cod. 1006885

Anno accademico 2016/17
4° anno di corso - Secondo semestre
Settore scientifico disciplinare
Diritto penale (IUS/17)
A scelta dello studente
Tipologia attività formativa
A scelta dello studente
36 ore
di attività frontali
6 crediti
sede: PARMA
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Obiettivi formativi

To provide students with a knowledge of the most recent developments in American Criminal Law, stimulating a comparative approach regarding some of the most relevant issues at stake, such as death penalty, drug policy and sexual assault law.


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Contenuti dell'insegnamento

This course will focus on several important areas of American Criminal Law. Initially, students will explore how the Amanda Knox case might have been tried in a US court to give them a comparative approach to American Law. Thereafter, they will study the American overuse of bargained for justice and guilty pleas.
The course will also focus on several other topics: it will trace the Supreme Court’s case law involving the criminalization of sexual behavior, culminating in its decision upholding a constitutional right to same sex marriage. The course will focus on developments in America’s use of the death penalty. Further, it will focus on drug policy, with a special focus on efforts to legalize marijuana (leading to a patchwork of regulations around the country). Finally, it will examine controversial reforms in the area of rape and sexual assault law.

Programma esteso

10. Class 10 Monday, April 3 (11:30-1:30)
The death penalty in the United States
Readings for class:
Sunstein and Vermeule, Is Capital Punishment Morally Required?
A Death Penalty Puzzle,
Vitiello, Personal Reflections on Connick v. Thompson,
Furman v. Georgia, (In reading this case, you should realize that none of the justices has a majority for his reasoning. The Court struck down the death penalty as applied as of 1972. But notice that, for example, Justices Stewart and White disagreed with the other justices in the majority on why it was unconstitutional.)
Coker v. Georgia,
Consistent with Coker, how should a court decide a case presenting facts laid out in the material that appears below at pages 4-5?
Topics for discussion: What are the arguments for and against the death penalty? Who has the better side of the argument, those who support it or those who oppose it? In connection with Furman v. Georgia, assume that you were a legislator intent on enacting new legislation that would be constitutional. How could you draft legislation that would satisfy Justice White or Justice Stewart? The Coker Court is interpreting the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. What principle supports Justice White’s lead opinion in that case?

11. Class eleven: Tuesday, April 4 (4:30-6:30)
More on the death penalty
Readings for class:
Atkins v. Virginia,
Roper v. Simmons,
Enmund v. Florida,
Consistent with Enmund, how should a court decide a case presenting facts laid out in the material that appears below at pages 5-7?

12. Class twelve: Thursday, April 6 (11:30-1:30)
Still more on the death penalty
Readings for class:
Hurst v. Florida,
Consistent with Hurst v. Florida, how should a court decide a case presenting facts laid out in the material that appears below at pages 7-8?

13. Class thirteen: Wednesday, April 26 (10:30-12:30) Aula IV
Mass incarceration in the United States
Interview with Professor Michelle Alexander,
Review of John Pfaff’s book Locked In,
Report on prison population,
Read the excerpt from John Pfaff’s book that you will find at pages 8-22 in this section of the syllabus.
Topics for discussion: What caused mass incarceration? Is it a good thing? Does mass incarceration protect the public?

14. Class fourteen: Thursday, April 27 (11:30-1:30)
More on mass incarceration
Readings for class:
Hutto v. Davis,
Solem v. Helm,
Ewing v. California,
Read and prepare the exercise that you will find at pages 22-26 in this section of the syllabus.
Topics for discussion: As you saw when we discussed the death penalty, the Court has interpreted the Eighth Amendment as including something like the equivalency principle (a life for a life). Does the Court interpret the Eighth Amendment in a similar fashion when the sentence is a term of imprisonment, not the death penalty? Should courts be able to overrule the legislature when the legislature decides on a punishment that seems severe?

15. Class fifteen: Tuesday, May 2 (4:30-6:30)
Legalizing marijuana in the United States
We will watch the classic movie Reefer Madness during class and discuss attitudes about marijuana as they have evolved over time.

16. Class sixteen: Thursday, May 4 (11:30-1:30)
Legalizing marijuana in the United States
A review of Joel Feinberg’s Offense to Others,
Vitiello, Legalizing Marijuana: California’s Pot of Gold?,
Vitiello, Joints or the Joint: Colorado and Washington Square Off Against the United States,
Blue Ribbon Commission Report, Pathways:
Topics for discussion:
Should the United States or any other country legalize marijuana? What are the advantages of doing so? What are the social costs associated with marijuana use? In the United States, several states have legalized recreational use of marijuana. But any use of marijuana still remains a violation of federal law. How can states legalize recreational use in light of federal law making marijuana possession and use a crime?

17. Class seventeen: Monday, May 8 (11:30-1:30)
More on legalizing marijuana in the United States
Readings for class:
Topics for discussion: Will the United States legalize marijuana? What are the important policy considerations?

18. Class eighteen: Tuesday, May 9 (4:30-6:30)
At this point, there is no additional assignment for our last meeting. We can use this time to finish previous assignments or for a summary of the course material.


Materials distributed by the professor.

Metodi didattici

Lectures, exercises, simulated processes.
Many classes will be interactive, with students engaging in simulation activities.

Modalità verifica apprendimento

Oral examination.

Altre informazioni

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