Spring 2016 Course Schedule

Amer Cts:Strctr,People, Proc (LAW-838-001)

Meets: 04:00 PM - 05:50 PM (T) - Room N105

Enrolled: 12 / Limit: 16

Administrator Access


Attached is an abbreviated outline for the course. It lists the topics to be covered by date and describes reading materials (no textbook), course requirements, and other information.


My basic objective in this course is to provide, as one student said in an evaluation, “materials [about courts] that lawyers should know but that are not automatically taught.”

The course describes the formal characteristics of courts in the United States (with an emphasis on the federal courts). It spends more time, however, looking behind the formal characteristics to assess the dynamics of how courts are organized, the forces influencing how judges are selected, the mechanisms for regulating judicial ethics, the sometimes-antagonistic relations between courts and legislatures, and between courts and various types of media, and how judges and company (try to) manage their caseloads, including the influences of such factors as local legal cultures.

Throughout the course, we consider underlying tensions—judicial independence versus judicial accountability, for example, and central control versus localism—to help explain why courts in the United States are structure as they are and behave as they do and why non-judicial actors seek to affect their operations and outcomes.

Textbooks and Other Materials

The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.

As explained in the course outline, the course do not use a standard textbook. Instead, I will post reading materials for downloading on MyWCL. Readings for the course will total about 300 pages; readings for any particular class session will rarely exceed 25 pages. Readings include my original text along with excerpts from popular and scholarly articles, statutes, judicial decisions, and other sources. I also ask students to select a federal district court, and its appellate counterpart, to serve as a “focus court” allowing more concentrated analysis of aspects under examination.

First Class Readings

January 12 is for a review and introduction to the substance of the course and course requirements. Students should review the course outline prior to the first class.


Use your MyAU username and password to access the syllabus in the following format(s):