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Terrorism and the Courts

The emergence of international terrorism and governments' responses to it have led to novel questions for courts at the intersection of constitutional, criminal, international, and procedural law. This seminar will consider a series of interrelated problems that have arisen in federal courts over the treatment and punishment of suspected terrorists and compensation for victims. Topics will include habeas litigation by detainees; the creation and use of non-Article III courts such as military commissions as alternatives to criminal prosecution; congressional attempts to withdraw jurisdiction from federal courts over litigation involving terrorism; separation of powers issues involving the roles of the President, Congress, and the courts in the treatment and punishment of suspected terrorists; compensation claims by victims of terrorism (through statutory compensation funds, litigation against foreign states under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, and tort litigation against individuals and entities); techniques for handling complex litigation involving terrorism; the Alien Tort Statute; and civil litigation by detainees over their treatment. The course is designed to be complementary to Professor Shirin Sinnar's Counterterrorism and the Law. Students are encouraged to take both courses. Grading will be based on class participation, a paper, and an oral presentation of the paper topic to the class. Papers meeting the requirements for Research (R) credit will be eligible for R credit with the consent of the instructor. After the term begins, students accepted into the course can transfer from section (01) into section (02), which meets the R requirement, with consent of the instructor. Special Instructions: If the course is over-subscribed preference will be given to third year students, then to students who have relevant background in federal courts, national security, international law, or other related topics, then to second year students without such background, then to first year students. Selection within those categories will be by lottery. Students wishing to have prior coursework or experience considered in case of oversubscription should submit a short statement describing their background. Consent Application: To apply for this course, students must complete and e-mail the Consent Application Form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students) to the instructors. See Consent Application Form for submission deadline. Elements used in grading: Class participation, written assignments, final paper and oral presentation. This course is open to first-year Law School students. Automatic grading penalty waived for writers. Writing (W) credit is for students entering prior to Autumn 2012.


Instructors for this course (Past and Present)

Janet Cooper Alexander