Law and Society
I. Course Description :
This course is designed for students interested in understanding more about how the Constitution works to guarantee specific rights to US citizens. We will focus on Constitutional rights that regualte the processes of criminal justice.
Topics will include:
Bill of Rights violations
Processes of the criminal justice system
Search and Seizure
Trends of crime
A second area of focus will be trial advocacy. We will examine the art of conducting a trial and persuasively arguing. You will engage in all aspects of trial work including:
Direct and Cross Examination
This course is intended to function as a seminar:
Seminar: 1. A group of advanced students studying under a teacher with each doing research and all exchanging results through reports and discussions. 2. An advanced course often featuring informality and discussion.
Discussion: Constructive, informed, respectful participation that contributes directly to conversations about the course is absolutely essential. All discussions will be graded. Attendance is crucial.
Discussion Essays: A series of short essays which will be used to analyze legal issues and as a starting point for discussion.
Moot Court and Mock Trial: Performance in which you will enact the roles of lawyers and judges.
Legal Issues Forum: A group project which will involve an in-depth research paper and responsibility for teaching one class period.
Legal Terms and Concept Quiz: There will be a number of quizzes to test you basic knowledge of terms and concepts discussed in class.
III. Classroom Policies:
The Classroom Community- The primary ethic of my classroom is that we will all treat each other with the respect we would ourselves like to receive. Civility and good cheer are qualities I value. Behaviour in the classroom is evaluated in the light of how it supports or disrupts learning. So, here are the two main class rules: 1. Treat others with respect. 2. Don't interrupt anyone's learning.
Attendance and Make-up Work- If you are absent, you are responsible for assignments and information covered during your absence. It is your responsibility to find out what you missed and what my expectations are for make-up work; please see me before or after school. If your absence has been excused, you will generally have as many days to make up work as the number of days you were absent.
Late Work- An automatic one-grade deduct will be levied if work is late because of an unexcused absence or for no particular reason. In addition, be ready to write a "Why My Work is Late" composition. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee when late work will be read and credited to your account; I get to it when I can. (Sometimes this may mean an "Incomplete" grade; that is the risk of late work.) No late work will be accepted the last two weeks of any quarter. If a problem or conflict arises, particularly with a major or long-term assignment, you may request an extension without penalty if you do so prior to the due date. Plan ahead!
Tardiness- Being late interrupts learning for the individual and the class, and I find it extremely irritating. Students are expected to be on time
Food- You can't bring food or drink into the room, unless specified for a specified classroom event. Water in a clear bottle is acceptable. It has been my experience that a sticky mess is created which the students do not take responsibility for. There is adequate time between classes to eat a snack as one chats with friends; just plan ahead.
Miscellany- Regular school rules about everything else apply in my classroom. In all matters, I am willing to discuss personal circumstances or emergency situations. I am an teacher; communicate with me!
I structure this class on a common model, where the lion's share of your grade rests on your performance over the whole semester, not just on a few major tasks. I use point systems or assign point values to papers. The final grade is an average of all the grades you have received.
Note: It is my habit to keep track of your ongoing performance with computerized point totals/spread sheets. However, it is my belief in treating you, a high school junior, as an independent, self-responsible person. I recommend that you work hard, try your best, turn in all work, turn it in on time, maintain class standards, and keep a record of all your letter grades on major written assignments. That way, you will have a clear idea of how you are doing. Save all your returned papers in a file at home to reconcile any possible error that might occur. Talk to me before school if you have a question about grades.
Grades are cumulative for the semester. In other words, I keep a running total of the semester, there is no restart at the end of the first quarter.