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796.19 - Criminal Law Defenses
Professor: Joshua Dressler
Semester: 2010 Winter
Second Writing Requirement? Yes
Professional Responsibility? No
Means of Assessment: Paper and Class Participation
This seminar explores the moral underpinnings of, and controversies regarding, criminal law defenses. During the first half of the semester, through substantial assigned reading materials (all articles, no cases), the focus is on the nature of criminal law defenses generally, and the theoretical but all-important concepts of “justification” and “excuse” more specifically. There will also be readings on the provocation defense (why do we have the defense?; should it be abolished?; and discussion, pro and con, of permitting the defense in cases of nonviolent homosexual advances), as well as battered women who kill their abusers.
Each student will also write a substantial research paper on some aspect of criminal law defenses. Students will select a paper topic from a long list of possible areas of research provided at the first class session. The topics relate to proposed new defenses (e.g., euthanasia; cultural defense, “rotten social background” defense); existing defenses; and concepts of justification and excuse. During the second half of the semester, students will report to the class on their chosen topic. The completed paper will be due at the final class session of the semester (before the examination period). Attendance at first class session is critical.
The course materials listed above are for informational purposes only and should not be considered final. Students must check with the Registrar for a current list of closed courses.