Death Penalty

Section 1, Fall 16

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 9/16
Credits: 3

Course Description

Death is different: why is that so, and how is it so? This seminar will examine the law and policy of capital punishment. We will begin with an introduction to the origins of the death penalty in the United States and its role before and after the Civil War. We will then study the Supreme Court’s ruling in Furman v. Georgia striking down the death penalty as unconstitutional. We will then examine how, after reversing course, the states responded, as the Court embarked on a 40 year effort to define who is eligible for the death penalty and the procedures under which it must be imposed. We will study, among the key topics, the Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, the special rules for qualifying jurors in capital cases, the bifurcation of capital trials into guilt and sentencing phases, the role of expert evidence and mitigation evidence at sentencing, the statutory changes under the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), innocence claims, “crisis” litigation challenging competency to be executed and methods of lethal injection, and the role of clemency. We will study moral and policy arguments for and against the death penalty, focusing on research concerning race discrimination and deterrence. We will conclude by examining the status of the death penalty across the United States and globally and will consider the future of its use. Throughout, we will read leading cases, briefs, trial excerpts, portions of several prominent books, as well as social science studies.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Midterm Type (if any): None
Description: None

Final Type (if any): None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product:

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: No
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Notes:

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: No
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*Yes means professor requires everyone in the course to submit a substantial research paper (which is the requirement standard in Academic Policies), so no paperwork required to be submitted to SRO. No means student must timely submit paperwork to SRO if intending to use a paper in this course to satisfy the Writing Requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

General Information

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
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Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: