Professor Cloud

Criminal Law Spring 2012

Course Syllabus

Information about the course, including assignment revisions and updates, "handout" materials for the course, and final examination information will be posted on the course webpage.  Students should check this webpage regularly for new information about the course.

I.   Course Materials & Administrative Information.

A.  Case Book:  Phillip E. Johnson & Morgan Cloud, Criminal Law, Cases, Materials and Text, Seventh Edition (West 2002).

Contact Information for Professor Cloud

Office:       G536
Phone:*    404-727-5779

C. Office Hours:  Tuesdays        2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
                           Wednesdays   3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
                           Thursdays       2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

D. Reading Assignments for Class Meetings

Class assignments are located in this Syllabus and are numbered in order, beginning with Assignment #1.  The Assignment numbers do not necessarily correspond with the individual class sessions.  For example, we may begin our discussion of an Assignment in one class and complete it in the next. Conversely, in some classes, we will cover more than one Assignment. Assignments are contained in the course case book or in text or weblinks in this syllabus.

II.   Class Assignments for Spring 2012.

Tuesday, January 10.

1.  Read:  Memorandum:  Introduction to the Course.  This short memo describes the goals of our course, how those goals differ from your first semester courses, how you will need to prepare for class discussions, and how those discussions will be conducted.

    We will begin our study of substantive criminal law by discussing how criminal law differs from the law of torts and contracts.  Related topics for discussion include:  What are the functions of criminal law?  What distinguishes criminal acts from other conduct?  What makes one act a crime and another not a crime?  Why is one act a crime and another a tort or a breach of contract?  Can the same act be both a crime and a tort; a crime and a breach of contract?  What are the justifications for criminal punishments?  Do these functions differ from civil damages?  How?  Why do criminal defendants receive constitutional protections not guaranteed for parties in civil litigation?  To prepare for this discussion, read the following stories taken from various news sources.

Thursday January 12.

2.  Law, Morality, Discretion, and Judicial Review.

Read pp. 110-123; and Lawrence v. Texas (2003) (click on case name to open this link).  Be prepared to discuss the following questions:

    a.  Who decides what conduct is criminal?  What are the legitimate bases for these classifications?  What are the proper roles of the legislatures and the courts in defining criminal conduct?b.   Can individuals violate criminal laws to serve "higher" values?  Do moral or religious values ever outweigh legal rules within the legal system?  Consider the following materials from a highly publicized case decided in 2010 in Kansas. 


Tuesday January 17.

3.  The Principle of Legality: Due Process and other Constitutional limits on the authority to define crimes and to enforce those laws.

     Read pp. 85-97 in the case book. 
     Questions for discussion:  How would the police officers in Papachristou distinguish between conduct that violated the Jacksonville ordinance and conduct that did not?  How would civilians know whether they had violated the ordinance?  Can a loitering ordinance ever be constitutional?


Thursday January 19.

4.  Elements of Crimes:  

   a. Battery and Assault.  Read:  

    b. Sexual Violence. Read:  

    Kansas Statutes Sections 21-3501 through 21-3511
    California Penal Code Sections 261-269                                             
    California Penal Code Sections 281-289.6.


Tuesday January 24.

5.  Homicide.
     a.  Read various state homicide statutes:  California, pp. 183-187; 

Georgia O.C.G.A. Sections 16-5-1 through 16-5-5 and 
Kansas Statutes Section 21-3401 through 21-3405.

 b.  The act and the result: unlawful killing of a living human being. Read pp. 255-272 and When Does Death Start (click on article name to open it).


Thursday January 26 & Tuesday January 31. 

Complete discussion of assignment 5, focusing upon the question:  when does life end?

6.  What were they thinking? Malice Aforethought--The "mental state" that distinguishes murder from manslaughter:

a. Read the following stories form the Anchorage Daily News and from The Independent.  Click on the paper name to open the story link.

 b. Review the state homicide statutes in assignment 5(a). Read, in this order:  pp. 181-183; pp. 175-178; pp. 171-174; pp. 178-180.


Thursday February 2

 7. Premeditation & Deliberation.

    a. Read pp. 191-204.
    b.  Be prepared to answer the following questions: 1.  How is Premeditation and Deliberation different from Malice Aforethought?  2. What is the function of the P&D concept? 3. How effective is P&D at serving that function? Are there better tools available? 4. What is the difference between intent and other states of mind? (Please refer to the Model Penal Code (MPC) section 2.02, pp. 66-67 to help you answer this question.).


Tuesday February 7 and Thursday February 9.

8.  Unintentional Killings. Read pp. 204-224.


Tuesday February 14.

9. Felony Murder. Read pp. 224-255 (It is likely that we will not finish discussing felony murder in this class, but will complete this assignment during the next class.)


Thursday February 16.

9.  Complete Felony Murder Rule with discussion of remaining cases. 

Tuesday February 21.

 10.  Causation Revisited: Proximate Cause and Homicide.  Read pp. 273-275; 287-298.


Thursday February 23.

10.  Complete Causation.


Tuesday February 28.

11.  Theft of Property.  Read:

       a. From Larceny to TheftRead pp. 754-761, 772-780; Kansas Statutes Section 21-3701 through 21-3705
       b. Changing Concepts of Protected Property Interests.  Read pp. 782-791. 
       c. Embezzlement. Read pp. 794-799. 

Thursday March 1.

