Class activities

 

January 5

 

What is law?

What is Sociology of Law?

What is the purpose of Law?

Where does Law come from?

Can there be a society without any kind of law?

Have you ever had any personal –formal or informal- experience with the justice system?

 

 

January 12

 

 

1)      New Jersey Parole Board

a.       Is it law? Why? Why not?

b.      What is the main function of the law?

c.       Can you detect any dysfunction of the law?

d.      What type of law predominates?

e.       What is the typology of law?

2)      The Apprentice

a.       Is it law? Why? Why not?

b.      What is the main function of the law?

c.       Can you detect any dysfunction of the law?

d.      What is the typology of law?

 

3)      Soccer: Argentina vs. Tunisia:

a.                                                                                                       Is it law? Why? Why not? Is it law for Weber, i.e., does it fit within Weber’s definition of law? Is it law for legal realists?

b.      What is the main function of the law?

c.       Can you detect any dysfunction of the law?

d.                                                                                                      What type of law predominates?

e.       What is the typology of law?

4)      Who gets in?

a.       Is it law? Why? Why not?

b.      What is the main function of the law?

c.       Can you detect any dysfunction of the law?

d.      What type of law predominates?

e.       What is the typology of law?

5)      Seinfeld (The Statue)

a.       Is it law? Why? Why not?

b.      What is the main function of the law?

c.       Can you detect any dysfunction of the law?

d.      What type of law predominates?

e.       What is the typology of law?

6)      People’s Court

a.       Is it law? Why? Why not?

b.      What is the main function of the law?

c.       Can you detect any dysfunction of the law?

d.      What type of law predominates?

e.       What is the typology of law?

7)      Miss Congeniality

a.       Is it law? Why? Why not?

b.      What is the main function of the law?

c.       Can you detect any dysfunction of the law?

d.      What type of law predominates?

e.       What is the typology of law?

8)      12 Angry Men

a.       Is it law? Why? Why not?

b.      What is the main function of the law?

c.       Can you detect any dysfunction of the law?

d.      What type of law predominates?

e.       What is the typology of law?

9)      How will my judge rule on this issue?

a.       Is it law? Why? Why not?

b.      What is the main function of the law?

c.       Can you detect any dysfunction of the law?

d.      What type of law predominates?

e.       What is the typology of law?

 

January 19

 

Legal education

 

Group discussion:

1.      Why are there so few Canadian Law Schools? (16 Common Law schools)

2.      What would you change about admission to Law Schools in Canada?

3.      What would you change about legal education in Canada?

4.      Do you think it is important to have a B.A. or B.Sc. before starting Law School?

5.      Do you think you can study law from a legal perspective during your first degree program?

6.      Would you implement mandatory affirmative action programs for admission into Law School and/or other graduate programs?

7.      Why do Law Schools have a monopoly over law teaching?

 

Suppose you are the head of the Admissions Committee of the following Law Schools. Follow the admissions policy outlined below. What is your decision regarding admissions for each candidate? What kind of law have you applied according to Weber’s typology? What is the function of law involved? Any dysfunction?

 

1) Alejandro Elaughe is a successful Chilean lawyer who holds a law degree from the University of Santiago. His cumulative law degree academic record was 74%, a quite high record at a Chilean university.

While practicing law in his own private firm, he published two articles in a local law journal. He obtained a 550 on the TOEFL test (English as a foreign language test). He has taken the LSAT and scored in the 84th percentile. He attributes his relatively low TOEFL and LSAT scores to the fact that he has never taken a multiple choice test before as these tests are frowned upon by Chilean professors, who prefer other forms of evaluations, such as writing papers, or participating in oral debates and presentations.

TOEFL and LSAT exams are offered only once a year in Chile so he cannot retake them.

His personal essay is rather weak. He is not used to writing personal statements as a way of gaining admission to school. He’d thought the essay would be used for social purposes so he wrote about his music and film preferences.

 

2) Nicolai Edvardov, a Russian sociologist, has a candidate degree –similar to the North American Ph.D.- in sociology and is working toward his second doctoral degree in Russia. Seeing that it will be very difficult for him to make a living in Russia, he wants to practice Law in North America.

