Course Requirements and Expectations


Regular attendance is expected and required. Although much learning occurs outside of class, I believe it is not possible to get what you need from this course without being here.

The Law School has an attendance policy and this class complies with that policy.  Pursuant to the attendance policy, students may miss up to three classes without explanation. If a student believes an absence should be excused, a request should be made to Nicole Francis in the Administrative Suite.  Students may miss no more than a total of three weeks of class (excused and unexcused absences combined).  In the event a student's absences exceed the limit, that student will be dropped from the course.  Where a student has fewer than three weeks of absences, I reserve the right to require that student to submit written makeup work when I deem appropriate based on the number and timing of absences.

Our class will start each day either at 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. and will end either at 9:45 or 9:50, depending on the material for that day.  I will advise you as far in advance as possible regarding when class will begin and end each day. Class times will be posted on the class web-site calendar. There will be periods during the semester when we may not meet at all or when there may be optional review sessions in addition to or instead of regular class. I will let you know of these in advance as well, both by in-class announcement and through the web-site calendar. I will keep track of classes throughout the semester to insure that we have the proper number of formal class meetings.


I expect students to be prepared for all classes. If you are not prepared for class, I want notice of that fact (preferably in the form of a written note or e-mail) before class begins. I will excuse occasional unpreparedness with prior notice for good cause. Repeated instances of unpreparedness or being unprepared without prior notice may result in reduction of course grade, additional written assignments, or, in an extreme case, my requiring that the student drop the course.

Being prepared means having read and thought about the material in the assignment for that class and any matters you are asked to think about from the previous class or on the web-site. Where questions are asked or problems are assigned, being prepared means having done the required thinking and analysis outside of class so you are ready to participate fully and share that analysis with the class. If you are asked as part of an assignment to write or outline your proposed response or to post on a discussion forum, such written response or posting is part of the required preparation for that day (whether or not the written response is collected or the posting commented on).  You should always do the Reflection from the previous class as part of your preparation for the next class.


The primary method of evaluation will be the final exam, which will count for a significant portion of the final grade. The final will be open book and most likely a take-home exam. There will be a midterm exam or exercise that will probably count only if you do better on the midterm than on the final. There may be occasional in-class quizzes and there will be out-of-class assignments (including possibly forum postings) that count toward the final grade (which may require individual and/or group work). Class and discussion forum participation may be taken into consideration where a student's input significantly advances the class or where such participation reflects an absence of preparation.

The final exam will test your knowledge of basic criminal law rules and principles, your skills at statutory interpretation and construction in a criminal law context, and your problem-solving ability. A well-written exam answer will identify the issues in the exam, demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the existing law and the directions the law may go, show ability to interpret and apply criminal statutes, and contain analysis of that law and the facts given. Application of the law to the facts is essential, and demonstration of an understanding of the context in which the issues arise and the policy implications of the law as applied is desirable.


The required book for the course is Dressler, Understanding Criminal Law (3d ed. 2001).  In addition, required material will be posted on the course web-site.  Materials will not be provided in hard copy format, but you can access them through the Internet either from home or through the Computer Lab at the Law School.

The web-site will contain a calendar of classes and assignments and the materials necessary to complete those assignments. Most frequently, the assignments will be a either a case with accompanying questions or a problem-set (a problem with accompanying statutes and case materials). The assignment will include references to the pages in Dressler to be read as well as any additional required work to be done (CALI exercises, written responses, postings, etc.). In many cases, references to optional materials will be provided for those seeking assistance or enrichment opportunities. Assessment of whether a student is meeting minimum requirements for preparation will be based on completion of required assignments only.

Additional Course Requirements