Criminal Law

Southern New England School of Law
Fall 1997

Professor Matthew Pauley


I. Course Description

As the twenty-first century approaches, many Americans see crime as an increasingly "clear and present danger" to the safety of our people and our whole way of life. Our city streets are not safe from murderers and violent gangs; drug related crimes are rampant; there are now threats of terrorism on our shores. What should we as lawyers and lawmakers do about these problems? Should we change the legal definitions of crimes like murder, manslaughter, assault, and larceny? Should we continue to treat certain defenses, like insanity or self-defense, as complete defenses, and others, like poverty, as no excuse at all? And when a person is convicted of a crime, why do we punish t hat person? Is it for deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation, or some other reason? Is the death penalty a fit punishment for a brutal serial killer, or is capital punishment unjustified in a modern civilized country?

This course will study the fundamentals of criminal law in contemporary America. Emphasis will be placed on the law of homicide, group crimes like conspiracy, defenses (self defense, insanity, etc.) , the death penalty, and the purposes of punishment. As in any law school course, most readings will be legal cases; there will also be some jurisprudence readings in the section on the purposes of punishment.

Many of the class discussions will be structured around hypothetical cases, which will be handed out in class and used to discuss the assigned material. For example, we will consider whether, in light of the cases we have read, the suspects in our hypothetical can be charged with murder or manslaughter.

The course will culminate in a mock murder trial, in which students will play prosecutors, defense counselors, defendants, witnesses, and jurors. We will have opening and closing arguments by counselors, and direct and cross-examination of witnesses. The jurors will be charged in the applicable law, and they will deliberate outside class and reach a verdict, which they will announce at the last class. The defendants will then be sentenced (if found guilty), but no actual sentences will be impose! A serious effort will be made to accommodate each student's preference for his/her role in this trial -- prosecutor, defense counsel, defendant, juror/witness.

II. No Prerequisites

No background in criminal law, criminal procedure, or evidence is required for this course. All students are welcome.

III. Course Requirements

A. Classwork

You. are expected to attend every class, well prepared; and to participate in the class discussions. Both attendance and participation will count in the final evaluation. Participation in the mock trial will also be required of all.

B. Written Work

In addition to the Final Examination, there will be a Midterm Examination, probably in mid October.

IV. Readings

The principal text for the course is the sixth edition of Sanford Kadish and Stephen Schulhofer's Criminal Law and Its Processes, which is available for purchase at the school bookstore. You should also purchase a course packet, consisting of a syllabus and a book I am writing on criminal law, at the bookstore before the first class. Some additional xeroxes will be distributed in class as the semester progresses.

V. Meeting with the Instructor

My home phone is 508-992-3163 (New Bedford) and 617-492-4085 (occasional weekends in Cambridge) . The best times to meet with me will usually be on the days we have class, but I can also be available on other weekdays and some weekends. Just call me or speak with me after class to arrange a mutually convenient time. I am always happy to meet with you.

VI. Course Meeting Times

Unless otherwise announced, the course will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:3O to 7:45 PM. There will probably be no class Thanksgiving week. There will probably be a make up class on Monday September 15 (or another date), and another make up for a film illustrating trial procedure on Wednesday November 12.

[Syllabus begins next page. There will also be changes in the reading assignments each week as the course goes along.]



CP=course packet
MPC=Model Penal Code

Sept 2: Orientation & overview



Sept 4: Actus Reus: The Voluntary Act

CP10-13 bottom
MPC2.01 (K1137)

Sept 9: Actus Reus: Omissions


Sept 11: Mens Rea (The Guilty Mind)

CP Chapter three
K204-225 and 1034-7
MPC 2.02 (K1137-8)

Sept 15: Strict Liability Crimes, Mistake of Law, and Mistake of Fact

K225-243, 247-257, 274-7, 281-2 and 298-304
MPC2.04 (K1139)


Sept 16 & 18: Murder

CP Chapter five
Additional cases assigned (Xerox)

Sept 23 & 25: Voluntary Manslaughter

CP Chapter six

Sept 30: Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Murder

CP Chapter seven

Oct 2: Felony Murder and Misdemeanor Manslaughter

K468-481; 484-5;488-509
CP Chapter eight


Oct 7: Aiding and Abetting

K461-655;661-3; 670-1; 675-9
CP Chapter nine

Oct 9 and 14: Conspiracy

K720-27; 731-43; 747-53; 764; 781-2 (RICO); 787-9; 795-8
CP Chapter ten

Oct 16: Midterm Examination

This exam may be scheduled at an earlier or later date in the semester. The instructor will announce the date well in advance.


Oct 21: Attempt

K581-591; 593-5; 598-600; 602-4; 606-7; 614-5; 623-32
CP Chapter eleven

Oct 23: Intro to Defenses; self-Defense

K801-824; 834-8; 840-2
CP Chapter twelve: pp 123-143

Oct 28 & 30: Insanity and Intoxication

K929-966; 991-999; 913-929
MPC 2.08 (K1142)
CP finish chapter twelve


Nov 4 & 6: Why Punish?

K101-153 and
Xeroxed readings on the jurisprudence of crime and punishment

Nov 11: The Dealth Penalty

K509-545 and
some Xeroxed readings

Nov 12: Trial Procedure

Short Xerox on Evidence and trial procedure
In class: film to illustrate direct and cross examination

Nov 13, 18, 20, Dec 2

Mock Murder Trial

Dec 4

Verdicts in Mock Trial
Overview of the law of Theft (CP chapter thirteen)
Overvire of course (CP chapter fourteen)