This small course taught in seminar style will examine some general jurisprudential and moral issues related to the American system of capital punishment. The course will focus primarily on the development of the law governing capital punishment in the United States since 1970. Some of the main themes include: the legal structure of the Supreme Court's post-1970 death penalty jurisprudence, the scope of available appellate and post-conviction review in capital cases (particularly federal habeas review), the ubiquitous problems surrounding the representation afforded indigent capital defendants, proportionality limits on the imposition of the death penalty for various offenders (e.g., juveniles and persons with mental retardation, the role of racial discrimination in the administration of the death penalty, and the likely trajectory of the American death penalty).
The course will be graded on a letter-grade basis for all students. The grade will be based on a final exam.