Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

MSCJ 510: Legal & Ethical Issues in CJ

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  Course Description

Examination of topics in the areas of law, legal controls, and ethical issues in the criminal justice field. Areas such as corruption, misconduct, and related issues are discussed.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: None



  • Souryal, S. S. (2015). Ethics in Criminal Justice: In Search of the Truth (6th ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publishing Co.
    • [ISBN-978-0-323-28091-4]
  • Katsh, M. E. (2016). Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Legal Issues (17th ed.). Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company – Contemporary Learning Series.
    • [ISBN-978-1-259-42700-8]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

This course focuses on the philosophy of ethics and the application of those concepts to issues faced by criminal justice professionals. We will review the teachings of the great philosophers of history and apply those concepts to numerous case studies throughout the course. The purpose of this course is to provide you with a framework for analyzing and understanding a wide variety of important legal and ethical issues encountered in the criminal justice system. We will explore legal issues relating to law enforcement, the courts and corrections from a moral/ethical/philosophical viewpoint. The course is designed to allow for debate, discussion, and interaction. In addition, we will explore current research and commentary on these issues.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the common legal and ethical issues encountered by professionals in the criminal justice system.
  2. Articulate the moral foundations of criminal guilt.
  3. Explain the framework for analyzing important legal and ethical issues.
  4. Describe the differences between legal and ethical issues.
  5. Articulate the important ethical and legal values and theories related to the criminal justice system.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 1080-1200 90-100%
B 960-1079 80-89%
C 840-959 70-79%
F 0-839 0-69%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions 400 33%
Journals 200 17%
Papers 500 42%
Quizzes 100 8%
Total 1200 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Discussions 1 - 3 50 Sunday
Quiz 1 10

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Journal 1 50 Saturday
Discussions 4 - 6 50 Sunday
Quiz 2 20

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Paper 1: Lt. Lotem 100 Friday
Discussions 7 - 9 50 Sunday
Quiz 3 15

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Journal 2 50 Saturday
Discussions 10 - 12 50 Sunday
Quiz 4 17

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Journal 3 50 Saturday
Discussions 13 - 15 50 Sunday
Quiz 5 20

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussions 16 - 18 50 Sunday
Quiz 6 18

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Paper 2: Ethical/Moral Dilemmas 100 Friday
Journal 4 50 Saturday
Discussions 19 - 21 50 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Paper 3: "ethics" 300 Thursday
Discussions 22 - 24 50 Saturday
Total Points: 1200

  Assignment Overview


There will be three discussion topics each week. Support your statements with research. Read and respond to at least two of your classmates in each discussion forum. Additional information for the discussion topics will be found in the course Content area and must be reviewed. You will find a detailed grading rubric below. More detail will be provided in the online rubric section of the course.


In the class journal, you will discuss your insights from the readings, class discussions, and other class activities.  Each journal should be 1-3 pages in length. Page length is judged as if single spaced but you may choose whether to submit as single or double spaced. The guidance of the number of pages is just that, and you may exceed this guidance if necessary. You will find a more detailed description of these assignments in the Content area of the course. More detail will be provided in the online rubric section of the course.


You will write three papers in this course. You will find more information about the topics and the length for each in the weekly schedule below and in the Content area of the course. Follow either MLA or APA style in citing your outside sources. Format, organization, grammar, and spelling are important. Page length is judged as if single spaced but you may choose whether to submit as single or double-spaced. The guidance of the number of pages is just that, and you may exceed this guidance if necessary. You will find a more detailed description of these assignments in the Content area of the course. More detail will be provided in the online rubric section of the course.

Note: Work done in a previous course, in whole or in part, will not be accepted.


Quizzes will be open book and open note and will be given each of the first six weeks through the course site. You may take the quiz any time between Monday and Sunday each week. The quizzes will include short answer, multiple-choice, true-false, fill in the blank, and short answer/essay questions. There are no makeup quizzes.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.


Souryal, Ch. 10

Discussions 1 - 3

(Note: Each week, additional information for the discussion topics will be found in the course Content area.)

1. Introductions.

2. Describe a work related ethical dilemma you have been involved in (or were aware of) that has since been resolved. Alternatively, provide a link to an article that discusses a work-related ethical dilemma you find compelling. Consider the term "ethical dilemma" as described on page 1 of the article "Ethics training using officers' dilemmas" found in the The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Nov. 1996 by Joycelyn M. Pollock and Ronald F. Becker. Provide the definition of ethical dilemma you are using and explain how your ethical dilemma fits within the definition. Review the posts of your classmates and comment on what you might have done differently or actions you found to be exemplary from an ethical perspective." (Feedback and points for Week 1 will be awarded for Discussion 2).

