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November 4, 2013

Seeking (informed or uninformed) thoughts on upper-level criminal courses at Moritz

As we shift in to the final weeks our time together, I am eager to hear thoughts from 1L students about what upper-level courses in the criminal law and procedure arena might be of interest to you. 

As you may know (and may be very glad to hear), you are not required to take any more criminal law courses after our class together.  Because I think it wise and useful to give law students considerable freedom to create their own professional paths ASAP, I am glad no additional criminal law coverage is required at Moritz for graduation.  (I believe there are at least a few law schools that require a basic course in criminal procedure as well as a course in the basics of substantive criminal law.)  That said, because I think it wise and useful to give law students considerable freedom to create their own professional paths, I am eager to try to ensure that the Moritz upper-level curriculum includes a broad array of criminal courses that might be of interest and/or useful to students.

There are two upper-level criminal procedures courses that will always get offered every year at Moritz, in part because they are important and valuable course even for law students largely disinterested in ever practicing criminal law: the CP-Investigations course covers police practices/constitutional privacy issues; the CP-Adjudication course covers prosecutorial practices/trial rights.  But what else gets offered often depends on the interests and availability of the Moritz crim law faculty (e.g., when I first came to Moritz, I used to teach sentencing and/or death penalty courses or seminars every year, but more recently I have been more regularly teaching various skills courses and/or developing "hot topics" seminars on matters like the Second Amendment and marijuana laws and reforms).

Believe it or not, it is almost time for the faculty to start indicating what courses they would like to teach next year.  Thus this post, as I am distinctly interested in hearing from you all (and lots of others) concerning what kinds of criminal law, procedure and policy issues you may not be eager to study further in the years ahead.  There are soooooo many issues that merit in-depth study --- including ones other Moritz faculty know especially well ranging from white-collar crime to race and the criminal law to theories/doctrines of defenses to the war on drugs to all sort of other stuff I just barely get a chance to mention in class --- and I have been wondering this morning if folks in our class have started developing a real sense of what criminal topics have really come to pique your interests.

November 4, 2013 in Class reflections | Permalink


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I would be very interested in a "hot topics" or other policy related course.

Posted by: Ben Wallace | Nov 4, 2013 10:59:34 AM

Personally I am very interested in the internet crimes arena, especially pornography and censorship topics. I would love to explore how "violent" crimes are attributed to internet porn and/or defamation actions, how those topics are protected by the constitution, and in what ways censorship is allowed or justified.

Posted by: Elizabeth Young | Nov 4, 2013 11:02:56 AM

I also believe that criminal procedure is something we must have basic understanding of, so I am very likely to take those two upper course. I am also interested in white collar crime. I do not think I will choose criminal law as my career but I think no matter what we do, white collar crime can happen around us. We should be careful of it.

Posted by: Di Zeng | Nov 5, 2013 7:01:02 PM

I would enjoy seeing classes offered about Second Amendment rights, race vis-a-vis criminal law, gender in criminal law (including the current issues of transgendered individuals who are incarcerated), as well as the prison system in general, especially the recent proliferation of privately run prisons.

Posted by: Alia Sisson | Nov 5, 2013 7:33:55 PM

Much like Ben Wallace, I would enjoy a hot topic style course....
But maybe add a little twist: make it a Co-Op.

We're always talking about getting the most out of our tuition dollars.
Berman and Dressler upper level seminar on current movements in criminal law (working title). One course. Two Profs. 30(isn) students. Have it meet for 3 hours, once a week.
Professor A lectures the first hour.
Enter Prof B.
A & B discuss for the middle 50 minutes.
10 minute intermission (halftime).
Exit Prof. A.
Prof. B lectures for the remaining hour.
Each Prof. picks 6 topics to cover that year and the students registered for the course nominate one topic for the other 6. Each student gets 3 votes, the top 6 choices get added to the syllabus. We lock the door and nobody leaves until its all worked out (...or class ends).

Maybe even make some of the UL crim. classes pre-reqs.

People will camp out in front of the registrar's office to sign up.

Initial ideas for topics: Police implementation of GPS tracking devices (US v Jones from last year?), Weldon Angelos type mandatory minimums, prison overcrowding/effects of new police/prosecutor policies (maybe ETHICS of prosecutor practices? Brady v Maryland and more recently Connick v Thompson, and Pattawattamie County v. McGhee (((setteled for 12 million dollars))))))

I'm spit-balling here. But, you see where I'm heading.

Posted by: Chris Sponseller | Nov 7, 2013 8:53:13 AM

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