Mercer Law School


The degree requires completion of a comprehensive two semester, 24 credit hour program comprised of eight courses specifically created for the LL.M. program and designed to provide students a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for all aspects of federal criminal practice, including substantive federal law, grand jury investigations, pre-trial practice, trial advocacy, sentencing, and appellate practice.



Survey of Substantive Federal Criminal Law (LLM 708) (4 hours)

This course surveys the major statutory vehicles of federal prosecution, along with defenses to crimes under federal law. The course integrates the study of substantive federal criminal law with an examination of the principles of drafting criminal charges and jury instructions. The course will address various statutes often classified as "White Collar Crimes," including the mail/wire fraud statutes, money laundering laws, the RICO statute, securities fraud laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and statutes utilized in public corruption prosecutions. The course also will cover other major bases of federal prosecution, including the federal narcotics, terrorism, immigration, tax, and firearms laws, as well as the crimes of obstruction of justice, perjury, and false statement. This course includes materials on the scope of federal criminal jurisdiction, trends in federal prosecution priorities, corporate and individual liability, conspiracy liability, and related topics.

Ethical Issues in Federal Criminal Cases (LLM 709) (2 hours)

Consistent with the need for emphasis on ethics and professionalism, the LL.M. in Federal Criminal Practice and Procedure not only highlights ethical issues throughout the curriculum, but this course focuses exclusively on those issues. The range of ethical and professionalism issues in federal criminal practice is extensive, including the prosecutor's Brady obligations, the limits of appropriate witness preparation, the line between proper and improper closing argument, the handling of possible conflicts of interest by defense counsel, and appropriate bases for a prosecutor's charging decisions.

Federal Criminal Pre-Trial Practice (LLM 710) (3 hours)

This course canvasses the rules, statutes, and constitutional provisions that govern the litigation of federal criminal cases in the pre-trial stage of litigation, from preliminary proceedings and bail, through discovery and motion practice. Besides the law, this course will focus on preparation, investigation, and strategy for each part of the process. Topics include preliminary proceedings, procedures for removal to another district, practice under the Bail Reform Act, practice under the federal discovery rules and statutes, the prosecutor's duty to disclose evidence favorable to the accused, and pre-trial motion practice, including strategies for litigating pre-trial motions and a survey of possible motions (such as motions to suppress evidence, motions to dismiss, motions for severance, and motions under the Speedy Trial Act). Aspects of the right to counsel, such as choice of counsel and conflicts of interest will be addressed. The process of negotiating and entering guilty pleas will receive significant attention, including the requirements for entry of a valid guilty plea and special considerations for non-citizen defendants. Simulations exercises and writing assignments will be employed.

Advanced Federal Criminal Trial Advocacy (LLM 711) (3 hours)

This course combines in-depth study of advanced issues in federal evidence law and trial practice with simulation exercises concerning advanced problems in federal criminal trial advocacy. Topics will include development of trial strategy, jury selection, expert testimony, recent developments concerning the Confrontation Clause and hearsay, and direct and cross-examination of cooperating witnesses and law enforcement agents.



Federal Criminal Post-Conviction Practice and Procedure (LLM 712) (3 hours)

This course focuses on practice and procedure in federal trial and appellate courts after a guilty verdict. Post-conviction motion practice will be covered. Substantial attention will be devoted to federal sentencing practice and procedure, including a detailed examination of practice under the now-advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines. This course also will cover basic federal criminal appellate practice, including practice under the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and the basic principles of federal appeals, such as the final order doctrine, preservation of issues for appeal, plain error, harmless error, and standards of review. The Supreme Court's procedures for certiorari review and the statutory framework for collateral attacks also will be covered. Students will participate in a simulation exercise based on an actual federal criminal appeal, writing a brief and presenting oral argument.

Advanced Law of Federal Criminal Investigations (LLM 713) (2 hours)

This course complements the students prior study of the basic constitutional principles governing criminal investigations, including the law of search and seizure, and the law of interrogations. The course will explore an array of cutting edge topics concerning federal criminal investigations, including computer searches, undercover operations, identification procedures, and the federal statutory provisions that control substantial areas of search and seizure activities, such as the federal electronic surveillance statutes. This course also addresses aspects of grand jury investigations, such as grand jury procedure under the federal rules, abuses of the grand jury process, challenges to grand jury subpoenas, grants of immunity, issues arising in corporate investigations (such as the scope of attorney-client privilege), and problems confronting lawyers in cases involving potential federal and state prosecution as well as parallel criminal/civil investigations.

Federal Criminal Case Studies (LLM 714) (2 hours)

In this course, students will study in-depth one or more complex federal criminal cases. Using court documents and transcripts, students will analyze all aspects of the trial, including substantive and procedural legal issues, evidentiary issues, strategis decisions and trial techniques of the lawyers, and ethical issues.

Federal Criminal Field Placement (LLM 715) (5 hours)

In the spring semester, each student will earn 5 hours in a field placement with a Federal Defender Office, U.S. Attorney's Office, or other criminal practice office. The requirements for the field placement includes a classroom component under the direction of a faculty member. (There will be two sections of the classroom component -- one for students in defense offices and one for students in prosecution offices.)

Three members of the 12-member Georgia Court of Appeals are Mercer Law alumni.