He did his undergraduate education in Sociology during Soviet times. As he was a dissident and frequently voiced his opposition to the Soviet regime in class, his cumulative undergraduate academic record was 44%. He did his doctoral studies after the fall of the Soviet Union, and he excelled in his education. In Russia, you do not take a prescribed set of courses at the doctoral level. You mainly work on your thesis and assist professors in their research, so there is no GPA for doctoral students. His thesis was excellent and is considered one of the best sociological works on oppression of minorities in Russia. It is being reviewed for publication. His colleagues consider Nicolai to be a star and a very promising scholar. However, since Russian professors are not used to writing letters of recommendations, his letters do not reflect his potential. Nicolai explained all this in his personal admissions essay.

He scored 575 in the TOEFL and scored in the 85th percentile in the LSAT. He attributes his relatively low scores to the fact that his English is a bit weak, as he started to study English while a doctoral student.

 

3) Ashley MacDonald is a good –but not outstanding- student at Mount Saint Vincent University. Her undergraduate academic record is 84% and her LSAT score is in the 94 percentile. She has not been involved in many extracurricular activities and her goal has always been to be a teacher. But her parents insisted that she study law. Her letters of recommendations are strong but her personal essay is not very powerful.

 

4) Elle Wood has a 4.0 GPA in fashion merchandising from CULA, a California College of dubious academic reputation. She is a social queen and chief blonde of her sorority. She got a 179 on her LSAT. One of her most significant extracurricular activities is growing up across the street from Aaron Spelling (creator of Dynasty and 90210).

 

 

5) Miriam O’Hara is an excellent SOSA student at Dalhousie University. Her undergraduate academic record is 87% and her LSAT score is in the 98 percentile. Her list of extracurricular activities is impressive and her letters of recommendation are very powerful. She wrote a very strong personal essay.

 

 

Harvard Law School

Admission decisions are based on the Admission Committee's experienced judgment applied to individual cases, and many factors are taken into account. Each application is given a full file review by at least two readers, taking account of all available information. Because GPA and LSAT alone do not fully or adequately summarize information about individuals that is important to admission decisions, these "numbers" often prove poor predictors of admission decisions on individual applications. At no point on the GPA or LSAT scales are the chances of admission to Harvard Law School 0 or 100 percent. As reported to the ABA, the 75/25 percentile GPAs for the class entering in 2004 were 3.94/3.73 and the 75/25 percentile LSATs were 175/169. Minimum TOEFL accepted: 600.

Unwritten admissions policy: no one with an LSAT score below 163 or with a GPA below 3.5 may be admitted unless there are compelling exceptional circumstances, generally limited to cases of institutional interest. 50% of spots are for male applicants and 50% for female applicants. 20% of spots are reserved for applicants where there is a substantial institutional interest. 70% of spots are from US candidates and 30% may be filled with international students, provided they meet admission standards. 80% of US applicants must come from top colleges, and it is expected that at least 50% must have graduate degrees, such as masters and/or Ph.D.s.

 

University of Toronto Faculty of Law

 

Successful regular applicants had a median LSAT score in the 94th percentile, and a median cumulative undergraduate academic record of about 84% (in the case of applicants with four years undergraduate experience, this statistic is based on the best three of the four years). Very few candidates are admitted with LSAT scores below the 85th percentile and cumulative undergraduate academic records below 78%, unless their backgrounds, other qualifications, or personal accomplishments would, in the opinion of the Admissions Committee, contribute specially and significantly to the class. The minimum TOEFL score requirement is 600 or 250 on the new computer-based scale and the minimum TWE score is 5.

 

New York Law School

 

New York Law School requires that all students who enroll in the J.D. program must have earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. or Canadian college or university, or the foreign equivalent whose program has been deemed by World Education Services to be comparable to that of a four-year baccalaureate degree in the United States. Median LSAT 157, median GPA 3.55. The minimum score requirement is 600 on the old scale and 250 on the present scale.

 

Unwritten admissions policy: no one with an LSAT score below 161 or with a GPA below 3.3 may be admitted unless there are compelling exceptional circumstances. 50% of spots are for male applicants and 50% for female applicants. 20% of spots are reserved for applicants where there is a substantial institutional interest. 70% of spots are from US candidates and 30% must be filled with international students and/or with US minority groups.

 

 

About the LSAT

(from http://www.powerscore.com/lsat)

The normalization yields a rough bell curve. The number of test takers in the 120s and 170s is very low, and most test takers are bunched in the middle, comprising the "top" of the bell. In fact, approximately 40% of all test takers score between 145 and 155 inclusive, and about 70% of all test takers score between 140 and 160 inclusive.

