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Credit Hours: 3
Description: This seminar will explore the statutory and constitutional rules regarding implementation of the death penalty in the United States. The course will begin with a brief discussion of arguments by proponents and opponents of the death penalty. We will then address the development of Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment restrictions on the use of capital punishment, including categorical exemptions from the death penalty for the insane, the mentally retarded, juveniles, certain felony-murderers, and those who do not commit homicide. We will examine the unique hallmarks of a capital trial including the selection of a “death qualified” jury, the use of aggravating and mitigating evidence in the punishment phase of the trial, and issues created by the use of victim impact evidence. The prominent issue of race and its relation to the death penalty will also be addressed. Traditional class discussion will be supplemented with: guest speakers; in-class exercises in which students take on the roles of prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and state legislators; and, if possible, a moot court of a death penalty case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, in which students will role-play the attorneys and the Justices. Students will write a research paper of at least 6000 words, including footnotes, on an instructor-approved topic and present the results of their research in class.
Prerequisite: Criminal Law
AWR Possible:
AWR Research
Enrollment Cap:
15