting. It then considers the factors that make bad looting so bad, and good looting less so. With respect to the latter, it considers the possibility that: (1) the disruption in normal social order might leave defendants in a state of nature, outside the jurisdictional reach of the court; (2) the defendant's criminal acts were necessary to avoid some greater harm from occurring; and (3) the otherwise law-abiding offender, suffering from a combination of fright, fatigue, hunger, exposure, and disorientation, should be at least partially excused on the grounds that his acts were out of character.
"The article concludes by considering some of the practical implications of the foregoing analysis, including the suggestion by various commentators that the proper response to looters is to shoot them on sight. It argues that such a policy would be profoundly misguided, both because the criminal law should not tolerate the disproportionate use of deadly force in response to what is essentially a property crime, and because of the obvious difficulties of distinguishing between bad and good looting, particularly under the kinds of emergency conditions in which such acts are committed."—Abstract.
This article begins with a critical account of what occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This critique serves as the backdrop for a discussion of whether there are international laws or norms that give poor, black Katrina victims the right to return to and resettle in New Orleans. In framing this discussion, this article first briefly explores some of the housing deprivations suffered by Katrina survivors that have led to widespread displacement and dispossession. The article then discusses two of the chief barriers to the return of poor blacks to New Orleans: the broad perception of a race-crime nexus and the general effect of the imposition of outsider status on poor, black people by dominant groups. Finally, the article explores the international law concept of the right of return and its expression as a domestic, internal norm via standards addressing internally displaced persons, and considers how such a domestic right of return might be applicable to the Katrina victims."
"The 13th Amendment ban on involuntary servitude has new relevance as the U.S. grapples with national emergencies such as catastrophic hurricanes, flu pandemics, and terrorism. This Article considers work refusal and coerced work performance in life-threatening employment contexts. Overwhelmed by fear, hundreds of police officers and health care workers abandoned their jobs during Hurricane Katrina. Postal clerks worked against their will without masks in facilities with anthrax. A report by Congress worries that avian flu will cause sick and frightened medical personnel to stay away from work, thus jeopardizing a coherent response to a crisis.
"How far can the U.S. go in forcing reluctant civilians to perform essential jobs during a national emergency? I explore solutions to this question by hypothesizing a large release of radiation - whether by terror attack, or catastrophic accident, or major earthquake - in a vital Pacific port. These ports have a history of work stoppages that disrupt the nation's economy. I examine federal government responses if dock workers refused assignments until conditions were safe: (1) The President could declare a national emergency labor dispute under the Taft-Hartley Act, and seek an 80-day back-to-work injunction. (2) Congress could re-enact Section 8 of the War Labor Disputes Act, making it unlawful for dock workers to discontinue production for 30 days and subjecting violators to coercive damages. (3) The president could issue strong executive orders, backed by imprisonment, that regulate employment in ports.
"At the heart of my analysis, I ask: Would any of these responses violate the Thirteenth Amendment ban on involuntary servitude? Congress and the judiciary have broadened this law, and its enforcement counterpart in 18 U.S.C. ? 1584, beyond the abolition of African slave-holding. The Supreme Court in Kozminski defined involuntary servitude as forcing a person to work by physical or legal coercion.
"But the Supreme Court created 13th Amendment exceptions for transportation work. Robertson upholds a law that bars merchant seamen from quitting work, and imprisons deserters. Butler permits states to conscript citizens to work on highways, on pain of imprisonment. Dock work is similar because ports integrate ships and trucks in a transportation hub. Courts now apply these precedents to new compulsory activities, such as mandatory public service for graduation. Moreover, Kozminski reaffirmed Robertson and Butler as precedents.
"Thus, the Constitution would be unlikely to shield dock workers from involuntary labor. This has troubling implications for employees who have recently worked in national emergencies, and may do so again. Employees who work to alleviate avian flu or other catastrophic health threats are also at risk for compulsory labor that exposes them to extraordinary hazards.
"I conclude with a legislative proposal to strengthen individual rights. As my research shows, courts that are presented with national emergency disputes rarely side with the individual who stands in the way of the public's welfare. Without a more balanced labor policy to address emerging crises, the nation may realize belatedly that when we allow fundamental freedoms to be sacrificed in the name of real or perceived emergency, we invariably come to regret it." —Abstract.
"Section 502 of the Labor-Management Relations Act (LMRA) allows employees to stop working if they face 'abnormally dangerous conditions,' and a rule under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act creates an employee right to refuse work because of 'apprehension of death or injury.' Using a hypothetical scenario, I show that neither law would assist emergency workers who lack protective gear while responding to a terror attack.
