Beth A. Fagan


This Comment examines the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Rice v. Paladin Enterprises, Inc., which held that the publisher of a criminal instruction manual could be held liable for civil aiding and abetting without running afoul of the First Amendment. Fagan analyzes the traditional rationales for protecting free speech to determine the appropriate level of protection for criminal instruction manuals and focuses on Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors, the book that facilitated the murders at issue in Rice. She assesses the First Amendment value of Hit Man and balances that value against the dangers posed to society by such manuals. After critiquing several methods for analyzing criminal instruction manuals, this Comment proposes a new approach which requires actual intent to assist criminal activity before finding a publisher liable for the consequences that stem from the proper use of such a manual.

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