Hastings Law Journal


Frank Lawrence


In the past three decades, some political protesters have offered an affirmative defense based on the Nuremberg Principles. The Nuremberg Defense, as it has become known, provides that private citizens have a duty and a privilege under international law and state crime prevention statutes to prevent crimes against the peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Federal and state courts traditionally have rejected the Nuremberg Defense. The Nuremberg Principles are a part of customary international law, however, and as such should be applied in domestic courts. In addition, the justifications offered by courts for rejecting the Nuremberg Defense wither under careful analysis. After concluding that it is proper for the courts to permit the Nuremberg Defense, this Note examines several recent cases that allowed the Nuremberg Defense, and argues that these cases offer a more rational and legally sound approach to the issue.

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