Reducing the Risks and Realizing the Rewards: An Approach to Teaching Rape Law


The approach I have used to teach rape law is a combination of ideas pirated from others and ideas of my own. An important preliminary issue is the question when during the semester to treat rape law. I address this in Part I. In Parts U, III, IV, and V, I describe the three basic components of my approach. The first of these is to anticipate early in the course problems likely to arise in teaching rape law and proactively to use the material in the course which precedes the topic of rape to mitigate those problems. My second component is a role play, similar to but less formal than Professor Bloch's. I ask my students to address the problem of jury nullification in rape cases from the perspectives of judges and legislators and I ask them to formulate responses which include not only modifications to the substantive law of rape, but also possible evidentiary and procedural solutions. The third component is a special reading assignment, two chapters from Susan Estrich's book, Real Rape.6 I ask my students to evaluate Professor Estrich's rape reform proposals in the context of the major themes and issues they have encountered earlier in the course.

This method reduces the risks of explosion, silencing, alienation, and gender polarization. It also improves the chances of fully realizing rape law's potential to illuminate fundamental themes of criminal law.



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San Diego Law Review

Publication Information

34 San Diego Law Review 519 (1997)

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COinS Kevin C. McMunigal Faculty Bio