863 Life or Death: The Decision-Making Process in a Death Penalty Case
Students will follow how a major state attorney’s office handled death penalty eligible cases from the initial crime scene visit through the conclusion of the case. The course will use a specific case study – the 2009 Thanksgiving Day murders of four family members in Jupiter, Florida – to examine how charging decisions were made, including the legal criteria and other case-related issues. One of the exercises may include having students conduct a mock capital case review in a homicide case. The course also will discuss legislative and executive actions that influence how a prosecutor makes the decision to charge and/or resolve a capital case (including, as an example, the current and very public conflict between the Florida Governor and the State Attorney for the Ninth Circuit in Florida). Finally, the course examines the evolving law relating to jury and judicial decision-making in death penalty cases.