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The Federal Prosecutor: A View from the Trenches

This course is designed to put each student into the shoes of an actual criminal prosecutor faced with making split-second judgments pertaining to ethical issues which arise during a prosecution. In addition to an examination of pertinent ethical rules and recent news coverage of prosecutorial misconduct, students will apply ethical rules in the context of three semester-long hypotheticals drawn from actual cases previously prosecuted by the instructors. The goal of this class is to provide students with both a knowledge of the ethics rules and an understanding of how the rules are actually applied in real life. In other words, students will be provided with the opportunity to go behind the headlines and understand how seemingly innocent shortcuts taken during a criminal prosecution often result in a prosecutor’s commission of prosecutorial misconduct.

Each student will be assigned to one of the three criminal cases and then work the case from the undercover investigation stage through to the trial and sentencing. In addition to advising law enforcement agents (who will appear as guests during the semester) regarding investigative strategy in the hypothetical cases, students will role-play in a mock grand jury setting (conducted at the Federal Courthouse in Raleigh), witness preparation sessions, and in plea negotiations. Guest speakers will also include a victim/witness expert and a criminal defense attorney. The course will culminate with mock trial exercises at the Federal Courthouse in Raleigh, during which time students will be required to handle unexpected ethical dilemmas arising during the course of the mock trial.

Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.


Dennis M. Duffy, Clay C. Wheeler
The Federal Prosecutor: A View from the Trenches 599.01
Spring 2015
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