513 Murder Trials: Real-World Lessons in Persuasive Advocacy

Credits earned in this seminar, grounded in simulating participation in certain aspects of a murder trial, apply to the experiential learning requirement for graduation. The course's backbone will be real first-degree murder cases that resulted in conviction and the death penalty. Simulations in the form of class exercises and writing assignments will be based upon those high-stake cases' actual evidence, defense and prosecuting attorneys' decisions and actions, and the controlling constitutional and evidentiary law. The simulations will include but not be limited to attorneys' brainstorming to make tactical decisions, composing jury selection questions to pick a "fair" but "death-qualified" jury, and writing and presenting opening statements and closing arguments. In the simulated activities, students will learn to practice the art of persuasive, zealous advocacy in the face of challenges to professionalism, ethical dilemmas, and complex tactical choices. Lessons about advocacy, though learned in the context of death penalty cases' memorable circumstances, apply equally to students' future practice in transactional or civil litigation practice.

Course Areas of Practice
Course Type
Learning Outcomes
Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.