3. After reading the course syllabus, post any course questions which remain or indicate that you understand the course requirements.

Quiz 1

Covers course expectations and Souryal, Ch. 10.


Souryal, Ch. 1 and 4

Journal 1

Chapters 1, 4, and/or 10. Due Saturday by midnight.

Discussions 4 - 6

(Note: Each week, additional information for the discussion topics will be found in the course Content area.)

4. Review “Socratic Reasoning” on page 7 of Souryal. Use the Socratic Method to discuss the issue of gun control laws.

5. Read the facts in the thermal imaging case of Kyllo v. United States (link provided in the Content area of the course). Consider the specific activity of Agent Elliot. Reflect on the individual right to privacy and freedom from governmental intrusion as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. Then consider the competing societal desire (demand?) for citizen safety and security that is provided by effective law enforcement and crime prevention. Finally, choose one (or more) of the "Masters" discussed in chapters 1 and 4 of Souryal. Using the Internet, search for information concerning the philosopher(s) of your choice. How might that philosopher have analyzed Agent Elliot's actions from an ethical and moral perspective? Explain your understanding of that philosopher's view and why you believe he might have decided the case as you described. Provide a link to your source.

6. The term summum bonum is used frequently in Chapter 4 of Souryal. Explain the term. List the summum bonum of two or three schools of thought discussed in the chapter. Share why you selected the particular schools of thought.

Quiz 2

Covers Souryal, Ch. 1 and 4.


Souryal, Ch. 2 - 3

Paper 1: Lt. Lotem

Use the Internet to locate additional information on Lieutenant Lotem’s case. Souryal discusses several philosophers he describes as “The Masters.” Consider the views of Immanuel Kant and Jeremy Bentham as discussed in the video clips linked in the course Content area. Search the Internet for additional information about Kant and Bentham. Discuss how each of the philosophers might have evaluated Lieutenant Lotem’s case. Clearly articulate Lotem’s ethical/moral dilemma. Be sure to fully document your sources. As with any writing assignment, format (including an introduction and conclusion), grammar and spelling are important. Due by midnight on Friday 2-3 pages (IF single spaced)

Discussions 7 - 9

(Note: Each week, additional information for the discussion topics will be found in the course Content area.)

7. Review the questions on pp. 51-52 of Souryal concerning "Moral Judgment in Criminal Justice." The author posits the following: "These are real situations…. They happen everyday, but because of ignorance, convenience, self-interest, or corruption, they go unexamined – if recognized at all. Most practitioners prefer not to discuss these questions, nor do they want them discussed by outsiders. Furthermore … most practitioners would prefer not to be bothered by the moral implications of such practices…." Respond to any two of the questions – and then provide your perspective on Souryal's view of "most practitioners."

8. Respond to the “Imperative of Ethical Discretion,” pp. 102-105 of Souryal.

9. Locate and comment on information concerning the Edwin Meese case as discussed on p. 101 of Souryal. If you are you aware of another similar case, you may discuss that case instead. The central issue is a public official involved in something that is "not illegal" but perhaps unethical or immoral. In your discussion, consider the impact of such a case on the public perception of justice and whether you believe public officials should be held to different standards than the ordinary citizen.

Quiz 3

Covers Souryal, Ch. 2 - 3.


Souryal, Ch. 5 - 6; Katsh, Unit 1

Journal 2

Chapters 2, 3, 5 and/or 6. Due Saturday by midnight.

Discussions 10 - 12

(Note: Each week, additional information for the discussion topics will be found in the course Content area.)

10. Comment on the term "Ambivalent Reality" while considering the case of Coleen Rowley. A brief discussion of whistle blower Coleen Rowley is contained at pp 212-216 of the text. Read the entire Coleen Rowley memo. How might the Masters have viewed her actions? Pick one of the Masters and compare or contrast that person's view to your own. Choose a Master you have not already discussed. (A link to the memo will be provided in the course).

11. After reading Issue 1, pp. 15-25 in Katsh ("Should Persons Who Are Declared to Be 'Enemy Combatants' Be Able to Contest Their Detention Before a Judge?"), do some research online about the writ of habeas corpus. What is the writ of habeas corpus? How is it important in Hamdi's case? What competing moral, ethical or philosophical interests are at stake in this case? You may also consider Boumediene v. Bush regarding foreign nationals. (A link will be provided in the course).

