Skip Navigation

LAW 0975: Death Penalty
Fall 2023 • Section 21 • CRN 38973

Course Description

This course will explore the death penalty law and policy in the United States. The class will explore a different issue each week, including the principles affecting the constitutionality/unconstitutionality of capital punishment and its application; the political and practical realities that influence enforcement of constitutional protections; who is (or is not) "eligible" for the death penalty (and why); the racial history of the U.S. death penalty and how race continues to affect capital punishment today; "outlier" jurisdictions, arbitrariness, and the geography of the death penalty; issues involving judges and juries — who decides who lives or dies (and why); the role of the prosecutor — prosecutorial discretion, prosecutorial misconduct, the use of the death penalty as a bargaining tool, and reform prosecutors; the role of defense counsel — access (or denial of access) to quality representation, resources, and experts, litigating ineffective representation, waivers of representation; "heightened procedural protections" and limited appellate review; the use of the death penalty against vulnerable defendants, including juvenile and adolescent offenders and those with mental illness, intellectual disability, brain damage, or histories of chronic trauma.


Day/Time Location
M 4:00-5:50 PM Klein 6A

Course Details

  • Rob Dunham
Credit Hours

3 Credits



Course Type
  • Writing
Course Modality


Fulfills J.D. Requirement
  • Writing Research


Registration Info


You must have completed the following courses before enrolling in this course:

  • LAW 0410 (Criminal Law I)
  • LAW 0532 (Criminal Procedure I)

Book List/Materials