 

 

LSAT Percentile Table


180
179
178
177
176
175
174
173
172
171
170
169
168
167
166
165
164
163
162
161
160
159
158
157
156
155
154
153
152
151
150
149
148
147
146
145
144
143
142
141
140
139
138
137
136
135
134
133
132
131
130
129
128
127
126
125
124
123
122
121
120

99.98 %
99.96 %
99.91 %
99.86 %
99.78 %
99.67 %
99.53 %
99.32 %
99.07 %
98.69 %
98.21 %
97.55 %
97.03 %
95.92 %
94.84 %
93.49 %
91.91 %
90.00 %
88.18 %
85.74 %
83.07 %
80.60 %
77.43 %
74.18 %
70.74 %
67.14 %
63.25 %
59.29 %
55.22 %
51.49 %
47.26 %
43.20 %
39.33 %
35.60 %
32.17 %
28.40 %
25.46 %
22.19 %
19.59 %
16.92 %
14.56 %
12.44 %
10.63 %
9.01 %
7.54 %
6.29 %
5.39 %
4.25 %
3.49 %
2.93 %
2.38 %
1.82 %
1.48 %
1.19 %
0.93 %
0.77 %
0.60 %
0.47 %
0.37 %
0.34 %
0.00 %

 

 

GPA Conversion Chart: (from Princeton review)

4.0

95-100

A

3.9

94

A

3.8

93

A

3.7

92

A

3.6

91

A

3.5

90

A

3.4

89

B

3.3

88

B

3.2

87

B

3.1

86

B

3.0

85

B

2.9

84

B

2.8

83

B

2.7

82

B

2.6

81

B

2.5

80

B

2.4

79

C

2.3

78

C

2.2

77

C

2.1

76

C

2.0

75

C

1.9

74

C

1.8

73

C

1.7

72

C

1.6

71

C

1.5

70

C

 

 

 

 

The courtroom workgroup

 

Analyze the following video scenes and identify the courtroom workgroup relations.

Student Seduction

 

January 26

 

Sociology of Law schools

 

1)       Suppose the director of the film Legally Blonde hires you –an expert in Sociology of Law- as a consultant. He is planning a new movie called Legally Red Hair, and wants to know what changes he has to make to this scene to make it look like a real Formal Rationality law school class.

 

2)       Classic Legal thought vs. sociology of the case: please analyze these cases from both a classic legal thought and sociology of the case perspectives:

 

a.       Medellin v. Dretke (2005): A Texas trial court sentenced Medellin, a Mexican citizen, to death for participating in the gang rape and murder of two girls in 1993. A state appeals court affirmed the conviction. Medellin then filed a state habeas corpus action, claiming that Texas failed to notify him of his right to counsel under the Vienna Convention. The Vienna Convention clearly states that if the person detained or arrested is a foreign national, they must, in addition, be promptly informed of their right to communicate with their embassy or consular post. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations requires that an arrested, detained or imprisoned person be informed of this right without delay. Failure to comply with these rights should result that any conviction rendered should be declared invalid. The case was appealed to the US Supreme Court.

 

b.      Scales v. United States: Junius Scales was criminally charged with membership in the Communist Party of the United States under the Smith Act. Challenging his felony charge, Scales claimed that the Free Speech clause of the US Constitution has been interpreted as to protect membership in any organization. In other words, membership in any organization may not constitute a per se violation of any criminal statute. The case reached the US Supreme Court, which had to decide the constitutionality of the Smith Act.

 

c.       The Bucket (Bouquet) Residence case

 

 

All About Britain Quiz

 

Daddy, a senile 80 year old man who never quite came all the way home from the War, is frequently doing things that embarrass his eldest daughter, Hyacinth Bucket –pronounced Bouquet.

Daddy has four daughters. Hyacinth who lives in a well-off cottage with her husband Richard, Violet, also married, who lives with her husband and has a Mercedes, a sauna and room for a pony, Daisy, and Rose. Daddy lives with Daisy, her husband Onslow, and Rose on the other side of town. Daisy is Daddy’s legal guardian.

One day, Daddy slipped out and ran up a hefty bill in the toy department of a large store.

In England the law says that whenever an incapacitated person (such as Daddy) incurs a debt, his [sic] legal guardian is responsible for the debt.

Daisy has no money. So, the toy store wants to seek payment from Hyacinth and/or Violet.

 

 

 

3)      The following are abstracts about books and articles on some of the Sociology of Law schools. Please identify the predominant school in each of the following passages:

 

  1. This essay emphasizes the commitment of this school to a core descriptive claim about adjudication (judges respond primarily to the underlying facts of the cases, rather than to legal rules and reasons); and this school’s commitment to rule-skepticism. This essay also starts with a very colorful but telling image "what the judge ate for breakfast determines the decision".

