Criminal Procedure Capstone

B786 is taught by J. Bell

This course is intended to provide critical enrichment to students who are currently taking or have already taken at least one criminal procedure course. This course explores how the criminal justice system works in real life, or in practice. After a brief introduction to the reality of criminal courtrooms, the course will be divided into two sections, the first concentrating on police officers and criminal lawyers, and the second section examining several issues that involve judges, juries and outcomes, sentencing, plea bargaining, and specialized courts. Part of the purpose of the course is to take case law, issues or problems that are common to the criminal courts, and closely examine how the law works as actors in the criminal justice system struggle to balance lots of cases with little time and few resources.

We examine how the law works in practice in a variety of ways by looking at case studies, by studying empirical scholarship, and by hearing some of the difficulties and challenges from guest speakers. Several different guest speakers will offer their real life experiences and anecdotes. The course will also have a practical component. In several areas, students will be given cases (both real and fictional) and asked to briefly role-play being a prosecutor or defense attorney. The goal of the course is to provide not only substantive knowledge of how individuals charged with carrying out the criminal law function, but also present a larger view of how criminal courts in which many individuals, not just lawyers and judges but also police officers, court personnel and juries operate.