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Search and explore Duke Law's wide variety of courses that comprise nearly every area of legal theory and practice. Contact the Director of Academic Advising to confirm whether a course satisfies a graduation requirement in any particular semester.

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NOTE: Course offerings change. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.

The list of classes marked Spring 2023 is incomplete and is being regularly updated.

JD/LLM in International & Comparative Law

JD/LLM in Law & Entrepreneurship

International LLM - 1 year

Certificate in Public interest and Public Service Law

Areas of Study & Practice

Clear all filters 10 courses found.
Number Course Title Credits Degree Requirements Semesters Taught Methods of Evaluation

140

Criminal Law 4.5
  • JD 1L
  • IntlLLM NY Bar
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • Fall 20
  • Spring 21
  • Fall 21
  • Spring 22
  • Fall 22
  • Spring 23
  • Final Exam
  • Class participation

An introductory study of the law of crimes and the administration of criminal justice. One of the purposes of this course is to introduce the students to the nature of social control mechanisms and the role of law in a civilized society.

245

Evidence 3
  • JD elective
  • IntlLLM NY Bar
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Spring 21
  • Fall 21
  • Spring 22
  • Fall 22
  • Spring 23
  • Final Exam
  • Class participation

This course covers the limitations on the information that can be introduced in court codified in the Federal Rules of Evidence. We take up the issue of relevance, including the rules concerning the balance between the probative value and the prejudicial impact of evidence and the special problems of character and credibility. Also addressed are the rules pertaining to the reliability of evidence, particularly the prohibition against hearsay and its many exceptions, the constitutional constraints on the testimony offered during criminal trials, and the screening of scientific and expert testimony. The course concludes with an introduction to evidentiary privileges.

314

Federal Habeas Corpus 2
  • JD elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Spring 23
  • Final Exam
  • Midterm
  • Practical exercises
  • Class participation

What is habeas corpus and why has it earned the title of the “Great Writ”?  Habeas corpus allows prisoners to challenge their detentions and it empowers judges to free prisoners that are unlawfully detained.  The writ reaches the most unpopular prisoners: enemies of the state, war criminals, and those convicted of the most heinous crimes.  Due to its historic role as the last resort for prisoners to obtain judicial review, the U.S. Supreme Court has called the Great Writ one that is “indispensable” and one that “indisputably holds an honored position in our jurisprudence.”  Thus, prisoner litigation is the subject of this course, and in particular, the rights and remedies available to prisoners who seek to challenge their detention.

We will use my co-authored casebook: the first to cover federal habeas corpus comprehensively, presenting post-conviction review and executive detention litigation in an accessible way.  It is available on Sakai, along with the rest of our course materials. We will begin with an examination of the writ of habeas corpus, under which federal courts examine whether detentions are authorized.  We will explore the historical evolution of the writ from a common law prerogative writ to the U.S. federal system and the meaning of the enigmatic Suspension Clause of the U.S. Constitution. We will then focus on habeas litigation by state prisoners convicted of crimes.  We will study the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and how it intersects with the key Supreme Court decisions that define the limits and procedures for habeas corpus, including through the doctrines of exhaustion, procedural default, non-retroactivity, and miscarriage of justice innocence “gateway” claims.

In the second part of the course, we will examine the Suspension Clause and how Article III of the Constitution shapes the power of judges to use habeas corpus.  We will explore the use of habeas corpus to remedy unlawful executive detention, including immigration detention, military detention, and national security detention.  We will study recent statutes and Supreme Court decisions relating to persons indefinitely detained or facing military commission trials post-9/11.  We will conclude by studying the intersection of habeas corpus and civil litigation, and with a broader look at the future of habeas corpus.

We will conduct a series of practical exercises based on real cases, during synchronous classes and offline.  Short lectures will often be recorded in advance to focus our synchronous time on engaging with  the material. The goal is for you to understand the doctrine and theory but also develop practical litigation skills, directly applicable to prisoner litigation, and also to litigation generally. Some will be in-class exercises, while others will be written exercises outside of class.  You will be given feedback on your work throughout the semester. Similarly, grading will be based not just on a final  exam, but on class participation (in synchronous classes, in comments on each other’s work, and on the Sakai forum discussion pages), written answers to three review exercises, written comments on classmates’ answer to review exercises, a midterm exam, and a final exam. All midterm and final exam grading is blind.

421

Pre-Trial Litigation 2
  • JD elective
  • JD experiential
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Spring 21
  • Fall 21
  • Spring 22
  • Fall 22
  • Spring 23
  • Practical exercises
  • In-class exercise
  • Class participation

This practical skills course focuses on the path civil litigators must navigate prior to trial. It is becoming increasingly rare for cases to be decided by a jury.  Lawyers must instead learn to succeed during the pretrial process.  We will examine the key components of the civil pretrial litigation process, beginning with the filing of a law suit.  The class will be divided into law firms on the second week of class. You will work with co-counsel, representing a hypothetical client, for the entire semester.  Law firms will prepare and serve discovery and respond to discovery from opposing counsel. Students will prepare and argue a short discovery motion. The last four weeks of class focus on depositions, with each student taking and defending a deposition. This course will help students synthesize and more deeply understand the strategy and the practical application of civil procedure and evidence rules used in litigation advocacy. 

Topics  include:

  • Drafting pleadings and motions
  • Preparing and responding to discovery
  • Taking and defending depositions
  • Practicing becoming a more effective advocate in the current on-line environment facing all attorneys and courts.

The course grade is based on written and practical skills-based work product and class participation, as described in the syllabus.  There is not a final exam.

