This is a writing seminar designed to explore various mechanisms by which actors in the criminal justice system are regulated. Readings will be divided into two broad categories: (1) legal doctrines, remedial schemes, and non-litigation avenues of oversight in the criminal justice system; and (2) specific topics concerning the discretion exercised by actors in the criminal justice system and the risks that regulation and oversight might address. Topics in the first category will include the role of constitutional criminal procedure in generating regulatory incentives for law enforcement; civil rights litigation surrounding the criminal justice system; criminal prosecutions of law enforcement actors; and the dynamics surrounding internal agency oversight and regulation. Topics in the latter category will likely include police discretion in citizen encounters (including "stop and frisk" and Broken Windows policing); police use of force; and prosecutorial discretion in criminal adjudication (including discovery and plea bargaining). In addition to discussion of assigned reading, class meetings will also include the opportunity to meet and question guest speakers with direct experience in a variety of aspects of criminal justice oversight -- including litigation, law enforcement administration, or other oversight methods or bodies. The final class meetings of the semester will be devoted to colloquia in which students present their draft papers and respond to comments and questions from their colleagues.
Students' grades for the course will be based upon class participation (including weekly short discussion papers), as well as their performance in completing and presenting a paper (roughly 25 to 35 double-spaced pages, inclusive of footnotes). Students' papers may examine any issue concerning oversight of actors in the criminal justice system, so long as a substantial focus of the paper is examination of doctrinal, theoretical, and/or policy-based facets of a legal problem in this arena.