The Judge and The Community Court
This class examines through participant observation the functioning of the judicial process in our lower-level trial courts. Attention is paid to the various roles (adjudicatory, administrative, educational, sanctioning and symbolic) that judges play in these courts. The seminar's focus is on the interaction between the local court and the community it serves, with a view toward evaluating the role of decentralized, neighborhood-oriented courts in contemporary society. The contributions of various scholars to understanding these courts is reviewed, as well as distinct proposals for increasing judicial accountability, citizen participation, and court reform. Particular attention is paid to use of ADR in the courts and the expansion of “treatment courts” like drug court, veterans’ court, and the new homelessness court. Students receive two graded credits for the classroom component and two pass/fail credits for the fieldwork activity.
Students undertake this study of lower court judicial performance through clerkship-like, fieldwork placements with individual Justices of the District Court, Boston Municipal Court, Juvenile Court, and Housing Court Departments of the Massachusetts Trial Court. These justices are expected to assign research and writing projects to their students. Students are expected to observe and assist their assigned Judge approximately eight hours per week (two mornings or one full day) for which they will receive two pass/fail credits. A 20 page paper describing some aspect of the judiciary's work in these courts is required and serves as the basis for each student's grade. Course satisfies the upper-level writing requirement. Limited enrollment by lottery.
Judicial Process - Trials
Professor Robert Bloom
Judicial Process is a course which allows a student to sit as an intern two days per week with a series of Massachusetts Superior Court Judges (Trial Court). This is a unique opportunity to compare and contrast trial judges in both civil and criminal proceedings. The students will act as law clerks. Students will be assigned to individual judges, but will operate out of a pool system. A coordinator will distribute assignments to ensure that students receive assignments appropriate in terms of quantity and difficulty. Typical assignments will include: (a) reviewing case files and briefing the judge, either verbally or by bench memoranda; to prepare the judge for oral arguments; (b) research memoranda on specific legal issues, including those that arise during trial; and (c) drafting decisions on dispositive and other motions. Once students receive an assignment, they will work directly with the judge on the assignment. Students will therefore have the opportunity to observe and work directly with a variety of judges and thereby learn from different judicial styles and perspectives. Judges will be encouraged to discuss cases with students and provide them with feedback.
Readings will be assigned in preparation for bi-weekly two hour seminar meetings, which will be used to discuss various aspects of the judicial process in light of the students' actual courtroom and lobby experiences.
The topics discussed include the following: Selection and Discipline of Judges; Role of the Jury; and a Critique of the Adversary System. Each student must have two days per week free in his or her schedule for court attendance and an additional half-day to complete assignments.
Students will be selected for this course on the basis of resume, and written statement of purpose. Some preference will be given to those students who have not had a clinical experience. Students with clinical experience should still apply. No final exam; grade based on weekly reports and class participation. Course satisfies the upper-level writing requirements. Enrollment is limited.
Judicial Process - Appeals
Professor Erin Macgowan
In this course, students will work two days a week for a Judge in the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Students will be selected by the individual Judge. It is expected that students will assist the Judge in writing appellate decisions. Students will also have an opportunity to observe appellate oral arguments. There will be a two-hour seminar meeting every other week, which will be used to discuss various topics involving appellate clerkships. Applications will be processed through Career Services. Limited enrollment.