Year-Long Courses 2013-2014
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Human Rights Fact-Finding Seminar: The Toll of Statelessness
(All graded; 5 credits)
This year-long practicum seminar is designed to support students participating in the Human Rights Institute/Georgetown Human Rights Action fact-finding project. These projects give students an opportunity to work as human rights investigators—researching a human rights problem in depth, conducting extensive interviews on the subject, drafting a comprehensive report on their findings, and engaging in related advocacy. Through this course, students will gain the substantive background and skills needed to carry out this work. Each year, Georgetown Human Rights Action and the Human Rights Institute identify a new topic on which to focus. In 2013-2014, the selected topic is The Toll of Statelessness. In the fall, the weekly seminar will cover the substantive law and policy relating to this subject, as well as fact-finding skills and methodology. In January 2014, we will travel as a group to conduct interviews on this subject. In the spring, students will draft a final report and engage in advocacy surrounding their findings; there will be seven 3-hour class sessions to guide students through these processes and students will be expected to have their own meetings during non-class weeks. Over the year, students will be expected to devote an additional 110 hours outside of class to this project; all students must submit a record of this time. Grading for all credits will occur at the end of the spring semester.
THIS COURSE REQUIRES PROFESSOR PERMISSION TO ENROLL. Interested students should send a statement of interest and resume to Professor Rachel Taylor (email@example.com) by 9:00 a.m. on Monday, May 20, 2013. Admitted students will be informed by early June.
Poverty Law and Policy Seminar
(Edelman, Peter; All graded; 6 credits)
This course is a year-long seminar with a required field placement of 8 to 10 hours a week (specific times to be negotiated between the student and the placement agency) and a paper that satisfies the upperclass writing requirement. The field placement (to be mutually agreed upon by the professor and the student) will be at a public-interest law organization that works from either a national or a local perspective on issues connected to poverty. Placements might involve a focus on poverty per se or "poverty and . . . .": e.g., civil rights, women, education, housing, juvenile and criminal justice, child welfare or immigration. Depending on the organization, activities at placements will include litigation and/or policy advocacy. The subject matter of the class will be the framework, history, and current issues related to American poverty. Classes in the fall will cover the definition of poverty, the history of antipoverty policy, welfare, work supports, and safety net issues. Spring classes will feature guest lecturers covering, education, health, housing, homelessness, juvenile justice, and child welfare. Students will be involved in participatory exercises in the course of both semesters: in the fall, mock press conferences, testimony to Congress, and meetings with public officials; and in the spring, a group project on developing a plan for neighborhood transformation, using materials studied through the year.
(Mlyniec, Wally; Armbrust, Sean; All graded; 4 credits)
Wrongful Convictions is an experiential course designed to combine an academic seminar with actual investigations of prisoner's claims concerning innocence. The course will be conducted in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to correcting and preventing wrongful convictions in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. The seminar portion of the course will provide an understanding of the various ways innocent people are convicted and discuss remedies for exoneration. The seminar discussions will systematically prepare students to undertake the investigations necessary to assess prisoners' claims of factual innocence.
Students will act as intake investigators to determine whether representation of a prisoner's claim of innocence should be undertaken. The work entails understanding core legal concepts relating to criminal trials, reading transcripts, performing legal analysis, and investigating cases in order to determine whether an inmate has a claim worth pursuing. Although the investigations are as varied as the cases, they can generally be placed into two categories; (1) cases involving searches for DNA evidence, and (2) cases involving non-biological evidence. In all of the cases, students, supervised by the faculty and MAIP staff and volunteers, will work with the prisoner, former attorneys, courts, and police departments to create complete files. Once the file is complete, students will read the documents and work with their supervisors to determine an investigative strategy. In DNA cases, students contact (and sometimes visit) courthouses, police departments, labs, and hospitals to determine whether any testable physical evidence remains in files or warehouses from cases that are often decades old. In non-DNA cases, student will interview eyewitnesses, alibi witnesses, co-defendants, and, in some cases, alternative suspects, and perform other necessary investigation. If the student investigations are successful, the cases are assigned to attorneys who enter an appearance on behalf of the inmate. Ideally, the students who worked on the case will remain involved with it once it is assigned to an attorney, thus preserving continuity and providing students with an even fuller experience.