Robert J. Kutak Professor of Law
255 LAW UNL 68583-0902
(402)472-1204 | Email
Areas of Expertise
- Capital Punishment
- Criminal Law
- Law Review Research
- Mental Health Law
- Ph.D., Philosophy, 1989, University of Arizona
- J.D., summa cum laude, 1988, University of Arizona
- Ph.D., Psychology, 1977, North Carolina State University
- Assistant Professor of Law and Psychology, 1989
- Associate Professor of Law and Psychology, 1993
- Professor of Law and Psychology, 1996
- Robert J. Kutak Professor of Law, 2002
- Professor of Philosophy, 2005
Professor Schopp practiced clinical psychology before turning to the study of law and philosophy in an attempt to understand some perplexing issues that he encountered during ten years of clinical practice. So far, he remains perplexed, but he likes to think that he is perplexed in a deeper and more comprehensive manner. He joined the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1989 after completing the concurrent law/philosophy program at the University of Arizona. His primary areas of interest involve questions that lie at the intersection of law, psychology and philosophy. These issues tend to arise in criminal law, mental health law, jurisprudence and professional ethics.
Law 685/G (1-4 cr) Legal doctrine and policy regarding capital punishment in the United States. Draws heavily but not exclusively on decisions by the US Supreme Court. Includes: various Constitutional challenges and limitations according to Supreme Court decisions; aggravating and mitigating circumstances; jury selection and qualification; discriminatory application; the use of clinical testimony; and the role of counsel. Differs significantly from the Jurisprudence course that addresses capital punishment and directs primary attention to jurisprudential arguments regarding the justification of capital punishment in principle and in practice, with only secondary attention to a few of the central court cases. Court cases and legal doctrine and policy issues arising out of those court cases. Thus, the two courses are complimentary with relatively little overlap, and neither presupposes the other.
Law 508/G (EDAD 970) (3 cr) Substantive criminal law, focusing on the theoretical foundations, general principles, and doctrines that govern the rules of liability and defenses, both in the common law tradition and under the Model Penal Code.
Law 672/G (EDAD 973) (3 cr) What is good and what is bad about law; the judicial process; principal schools of jurists; theories of the nature of law and the legal order; the American social system and the law; obligations to obey or to disobey the law; and ideas of justice.
Mental Health Law
Law 763/G (PSYC 988) (1-4 cr) Critical review of the mental health laws throughout the nation and their psychological foundations. Emphasis on the research that illuminates the problems facing mental health law, system, and processes and the available solutions. Includes the insanity defense, competency to stand trial, guardianship, conservatorship, and civil commitment.
Mental Health Law Seminar
Law 772/G (1-4 cr) Students who have previously taken LAW 763G may not take this course. Critical review of the mental health laws throughout the nation and their psychological foundations. Emphasis on the research that illuminates the problems facing mental health law, system, and processes and the available solutions. Includes the insanity defense, competency to stand trial, guardianship/conservatorship, and civil commitment.
- Mental Health Courts: Competence Responsibility, and Prportionality, Special Problem Solving Courts: Social Science and Legal Perspectives (forthcoming 2012).
- Pursuing Non-Adversarial Justice within an Adversarial Structure, 37 Monash Univ. L. Rev. 102 (2011).
- It Counts, But Only When It Does Not Matter?: Evolving Standards of Decency and the Law of Other Countries, International Criminal Justice: Critical Perspectives and New Challenges 1 (Robert F. Schopp, George Andreopoulos, Rosemary Barberet, & James P. Levine, eds., 2011).
- "So Sick He Deserves it: Desert, Danerousness, and Character in the Context of Capital Sentencing, Action, Ethics, and Responsibility 259 (Robert F. Schopp, Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke, & Harry S. Silverstein, eds., 2010).
- The Mental Health Challenge: Treating Patients and Protecting Society, DeVos Medical Ethics Colloquy (Paul S. Appelbaum & Roberts F. Schopp, 2009).
- Treating Criminal Offenders in Crrectional Contexts: Identifying Interests and Distributing Responsibilities, 27 Behav.Sci.&L. 833 (2009).
- Depression and the Criminal Law: Intergrating Doctrinal, Empirical, and Justificatory Analysis, Mental Disorder and Criminal Law 12 (Robert F. Schopp, Richards L. Weiner, Brian H. Borstein, and Steven L. Willborn, eds., 2009).
