Study with the Best
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Law and Society
The American Jury: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (S120)
By Sharon Fray Witzer
Lecturer in Legal Studies
We generally think of our government as having three branches—legislative, executive and judicial. A fourth branch of our democracy is all but forgotten—the jury. It may be because its deliberations are secret and we really do not know exactly how it works, or it may be because its role as been circumscribed, not as a maker of law, but as a servant of law—like a machine or a computer of sorts. Are juries necessary to democracy? This guide should lead you into a discussion of the nature and function of our criminal justice system and how we might improve it, focusing particularly on "proof beyond a reasonable doubt."
Landmarks of the Fourth Amendment (S136)
By Professor Daniel Breen
American and Legal Studies Department, Brandeis University
Ever wonder what the Fourth Amendment really means and how it has been applied since the Bill of Rights was passed in 1789? Learn that and more as we explore 5 cases in history that challenged the premise of this promise to American citizens.
By Mary Davis
Professor of American Studies (retired)
An examination of the erosion of privacy rights and Justice Brandeis' insistence on the "right to be let alone."
By Andreas Teuber
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Participants are given cases where the facts of the case are understandable and easy to grasp but difficult to resolve. Study group members are invited to reach a consensus about how best to decide that case or set of cases after deliberating among themselves with the guidance of Professor Teuber's enlightening questions. Contained in each puzzler is all the information needed to brainstorm and reach a conclusion about these conundrums in the law.
The Trolley Problem: An Exercise in Moral Reasoning
Imagine that a trolley is hurtling down the tracks. The hill is steep; it has lost its brakes.
The driver of the trolley cannot stop its forward motion.
But there's more and you get to decide what to do. This exercise is used in many schools and introductory ethics classes around the country as well as Great Britain.
The Crime That Never Was (S125)
It's a criminal offense to attempt to commit a crime. Knowledgeable legal theorists have long recognized that the law of attempts provides a bumpy route by which the deepest and most central issues in criminal law can be approached. As with most crimes, attempts have both a bad act (actus reus) and a guilty mind (mens reus) component. The mens reus requirement is fairly straightforward—one must have intended to commit the crime that one is charged with attempting; but in attempt cases, the actus reus requirement is more problematic—the actual harm that the defendant has caused is very small, if existent at all.
Getting Away With Murder: The Case of the Speluncean Explorers (B53)
Should killing another always be a punishable crime or is there some justification that excuses the killer? This brieflet puts you on the judge's bench and provides you with the opportunity to decide.
Guilty for the Crimes of the Father: The Felony Murder Rule (S124)
Racial Insults and Epithets—Discriminatory Harassment or Protected Speech (BR46)
Twenty-One Legal Puzzlers: What Is a Crime? (S106)