Susan Herman

Centennial Professor of Law

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 780-7945 |  Email  | CV
Areas of Expertise
Constitutional Law
Criminal Law
Terrorism Law
Education
B.A., Barnard College
J.D., New York University School of Law

Constitutional Law

This course presents an introduction to the historical background, content, and meaning of the United States Constitution. The course focuses on such issues as: the origins and scope of judicial review; intergovernmental relations; separation of powers among the legislative, judicial, and executive branches; powers of the President; basic principles of individual rights and equal protection; due process; and state and federal regulatory powers.

Grading and Method of Evaluation

Letter grade only. Final exam.

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.

Law and Literature Seminar

This seminar uses literature, commentary on literature, and legal writings to consider the ways in which law and literature intersect. The assigned materials deal with such issues whether law and morality are identical, whether justice is achieved in the legal system, how lawyers can achieve persuasiveness and even eloquence by using the techniques of great writers, and what relation exists between stories and legal arguments and theories.

Grading and Method of Evaluation

Letter grade only. All students will write a paper in the course and make a half hour presentation to the class based on the subject of their paper. There is no exam.

Terrorism and Civil Liberties Seminar

Prerequisite: Constitutional Law.

This seminar will examine constitutional and other legal issues arising out of the war on terrorism, such as the constitutionality of executive detention of citizen and non-citizen "enemy combatants" in the territorial United States and in Guantanamo, of military tribunals, of secret de portation hearings, of new surveillance provisions of the USA Patriot Act, and of the targeting of Muslim and Arab men for interrogation, detention for violation of immigration laws, and special airport security. Depending on the particular interests of participating students, we may also discuss issues centering on international law (Is the "war on terror" an actual or a metaphorical war? What does it mean to be an "illegal combatant?" What applicability do the Geneva Convent ions have to the Guantanamo detainees?); prin ciples of federalism (How far can the federal government go in enlisting state and local law enforcement officials in their investigations, or their enforcement of immigration laws?); the First Amendment (What has been the impact of the war on terror on dissent? What have been the role and responsibilities of the media?); and history (How do current events compare to American reactions to past crises, including times of war, such as the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II? Have we as a country engaged in a process of social learning, or are we repeating past actions later considered to be mistakes?). This course is designed for students who have been watching these current events unfold and would like to develop a fuller knowledge of what is happening, what is controversial, and what the constitutional provisions, statutes, and cases involved actually say.

Grading and Method of Evaluation

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final exam or paper which may be used to satisfy the Upperclass Writing Requirement.