I. Bennett Capers

Stanley A. August 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: Investigations

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. Enrollment Note: This course and Criminal Procedure: Adjudication may be taken in any order. One is not a prerequisite for the other.


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

Grading and Method of Evaluation:

Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final exam.

Race, Gender, and Crime Seminar

This seminar will explore issues relating to race, gender, sexuality, and crime. How does the historical context of race and gender 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 sexuality and crime? Are these even appropriate considerations in a "post-racial" and "sex-equal" society? To answer these and other questions, this seminar will examine various criminal law and criminal procedure issues - from racial profiling to prosecutorial discretion, from domestic violence to rape, from hate crimes to gay and trans "panic" defenses, from mass incarceration to capital punishment as 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 - ingrained and sometimes invalid assumptions about race, gender, sexuality, 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.