Coronavirus Information and Update: Spring 2021 Plans

Criminal Law and Psychology

Limit: 20 students

The number of acutely mentally ill defendants in the criminal justice system has exploded in the last 15 years. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys, even in their first few months of practice, are very likely to have to address the array of legal and practical issues unique to defendants with mental disabilities. This course will provide students a basic understanding of the nature of mental disorders, the components of forensic and risk assessment and an overview of common legal issues like competency, mental state, guilty except insanity, dangerousness and civil commitment.  Students will also briefly explore the psycholegal issues involved in arguing the reliability of eyewitness testimony and the voluntariness of false confessions. A significant portion of the class will utilize de-identified police reports and forensic evaluations to teach students how to critically analyze mental health cases and persuasively make arguments for either the state or the defense. The course is designed to prepare students to address these issues in the Oregon courts. It is taught by an attorney with more than a decade of experience in mental health and criminal defense.

Students will be required to write a paper that meets the W.I.E writing requirement.