Advanced Criminal Procedure: Race, Crime & Politics (LAW-708C-001)
Assessment: In-class Project(s); Paper; Oral Presentations; Class Participation
The Race, Crime and Politics seminar will explore the causes and potential legislative remedies for racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system. At each stage in the criminal adjudication process—from pre-arrest to post-conviction—criminal justice officials (i.e., police, prosecutors, judges) have broad discretionary power to decide who will be stopped, charged, placed in pretrial detention, given a plea offer, as well as the sentence to be imposed, and whether probation or parole will be revoked. Studies show that African Americans and Latinos are often subjected to more harsh treatment at each of these discretionary decision points. Many jurisdictions have proposed or enacted laws to eliminate unwarranted racial and ethnic disparities and improve the fairness of the criminal justice system for all. This course will provide an in-depth examination of five major areas of racial justice reform: (1) racial profiling; (2) excessive police force; (3) unfair and discriminatory bail practices; (4) the purposeful and strategic exclusion of minorities on juries; and (5) juror bias. Students will be assigned approximately 30-40 pages of reading per class and expected to actively participate in the discussion and critical analysis of the various racial justice reform proposals.
There will be a mock legislative hearing on each of the five major topics covered in the course. Each student will be required to select the two topics they will focus on during the semester. For one of the selected topics, the student will write a 15-page paper and give oral testimony at the hearing to advocate for or against the racial justice reform proposal(s) under consideration by the legislative body. In another hearing students will be required to write a 5-page critical analysis of various racial justice reform proposals and, as a member of the legislative body, pose questions and challenge the positions taken by the witnesses testifying at the hearing. There is no casebook for this class; the required reading will consist of recent court opinions, studies, articles, reports, appellate briefs, and legislation, all compiled into a course packet. Grades will be based on a combination of: (1) class preparation, participation & attendance; and (2) written and oral advocacy at the mock legislative hearings.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
Not available at this time.