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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Susan J Helf
B CUSP 202
Bothell Campus

Introduction to Law

Introduction to the structure of the legal system. Covers how the United States legal system reflects and forms social values; resolves disputes; deals with criminal procedures; addresses torts and contracts; and examines the functioning of the Constitution. Offered: AWSp.

Class description

B CUSP 202 is an introduction to fundamental legal concepts and the structure and function of our legal system. This course will cover how our legal system reflects and forms social values and provides a structure within which to resolve disputes. Topics include constitutional law,with special focus on civil liberties vs. Homeland Security measures to prevent terrorist attacks. Also covered: dispute resolution, criminal law, criminal procedure and other topics as time permits. Students will learn to do simple on-line legal research.

Student learning goals

1. Understand the structure and foundation of the American legal system. Students will acquire an understanding of many unfamiliar but important legal concepts like jurisdiction, burdan of proof, habeas corpus, guilt vs. liability, precedent,etc. 2. Become familiar with the major aspects of the U.S. Constitution,with particular emphasis on the civil lilberties and the Bill of Rights. Students will learn about the constant tension between rights of the individual vs. the common good. 3. Learn how to read and analyze statutes and appellate cases. Discussing the basis for statutes and court decisions will help students better understand competing arguments concerning important legal matters. 5. Become aware of the major congroverial legal issues of our time, particularly the expanded power of the executive branch. Stuents will read majority & dissenting court opinions and other pro and con articles and engage in class debates on some of the issues. This will help students to see both sides of an argument, to marshall their own arguments and logically present their views. 6. Learn some basic on-line legal research skills, such as looking up Washington statutes. This knowledge will not in any way substitute for consulting an attorney for legal advice, but it will empower students to be able to look up the wording of particular laws or read specific cases in which they have an interest. 7. Improve written and oral communication; be able to understand and translate from legalese, the major points of a legal case. 8.

General method of instruction

Students are expected to read the textbook chapters and the majority and dissenting opinions in the "Taking Sides" supplement text. Classes will include Socratic lecture/discussions, the showing of law-related videos, small group discussions, all-class debates, and instruction in on-line legal research using the computer lab.

Recommended preparation

Read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution before school begins. You can find both on line. In order to suceed in this course, you will need to stay current with the reading, and come to class everyday prepared to discuss the day's material

Buy a small paperback legal dictionary. You will be learning dozens of new legal terms. Keep a notebook in which you list new legal words and concepts and define them in your own words. Read the cases carefully, always looking for the court's main points and how the court supports its conclusion.

If you get confused, please ask questions, either in class, or send me an email. Your learning curve will be very steep at the beginning of the quarter, so stay on top of the material.

Class assignments and grading

Weekly reading of chapters in the main textbook, intermittant reading of majority and dissenting opinions in "Taking Sides." Occasional articles posted on Blackboard dealing with interesting and relevant current legal issues. Individual response papers to the videos, group completion of legal research exercises, occasional pop quizzes on the day's reading; some class debates.

Occasional pop quizzes, individual quizzes on the videos, graded questions for small groups to answer concering some of the legal cases, pass-fail legal researach assigments, which can be done in groups, a midterm and final exam. Exams will consist of true/false, multiple choice and short answer questions.

Occasional pop quizzes, individual quizzes or response papers on the videos, graded questions for small groups to answer concerning some of the legal cases,class participation, in-class debates, pass-fail legal researach assigments, which can be done in groups; a midterm and final exam. Exams will consist of true/false, multiple choice and short answer questions.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Susan J Helf
Date: 10/16/2008