|Political Science 401/963, Legal Studies 400 |
NOTE: This syllabus is a work in progress; some changes and additions may be made during the semester.
The Politics of Legal Policy seminar will focus on several controversial issues involving courts and/or the types of issues they deal with. The goal of the course is to underestand how politics plays out in dealing with these kinds of issues. Most topics will be dealt with over two sessions of the seminar with the first session examining the issue from a policy perspective and the second session examining the issue from the perspective of differing political interests. Some of the political interests sessions will involve students in the seminar debating the issue drawing upon the policy discussions from the previous week as well as their own research into the issue; other sessions will involve a guest speaker. Students will be asked to indicate the issues they would like to debate, but positions in the debate will be determined by a coin flip.
In addition to the five topics pre-selected (access to legal services for noncriminal matters, tort reform generally, medical malpractice reform, sexual predators, the use of scientific evidence), students will be required to prepare a policy brief on another legal policy issue, and then to present a brief discussion of their brief in class during the last two weeks of the semester. Some possible topics for the brief are:
Note that this list is meant only to be suggestive. Students should clear with me the topic they plan to pursue.
This is a seminar, and as such it depends heavily on students coming to the seminar prepared and ready to discuss. Simply sitting and listening defeats the purpose of the course both from the individual student's perspective and from the collective perspective. The specific requirements for this course (in addition to assigned readings) are:
Active participation in discussion (25%)
Participation in one debate (25%)
Preparation of policy brief on a legal policy issue not among those discussed in class (40%), DUE MONDAY, APRIL 30
Ten to fifteen minute presentation (during last two weeks) of that policy brief. (10%)
The percentages in parentheses indicate the approximate role in the computation of the final grade. Pleasae note that graduate students will be expected to prepare more extensive papers.
Tentatively, my office hours will be Monday 1:15-2:15 and Wednesday 10-11; I am happy to make appointments to meet students at other times that are mutually convenient.
I actually tend to stay logged into the e-mail system whenever I am in my office and much of the time when I am working at home. The result is that I can often respond very quickly to e-mail questions. My e-mail address is HKRITZER@WISC.EDU.
The electronic syllabus on my web site constitutes a homepage for this course. The electronic version of the syllabus has (or will have) links to lecture outlines, sample exam questions, and other material. When you access those materials, be sure to check the "last revised date" to be sure the material has been updated for the current year. The URL for the page is:
There are three required books for this course:.
In addition to the books, there are a large numbers of journal articles and book chapters. These will be available from the links in the syllabus. For copyright reasons, most are password protected. The password will be distributed in class or via email.
Assignments and Schedule
|1 Jan. 22||
Thinking about the Politics of Legal Policy
|2 Jan. 29||Access to Legal Services |
• Measuring legal needs
• Legal needs of whom
|3 Feb. 5|| |
Access to Legal Services: Solutions I
|4 Feb. 12||
Access to Legal Services: Solutions II
|5 Feb. 19||
Tort Reform: The General "Problem"
|6 Feb. 26||
Tort Reform: Solutions
|7 Mar. 5||
The Medical Malpractice "Crisis"
|8 March 12||
Malpractice Reform: Doctors vs. Lawyers vs. Insurers
|9 March 19||Sexual Predators: The Nature of the Problem|
|10 March 26||
Sexual Predators: Civil Commitment and Other Responses
Guest: Eric Janus
|11 April 9||
Scot Turow lecture
|12 April 16||
Scientific Expert Testimony: The Junk Science Debate
|13 April 23||Scientific Expert Testimony: Gatekeeping and Other Solutions |
|14 April 30||Student Presentations|
|15 May. 7||