The study and practice of criminal law engages students in recognizing and understanding issues and values that are fundamental to our constitutional rights and protections as well as integral to our daily lives. We hear about crime rates and specific crimes committed in our communities, about racial profiling, genocide, and exonerations. These are the kinds of issues students study in-depth in the Criminal Law Concentration. Whether students become criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, legislators, policy makers, or judges, this course of study provides them with a practical and theoretical foundation in the criminal law.
In the core courses (Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure I and II) we focus on foundational questions: what constitutes criminal conduct; when are individuals criminally responsible for their actions; how and why is the government's power limited to reach into citizens' private lives and property; and how and why do we protect individuals' rights when they are prosecuted by the government. More particular issues are addressed in specialized courses: in our International War Crimes Tribunal Seminar students will work on issues that international courts are confronting in creating and operating war crimes tribunals; in Legal Responses to Terrorism students will examine legal and policy perspectives on how to deter, prevent and respond to acts of terrorism both domestically and abroad; in our Criminal Law Seminar student will study European Criminal Law and Procedure: Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters with a professor visiting from Westminster University School of Law in London, England. Students may choose from several criminal law related externships including ones at the U.S. Attorney’s Office (Criminal Division), the Federal Public Defender’s Office, and the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court.