When Bad Things are Done by Good People


Course Code:
LAW 681J
Law Mandatory P/R/F


Some people live their lives in a manner that would lead few to declare them good people. From Tony Soprano to Saddam Hussein to Bernie Madoff, we are all familiar with individuals who have made crime and violence a constant in their lives. There are far more people, though, who try generally to live good lives, but find themselves having acted or having failed to act in ways that are widely condemned as evil. Over the course of our five meetings, we will be looking (through some books, reports and films) at case studies of such circumstances, ranging from clergy and others in authority who covered up evidence of sexual abuse, prosecutors who ignored evidence of wrongful convictions, lawyers who turned blind eyes to client misconduct, and soldiers who committed acts they would have once found unimaginable. We will also look at a contrasting case study of individuals who resisted great pressure and kept their moral compasses well-calibrated. Throughout our inquiry, we will reflect in particular on the power of institutions and authority in affecting ethical mores. Begin in Winter Quarter and run through Spring Quarter. Class meeting dates: To be determined by instructor. DISCUSSIONS IN ETHICAL & PROFESSIONAL VALUES COURSES RANKING FORM: To apply for this course, 2L, 3L and Advanced Degree students must complete and submit a Ranking Form available on the SLS Registrar's Office website (see Registration and Selection of Classes for Stanford Law Students and then see Consent of Instructor Forms). See Ranking Form for instructions and submission deadline. Elements used in grading: Class attendance at all sessions and class participation.

Past Offerings

2014-2015 Spring

When Bad Things are Done by Good People LAW 681J Section 01 Class #30593

  • Enrollment Limitations: Consent 8
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