Spring 2017 Course Schedule

Secrecy Controversies (LAW-974-001)
Dan Metcalfe

Meets: 04:00 PM - 05:50 PM (W) - Warren - Room NT03

Enrolled: 4 / Limit: 22

Administrator Access


This semester the guest speaker on oral advocacy skills will be D.C. Circuit Judge Patricia A. Millett, on Wednesday February 1. As noted below, this is a professional skills requirement course. Additionally, students may undertake expanded work in the subject area for satisfaction of their Upper-Level Writing Requirement (ULWR).


LAW-974 Seminar: Secrecy Controversies (2 hrs.) Explores many of the most controversial current legal issues under the Freedom of Information Act and related statutes through in-depth analysis of both sides of each issue. This is a professional skills requirement course; students will gain experience in both written issue analysis and oral advocacy. The course will provide students with an extensive understanding of some of the most controversial legal and policy issues currently arising under the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act of 1974, and the government information law and policy field overall. It begins with background instruction ensuring foundation familiarity with the concepts, policies, and statutory interrelationships involved. It then focuses on an array of significant, cutting-edge issues that currently define the legal and policy contours of this field. The course will examine these most controversial issues through student preparation of appellate briefs (approx. 10-15 pages in length) on either side of an issue, leading to oral advocacy of the opposing position in “moot court” fashion for the benefit and critique of their peers. Thus, the goal of the course is to provide all student participants with both the substantive knowledge of an advanced topics seminar and the advantages of simulated experiential learning in written issue analyses and oral advocacy as well. The written analysis, oral advocacy, two-hour final examination, and class participation will each constitute 25% of the total grade.

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.

No textbook or other materials will need to be acquired.

First Class Readings

For the first class, students should read the "Introduction" section of the most recent edition of the Department of Justice's "Freedom of Information Act Guide" (i.e., as updated July 24, 2013), which is available at http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/oip/legacy/2014/07/23/intro-july-19-2013.pdf; read the introductory pages (1-4) of the Department of Justice’s 2015 “Overview of the Privacy Act of 1974” (available at https://www.justice.gov/opcl/file/793026/download); and skim-read Sections I-X of the "Department of Justice Freedom of Information Act Reference Guide," which is available at http://www.justice.gov/oip/department-justice-freedom-information-act-reference-guide.