As the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Cases (2003) state, “the responsibilities of defense counsel in a death penalty case are uniquely demanding, both in the knowledge that counsel must possess and in the skills he or she must master.” This advanced death penalty course will study various aspects of capital trial defense that must be mastered to meet contemporary standards of practice in these uniquely difficult and complex cases. Among the topics to be addressed in the course will include defense counsel’s duty to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the client’s social history; counsel’s duty to identify and investigate issues of trauma, race, culture, and mental health presented by the client and the case; counsel’s duty to pursue a negotiated settlement of the case; and counsel’s duty to develop an integrated theory of the case. These topics will be examined through a wide range of readings including professional guidelines and standards, judicial opinions, academic articles from various fields of study, and lawyering treatises and training materials.
Students are expected to attend all classes, do all the reading, and actively participate in class discussion about their reading assignments. Class participation is critical and will be taken into account in grading. Over the course of the semester, students will be assigned to write a series of papers applying the course curriculum to issues presented by actual death penalty cases, as well as a final paper synthesizing the shorter papers into a comprehensive case analysis.
PREREQUISITE OR CO-REQUISITE: Capital Punishment (278R or 378R).