P.S. 2440 Law and the Legal System    Syllabus     Click Here for Current Instructions

(This syllabus is subject to change during the semester depending on the direction taken by the class or in case of exigencies. Changes will be announced in class.)

Spring Term 2015:  P.S. 2440; TR 8:00-9:25 in PH 215; Office Hours: MW 12:00-2:00, TR 9:30-10:30 & by appointment.


Instructor: Clyde E. Willis, J.D., Ph.D. Office Peck Hall 255, Telephone 615-898-5457, E-mail: Clyde.Willis@mtsu.edu; Facsimile 615-898-5460. 

Web page: http://mtsu.edu/~cewillis

Office Hours: MW 12:00-2:00; TR 11:05-12:00; and by appointment.

Course Objectives: This course seeks to introduce the discipline and profession concerning the customs, practices and rules that the political community recognizes as binding and enforces through controlling authorities with specific emphasis given to the role of the judiciary.  The "law" will appear as a socially organizing mechanism that helps society achieve its goals, and as a dispute mechanism, that settles social problems.  The course will examine many organizing principles and ideas of the legal system and many of its more practical procedural and substantive aspects.  A specific project will concern the relationship between the legal system and a contemporary social/political problem or aspiration.

Readings: (1) Judicial opinions and other material that I will assign from time to time (usually listed in the Current Instructions section), (2) "Rules Thirteen" located in the web pages, and (3) Lecture notes also in the web pages, and  (4) Colonel Chabert a novel by Honoré de Balzac, that you can purchase for less than $10.00 or access and download at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=1954 .

Supplemental Materials: (1) A satisfactory legal dictionary for most—but not all—terms used in the course can be accessed at http://www.lectlaw.com, (2) an excellent background source for many terms, concepts and historical developments can be found at the Encyclopedia Britannica’s online web site that you can access through the Walker Library’s electronic research gateway on and off-campus, (3) "Criminal Justice," An Elysian Film Production, and (4) "Common Law," from Encyclopedia Britannica Online, which you can access through the main library's on-line research guide found at http://www.mtsu.edu/~library/subjects/ency.html from home or at the university. I may assign other material during the term that can be ascertained by consulting the Current Information section on the electronic syllabus.

Specific Course Requirements and Tentative Schedule and Value of Exercises:  


Exercises                    25% (possibly a potpourri of essay, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and matching)


Mid-term                    35% (possibly a combination of take-home essay and in-class examination)


Final                          40% (possibly a combination of take-home essay and in-class examination)

Grade Distribution:  Grades will be distributed on the cumulative points according to the following percentages:

B+ = 88-89
B = 80-87

C+ = 78-79
C = 70-77

D+ = 68-69
D = 60-67
F = 0-59

Writing and Speaking Requirement: You have reached a level of education that requires that you be judged by how effectively you communicate in writing and speaking as well as by what and how much you know.  Just as a major requirement for success in the legal system is an ability to write and speak well, it will be a major concern in this course.  Accordingly, it may be necessary for students whose writing skills need special assistance to complete several sessions with the Writing Center to fulfill the course requirements.  I will not expect you to make speeches in class, but I will expect you to respond to questions and class discussions effectively.

Accommodations: If you have a disability that may require assistance or accommodation, or you have questions related to any accommodation for testing, or the need for note takers, readers, et cetera, please speak with me when possible.  You may also contact the Office of Disabled Student Services at 898-2783 with any questions about such services.  I will from time to time, at the request of students, announce university related events and activities.  If you have any requests of this kind, please let me know and I will be happy to announce them.

Caveats: (1) You are responsible for keeping up with assignments and modifications of this syllabus. (2) I expect you to attend class regularly. However, recognizing the inevitable, you should associate with a classmate so you can obtain notes and information in case of an absence. I will not review class sessions with students that were absent. (3) I will penalize you for excessive absences.  You must realize and constantly bear in mind that much of the submissions you make must include class lectures and discussion which contain material that cannot be found elsewhere. There is a direct correlation between the level of grades and attendance. You may expect to be called upon to answer questions and make suggestions regarding the assigned material. (4) You must submit assigned work when due and only to me personally. Unless we make specific provisions, I will not accept submissions by electronic mail or "under the door." (5) Work submitted late will be accepted with a late penalty of five points for each day of tardiness.  (6) If you miss a required exercise with prior approval, I will permit you to take a make-up examination on the last day of the term before or after class. (7) If you need to contact me, you must try to contact me first in person at my office, and if you are unable to meet me personally, you must attempt to reach me by telephone, and only afterward by e-mail or facsimile. Do not assume that I will receive or have received a telephonic or electronic message unless I respond in kind. I will not respond to e-mails that do not identify the sender and the subject matter. (8) It is your responsibility to see that all work is submitted. I will not "run you down" to let you know that a required submission is missing.

Lottery Scholarship:   Do you have a lottery scholarship? To retain Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship eligibility, you must earn a cumulative TELS GPA of 2.75 after 24 and 48 attempted hours and a cumulative TELS GPA of 3.0 thereafter. You may qualify with a 2.75 cumulative GPA after 72 attempted hours (and subsequent semesters), if you are enrolled full-time and maintain a semester GPA of at least 3.0. A grade of C, D, F, or I in this class may negatively impact TELS eligibility. Dropping a class after 14 days may also impact eligibility; if you withdraw from this class and it results in an enrollment status of less than full time, you may lose eligibility for your lottery scholarship. Lottery recipients are eligible to receive the scholarship for a maximum of five years from the date of initial enrollment, or until a bachelor degree is earned; students who first received the lottery scholarship in Fall 2009 or later will additionally be limited to 120 TELS attempted hours. For additional Lottery rules, please refer to your Lottery Statement of Understanding form via RaiderNet, review lottery requirements on the web at www.mtsu.edu/scholarships/telsconteligibility_scholarships.shtml, or contact the Financial Aid Office at 898-2830.

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