This course will examine the practices and powers of American appellate courts, with a particular emphasis on the federal courts of appeals. Our discussion will focus on the goals of these institutions and the extent to which individual components of the appellate decision-making process—including oral argument and opinion-writing—further those goals.
We will begin with an overview of the function of appellate courts—why they were created and what we expect of them today. We will then move to the specific components of appellate adjudication, including mediation, briefing, oral argument, and judgment, as well as the personnel who contribute to the adjudication process. Finally, we will consider the ways in which the appellate courts have been affected by an increasing caseload, and proposals for alleviating the strain on the courts.
Ultimately, the goal of the course is to expose you to how appellate courts operate and the purported goals of these institutions. Over the course of the semester, you should also be evaluating what you think are the fundamental objectives of appellate review and whether the current structure of the courts allows them to meet those goals.
Evaluation in the course will be based on a final research paper, which may be used to satisfy the SRWP.
|Course Areas of Practice|
Research paper, 25+ pages
Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law
Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context