Prosecutorial Ethics (S)


Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson once noted, "The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America." This seminar examines the unique role and power of prosecutors in the United States and their responsibility to ensure "that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer." We will study the ways in which a prosecutor exercises discretion -- in deciding what charges to bring (or whether to bring them at all), in conducting trials, in recommending punishment -- and the ethical and practical considerations that affect those determinations. What duty does the prosecutor owe to the victim? To the police? To the public at large? How might their interests conflict with prosecutors' objectives and impact their decisions? A major focus of this course will be the prosecutor's obligations to the accused and the various ways in which they are breached. We will examine the potential consequences of prosecutorial misconduct, the instances in which it may or may not be remedied, and to what extent it can be deterred. Students will engage in mock disciplinary hearings, playing the role of bar counsel in bringing allegations of misconduct or defending prosecutors against such claims. Throughout the semester we'll refer to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Model Code of Professional Responsibility, and other rules that govern the conduct of all lawyers while scrutinizing others that bind prosecutors but not defense attorneys. Other topics to be covered include the relationship between the prosecutor and the grand jury, conflicts of interest, selective prosecution, trial misconduct, prosecutorial immunity, mandatory minimum sentences, the use of confidential informants and cooperating witnesses, discovery of exculpatory evidence, post-conviction obligations and wrongful convictions. Our study will draw heavily from historical events such as the Duke Lacrosse rape allegations, the Clinton/Lewinsky and other political scandals, and the prosecutions of O.J. Simpson and other celebrities, as well as more recent events such as the Boston Marathon bombing, the Dookhan drug lab scandal, and the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice. NOTE: This seminar does not satisfy the Upperclass Writing Requirement. This seminar satisfies the Professional Responsibility requirement. While there are no required prerequisites for taking this course, students should be prepared that some basic principles of Criminal Procedure, Evidence, and Trial Advocacy will necessarily be a focus of some of our discussions. GRADING NOTICE: This course does not offer the CR/NC/H option. ** A student who fails to attend the initial meeting of a seminar (designated by an (S) in the title), or to obtain permission to be absent from either the instructor or the Registrar, may be administratively dropped from the seminar. Students who are on a wait list for a seminar are required to attend the first seminar meeting to be considered for enrollment.
Fall 2017: LAW JD 806 , Sep 6th to Dec 6th 2017
A1Brian A. Wilson3Wed2:10 pm - 4:10 pmLAW417