"I propose an NLRB rule to strengthen Section 502, a 1947 law that is dormant but appropriate for these abnormal workplace dangers. Although part of my proposal draws on the experiences of 9/11, it is mainly founded on fundamental changes in job duties and government employment regulations that recognize a permanent threat to domestic security. The growing list of affected occupations includes dockworkers and doctors, subway and airport workers, power plant and postal employees, and more. However, my proposal excludes police, firefighters, and most paramedics. They perform immediate lifesaving services, and in any event, are excluded from the NLRB's jurisdiction because they are public employees.
"My proposal draws from the fruitless experience of appellate court decisions on Section 502. This caselaw is conflicted because courts disagree as to whether an employee must present proof in fact of an extreme risk, or be motivated by good faith belief. My proposal is also based on the intent of the drafters of Section 502. The two sponsors of this law were Republican senators who strongly opposed union interests. However, when proposing this law in the midst of enacting strike controls, they said 'it would be very unfair and very unjust to employees in any industry to penalize them, if, because of abnormal or unusually dangerous conditions, they should refrain from working.'
"Using evidence from recent GAO reports and other studies, I show that new types of emergency workers are poorly trained and equipped. For the few who train for a cataclysmic attack, their simulations are unrealistic. These employees— who, in their routine jobs do little or no life-threatening work— are not trained for their own fear and panic. Thus, there is too little attention to the possibility that these essential workers will refuse orders when their lives are endangered.
"By breathing life into Section 502, the NLRB would join the large circle of federal and state agencies that are currently immersed in this emergency planning. The purpose of my Article is not to spare a few careers that might otherwise be lost in a poor response to an attack. If these newly designated or de facto emergency workers are not extended a work refusal right, their employers will continue to be lax in improving protective equipment, communication systems, bio-terror inoculations, and work procedures. In the final analysis, proper training and protection of these new emergency workers is essential to deter, prevent, respond to, and mitigate an attack." —Abstract.
"Although Hurricane Katrina altered our national dialogue about many issues, few scholars have addressed whether the storm changed thinking about fundamental property relationships. This article fills that void in two ways. First, it creates a theoretical framework for understanding property law in the context of events producing radically changed circumstances. It does this by defining these events, exploring the mismatch between property law's traditional focus on stability and environments of radical change, creating a taxonomy of property relationships tailored for this exploration, describing typical problems confronted after an event of radical change, and finally developing a set of normative criteria to evaluate the resiliency of property regimes.
"The second part of the article focuses on two common property relationships - between landlord and tenant and mortgagor and mortgagee - and examines how their default rules, voluntary private ordering, and market practices have fared under the pressure of Hurricane Katrina. This part also analyzes how another kind of property relationship - between a city (New Orleans) and its citizens - has weathered the radical change created by Katrina and how a series of federally funded and state administered programs have fared in restoring housing - a crucial common resource and public good - in the post-Katrina environment.
"The article concludes by suggesting that longer term, more indefinite property relationships characterized by private ordering, risk spreading, setting aside exogenous resources and mutual accommodation - commercial lease and mortgage relationships to be specific - show more resiliency than shorter term and more finite relationships where default rules make exit easy for some parties (residential landlords) but re-entry difficult for others (residential tenants). The article also demonstrates how government housing recovery programs can be assessed using the normative criteria developed in Part I and what policy makers can learn from traditional private property regimes facing events of radical change." —Abstract.
"The article is a critique of the U.S. government's response to regional recovery following Hurricane Katrina, coupled with an argument that policies based on international standards would better serve the hurricane-stricken area. The author contends that part of the problem is that the legal framework for disaster relief, the federal Stafford Act, is insufficient for shaping recovery for catastrophic humanitarian crises that overwhelm state and local governments. Because the Act calls only for discretionary, intermittent federal efforts, and shields such efforts with broad legal immunity, it is a prescription for the sluggish and ineffective governmental action that has hamstrung the Gulf region's recovery.
"The author maintains that what is needed is a comprehensive recovery program akin to the post World War II Marshall Plan. International standards for humanitarian responses to disaster, specifically the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, serve as a policy framework for such a program. The Principles allow for recognition that a crisis on the scale of Katrina calls for a more robust, centralized, federally-led response that addresses the scope of the problem and the interdependency of its many facets.
"The article has five parts. First is an analysis of the situation in the region, focusing on the New Orleans area. Here the author identifies three categories of problems - the problem of return and rebuilding, focusing on private property and civic infrastructure; the problem of security, focusing on flood protection, levees, and wetlands; and the problem of government, focusing on inefficiency, incompetence and inadequate resource allocation.