12. Assignment 3 involves the “enemy combatants” who are currently – at least for the time being - detained in GITMO. My central question here is, “What process is or should be due to the persons who continue to be held in GITMO? Should practical considerations, such as the realities of war, matter? What are some of those realities? Additional questions are included in the course for this discussion.

Quiz 4

Covers Souryal, Ch. 5 - 6.


Souryal, Ch. 7, Ch. 8 and Ch. 11 (pp. 351-365)

Journal 3

Chapters 7, 8, and/or 11. Due Saturday by midnight.

Discussions 13 - 15

(Note: Each week, additional information for the discussion topics will be found in the course Content area.)

13. Consider the term "racial profiling." Review the ACLU's site on racial profiling and Heather MacDonald's article, "The Myth of Racial Profiling," published in 2001 in the City Journal and the legislative proposal S.989 -- End Racial Profiling Act of 2001 that was for the prohibition of racial profiling in 2001. Also consider the recent federal guidelines on racial profiling announced in December 2014 by the Department of Justice. http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/ag/pages/attachments/2014/12/08/use-of-race-policy.pdf.  From a law enforcement perspective, is there any situation in which race, gender or ethnicity can play a permissible role in the investigatory process?  As a country, do you feel we have evolved on the issue of racial profiling? Also consider this question in the context of the moral and ethical thinking of the Masters. Choose a Master you have not already discussed.

14. Consider the statistics provided on p. 277 - 279 of Souryal. Then consider and comment on the Rampart scandal and paragraphs 54 - 110 of the consent decree (found in the course content). (Note: You need not read the consent decree with the same attention to detail as you might when reading a textbook.)

15. On pp. 360 - 365 of the text, Souryal questions the ability of a police department to operate in a democratic fashion. What does this mean to you?

Quiz 5

Covers Souryal, Ch. 7 - 8.


Souryal Ch. 11 (pp. 365-380), Ch. 12; Katsh, Unit 4

Discussions 16 - 18

(Note: Each week, additional information for the discussion topics will be found in the course Content area.)

16. Review the dissent by Justice O’Connor in Garner v. Tennessee. She stated in part: “The Court today holds that the Fourth Amendment prohibits a police officer from using deadly force as a last resort to apprehend a criminal suspect who refuses to halt when fleeing the scene of a nighttime burglary.” How would the Masters evaluate the use of deadly force to stop a fleeing felon? Choose any of the Masters discussed in Chapters 1 and 4 of Souryal. Choose a Master you have not already discussed. (A link to the opinion will be provided in the course)

17. Souryal discusses the four generally recognized justifications for prisons on pp. 390-393. From your perspective, are any of his comments flawed, illogical or simply controversial? Explain why.

Sheriff Arpiao served as the elected Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona from 1993 to January 2017.  Watch the video concerning Sheriff Arpiao in the course content. You may also do some research on your own. Focus on the treatment (punishment) of prisoners. (Optional: You may search for and discuss different articles that describe humiliation as a part of the punitive process.)

Discuss the moral/ethical/philosophical factors implicated in the above. Do Sheriff Arpiao's methods fit within any of the four areas described by Souryal? (Note: There are numerous websites critical of Sheriff Arpiao's methods. Our discussion here should focus primarily on the issue of humiliation as part of the punitive process.)

Pick a Master who might support or oppose Sheriff Arpiao's ideas. Explain why you believe that to be the case. Choose a Master you have not already discussed.

18. Read Unit 4.3 Katsh, “Does the Fourth Amendment Prohibit the Police from Collecting A DNA Sample for a Person Arrested, but Not Yet Convicted on Felony Charges?” Consider the majority and dissenting opinion portions in Maryland v. King. Consider and discuss the difference between the ethical issues involved in this issue as opposed to the legal issues. Where are the differences and where are the similarities between legal and ethical issues?

Quiz 6

Covers Souryal Ch. 11 (quiz includes all assigned pages for Weeks 5 and 6) and 12

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

Souryal, Ch. 13

Paper 2: Ethical/Moral Dilemmas

You have a choice of topics to discuss in Paper 2. You will choose your topic guided by whether you are currently working in or plan to work in

  • Law enforcement (discuss Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevad, et. al)

  • Law and terrorism (discuss Katch, Unit 1.2, pg. 26 – 43)

  • Corrections (discuss Katsh, Unit 3.4, pg. 156-167), or

  • Probation and Parole (discuss the case of Johnnie Portis as if you were on the parole board that was ordered by the court to reevaluate his case. (You will find more directions for the paper in the course Content area.)

