July 21, 2010
The most important thing
About 80% of my upper-level criminal students want to become prosecutors. For those students, I know exactly what the most important thing I have to tell them is: That they should be certain that their cases make something better, improve society or solve a problem, rather than just being "wins" because someone goes to prison.
Yet, I often fail to emphasize or even get around to this most important thing. It is a terrible failure. I get tied up in trying to describe the hopelessly complex sentencing guidelines or the state scheme or the death penalty and somehow... the class ends and I never stood up for what was most important.
No more, though. I know this maxim isn't testable, and am well aware that it cannot take up much class time if I am to teach doctrine, but no longer will I fail to describe what is most important because the thick dross of rules has so obscured my vision.