For decades, the task of counting the total number of federal criminal laws has bedeviled lawyers, academics and government officials.
"You will have died and resurrected three times," and still be trying to figure out the answer, said Ronald Gainer, a retired Justice Department official.
In 1982, while at the Justice Department, Mr. Gainer oversaw what still stands as the most comprehensive attempt to tote up a number. The effort came as part of a long and ultimately failed campaign to persuade Congress to revise the criminal code, which by the 1980s was scattered among 50 titles and 23,000 pages ...
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