 

  1. This school concentrates on external events. According to this school, law is the order that is experienced. It cannot, however, be simply equated with ordinary human activity, which would deny its normativity. Rather, what matters is the reaction of society to behavior which deviates from the norm. The role of the courts is to restore this order when such a deviation from the norm takes place.

 

  1. This book is a study of the construction and workings of the law from perspectives which foreground the implications of the law for women and women’s lives. This study includes law as a theoretical enterprise as well its practical and concrete effects in women’s lives. Further, it includes law as an academic discipline, and thus incorporates concerns regarding pedagogy and the influence of teachers. On all these levels, the authors raise questions about the meaning and the impact of law on women’s lives. They seek to analyze and redress more traditional legal theory and practice. It focuses on the ways in which law has been structured (sometimes unwittingly) that deny women’s’ experiences and needs.

 

5) Please do a gender analysis (Feminist Jurisprudence) of the following criminal laws:

 

RUSSIA: DEATH PENALTY

A woman may not be sentenced to the death penalty (Article 59 of the RF Criminal Code).

 

CANADA: PROSTITUTION

Section 213 of the Canadian Criminal Code asserts that any person who in a public place stops or attempts to stop any vehicular or pedestrian traffic, or communicates or attempts to communicate with any person for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, is guilty of an offence. 

6) Applying CLS deconstruction method, what value position is repressed (silenced) in the following norms?

 

CANADA: INFANTICIDE

 233. A female person commits infanticide when by a wilful act or omission she causes the death of her newly-born child, if at the time of the act or omission she is not fully recovered from the effects of giving birth to the child and by reason thereof or of the effect of lactation consequent on the birth of the child her mind is then disturbed.

 

 

February 2

 

Design a website about Durkheim’s conception of law and Marx’s conception of law. The target audience is third year DAL Sociology of Law students. The web site should be useful for all students to study for the midterm test. The objective: to help students understand Marx’s and Durkheim’s conception of law. The following questions are meant to guide in the construction of the websites:

 

Karl Marx

 

  1. Who was Karl Marx?
  2. What was Karl Marx’s influence?
  3. What is Marx’s conception of law?
  4. What is the difference between an instrumental and structural view of the law?
  5. What are the key concepts for Structuralists?
  6. Who is Pashukanis? What are his main ideas?

 

Emile Durkheim

 

  1. Who was Durkheim?
  2. What was Durkheim’s influence in Sociology and Sociology of Law?
  3. What is Durkheim’s conception of law?
  4. What is anomie?
  5. Who is Robert Merton? What are his main ideas?
  6. Is Durkheim a conflict or consensus theorist?

 

 

 

March 16

Violence against women

 

1. A student finds that she does not enjoy going to class due to the fact that her professor frequently uses inappropriate language and makes sexually suggestive remarks in class. W hen the professor does this, many of the male students laugh and after class they repeat the professor’s com m ents. The student has started skipping class as the environment makes her uncomfortable. She talks to some of her m ale friends about it and they tellher that she is being “over sensitive”.

The student brings a claim to the University Adjudication Committee. The professor defends himself by arguing that article 1 of the University’s General Academic Rules, Standards and Practices adopted by the Senate on October 28, 1998 set forth that “teachers shall have absolute freedom as to the content and methodology of the classes they teach”.

The student argues that the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy, adopted on November 29, 2003 states that “the University does not condone or tolerate sexual harassment of any kind. Indeed, the University regards sexual harassment as unacceptable behavior that is subject to a wide range of disciplinary measures, including dismissal or expulsion from the University.”

 

a.       Is it sexual harassment? If so, what type?

b.      How would you decide this case according to University norms? (follow the Formal Rationality method).

c.       How would you decide it under the following perspectives: CLS, Legal Realism, Sociological Jurisprudence, and Feminist Jurisprudence?

d.      What type of function of law is involved here?

 

 

2. At a Sydney, Nova Scotia Law Firm, when Tom Bennet, the managing partner, gets all 15 lawyers together for their monthly planning session, he always asks Carol Jackson –the only female lawyer- to take notes and make coffee. Tom Bennet has three administrative assistants.

 

a.       Is it sexual harassment? If so, what type?

 

3. Amber is the exchange student from Eastern Europe and all the Dal guys are asking her out. Sally is very jealous and spreads the rumor that Amber is "easy" and a "slut".

a.       Is it sexual harassment? If so, what type?

