Section Description Provided by Instructor
This course will analyze the constitutional, statutory, procedural, systemic and policy dimensions of capital punishment in the U.S. The objectives of this course are fourfold. First, the course will introduce students to the historical, legal and moral debates over capital punishment, including the burgeoning doctrine in the area, and the judicial (e.g. appellate and habeas corpus) and executive review procedures that the death penalty has inspired. A related objective is to analyze the process and outcome of the Supreme Court's self-conscious and compressed process of doctrine-making that has built a huge doctrinal edifice from the ground up in just two decades.
A third objective is to provide advanced work in topics covered in the first-year Criminal Law and Constitutional Law courses‚??for example, the conflicting demands of certainty and specificity with the necessity of flexibility and discretion in the definition of capital crimes; the allocation of decision-making in regard to defining crimes among legislators, prosecutors, judges, and jurors; pattern and practice in the uses of the criminal sanction; the effectiveness of the death penalty as social control and its centrality in crime policy; and, the validity and effectiveness of judicially enforced constraints on governmental action imposed by the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause.
A final goal is to observe the function of capital punishment in this country as a "system"‚?? that is, to reach conclusions about the function and validity of the punishment, not simply by assessing the categories of behavior to which the legislature attaches society's most severe sanction and for which the Constitution forbids that sanction, but also by examining the overall administration of the sanction once the action of prosecutors, sentencing juries, state appellate judges, federal habeas corpus judges, clemency officials, and defense lawyers at all stages is summed.
Grades will be based on class participation (students will share responsibility for conducting one of the classes) and a final exam. Students have the option to submit a final paper in lieu of the exam.
MW 2:50p - 4:10p
Method of Evaluation
J.D. Writing Credit
Minor (upon consultation), Major (only upon consultation)
Learning Outcome Goals
No learning outcome goals have been provided.