422

Criminal Trial Practice 3
  • JD elective
  • JD experiential
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Fall 21
  • Spring 22
  • Fall 22
  • Spring 23

This is the basic trial skills course with a focus on criminal litigation. Prof. Maher is an experienced criminal litigator who currently represents clients in state and federal court. The class meets one night each week, and recorded lectures are available for students to view. The course covers Story Telling, Brainstorming, Opening Statement, Direct Examination, Cross Examination, Impeachment, Experts, Exhibits, Trial Preparation, Opening Statement and Closing Argument. The class is limited to 12 students so that each week each student will prepare and perform the various skills using simulated problems and case files, some of which are based on real cases and will allow students to work with actual recordings and other evidence. After each performance, students receive constructive comments both in class and during individual video review meetings. At the end of the semester students, typically in teams of two students, will litigate a mock criminal trial with jurors. Students who have not taken evidence, but who are enrolled in evidence, may take the class.

Please note: The Trial Practice Intensive is scheduled to begin on the evening of Thursday, January 12, and continue with sessions on the afternoon of Friday, January 13; morning of Saturday, January 14; and morning of Sunday, January 15. Attendance is required at these sessions.

425

Pretrial Criminal Litigation 1
  • JD elective
  • JD experiential
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • Fall 20
  • Fall 21
  • Fall 22
  • Oral presentation
  • Practical exercises
  • Class participation

This course will focus on the pretrial phase in criminal cases.  We will begin with a defendant’s initial appearance and conclude with a plea hearing.  Class discussions and readings will explore the pretrial practices of effective defense counsel, including conducting a defense investigation, working with experts, and managing clients.  The class will also emphasize oral advocacy skills, so students will be expected to appear as counsel during mock, in-class court hearings. It is anticipated that each class session will be divided into two components: (1) a short lecture/discussion period based on course readings and (2) skills practice.  Finally, this course will provide students with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with criminal case pleadings, including the drafting of at least one motion.  The course grade will be based on classroom participation, performance, and written work.  There is no final exam. 

493

Wrongful Convictions Clinic 4
  • JD elective
  • JD experiential
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • PIPS elective
  • PIPS experiential
  • Fall 20
  • Spring 21
  • Fall 21
  • Spring 22
  • Fall 22
  • Spring 23
  • Practical exercises
  • In-class exercise
  • Live-client representation and case management
  • Class participation

The Wrongful Convictions Clinic pursues plausible claims of legal and factual innocence made by incarcerated people in North Carolina convicted of serious felonies. 

Students in the clinic study the causes of wrongful convictions, including mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions, faulty forensic evidence, “jailhouse snitches,” and race. Student-attorneys work under the supervision of faculty to develop, manage, and litigate cases by carrying out a wide range of legal activities, including communicating with our clients, locating and interviewing witnesses about facts, gathering documents and records, drafting a range of legal documents and memos, working with experts, and helping to prepare for evidentiary hearings and oral arguments in state and federal courts. Most clinic cases do not involve DNA.

Many former students describe their time in the clinic, working to exonerate individuals incarcerated for crimes they didn't commit, as their most rewarding experience during law school.

494

Advanced Wrongful Convictions Clinic
  • JD elective
  • PIPS experiential
  • Spring 21
  • Fall 20
  • Fall 21
  • Spring 22
  • Spring 23
  • Group project(s)
  • Practical exercises
  • Live-client representation and case management
  • Class participation

The Advanced Clinic builds on the lectures, training, and work of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic. Students will be assigned to Clinic cases, working more independently than Clinic students, though still under faculty supervision.  Depending on the status of the case, students will interview witnesses, draft legal documents, work with experts, prepare for court, and otherwise take the steps necessary to prove the Clinic client’s claim of innocence and related constitutional claims.  Prerequisite: Wrongful Convictions Clinic or, in the exceptional case, permission of the instructor.

 

511

International Criminal Law 3
  • JD elective
  • LLM-ICL (JD) elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Fall 21
  • Series of Short Analytical Papers
  • Practical exercises
  • Class participation

“An international crime,” wrote eminent legal scholar George Schwarzenberger in 1950, "presupposes the existence of an international criminal law. Such a branch of international law does not exist." This course will begin by probing the concept of international criminal law. What does it mean to say that certain conduct constitutes an "international crime"? What are the objectives of such a legal regime? We will then examine the law of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression, as well as “treaty crimes,” such as terrorism offenses. Particular attention will be focused on the question of jurisdiction over such offenses in national courts and international tribunals,” and on immunities to such jurisdiction.

Grades will be based on the quality of weekly (3-page) briefings, practical simulations, and class participation.

562

Sentencing & Punishment 2
  • JD SRWP
  • JD elective
  • IntlLLM-SJD-EXC elective
  • IntlLLM writing
  • IntlLLM Business Cert
  • PIPS elective
  • Fall 20
  • Fall 21
  • Fall 22
  • Research paper, 25+ pages
  • Class participation

This seminar will focus on the process of imposing sentences in criminal cases, administering punishment, and attempting rehabilitation of convicted criminals. The course will first provide background regarding the purposes of punishment and the history of mandatory sentences, presumptive sentences, and sentencing guidelines, and focus on some of these issues in more detail through the use of a expert guest lecturers and a tour of the Federal Correctional Facility in Butner, NC. Students will be expected to participate meaningfully in the lectures, guest speakers and field trip, and produce a research paper on a related topic.

Course Credits

Semester

JD Course of Study

JD/LLM in International & Comparative Law

JD/LLM in Law & Entrepreneurship

International LLM - 1 year

Certificate in Public interest and Public Service Law

Areas of Study & Practice