This seminar will be focused on issues involved in litigating civil rights cases. We will study principles of federal civil rights law and practice, and examine the skills and strategies involved in litigating these cases. The course is structured to reflect the choices that an attorney makes in handling civil rights cases (both in representing plaintiffs and defendants). We will explore four areas over the semester. First, we will look at the initial considerations in litigating a civil rights case: What remedy is sought and available? Who is the plaintiff? Who is the defendant? Second, we will explore the process of developing the theory of the case. This includes considering whether a constitutional claim is available and what statutory civil rights claims might be available. Third, we will consider some aspects of litigating the case, including the availability of attorneys’ fees. Finally, throughout the course, we will read and discuss civil rights cases in multiple areas and consider the state of the law and the strategies employed in the cases we study.
Students will be graded based on eight analytical response papers to reading, two practice-oriented written assignments (drafting a complaint and discovery plan), and class participation. This seminar will not fulfuill the Law School's substantial analytic writing requirement. Enrollment is limited to 16 students and admission is by application.