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Fall 2012 Class Descriptions

As of 12/7/2016 5:38:15 AM

Constitutional Litigation

Suits aimed at vindicating constitutional rights, for example,

litigation against the police, prison wardens, schools, local

governments, and federal actors, are sometimes called "constitutional

tort" or "Section 1983" actions. This course will examine the law that

has been developed by the Supreme Court and other federal courts to

govern such cases. It will deal with such critical questions as: Who

is a proper defendant in a civil rights suit under the Constitution?

What qualifies as a constitutional injury, and how are the theories of

liability different from ordinary tort law? When are government actors

immune from suit? And (dear to the heart of almost every lawyer) under

what circumstances may attorney's fees be recovered? This material has

been the subject of intense political and judicial controversy over

the last few decades because it determines what constitutional

guarantees actually mean in practice. Although this is not a course on

the substance of the Bill of Rights or the Fourteenth Amendment, we

will look at cases that illustrate, for example, how courts apply the

Eight Amendment to prisoner claims and the Due Process Clause to

lawsuits against prosecutors. It covers some of the same material, but

is designed to complement, Federal Courts. The course should be of

interest to students who are planning to do plaintiffs' civil rights

work (including pro bono cases at law firms), to those who plan to

represent government defendants, and to those who are generally

interested in constitutional law. The instructor has briefed and

argued several constitutional tort cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and

federal circuit courts.

2.00 hours