Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Paris and Kalei... Help People Escape From Guantanamo Bay?

Legislative Hearing is a time when senators will meet to listen to representatives from different groups speak on a particular topic.

We will simulate a small-scale legislative hearing on the Guantanamo Bay issue.

Guiding Question: Should the United States government fund the closure of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center?

Each of you will play the part of a representative from a specific interest group. We will use this format to examine the legal issues at stake related to Guantanamo Bay. You will work individually to complete your portion of the assignment.
Use the websites listed on your worksheets to complete your research. However, be aware that some of the links on the pages are a little outdated. If a link does not work, search the website for the information you need. Use search terms ("Guantanamo Bay", "torture", etc.) to find answers for your question.

The worksheet is due at the start of tomorrow's class. It is worth a total of 35 points -- 5 points per question.

Tomorrow, we will hold our hearing. The procedure for the hearing is below:
  1. The chairperson will call the hearing to order. She will then state the purpose of the hearing.
  2. Each senator will make a brief opening statment expressing her expectations for the proceedings.
  3. Each representative will have an opportunity to make an opening statement. After each representative speaks, the senators will have the chance to question her/him.
  4. Opening statements should take 1-2 minutes. Questions and responses should take 5-6 minutes.
  5. Finally, the senators will discuss their decision.
Each student will receive a 20 point presentation grade based on a rubric which will be shown in class tomorrow.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Paris and Kalei Go to Guantanamo Bay

New Guantanamo Bay detainees arrive at Camp X-Ray.
In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, few things have been more controversial than the Guantanámo Bay Detention Center.

Part 1: Background (12 points)
Over the next few days, we will examine the detention center's legality. We'll start by exploring two web resources:

Use these two sources to respond to the following questions on loose leaf:

  1. What is Guantánamo Bay? Where is it located?
  2. When was the prison established there?
  3. How many detainees are currently held in the prison (at the time these sources were last updated)?
  4. What did President Obama do with regard to the prison shortly after he took office in January 2009?
  5. What are some of the proposed options for having trials for the prisoners?
  6. What are some options for where to send current prisoners if Guantánamo is closed?
Part 2: Exploring Reasons for Closure (Or to Keep it Open) (9 points)
  1. Create a list of reasons people might want to close Guantanamo Bay. Come up with at least three solid reasons.
  2. Create a list of reasons people might want to keep Guantanamo Bay open. Come up with a list of at least three reasons.
  3. What makes the decision to keep Guantanamo Bay open (or to close it) a complicated one?
Part 3: Is it Constitutional? (9 points)
Examine the U.S. Constitution. You can find the full text of the Constitution, with links to the amendments, at Cornell University Law School's website.

Decide which articles and amendments apply to the Guantanamo Bay situation. Write them down, then explain in specific terms how each applies.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lt. Connolly's Reality

As a follow-up to your arguments our recent project, you have one last task to do: find out whether or not women are actually allowed to serve in Special Forces in the U.S. Our case is based on real life precedent. Find that precedent and/or current articles about the topic.

Start here.


  • Locate one source
  • Summarize it
  • Relate it to our topic
Be prepared to share your information with the group.

Monday, May 7, 2012

2nd Amendment Wrap-Up

First of all, do not forget -- your final papers are due printed at the start of tomorrow's class. If you do not bring a printed version of your paper with you to class, it will be late.

Today we will finish our examination of 2nd Amendment Law. You will work in teams of twos to prepare an argument based on the law and precedent, as well as any other arguments we have discussed in class.

Part 1: Anticipatory Set
Complete the following in a Word document:
  1. With your partner, decide whether or not you believe the U.S. must alter the national standard for gun control. Write an opinion based on the information we discussed in class. Refer specifically to any relevant materials. This should be approximately 1-2 sentences.
  2. Make a list of additional information you would need to know to improve your understanding of the issue. Ex.: Do you know the SCOTUS' past rulings on the matter? Do you know what conditions are in each state? Do you want to examine the issue on a local, state, or national level, or all three?
  3. Use the sources below to locate two court cases relevant to our current examination of the law. They must be cases we have not looked at as a class. Record the case titles under #3. Ideally, these should be cases that support your point of view. If they do not, you may need to alter your position.
Part 2: Briefing a Case (4 points each section, 20 points total)
To brief a case, you need to consider and answer the following questions:
  1. Case: what is the name of the case? Where can the full case record be found? In what year was the case decided?
  2. Facts: provide a summary of the incident that brought the case before the court.  Include a description of the crime and the circumstances causing the earlier court’s decision to be appealed.  **Describe what previous courts ruled on the case (if possible) and explain the ruling(s).
  3. Issue: What are the central legal issues the court must decide to arrive at a decision?
  4. Holding: What did the court decide? What is the outcome?
  5. Reasoning: Why does the court decide the way it does? What is its logic and analysis of the facts?
You also need to read and provide a summary of the majority and dissenting opinions (judges explain the ruling and why they agree or disagree with it) under the “reasoning” section.

