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Spring 2025 Course

The Ethics of Prosecution

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: Any-Day Take-Home

The last decade has seen the largest reexamination of the prosecutorial function in a century. Progressive prosecutors have reconsidered how we charge crimes, grant bail, determine sentences, and review convictions. Some of those efforts have led to meaningful change—and some have flamed out spectacularly.

These reforms raise questions about the ethics of prosecution, in both its traditional and reform incarnations. May prosecutors refrain from charging entire categories of crimes? What should be the standard for reviewing prior convictions or reducing sentences? How can a prosecutorial office fairly examine the conduct of police officers? What is the appropriate role for incarceration and other forms of punishment?

This course will examine these questions and related ones, looking at how prosecution should function, and what happens when actors in the system try to change it.