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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Daniel M Brinks

Associate Professor Ph.D., J.D., University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan

Daniel M Brinks

Biography

Research interests:
Daniel Brinks is Associate Professor of Government, in the fields of Comparative Politics and Public Law. Dan's research focuses on the role of the law and courts in supporting or extending human rights and many of the basic rights associated with democracy, with a primary regional interest in Latin America. He is currently at work on a project that examines constitutional change in Latin America since about 1975, focusing especially on judicial institutions and constitutional review. Other recent projects address the use of courts and law to enforce social and economic rights in the developing world, the development of the rule of law in Latin America, the judicial response to police violence in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, judicial independence, and the role of informal norms in the legal order. He is also interested in the study of democracy more generally, and has written on the classification of regimes in Latin America, and on the global diffusion of democracy. Prof. Brinks was born and raised in Argentina and practiced law in the United States for nearly ten years before turning to academia.

Courses taught: He teaches courses in Comparative Politics, Comparative Judicial Politics, Democracy and Democratization, and Latin American Politics.

Recent Publications:
He has published articles in journals such as Comparative Politics, Studies in Comparative International Development, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Democracy en Español, and the Texas International Law Journal. His books Courting Social Justice: The Judicial Enforcement of Social and Economic Rights in the Developing World (co-edited with Varun Gauri), and The Judicial Response to Police Violence in Latin America: Inequality and the Rule of Law were both published by Cambridge University Press.

GOV 365N • Comparative Legal Systems

38935 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm WAG 214
show description

 

Title: “Courts and Politics Around the World”

 

Course description:

 

This course carries out a comparative study of the nature of courts and law, their position in political systems, and their potential impact on society. We will look at experiences around the world, in part, in order to gain a better understanding of how the US legal system works. The course is very theoretical, and organized around key themes rather than countries. The main themes of the course include the following: why politicians create powerful courts, how do judges and courts make decisions, what is judicial independence, how do we get it, and which systems have it, and how effective are courts as tools for political and social change. The court has a heavy emphasis on judicial design, and the class will design a court structure for an imaginary country.

Two modes of approaching the material will distinguish this class. First, we will not read pre-digested summaries or textbooks, but original social science research. We will engage critically with the readings, testing authors’ claims against their evidence, challenging the logic of their arguments, and questioning their conclusions. Secondly, we will apply what we have learned to an imaginary country modeled roughly on Iraq’s constitutional and ethno-political situation. The class will represent some of the factions present in the Iraqi parliament, and will model debates about how the judiciary should be shaped in our imaginary country.

The readings are often quite challenging and many of them are quite long. In order to participate in the debates regarding institutional design you will need to be very familiar with the readings. I expect that the class will demand a significant amount of preparation each week. You should not take this class if you are not able or willing to spend time on it outside of class hours. Attendance is mandatory and part of your grade.

Class requirements:

  • 2 quizzes worth 10% each (20% total)
  • A midterm worth 25%
  • A final worth 30%
  • Class participation, worth 25% total, calculated on the basis of
  • The quiz lottery results (the quiz lottery randomly tests student preparation and attendance)
  • A series of very short written assignments due throughout the semester
  • Participation in class debates and group assignments

GOV 384N • Law In Latin Amer: Comp View

39075 • Fall 2014
Meets W 330pm-630pm BAT 5.102
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Law 379M/Gov 384N: Law in Latin America -  A comparative view

Subject matter of the course: This course offers a broad overview of the current legal environment in Latin America. For too long, the dominant impression in the United States has been that legal institutions in Latin America are, if not completely irrelevant, at least extremely weak. This conventional wisdom typically does not distinguish among countries, and it misses important recent changes in many of them.  This course will note the increasing prevalence of systems in which courts are stronger and more autonomous, and judicial decision-making more predictable, and briefly look at the reasons for judicial strengthening. Mostly, however, the course will offer students an understanding of the diversity of legal experiences in the region. The goal of the course is threefold: to give future U.S.-based practitioners a realistic, politically and historically informed understanding of legal systems in Latin America; to give future Latin American practitioners a more comparative view of their own legal systems; and to give any student interested in Latin America a strong understanding of how historical and political processes have shaped legal developments in the region, and vice versa.

