Many criminal law scholars have criticized the Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine as a form of strict and vicarious liability. It is neither. It is merely a doctrine that supplies a duty in instances of omissions. Siding with Todd Aagaard in this debate, I argue that a proper reading of the cases yields that the Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine is just duty supplying, and does not allow for strict liability when the underlying statute requires mens rea. After analyzing Dotterweich, Park, and their progeny, I probe the depths of this duty-supplying doctrine, including to whom the duty is owed, whether the duty is grounded in statute, cause of peril, or contract, and what the content of the duty is. Although the Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine unveils questions we may have about duty generally, it is no more problematic than other duty-supplying doctrines in the criminal law.
responsible corporate officer, duty, Dotterweich, Park, omissions
Criminal Law & Philosophy
Ferzan, Kimberly Kessler, "Probing the Depths of the Responsible Corporate Officer's Duty" (2018). Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law. 2323.