GOV 357L • Judicial Process and Behavior
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
This course focuses on understanding and explaining judicial behavior. In order to do this, we examine not only what judges do and what judges decide, but also all aspects of the process, such as juries, attorneys, prosecutors, judicial selection, plea bargaining, court structures, and the social and political settings in which the courts operate. Most of the assignments involve reading and analyzing judicial opinions in actual cases. The opinions not only reveal what the judge is thinking, but also explain how the judicial process works. Some assignments include viewing videos. We will also look at some of the quantitative analyses of judicial behavior. The cases are drawn from a variety of both "public" and "private" law areas. Case topics include international law, negligence and product liability law, criminal law and procedure, the interpretation of the federal statutes, and constitutional law with particular attention to race and racial discrimination. Some cases used in this course come from the most recent terms of the US Supreme Court. Students are expected to keep current with the reading and video assignments and to come to class prepared to discuss the cases and related materials assigned for that day. As part of their daily preparation, students are expected to actually write summaries of cases called "briefs" and bring them to class. Occasionally, you may be asked to turn in your brief on a particular case. This class is designed for both students who want a general understanding of the judicial and legal process, and students who intend to go to law school.
3 one hour exams: 56% 2 papers, 3-4 pages, each: 32% Class participation, quizzes and attendance: 12%