The course has three broad sections. In the first we will undertake a tour of the institutional arrangements found in Latin America today, and glance briefly at their historical development. The objective of this section is to give students an idea of how courts are arranged, how the legal profession is organized, and in which countries courts are more or less autonomous institutions. This section will offer a more structural look at the courts and their organization. In the second section of the course we will cover the courts' intervention in public law, and the increasingly broad intersection between public and private law. We will focus more closely on courts’ interventions in the social and economic rights area. The third section will look at general trends and some particular examples in the private law area in Latin America. The point of the course is not to acquire exhaustive knowledge of each of these substantive legal areas in each of the countries, but to get a sense of the overall approach and some signature characteristics.

Evaluation: Your grade in this course will be determined as follows:

20% class participation

20% each, your grade on two essays and their in-class presentations

40% take home final

 

Required Books:

-           The only book that is required is Merryman and Pérez-Perdomo’s The Civil Law Tradition, 3d Ed., which you can purchase very inexpensively from Amazon or another on-line retailer

-           The remaining readings will be available electronically from Blackboard, or, depending on student demand, in a course packet. 

GOV 337M • Law & Democracy Latin Amer

39145 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm PAR 204
(also listed as LAS 337M )
show description

Course description:

 

Subject matter of the course: This course explores many of the challenges and improvements to the rule of law across Latin America, and their connection to democracy. We will begin by examining the relationship between law and democracy, then look at a series of issues that illustrate the strength or weakness of the rule of law in the region. Rather than focusing on one country at a time or a few countries in depth, we will use events and systems in various countries as illustrations of important themes. We will also look at the possible consequences of these challenges for democracy in the region, and possible solutions.

The readings are a collection of recent research on these issues and require the students to engage critically with the readings. We will test authors’ claims against the evidence they present, challenge the logic of their arguments, and question their conclusions. To do this effectively, students must come to class prepared. We will use the quiz lotto (described below) to monitor and reward prepared class attendance.

By the end of the semester you will have acquired some basic information about Latin American legal systems, and some basic concepts about the different ways the law works in that part of the world. More importantly, however, you will have a greater understanding of what a robust democracy should look like, and where different countries fall short. You should be able to engage in a discussion about the role courts and laws do play, should play and can play in the (democratic) political systems of Latin America, and its potential for improvement. The various essays and the take home exam will help you to think about these issues and test how well you are acquiring the basic concepts and information needed.

 

Evaluation: Your grade in this course will be determined as follows:

15% each of the four essays due throughout the semester

15% your grade on the quiz lotteries

25% take home final

The quiz lottery: At the beginning of each class period, I will run the quiz lottery. The lottery has a 50% chance of generating a single question meant to determine whether you have done the reading for that day. The question should be fairly obvious if you have done the reading, but hard if you have not. If you are absent, you get a 0, if you are present but don’t know the answer, you earn a 1, if you answer accurately, you earn a 2. At the end of the semester I drop the lowest score and average the rest.

 

Required Books:

A Course Packet will be available from Jenn’s at 2200 Guadalupe. No books are required.

GOV 365N • Comparative Legal Systems

39270 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm MEZ B0.306
show description

Course description

 This course carries out a comparative study of the nature of courts and law, their position in political systems, and their potential impact on society. We will look at experiences around the world, in part, in order to gain a better understanding of how the US legal system works. The course is very theoretical, and organized around key themes rather than countries. The main themes of the course include the following: why politicians create powerful courts, how do judges and courts make decisions, what is judicial independence, how do we get it, and which systems have it, and how effective are courts as tools for political and social change. The court has a heavy emphasis on judicial design, and the class will design a court structure for an imaginary country.

Two modes of approaching the material will distinguish this class. First, we will not read pre-digested summaries or textbooks, but original social science research. We will engage critically with the readings, testing authors’ claims against their evidence, challenging the logic of their arguments, and questioning their conclusions. Secondly, we will apply what we have learned to an imaginary country modeled roughly on Iraq’s constitutional and ethno-political situation. The class will represent some of the factions present in the Iraqi parliament, and will model debates about how the judiciary should be shaped in our imaginary country.

The readings are often quite challenging and many of them are quite long. In order to participate in the debates regarding institutional design you will need to be very familiar with the readings. I expect that the class will demand a significant amount of preparation each week. You should not take this class if you are not able or willing to spend time on it outside of class hours. Attendance is mandatory and part of your grade.

 

Grading Policy

  • 2 quizzes worth 10% each (20% total)
  • A midterm worth 25%
  • A final worth 30%
  • Class participation, worth 25% total, calculated on the basis of
  • The quiz lottery results (the quiz lottery randomly tests student preparation and attendance)
  • A series of very short written assignments due throughout the semester
  • Participation in class debates and group assignments

 

GOV 384N • Comparative Judicial Politics

39385 • Fall 2013
Meets T 330pm-630pm BAT 5.102
show description

Courts around the world are becoming more powerful and more deeply involved in setting public policy, deciding important political and social questions, and constraining democratic politics. At the same time, those who should know – and care – the most about this phenomenon, including lawyers, politicians, and political scientists, often operate under mistaken premises concerning courts and law, how politics affects them and how they in turn affect politics. In this course we will try to dispel some of these misunderstandings. We will ask questions like the following: What is behind this global trend? What are courts doing with their newfound powers? When do courts and law have more important consequences for politics and for social change? Perhaps more importantly, is this “judicialization” good, bad or indifferent? And good for whom?

Whether you are interested in law, courts, the executive, legislatures, or democracy more generally, it has become increasingly important to understand how law and courts impinge on other political actors and on public policy. The course examines the role that courts and law play in political systems around the world, including the United States. We begin with an examination of the basic logic of courts and law, and cover such topics as the differences across legal traditions, the creation of constitutional courts, the nature of judicial decision-making, judicial independence, the capacity of courts to produce social change, etc. The ultimate goal is to understand the conditions under which courts are or become consequential actors within the overall social and political system. Along the way, we will address a number of important questions about the nature and impact of all this judicial activity: Who benefits when courts become more important? Who is really behind increases in judicial power? Can we realistically expect courts to act on behalf of minorities, and if so, which minorities?

The course should be especially relevant to those with an interest in comparative law and legal systems, comparative judicial behavior, the role of courts in politics and social change, and the rule of law around the world. Given the course’s strong institutional focus, the course should also be relevant to those interested in comparative institutional analyses more generally. The readings will include materials on courts around the world, from the US and the rest of North America, to Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. 

GOV 312L • Issues & Policies In Amer Gov

38705 • Spring 2013
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am MEZ 1.306
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Course Description

The basic purpose of this course is to give you some of the tools and information you will need to critically engage with issues relating to law and politics in our society today. In particular, we will seek to understand the place of the law and the legal system in society, and the ways in which each shapes the other. We will explore the basic structure and purpose of the legal system and then focus on specific issues on which the law might appear to be shaping society, and vice versa – we will look at judicial nominations, prominent judicial decisions, the protection of civil rights, the way the criminal justice system works, and the issues raised by civil litigation for the economy and society, for example. When appropriate we will take very brief comparative looks at other countries, to see which features our legal system shares with others, and which make it unique. We will illustrate and analyze the issues by discussing prominent current events, such as recent Supreme Court nominations, important trials, or noteworthy judicial decisions. By the end of the course, we should have a clearer grasp of the mutual relationship between law, politics and society. My hope is that, after this class, when you read or hear news about some event related to law and courts, you will be able to understand the issues it raises, respond critically and intelligently to the questions it poses, and come to reasoned conclusions about what works and what doesn’t in our current legal system.

I would like to make this course as relevant as possible to current events. Rather than buy a course pack, any readings that do not come from the book will be posted on Blackboard, so that we can adapt the course content to new developments, such as an important trial, a Supreme Court decision, or a judicial nomination.

 

Grading Policy

Your grade in this course will be calculated in the following manner: 20% two quizzes (10% each) 20% your average grade on the various assignments due throughout the semester 30% midterm 30% final exam (non-cumulative).

 

Texts

There is one required book, Tarr, G. Alan. 2010. Judicial Process and Judicial Policymaking, 5th Edition (if you have the 4th edition, you should be fine. We will try to point out any differences between the two texts).

GOV 365N • Comparative Legal Systems

38800 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm MEZ B0.306
show description

Course Description

This course carries out a comparative study of the nature of courts and law, their position in political systems, and their potential impact on society. We will look at experiences around the world, in part, in order to gain a better understanding of how the US legal system works. The course is very theoretical, and organized around key themes rather than countries. The main themes of the course include the following: why politicians create powerful courts, how do judges and courts make decisions, what is judicial independence, how do we get it, and which systems have it, and how effective are courts as tools for political and social change. The court has a heavy emphasis on judicial design, and the class will design a court structure for an imaginary country.

Two modes of approaching the material will distinguish this class. First, we will not read pre-digested summaries or textbooks, but original social science research. We will engage critically with the readings, testing authors’ claims against their evidence, challenging the logic of their arguments, and questioning their conclusions. Secondly, we will apply what we have learned to an imaginary country modeled roughly on Iraq’s constitutional and ethno-political situation. The class will represent some of the factions present in the Iraqi parliament, and will model debates about how the judiciary should be shaped in our imaginary country.

The readings are often quite challenging and many of them are quite long. In order to participate in the debates regarding institutional design you will need to be very familiar with the readings. I expect that the class will demand a significant amount of preparation each week. You should not take this class if you are not able or willing to spend time on it outside of class hours. Attendance is mandatory and part of your grade.

Grading Policy

  • 2 quizzes worth 10% each (20% total)
  • A midterm worth 25%
  • A final worth 30%
  • Class participation, worth 25% total, calculated on the basis of
  • The quiz lottery results (the quiz lottery randomly tests student preparation and attendance)
  • A series of very short written assignments due throughout the semester
  • Participation in class debates and group assignments

GOV 337M • Law & Democracy In Latin Amer

38705 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm PAR 203
(also listed as LAS 337M )
show description

Subject matter of the course: “Democracy and the rule of law” seem to be the prescription for what ails the developing world. But they are harder to put into practice than they at first appear. This course explores many of the challenges to the rule of law across Latin America, and how they affect the quality of democracy in the region. We begin by examining the meaning of democracy and its relationship to the rule of law. Then we look at a series of issues that illustrate the strength or weakness of the rule of law in the region. We use academic writings primarily, but also movies, news reports and statistical reports to examine topics such as violence and crime, human rights violations, judicial independence and corruption. Rather than focusing on one country at a time or a few countries in depth, we will use events and systems in various countries as illustrations of important themes. We will then look at the possible consequences of these challenges for democracy in the region, and possible solutions.

 

By the end of the course you will have acquired some basic information about Latin American legal systems and about the recent history of democracy in the region. More importantly, however, you will have a greater understanding of what a robust democracy should look like, where different countries fall short and why it might be so hard to implement the rule of law. You should be able to engage in a discussion about the role courts and laws do play, should play and can play in the (democratic) political systems of Latin America, and the possibility of improving that role. The grade is based on two quizzes and two exams and class participation – you will need to come to class prepared and you may be required to contribute to a class blog, although this is still in the planning stages. You should expect this class to be somewhat time consuming; you should also expect it to be interesting and rewarding.

GOV 384N • Law In Latin Amer: Comp View

38930 • Fall 2011
Meets TH 400pm-700pm TNH 3.125
(also listed as LAS 381 )
show description

description coming soon

GOV 365N • Comparative Legal Systems

39008 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 301
show description

 This course carries out a comparative study of the nature of courts and law, their position in political systems, and their potential impact on society. The course is very theoretical, and organized around key themes rather than countries. The main themes of the course include the following: the political and regime logic giving rise to judicial power, competing theories about how courts make decisions, the meaning of judicial independence and the extent to which it can be found in different systems, and the implications of all this for the potential effectiveness of courts as a tool for social and political change.

GOV 312L • Issues & Policies In Amer Gov

38460 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 930am-1100am WEL 1.316
show description

Taught by Dr. Dan Brinks

Course Description: The purpose of this course is to understand how law shapes society and vice versa. Most of the materials will be on the United States, but we will also glance at other countries, to put our own system in perspective. We will first explore the basic structure of the legal system, to understand its basic features. We will see which features our legal system shares with others, and which make it unique. We will then focus on specific ways in which the law shapes our society, and our society in turn, shapes the law. We will look at the impact of politics on law, and how we deal with crime, civil rights, the redistribution of wealth and the alleviation of poverty, for example. By the end of the course, we should have some insight into how social change produces changes in the law, and how the law might produce changes in society.




Grading Policy:

Your grade in this course will be determined according to the following formula:
15% class participation (determined primarily by objective measures: your average score on a variety of in-class and homework assignments administered throughout the semester; the quality of your oral participation in discussion will be a factor in assigning a final grade in borderline cases)
10% each, two short quizzes
30% mid-term exam
35% final exam

 

Textbooks:Tarr, G. Alan. 2006. Judicial Process and Judicial Policymaking, 5th Edition, plus a series of readings available on Blackboard.

GOV 312L • Iss And Policies In Amer Gov

38175 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 800-930 MEZ 1.306
show description

Government 312L satisfies the second half of the mandated six hours of government that every UT student must take.  Course covers analysis of varying topics concerned with American political institutions and policies, including the United States Constitution, and assumes basic knowledge of government from GOV 310L, which is a prerequiste. May be taken for credit only once.

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