Curriculum

Seminar in Law & Psychology of Crime Culp & Punishment

L748 is taught by J. Hoffmann

This three (3) credit research seminar is co-taught by Professor Joe Hoffmann from the Law School and Professor Jim Sherman from the Psychology Department. We will study the social and cognitive psychology that underlies the doctrines of the criminal law. We will begin each week of the seminar by reading one or more real criminal-law cases that raise one or more difficult moral/legal issues. We will then assign relevant readings from the psychology literature, as well as from the legal literature, in an effort to achieve greater insight into the behavior and perceptions of the legal decision-makers in the cases. Our primary interest will be in the behavior and perceptions of those who have traditionally shaped the doctrines of the criminal law, i.e., lawyers, judges, legislators, and jurors. To put it another way, we will seek to understand the reasons why the substantive doctrines of the criminal law have developed in the way that they have developed. At the end of each seminar meeting, we will return to the cases, and we will discuss the potential legal and social implications of what we have learned. The final grade for the seminar will be based primarily on an interdisciplinary research paper drawing from legal and psychological sources. In addition, each week students will be assigned to serve as "experts" and "commenters" on the readings, and 19.5% of the final grade will be based on class performance in these roles.