Prosecutorial Decision Making



SLN #: 18060
Course Prefix: LAW-691
Course Section: 018
Credit Hours: 2
Instructor(s): Charlton

Course Description:
Other than the authority given to a soldier in time of war, few in government have the power of a prosecutor. A prosecutor may methodically and intentionally seek to take the life of another. A prosecutor may seek to remove a person from society, put them in prison, and keep them there until they die. Society gives prosecutors broad discretion. Certainly a prosecutor must follow the rules of law and ethics, but is that all we as a society should ask of a prosecutor? Many decisions made by a prosecutor are guided by ethics, others decisions require that a prosecutor look beyond the rules of ethics. When the rule of law and ethics allow for the death penalty in a specific case, what other considerations may a prosecutor use when determining whether to seek the ultimate penalty? When thousands of crimes occur in a single day, how should a prosecutor determine which cases are deserving of the government's resources? This course will focus on how a prosecutor should exercise his or her discretion. We will begin with the rules of ethics and standard manuals such as the U.S. Attorney's Manual. We will then cover widely accepted guidance for prosecutors such as Justice Jackson's famous speech to U.S. Attorneys and Deputy Attorney General James Comey's writing on the courage to say no. The course will cover a wide variety specific prosecutorial decisions such as District Attorney Michael Nifong's decision to prosecute the Duke Lacrosse players, or U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson's refusal to obey President Nixon's order to fire the Watergate Special Prosecutor. The course instructor was a career prosecutor for more than 16 years, serving at the Arizona Attorney General's Office as an Assistant Attorney General, and at the U.S. Attorney's Office as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona from 2001 to 2007, when he was fired for opposing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' decision to seek the death penalty in a homicide case. The format for the course will be lecture and group discussion. The course will be graded primarily on a final paper to be submitted by the student. The course is recommended for any student who is considering a practice in criminal law.



Additional Information:
Credit Hours: 2
Grading Option: Letter Grade Only
Graduation Writing Requirement: No
Flexible Writing Requirement: Yes
Skills Requirement: No
Final Exam Given: No
Paper or In-Class Presentation: Yes, see course description
Participation Points: Yes, see course description
Attendance Policy: Per Statement of Student Policies
Online Course Site: None