Discuss the ethical/moral dilemmas in the topic of your choice. Clearly articulate the ethical/moral dilemma. Choose a position. Then analyze the case from the viewpoint of two of “The Masters” who would support your analysis. Do not use the same “Masters” discussed in Paper 1. Discuss how the philosophers you have chosen might have evaluated these issues. Provide proper documentation of your sources. As with any writing assignment, format (including an introduction and conclusion), grammar and spelling are important. Due by midnight on Friday, 3-5 pages

Journal 4

Chapters 11, 12, and/or 13. Due Saturday by midnight.

Discussions 19 - 21

(Note: Each week, additional information for the discussion topics will be found in the course Content area.)

19. In Lockyer v. Andrade, the Supreme Court ruled that a “third strike” sentence of life in prison for stealing $150 worth of videotapes does not violate the cruel and unusual punishment provision of the U.S. Constitution. How does this decision comport with your own personal view of “justice”? From an ethical/philosophical point of view, which of the “Masters” would likely argue in support of your position? Explain why. (A link to the case will be provided in the course).

20. On p. 393 (Chapter 12), Souryal provides information on the costs to states for building correctional facilities as well as statistics regarding the populations of African Americans and Hispanics in correctional facilities. Search the Internet to locate statistics regarding prison populations and/or crime rates in your own state. Do these statistics tend to support or refute Souryal's position?

21. Comment on “Community Based Corrections” described by Souryal. Provide statistical examples found online or anecdotal evidence from your own experience that supports or debates the use of programs such as Georgia’s intensive probation model (see p. 438 - 442, Souryal) and/or the use of electronic monitoring (p. 444 - 446, Souryal) as alternative sanctions for criminal conduct.


Souryal, Ch. 14, Katsh – Unit of your choice

Paper 3: "ethics"

During week four we discussed the “ethics” of denying persons designated as enemy combatants the right to contest their confinement, that is, the right to seek a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court. In Hamdi, et. al. v. Rumsfeld, the right of certain enemy combatants to contest their confinement was upheld.  In Boumediene et al. v. Bush, President of the United States, et al., the Supreme Court extended that right to all prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (You need not read the entire Boumediene case, but I have included links in the course Content should you be interested in reading the synopsis at the beginning of the case, and Part I of the dissent of Justice Scalia.)

Your paper should clearly articulate the legal/moral/ethical dilemmas presented by these cases, explain the factual distinctions between the Hamdi case and the Boumediene case, and provide a brief background concerning the history of GITMO since the events of September 11, 2001. This should include current events since President Obama pledged to close the facility during his first campaign for President.

You should then provide a cogent rationale for limiting the rights of persons classified as enemy combatants and a cogent rationale for providing due process hearings to each of the prisoners currently being held in GITMO. This is independent of your discussion of the Masters.

Finally, choose six philosophers - three to support limiting rights and three to support granting a hearing. Research and explain the summum bonum of each philosopher you have chosen and explain why you believe each would take the position of favoring a due process hearing or not. 

Your paper should be 8 -10 if single-spaced pages, contain a thesis statement, fully documented citations, and your conclusion on the ethics of confining enemy combatants under these conditions. (Note: You may use any Master discussed by Souryal, but you may only use Souryal as a source for two of the six philosophers you choose.) Due by midnight on Thursday. Page length is judged as if single spaced but you may choose whether to submit as single or double spaced. The guidance of the number of pages is just that, and you may exceed this guidance if necessary. 8-10 pages (if single spaced).

Discussions 22 - 24

(Note: Each week, additional information for the discussion topics will be found in the course Content area.)

22. What has been the most beneficial thing you have learned from this class? What advice would you give to a future student in this class?

23. Choose a unit of your choice not otherwise discussed in this course in Katsh. Provide a general summary of the issue. What are your thoughts on the issue? Do you agree or disagree with the Court and why?

24. Provide a link to a "current event" topic involving ethics in criminal justice. Explain how this course has affected your view of the topic.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

Discussions: No late discussion posts will be accepted.

Journals and Papers: I will always accept late written work. I don’t require any explanation or excuse.  However, after the third late submission, you may receive a substantial penalty and generally there will be little feedback from me. You should notify me by e-mail whenever late work is submitted. 

Quizzes may not be made up.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.