- Psychological Expertise and Amicus Briefs in the Context of Competence to Face Execution, Mental Disorder and Criminal Law 12 (Robert F. Schopp, Richard L. Weiner, Brian H. Bornstein and Steven L. Willborn, eds., 2009).
- Determinations of Dangerousness: Roles and Responsibilities, 27 Amer.Psychol.Soc.News 6. & (2007).
- Two-edged Swords, Dangerousness, and Expert Testimony in Capital Sentencing, 30 L. & Psych. Rev. 57 (2006).
- Involuntary Treatment and Competence to Proceed int eh Criminal Process: Capital and Noncapital Cases, Behav. Sci. & L. 495 (2006).
- Competence, Condemnation, and Commitment, Washington D.C., Amer. Psychological Assoc. Press (2001)
- Justification Defenses and Just Convictions, Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press (1998)
- Automatism, Insanity, and the Psychology of Criminal Responsibility, Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press (1991)
- Mental Disorder and Criminal Law (Robert F. Schopp, Richard L. Weiner, Brian H. Borstein, and Steven L. Willborn, eds.) (New York: Springer Science and Business Media, 2009)
- Civil Juries and Civil Justice (Brian H. Borstein, Richard L. Weiner, Robert F. Schopp, and Steven L. Willborn, eds.) (New York: Springer Science and Business Media, 2008)
- Social Consciousness in Legal Decision Making (Brian H. Borstein, Richard L. Weiner, Robert F. Schopp, and Steven L. Willborn, eds.) (New York: Springer Science and Business Media, 2007)
- "Mental Health Courts: Competence, Responsibility, and Proportionality." Presentation to the Section on Law and Mental Disability at the Annual Conference of the AALS, Washingon, D.C., January 6, 2012.
- "Justifying Intrusive Interventions: Police Power or Parens Patriae." Presentation to the Symposium on Ethics, Mental Illness, and Mechanical Restraints by The Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, April 22, 2011.
- "Pursuing Non-Adversarial Justice within an Adversarial Structure." Presentation to The Australian Institute of Judicial Administration Non-Adversarial Justice Conference, Melbourne, Australia, May 5, 2010.
- "Decision Making Capacity in Vulnerable Populations: Why Should We Care?" Presentation to American Psychology- Law Society, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, March 18, 2010.
- "Applying Psychological Expertise to Legal Doctrine in Amicus Briefs." Presentation to American Psychology- Law Society, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, March 20, 2010.
- "It Counts, But Only When It Does Not Matter?: Evolving Standards of Decency and the Law of Other Countries." Presentation to a faculty colloquium at the University of Wyoming College of Law, Laramie, Wyoming, December 9, 2009.
- "Is It Important That Punishment "Fits" the Crime?" Presentation as part of the Criminal Sentencing Panel, Wyoming Law Week, University of Wyoming College of Law, Laramie, Wyoming, September 22, 2009.
- "Protecting Well- Being without Sacrificing Other Important Values." Presentation and Session Moderator at the Congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, New York, New York, June 29, 2009.
- "The Natural World: Why Should One Person Care?" Presentation to the Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference, Moscow, Idaho, May 2, 2009.
- "Risk and Dangerousness in Clinical and Legal Contexts." Presentation to the DeVos Medical Ethics Colloquy on The Mental Health Challenge: Treating Patients & Protecting Society, Grand Rapids, Michigan, March 16, 2009.
Professional Memberships and Activities
- Editorial Board:
- Behavioral Sciences & The Law (since 1991)
- Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (since 1998)
- Law & Human Behavior (2003 - 2006)
- Manuscript Reviews:
- American Psychologist
- Behavioral Sciences & the Law
- Cambridge University Press
- Cornell University Press
- Law & Human Behavior
- Journal of Applied Social Psychology
- Law & Policy
- Legal Theory
- Psychology, Public Policy and Law
- Secretary-Treasurer, American Association of Law Schools, Section on Law and Mental Disability (1998)
- Program Chair and Chair-Elect, American Association of Law Schools, Section on Law and Mental Disability (1999)
- Chair, American Assocation of Law Schools, Section on Law and Mental Disability (2000)
- Member, American Psychology - Law Society (1993 - Present)
- Member, American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy (1993 - Present)
- Member, Nebraska State Bar (1990 - Present)
- Alumni Council Distinguished Faculty Award (2005)