Judicial Process and Policymaking (WORD doc)
POLI 311 Judicial Process and Policymaking Fall 2007
Donna K. Axel, Esq.
Tel (201) 200-3574
Office hours: Thursdays: 3pm-4:30pm, R-517
Thursdays: 9:45pm-10:15pm, outside classroom
Mondays-Fridays: by appointment
Individual and Small Group Meetings: All are welcome:
Tuesdays in October, November, December: 2nd Tuesday of the month: 5pm-7:30pm
Room: __________ (Oct. 9, Nov. 13, and Dec. 11)
Mondays in October & November: 1st Mondays of the month: 1pm-2:30pm
Room: __________ (Oct. 1 and Nov. 5) NOTE: December is TBA
This course analyzes the structure and functions of the American judicial system with an emphasis on the way courts work, the ways judges decide cases, and the political effects of judicial decision-making. Prerequisite: POLI 102 U.S. Politics or permission of Chair.
Please be advised that this course fulfills an elective requirement for the Pre-Law Minor. Although non-Pre-Law Minors are certainly welcome in this class, please note that this course aims to prepare students for law school. As such, it is reading and writing intensive with a focus on learning traditional legal reasoning and analysis, as well as a feminist critique of the traditional categories and reasoning historically employed by lawyers.
1. To understand the role of judges: as individuals and as part of a branch of government
2. To understand the role of judges, lawyers, plaintiffs and respondents in civil causes of action;
3. To understand the role of judges, lawyers, victims, the State, and respondents in criminal cases;
4. To analyze the differences between the various families of law, including Common Law, Civil Law, Customary Law, Islamic Law, African Customary Law;
5. To analyze concepts of fairness and equality and the ways these concepts often contradict each other within the context of the judiciary system; 6. To apply the basics of legal reasoning to hypothetical cases;
7. To apply legal reasoning and writing skills used in direct and cross-examinations with a view toward understanding: a. essential logical reasoning skills; b. fairness in the legal system; c. bias in the legal system; d. the pros and cons of working in a legal study group crucial to success as a law student and as an attorney;
8. To learn to read and write more effectively by employing legal reasoning.
Required Material: 1 textbook + online information
Courts and Judicial Process , 4th Edition, 2008.
ALSO: You are responsible for printing the online material and bringing it to class.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS (See attached for a specific list)
A. Class Participation = 20% Quality, NOT Quantity/Not How often.
It is crucial that you participate in class discussion in order to maintain an exciting atmosphere. You are required to contribute to the development of ideas in a positive manner. This means that you must prepare for each class by doing the readings. If you have not done the reading, please do not detract from class discussions. Students who participate in negative ways will be marked down. Please speak to me if you have any phobias or anxieties about speaking in class so that we may make alternative arrangements.
B. Written Assignments & Rewrites = 20% Rewriting is an important skill.
Almost every week there will be a 1-2 page writing assignment (11-12 point font/Times New Roman) Students are required to rewrite most assignments (quizzes, projects, etc.) Failure to hand in the assignment will result in a grade of zero. Assignments will not be accepted unless you are in class on the day the assignment is due unless proper documentation (i.e., a doctor’s note) is provided. Writing assignments are designed for you to incorporate the readings, films, class trips, and/or discussions into these assignments.
C. Midterm: 10% Consider how you learn.
D. Quizzes = 10% This tells me how well I am doing, too.
There will be 5 short pre-test and/or post-test quizzes based upon the readings and/or the previous week’s discussion. Late or absent students who are not in class will not be given a make-up and it will count as a 0 unless there is a doctor’s note.
E. Presentations AND Written Assignment re: Supreme Court Justices: 15%
Choose one Supreme Court Justice, past or current and respond to a question in writing.
Present your idea to your colleagues using the information you have collected.
You are expected to use the internet to find background information and cases to support your opinion. There is a specific question for this assignment.
F. Group Projects = 10%
During select class sessions, students will work in small groups and assigned different readings and/or sides of issue and be required to speak and write in response to the questions.
G. Memo for the file = 15% There is a specific format.
Attendance = Expected Attendance and success.
As this is a pre-law course, you are expected to attend and participate in every class. Should you not be able to attend class, please be in touch with me by email and provide me with documentation of any medical or family emergency, such as a doctor’s note. There are no make-ups for in-class assignments without an excused absence.
ACADEMIC HONOR STATEMENT AND PLAGIARISM
Academic integrity is essential and non-negotiable. There is a 0-Tolerance Policy regarding plagiarism. Citing your work is imperative. In this course, you must follow either MLA, APA, or proper legal (“bluebook”) citation format. Diana Hacker’s
A Writer’s Reference, is an excellent guide to proper citation. I also recommend the following websites:
To give you a better idea of my grading scale, the following applies to all written assignments:
A = Basic ideas and information in the assignment are discussed, and the student also evaluates material, discusses weaknesses and primary contributions of authors/approaches, and notes exceptions to arguments or nuances of implications of the material. Assignment is well written and well organized, with no grammatical or spelling mistakes.
B = Main ideas are solidly intact and assignment is well written and well organized.
C = Main ideas are fairly well-intact, the majority of the basic ideas of information is covered, with fair organization of the material.
D = Many of the main ideas are missing or vaguely stated, lacks a great deal of the basic information and is not particularly well organized.
F = Main ideas are virtually missing, work is sloppy and carelessly prepared, and there is poor effort at organization.
FINAL GRADE SCALE:
Grades of incomplete will NOT be given under ANY circumstances.
No handwritten “home” assignments are accepted.