USC Gould Search

Course Descriptions
USC Gould School of Law

Law and Psychology     LAW-858

This course is designed to examine a broad range of facets of the criminal justice process, with a particular focus on the capability of the process to reach accurate results. In that vein, we will examine and employ experimental psychological research to understand the performance of detectives, witnesses, suspects, forensic scientists, prosecutors and jurors. The body of research to be examined will span investigative psychology, eyewitness identification, deceit detection, interrogation, and jury decision making. Based on this research, we will explore the susceptibility of the legal process to psychological factors that can result in erroneous testimony and judgments, whether leading to wrongful acquittals or wrongful convictions. We will also explore a set of broader institutional issues pertaining to the criminal process and the professionals who operate it, focusing on the role of judges in fact-finding and post-conviction review, the function and responsibility of lawyers, the workings of the adversarial system, and the place of truth amidst all of this. Finally, the course will examine the function of the criminal process as a means of social regulation and control. In particular, we will discuss how the criminal process interacts with the daily lives of people, especially the poor, members of lower social classes, and racial minorities.

Units 2, 3, 4
Grading Options Numeric or CR/D/F
Exam Type In-class Exam
Writing Requirement No
Skills/Experiential Requirement No

Grading Options: vary with the professor

Professors Teaching This Course