Mark Totten has served many roles as a practicing lawyer, including as a federal prosecutor, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, and more recently as an advocate for victims of human trafficking.
Prior to joining the MSU College of Law in 2008, Mark was an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Appellate Staff, where he handled numerous cases on a variety of statutory and constitutional issues. He then clerked for Judge Thomas Griffith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where he worked on several national security matters. Alongside his work at MSU College of Law, Mark served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office (Western District of Michigan). He briefed and argued several cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit involving predatory lending, child exploitation, domestic violence, and drug and gun crimes. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in Ethics from Yale University.
Mark primarily teaches criminal law-related courses, including Criminal Law (for first year students); Criminal Procedure: Investigation; and Criminal Procedure: Adjudication. In addition, he has taught Constitutional Law I, State Constitutional Law, National Security Law, and Lawyers & Ethics. His recent scholarship has focused on public enforcement. For example, The Enforcers & the Great Recession (2015) examines the critical and often unrecognized role that several state attorneys general played before, during, and after the financial crisis to protect consumers.
For a longer profile, see “Keeping the Faith: Mark Totten,” Detroit Legal News, Dec. 12, 2012.
J.D. 2006, Yale Law School; Ph.D. (Ethics) 2006, Yale University; B.A. 1996, Cedarville College
- Constitutional Law I
(Formerly DCL 171) An introduction to American constitutional law. This course surveys the distribution of national powers among the Congress, the president and the federal judiciary. After examining the fundamentals of judicial review and its limitations, the course considers the delegated powers of Congress and the tensions between Congress and the president in the exercise of national powers. The course concludes with an overview of governmental immunities. Some sections of Regulatory State and constitutional Law I are taught as a combined class.
- Criminal Law
(Formerly DCL 131) An examination of the criminal justice system, including emphasis on the role of defense counsel and prosecutor; the adversary system; ethical considerations; sources and aims of the criminal law and construction of criminal statutes; specific crimes against person, property and the state; inchoate crimes; defenses negating culpability; and the principles of responsibility and justification.
- Criminal Procedure: Adjudication
(Formerly Criminal Procedure II) This course examines various issues associated with criminal adjudications with a focus on federal constitutional rights. The course covers issues such as the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, bail and pretrial detention, discovery, the plea bargaining process, speedy trial rights, federal sentencing guidelines, and post-conviction review. Students can take Criminal Procedure: Adjudication and Criminal Procedure: Investigation in any order or at the same time. Students who have taken Criminal Procedure II are ineligible to enroll in this course.
- Criminal Procedure: Investigation
(Formerly Criminal Procedure I)This course provides students with an introduction to federal constitutional limits on police investigation under the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments. This includes the governance of search and interrogation, and the right to counsel. Students can take Criminal Procedure: Investigation and Criminal Procedure: Adjudication in any order or at the same time. Students who have taken Criminal Procedure I are ineligible to enroll in this course.
- Lawyers & Ethics
The course is taught in the first-year and supplements the required upper-level required Professional Responsibility course. The course exposes first-year students to the ethical philosophy necessary for making decisions in life, law school, and law practice.
- National Security Law
This course offers a broad overview of national security law. The first few weeks focus on the constitutional framework, especially the separation of national security powers. A brief discussion on the use of force follows, including issues of authorization and preemption. The remainder of the course will focus on terrorism. Several sessions will examine the statutory and constitutional basis for detecting and preventing terrorism at home, and the challenges that have followed. The class will then consider the detention, interrogation, and trying of terrorist suspects. And the semester concludes with attention to legal issues that arise in planning for and responding to a terrorist attack.
- State Constitutional Law
All lawyers take an oath to uphold the United States Constitution and the constitution of their state. While law students take one or more courses to study the former, rarely do they graduate with any exposure to state constitutional law. This fact is odd given our dual system of government with two sets of sovereigns. But it also leaves law students less prepared to represent their clients, especially since protections afforded under state constitutions are often more generous than their federal counterparts. This class will provide an overview of state constitutional law, across the fifty states and with attention to shared features. Specific issues will include: the interrelation of the state and federal constitutions; provisions protecting individual rights; school funding litigation; and the organization of state governments.
State of Michigan, United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan