Law and Society
This course introduces students to the judicial process in the United States. It focuses upon the nature of legal reasoning--or what I shall typically call "legal logic"--and the structure of the legal process, both in federal and in state courts. We shall examine how the law works to resolve private disputes between citizens (especially through the law of torts) and disputes between the state and citizens (especially through the criminal law). We shall also examine how the participants in the process understand their roles and how the logic of the legal process influences not only the participants, but all of us.
The course proceeds in three parts. In the first, we will consider simple questions that have unimaginably complicated answers. We shall want to know, for example, what law is. Some scholars have argued that law is a complex of general and objective rules to regulate behavior. Others have suggested that the law is a habit of obedience. Still others have argued that the law is justice achieved.
In the second section of the course we shall explore how the trial process actually works. We shall learn how civil and criminal trial work by undertaking an overview of the trial process from the perspectives of the participants themselves.
In the third section of the course we will consider a few selected topics in the law more generally. Some of the issues we will explore include the relationship between law and race, between law and gender, between law and politics, and between law and morality. We shall see that these are fluid, overlapping categories. Consider: When, if ever, should the law regulate the moral beliefs of the community? What relationship has law to political orthodoxy? And finally, what has the law to do with life and death?
|Books to Purchase|
David O. Friedichs, Law in
Our Lives: An Introduction, 2d ed.
Richard Zitrin & Carol M. Langford, The Moral Compass of the American Lawyer (1999) (MC)
|Schedule of Papers|
There are two short (5-6 pages) papers due in this course. Each is worth 30 per cent of the final grade, but failure to complete each and every paper will result in a failing grade for the course. Papers are due in class on the date in question.
Paper #1--on Maine v. Kargar or Scruggs v. State, is due on July 13.
Paper #2--on a topic of your choice, but approved by me in advance, is due on August 1.
|Attendance, Grades and Examinations|
|Seminar Topics and Assignments|
Introduction: What is Law?
State v. Scruggs, 37 Conn. L. Rptr. No. 3 109, 110 (2005) http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/document?_m=c0028db7afc1f35d81d5e59d2b0d7a69&_docnum=9&wchp=dGLbVtb-zSkVA&_md5=1d0e748cccc9a523c948234552c5c8f7
CP, chaps 1-4
What are Courts?
NB: No class July 4
Who is the Law?
NB: No class July 11
|July 18-20||The Limits of Law|
Law, Race, & Gender
Conclusion: Law & Morality