I. Bennett Capers

Professor of Law

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 780-0685 |  Email  | CV
Areas of Expertise
Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure
Law and Literature
Race and the Law
B.A., Princeton University
J.D., Columbia University School of Law

Criminal Law

This course consists of an introduction to the criminal process and the role of the Constitution in reconciling the authority of government with the rights of the individual. The primary focus of the course is, however, on the substantive aspects of the criminal law. The role of the criminal law as the principal means of social control is explored, as well as the limitations on legislative power to define and punish criminal behavior. Cases and statutes are studied to develop a critical understanding of the fundamental concepts of criminal responsibility. The course includes the study of some specific crimes such as homicide and conspiracy, as well as the general principles of jurisdiction, accessorial liability, justification and the impact of mental disease, intoxication and mistake on criminal responsibility.

Grading and Method of Evaluation

Letter grade only. Final exam.

Criminal Procedure I

Prerequisites: Criminal Law and Constitutional Law

This course explores the investigative phase of a criminal proceeding focusing on the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights of criminal suspects. Topics covered include arrest, search and seizure, electronic surveillance, interrogations and confessions, line-ups and other pre-trial identification procedures, right to counsel, doctrines governing application of constitutionally based exclusionary rules (standing, retroactivity, harmless error and the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine) and motions to suppress evidence.

Grading and Method of Evaluation

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final exam.


This course presents a comprehensive overview of evidence law, including relevancy, documentary evidence, hearsay, competency of witnesses, examination and impeachment of witnesses, privilege, presumptions and burdens of proof. Class discussion will be based on the Federal Rules of Evidence, cases, problems and films.

Grading and Method of Evaluation

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final exam.

Race, Gender, and Crime Seminar

This seminar will explore the intersections of race, gender, and crime. How does the historical context of race and sex relations in this country impact what we criminalize, or how we enforce the law? Can thinking about race and crime help us think about gender and crime, and vice versa? To answer these and other questions, this seminar will examine various criminal law and criminal procedure issuesfrom racial profiling to prosecutorial discretion, from domestic violence to rape, from hate crimes to capital punishmentas well as race-based and gender-based critiques of these issues. The goal of the seminar is two-fold. One, to provide students a deeper understanding of criminal law and criminal procedure issues, putting such issues in historical context. Two, to provide students an opportunity to challenge  critically and collegially  basic assumptions about race, gender, and crime.

Grading and Method of Evaluation

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Students will be graded on class participation, presentations, and response papers. Students seeking to fulfill the Upperclass Writing Requirement may also write a paper.