11.  Theft, continued.  
12.  Robbery.  Read pp. 799-806; Kansas Statutes 21-3426 through 21-3427. 


Tuesday March 6.

13. Group Liability: Conspiracy.  Read pp. 631-635; 640-642; 660-683, 722-726.

Thursday March 8.

13.  Conspiracy continued. Read pp. 710-718.


March 10 - March 18: Spring Break

Tuesday March 20.

13.  Complete lecture about the crime of Conspiracy.   

The complete list of pages assigned for Conspiracy (both before and after Spring Break) are: pp. 631-635; 640-642; 660-683, 722-726, 710-718.

14.  Accomplice Liability/Complicity.

Lecture.  Read pp. 683-686; 692-702; 705-709; 719-722.

Be prepared to discuss the following topics: (a) what are the the similarities and differences between liability for conspiracy and liability as a complicitor/accomplice?  (b) what is the mens rea of complicity? (c) what is the actus reus of complicity?

Thursday March 22:

14.  Complete lecture about accomplice liability.

15.  Attempt Crimes.  Read pp. 614-631; 642-651; 656-659.

(a) Please be prepared to explain the various tests used to define when a person's conduct goes beyond "mere preparation" and becomes a criminal attempt.  These include the Proximity, Last Proximate Act, Unequivocality, Probable Desistance, and Substantial Step tests.  Make sure that you understand how each test differs from the other tests and be prepared to explain what the outcome would be in the Staples (p. 614) and Latraverse (p. 618) cases under each test.  (b)  Conspiracy and Attempt rules create liability for inchoate crimes.  Please be prepared to explain both the similarities and differences between these two doctrines.

Tuesday March 27.

16.  Affirmative Defenses: Self-Defense and related defenses.  

Read:  pp. 426-451; news Stories at the following links: New York Times article; AJC article; and the following statutes: (a) OCGA Sections 16-3-21 through 16-3-24.1 and (b) Kansas Statute Section 21-3209 through 3218.  

Be prepared to discuss the following topics: (a) how is an affirmative different from the "nugatory" defenses we have studied? (b) what are the traditional elements of self-defense? (c) what is the difference between objective and subjective theories of self-defense?   

Thursday March 29.

17.  Self-Defense and related defenses, continued: Read pp. 451-470, 474-482. 

Tuesday April 3:

Class cancelled.

Thursday April 5:

Lecture to complete coverage of self-defense.  Assigned pages for this topic:  426-470, 474-482. (a) OCGA Sections 16-3-21 through 16-3-24.1 and (b) Kansas Statute Section 21-3209 through 3218 and Florida Stand Your Ground law.

Friday April 6:

18.  Affirmative Defenses--Justification, Excuse, Compulsion, Necessity: Read pp. 389-392, 398-405, 412-426. Read, at the following link, the Time magazine article.

Read the short memorandum published by The Office of the United States Courts, Office of Defender Services/Training Branch, which can be found here.  Note:  you are NOT responsible for the discussions of burdens of proof and persuasion (which are covered in the course on Evidence) or for the discussions of affirmative defenses not covered in our assigned readings (e.g. alibis).Necessity.

Tuesday April 10:

18.  Affirmative Defenses, Continued, Read pp. 392-398, 408-412. 

Read:  Kansas State statute Section 21-3209: Kansas state prosecutor's Complaint/Information charging Scott Roeder with homicide and other crimesNews story concerning Roeder's use of the "necessity" defenseProsecution's Motion to Preclude Necessity Defense;Roeder's Response to the Prosecution Motion

[Please Note: You can increase or decrease the print size in the state's motion and the defendant's response by clicking on the sliding bar in the lower right hand corner of these two motion documents.]


Read also: News reports about Scott Roeder's sentencing hearing:  CNNThe Wichita Eaglethe AP.

Be prepared to discuss the following topics: (a) was Roeder's attempt to invoke the compulsion defense consistent with the Kansas statute? (b) was it consistent with the traditional affirmative defenses of justification, excuse, and necessity? (c) regardless of these rules, in cases where defendants, like Roeder, are charged with murder, should the courts always permit them to present any evidence of motive, purpose, or state of mind? 

Thursday April 12.

19.  Constitutional Limitations on Punishment.  

a.  The Presumption of Innocence and Burden of Proof: Read In re Winship (1970) (click case name to open file).
b.  The Death Penalty:  Read pp. 142-158 in the case book.



Tuesday April 17.

20.  Limits on Punishment--Mental Illness & Culpability: Read pp. 356-365.

21.  Mental Illness and the Insanity Defense:  Read pp. 326-335, 300-307, 314-315.

Thursday April 19.

Final Examination Review and Preparation.



A.  Final Examination:  Friday April 27, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.

B.  Format:  In-class, open book examination.  Time:  3 Hours.  
The specific rules governing this examination will be discussed during our examination review sessions.

Spring 2012 Online Statutes

C.  You may see copies of earlier examinations at the following links:

Spring 2011 Examination

Spring 2007 Examination.  (NOTE:  For many years I gave take home exams in this class.  As a result, the 2007 exam will give you some idea of the topics I selected for that exam, but this year's in-class exam will, of necessity, have a different format and the questions will be framed differently.)

D.  Exam Review Sessions:  Room 1C, 12:15 p.m., April 17, 19, 23.

E.  Practice Answers for 2011 Exam, for class discussion on 4/19/12: