Categories: Criminal Law

Instructor(s) Kempinen, Ben

Introductory survey of the criminal justice process with emphasis on appropriate controls on the discretion of system actors (a) trial judge - sentencing, (b) police - arrest or cite, (c) prosecution - the charging decision, and (d) allocation of decision-making authority between defendant and defense counsel. Students examine how human discretion rather than statutes or rules dominate the various systems which comprise the criminal justice process.

Learning Outcomes: By the end of this course, students will have:
1. A foundational understanding of the operation of the criminal justice system, from the discovery of crime to the apprehension, conviction, and punishment of adjudicated offenders.
2. Familiarity with the roles of police, prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, and correctional officials, and with the types of discretionary decisions each actor is called upon to make when handling a criminal case.
3. Knowledge of the primary sources of law relevant to the operation of the criminal justice system at each major decision point, and of the primary sources of informal guidance available to system actors as they discharge their discretionary duties.
4. Understanding of the legal options available to the primary system actors at each stage of criminal proceedings.
5. Awareness of collateral concerns that attend criminal prosecution, including the long-term effects of conviction, along with the challenges of confronting racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
6. Appreciation for the unintended consequences of formal rules and the limitations of traditional arrest, prosecution, and conviction in efforts to advance justice and public safety.
7. Sensitivity to the complexity of evaluating the fairness and effectiveness of governmental approaches to crime, and the need for such evaluation.
8. Awareness of approaches to public safety that emphasize problem-solving and crime prevention over formal the invocation of government authority over offenders after crimes have been committed

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