Former LA prosecutor and Lynn criminal justice professor ponders the future of the death penalty at national conference

In recent weeks Kerker has also referenced O.J. Simpson trial experiences for teaching workshop in Boston

Published Mar. 19, 2009

Sindee Kerker, a former prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office for seven years who was part of the prosecutor’s staff during O.J. Simpson’s trial, teaches criminal justice and law classes at Lynn. And in recent weeks she’s been referencing that trial again, as well as presenting on the future of the death penalty, at a major annual gathering of criminal justice scholars and practitioners in Boston.

Just last week, Kerker was a featured speaker at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences 46th Annual Meeting in Boston where she discussed both how she references her experiences with the O.J. Simpson 1994 murder case in class, but also the future prospects of the death penalty given recent court challenges.

In her March 11 presentation, titled “A Holistic Approach to Teaching Complex Criminal Cases: The O.J. Simpson Case as an Interactive Instructional Method,” Kerker outlined how famous, complex criminal cases can be used as an interactive tool to help create an active learning environment. “Students examine the legal, evidentiary and ethical issues involved in the 1994 O.J. Simpson case by exploring the roles of the prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, law enforcement agents, witnesses, jury and the media,” said Kerker who worked on the case. “Students evaluate trial strategy and analyze the implications of critical decisions and their impact on the criminal justice system.”

Two days later, on March 13, Kerker delivered a talk titled “If The Execution Of A Child Rapist Is Unconstitutional, Will The Death Penalty Survive Future Challenges?” In the presentation, Kerker discussed the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that deemed the execution of a child rapist unconstitutional, and explored the future implications this decision may have on the death penalty.

Both presentations drew from Kerker’s everyday teaching methodology, she says. “In my classes we also examine current issues and the implications they may have in future law,” said Kerker, who has been using the recent case before the U.S. Supreme Court in her classes.

Source: Kerker, who was sworn into the United States Supreme Court in 2006, is an assistant professor or criminal justice in Lynn’s College of Arts and Sciences. Kerker’s teaching specialties are in the area of criminal law and procedure. She uses her legal background to bring a practical approach to the classroom. In this role, she regularly speaks to the media regarding the criminal justice system, college students and the law, alcohol on college campuses and the legal and social consequences of driving under the influence (DUI) and the importance of hands-on, experiential learning.