 

4. Nancy met Ted –both Dalhousie undergraduate students- in a first year psychology course. They would talk and sometimes they went for coffee together after class. Ted began asking Nancy to go out with him. Nancy was not interested. Ted did not seem to understand that she was not going to change her mind. She was frustrated by his insistence. On a couple of occasions, she had told him off. But, upon seeing his hurtful expression, she relented and resorted to reasoning with him to go out with other women. He kept calling her on the phone and waiting for her after class. She sometimes missed going to her class because she didn't want to have to deal with him. She felt caught because she did not know how to get him to stop pestering her.

 

a.       Is it sexual harassment? If so, what type?

b.      How would you decide this case according to University norms? (follow Formal Rationality method).

c.       Choose one of the following perspectives and decide the case according to its prevailing method: CLS, Legal Realism, Sociological Jurisprudence, and Feminist Jurisprudence?

 

5. Shirley works at Eastlink in Halifax. Eugene is her supervisor and has asked her to join him for lunch a couple of times but she has been busy so hasn’t gone. Today Eugene has again asked her to lunch but has insisted that she make time for the lunch because it will be important to her job. According to the Human Rights Act, sexual harassment is illegal in all areas of public life, including the workplace. The rules in Nova Scotia do not define what sexual harassment is. Eastlink does not define the term sexual harassment in its human resource policy.

a.       Is it sexual harassment? If so, what type?

6. Shirley arranged her schedule so that she could go to lunch with Eugene to discuss her job. During lunch, Eugene mentions that Shirley looks particularly appealing today. He also mentions that he would like to see her on a more social basis. She does not respond to Eugene comments.

a.       Is it sexual harassment? If so, what type?

7. Miguel, a University College of Cape Breton graduate student who just arrived from Montevideo, Uruguay, is the teaching assistant for a second-year undergraduate course. Denise, a star student in the course, has come to him for help with her assignment. Miguel spends a lot of time discussing it with her and explaining what she does not understand. In subsequent classes, he singles her out for attention. He waits after class to talk to her about the course. Denise feels grateful to Miguel because he has really helped her a lot. When Miguel asks her to go for coffee after class, she accepts. He talks about himself, telling her how lonely he is. As they leave, Miguel kisses her on the cheek and tells her he'll be there for her. Denise is very uncomfortable with what has happened. She is afraid that if she tells Miguel, he will grade her assignments unfairly. So, Denise decides to bring a sexual harassment complaint before the University Judicial Committee according to the rules in effect. Sexual harassment is sanctioned with expulsion. Miguel says that it was the first time he had ever heard of the term sexual harassment and that in Uruguay talking about oneself is considered as being friendly. Also, Miguel argued that everybody in Uruguay greets each other with a kiss on the cheek.

 

Is it sexual harassment? If so, what type?

How would you decide this case according to University norms? (follow Formal Rationality method).

Choose one of the following perspectives and decide the case according to its prevailing method: CLS, Legal Realism, Sociological Jurisprudence, and Feminist Jurisprudence?



8. Two Hydro Quebec employees, Jilad and Jenna, have been spending a significant amount of time together working on a project. As they get to know each other better, they increasingly engage in a lot of teasing, playful banter as well as discussions about their personal beliefs. For example, the war in Iraq and the differences between various religions are often topics of conversation. However, when Jilad heatedly makes disparaging remarks about Muslims, Jenna feels increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation, particularly as many of her relatives are Moslem. When she tells Jilad that the conversation has crossed the line, he gets defensive and says she just doesn't like to hear opinions with which she doesn't agree. Their supervisor, Maria, agrees with Jilad, telling Jenna she can't suddenly decide a topic is offensive when she has been a willing participant to date.

The law in Quebec –adopted on October 8, 1988- says that remarks on political, religious, and other non sexual comments shall not be interpreted as sexual harassment. However, the Quebec Liberal government issued a regulation on June 1, 2005 setting forth that religion harassment must now be interpreted as sexual harassment and be included within the concept of sexual harassment.

Is it sexual harassment? If so, what type?

How would you decide this case according to Quebec norms? (follow Formal Rationality method).

Choose one of the following perspectives and decide the case according to its prevailing method: CLS, Legal Realism, Sociological Jurisprudence, and Feminist Jurisprudence?

 

March 16

 

Essay for the portfolio. Briefly read the following essay entitled The Case of the Speluncean Explorers.

 

Choose one of the SOCIOLOGICAL theories analyzed in class and write your opinion about the facts in the case from this theory’s perspective.

 

1