"The article's second part analyzes the problem in the law. The Stafford Act is reviewed and judicial criticisms discussed. Part three of the article reviews the specific provisions of the Guiding Principles that apply to the Gulf Coast. The author considers the legal status of the Principles, concluding that while certain of the principles may be evolving into customary international law, they are not legally binding but rather intended as a general policy framework.
"In the fourth part of the article, the author recommends the following sixteen point "Marshall Plan for the Gulf" based on the Principles:
1. The federal government will assume primary responsibility for an integrated recovery effort.
2. All persons displaced or injured by the disaster have recovery rights.
3. Displaced persons willing to return have a right to return and their displacement will end as soon as possible.
4. Living conditions will be established that are materially sufficient to allow persons to return and remain.
5. The government will assist persons whose homes are recoverable to repair and rebuild, and must ensure access to decent and affordable housing.
6. Comprehensive, reliable flood protection measures will be taken, including strengthened levees and coastal wetlands.
7. Ineffective bureaucracies will be replaced by streamlined, efficient, effective and easily understood administrative processes for relief and recovery.
8. The military will be deployed for debris removal and rebuilding.
9. Personal property and possessions will be protected and disaster victims will be reasonably compensated for losses.
10. Gulf Coast residents will have access to health care.
11. The government will reopen schools and take other measures to ensure education for all children in stricken communities.
12. The government will take steps to increase economic opportunities in stricken areas, such as partnerships, incentives and assistance for businesses which reopen or locate in the region.
13. The right of evacuees to participate in politics and civic life must be ensured.
14. Storm victims will be included in recovery planning.
15. Anti-discrimination measures will be enforced to ensure that the disaster and recovery do not have a discriminatory effect.
16. The special needs of at risk groups will be met.
"In the fifth part of the article, the author posits that U.S. adoption of the Principles as the basis for international disaster recovery efforts forms a moral and political basis for their domestic application in the Gulf. This is demonstrated by formal U.S. policy promoting the Principles as well as actual U.S. implementation of the Principles in Iraq and in response to the 2004 tsunamis." —Abstract.
"Hurricane Katrina, the largest disaster in the history of the United States, caused widespread property destruction throughout the Gulf Coast, but particularly in the city of New Orleans. Although the storm created an environment which facilitated increased mortgage defaults in the area, the Article analyzes data from the Orleans Parish Recorder of Mortgages Office and from the Orleans Parish Civil District Court and concludes that foreclosure filing rates in the year after Katrina in fact decreased significantly from the rates for the corresponding period in the year prior to the storm. This result is contrary to what would normally be expected in a usual mortgage lending market, where an increase in the rate of mortgage default would lead to an increase in the rate of foreclosure.
"The Article evaluates in detail the legal and market responses to mortgage default after the storm that contributed to the reduction in foreclosure actions in Orleans Parish in the year after Katrina. Secondary mortgage market initiatives provided the principal means for mortgage relief, because Louisiana debtors received little in the way of formal legal relief. Even though secondary market responses were successful in protecting mortgage debtors after Katrina, their limitations in scope make them inadequate to address the years of financial distress that might likely follow any disaster of the magnitude of Katrina. Thus, while the Katrina experience demonstrates that secondary market interventions can effectively reduce debtor distress after a major disaster, such interventions should not been seen as a substitute for more traditional legal responses to address mortgage debtor distress after disasters or other economic crises." —Abstract.
"Traditional law and economics has no place for price controls. Yet public support for anti-gouging legislation has led to the enactment of a variety of legal regimes to control price hikes following natural and man-made disasters such as hurricanes and terrorist attacks. This Essay provides an economic justification for such laws. First, the Essay surveys the existing models of anti-gouging legislation. Then, the Essay describes the traditional economic critique of price caps, a critique applied to laws that attempt to control post-disaster prices. Finally, the Essay argues that anti-gouging laws enhance economic efficiency by ensuring a functioning consumer market after the collapse of electronic payment systems on which the American economy now depends. The externalities of consumption in post-disaster environments mean that the costs of consumers forgoing needed products are not adequately captured by a reliance on market mechanisms. This analysis suggests that current anti-gouging laws should be restructured to include a more discrete focus on areas actually affected by physical damage from natural or man-made disasters." —Abstract.
"In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Congress passed new exceptions to U.S. procurement rules. The most important new exception, passed at the recommendation of the Bush administration, raised the limit for micro-purchases - essentially unregulated purchases - from $2,500 to $250,000. In practice, this will mean that Katrina relief purchases may be made, up to $250,000 per order, without any effective transparency or competition, and without honoring the many socioeconomic requirements that are an important part of the U.S. procurement system. This comment reviews that emergency legislation, and suggests that the new law, by abandoning basic principles of sound procurement, raises real risks in the post-Katrina relief effort, including risks of corruption and risks of gross failures in best value procurement." —Abstract.