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Fair Trial - Fall 2020

Professor Charles Nesson

This is a course about Jury as key to Sixth Amendment guarantees to persons accused of crimes.

We will examine the rationale behind the rights enshrined in the Sixth Amendment and explore why the guarantee of jury trial was so important to the founding generation. What motivated the amendment’s ratification? What evils did its drafters intend it to meet?

We will study the subsequent interpretation of the Sixth Amendment and explore whether or not its rights as presently afforded to criminal defendants comport with constitutional aspiration.

We address change. Are we as a class able to model fair jury trial? What is an “impartial jury” in a world of power imbalances, structural inequities, and implicit biases?

Enjoy before we meet: My Cousin Vinny; Twelve Angry Men; and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. Class will begin with a discussion of liberty, privacy, nymity, freedom of thought and expression, and a welcome to threads.

For more information about this course, visit the Harvard Law School Course Catalog