Questions to ask when reading a case:  (taken from
Note: You do not need to answer these questions in the order written to complete the assignment. They must all be items you consider during when reading the case.

  1. What facts and circumstances brought these parties to court? 
  2. Are there buzzwords in the facts that suggest an issue? 
  3. Is the court deciding a question of fact - i.e. the parties are in dispute over what happened - or is it a question of law - i.e. the court is unsure which rule to apply to these facts? 
  4. What are the non-issues? 
  5. What are the elements that prove the rule? 
  6. What are the exceptions to the rule? 
  7. From what authority does it come? Common law, statute, new rule? 
  8. What's the underlying public policy behind the rule? 
  9. Are there social considerations? 
  10. Which facts help prove which elements of the rule? 
  11. Why are certain facts relevant? 
  12. How do these facts satisfy this rule?
  13. What types of facts are applied to the rule? 
  14. How do these facts further the public policy underlying this rule? 
  15. What's the counter-argument for another solution? 
  16. What's the holding of the case? 
  17. Has the holding modified the existing rule of law? 
  18. What is the procedural effect of the holding? Is the case overturned, upheld or remanded for retrial? 
  19. Does the holding further the underlying policy of the rule? 
  20. Do you agree with the outcome of the case?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One last, important memo

We received one last memo from our senior partner, Brandi Bickering, regarding some concerns raised by an important client. You can find the memo here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Part 1: Statement of Opinion (32 points)
Now that you've completed your research, you will create the first firm statement of your opinion. This is still not yet written in stone -- it could change based on what your partners say. Ultimately, your group will share one thesis.

Essentially, you are completing this sentence:
"Ebbets Chavez & Kofax ___________________ represent Lt. Amy Connolly before the U.S. Supreme Court because _________________, _____________________ and ____________________."
You may change the wording/format of this statement as long as it includes the basic information given.

We'll use this rubric to grade your theses.

Part 3: Working on the Final Product
You must persuade the government to agree with your argument. In order to do so, you will create a position paper which adheres to the following criteria:
  • Save your work to the Y:\Ramin Law and Government
  • Name the file "Your Last Names - Connolly Recommendation"
  • Include the each group member's name, as well as the complete PSM heading, at the start of your document
  • Title your paper
  • At least 5 paragraphs in length (Intro, 3 Body, Conclusion)
  • Includes a thesis statement modeled after the one above
  • Persuasively argues your position, following the requirements illustrated in Brandi Bickering's memo. You can find additional guidelines for your work here.
  • Includes a 5-source Work Cited page (graded based on this rubric), following MLA format (you should have most of your citations already!)
Your rough draft is due e-mailed to me at the end of tomorrow's class period (5/1/12). It is a project grade, and will be based on this rubric (the same one that will be used for your final product -- Due Friday, 5/4/12).

Each person will also receive an individual project grade for his/her specific body paragraph based on this rubric.

Who does what?
  • Each person should research and write one body paragraph
  • The group should work together to draft the introduction paragraph today and the conclusion paragraph tomorrow
  • The group is responsible for proper transitions, etc.
  • The group should work together to compile the Works Cited page
Tomorrow's Expectations:
  • Finalize rough draft, including conclusion paragraph
  • Analyze presentation requirements for Friday's class

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bickering's 4th Memo

Lt. Connolly was once a cadet just like this young woman.
Should she have the right to serve in U.S. Special Forces?
Let our senior partner know.
We are nearing the end of our evaluation of Lt. Connolly's case. Read through the fourth memo from our senior partner, Brandi Bickering.

Respond to the following questions on loose leaf paper. 4 points per question, 20 points total.

  1. With the information you have right now, what would you recommend to the senior partners? What are the deciding factors in your recommendation? What questions do you still need to think about? What 5th and 14th Amendment issues are you thinking about?
  2. Does the right to equal protection override concerns about the effectiveness of Special Forces units, or is this a case of reasonable discrimination?
  3. Should the law firm take the case?
  4. Choose two additional questions presented by Ms. Bickering in her memo. Answer them completely below #3.
If you have additional time, begin planning a presentation which fulfills Ms. Bickering's requirements. You will present your argument before a panel of our senior partners next Wednesday. We will work in class on Monday and Tuesday to prepare the argument, and discuss the ways in which you will be scored.