Tag Archives: teaching

Practicum Recap #2: Doctrinal Learning

As I noted in previous posts, I co-taught a new class called Constitutional Litigation Practicum this past semester. I’m now writing a series of reflections on teaching the class. In this post I’ll offer some general thoughts about how to prepare to teach the doctrinal component of a practicum-style class involving both doctrinal and skills-based learning, and a Constitutional Litigation Practicum class in particular.

The doctrinal portion of the Constitutional Litigation Practicum was integral to the class. We wanted students to have a strong foundation not only for the specific concepts they would be applying in the skills simulations throughout the class, but also to understand the overarching structure of litigation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We also wanted students to go into the skills simulations with most of this knowledge, rather than fumbling through depositions or motions without a solid grounding in the area in which they practice. Both Qusair and I have seen far too many lawyers whose understanding of the law is reasonably good as it relates to their specific case, yet who are thrown entirely off balance by a question linking the specific understanding of the case to the broader doctrinal architecture. Representing a client well requires both narrow and broad understandings. Continue reading

Practicum Recap #1: Preparing to Teach

As I noted in previous posts, I co-taught a new class called Constitutional Litigation Practicum this past semester. I’m now writing a series of reflections on teaching the class. In this post I’ll offer some brief thoughts about how to prepare to teach a practicum-style class in general, and a Constitutional Litigation Practicum class in particular.

Practicum classes occupy a unique space: they are neither traditional doctrinal classes nor live-client clinics. This provides an opportunity to create an environment in which students gain expertise in a particular doctrinal area and immediately have opportunities to apply that knowledge in a structured setting, including highly realistic simulations. (I’ll talk more about the several simulations we employed in future posts.) Continue reading

New Semester, New Classes

The first day of the new semester was on Monday. I’m teaching three classes this semester. The first is Criminal Procedure — the investigative course, focusing on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. As I tell students on the first day, I fail to see why this class is not called Constitutional Law III. It’s a constitutional law class. Calling in “criminal procedure” implies that those amendments apply only to criminals and people involved in some sort of criminal proceeding, which is obviously false. It sends precisely the wrong message about those amendments. Protection from unreasonable searches and seizures is for everyone, innocent or guilty. (I may write about the naming of the course later, and I may use the title “Conlaw III.”)

I’m also teaching Constitutional Law II. At the University of Denver this includes the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and I also spend a little time on the Second Amendment (less than I otherwise would because Dave Kopel teaches a detailed Second Amendment seminar here). We’re talking about incitement today.

Finally, I’m teaching a brand new class called Constitutional Litigation Practicum. I’m co-teaching the class with Denver civil rights practitioner Qusair Mohamedbhai of Rathod Mohamedbhai. I’ve written a little about the class before, and Qusair and I intend to write about the class throughout the semester. The class uses a unique format and we’re excited about it. The class serves as a “capstone” experience available to students who are involved with the Constitutional Rights and Remedies program at the University of Denver.

The first session of the Practicum is today, and it will be a crash course in sovereign immunity, the ex parte Young fiction, and the origins and uses of 42 U.S.C. 1983. Here’s the tentative syllabus for anyone who may be interested.

Constitutional Litigation Practicum

I’m excited to announce that in Spring 2015 — in addition to my regular Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Law II classes — I’ll also be co-teaching a new course tentatively titled “Constitutional Litigation Practicum.” The course will combine doctrinal and skills-based learning about litigating under 42 U.S.C. 1983.

My co-teacher will be star litigator Qusair Mohamedbhai, one of the founders of Denver law firm Rathod Mohamedbhai. Qusair recently secured the largest settlement in Denver history against the Denver Police Department for a case involving jailhouse brutality. The case also catalyzed a number of systemic changes to the Denver Police Department, including a request by a federal judge for federal oversight and changes in departmental leadership. Continue reading

Why Asian Americans Should Support Affirmative Action

Affirmative action in higher education remains one of the most contentious issues in America today. The U.S. Supreme Court considered affirmative action last term and will do so again this term.  California’s legislature recently considered a bill, SCA5, that would have paved the way for voters to overturn Proposition 209, the state’s existing ban on race-conscious admissions in higher education. Although the California Senate passed the bill, members of the House recently announced that the bill would not move forward in time for voters to consider it in 2015. But the issue remains very much alive in California and will likely be reconsidered for 2016.

The debate over affirmative action raises unique considerations for Asian Americans.  While research has shown that a substantial majority of Asian Americans support affirmative action, some vocal opponents of SCA5 have claimed the bill would have dramatic negative consequences for Asian Americans applicants.  These claims are unfounded.  Speaking both as a law professor who has taught in the UC school system and as a proud Asian American, I believe that Asian Americans should support SCA5 in the California legislature and affirmative action in higher education nationwide. Here are ten reasons: Continue reading