Evidence Writing Seminar

Evidence Writing Seminar

This writing seminar will examine selected topics in evidence law and policy from a more advanced, and often more critical, theoretical, and practical perspective than is feasible in the basic Evidence course. We will study some differences between New Mexico evidence law and the law that has developed under the Federal Rules of Evidence and similar state rules; examine current doctrinal controversies; and explore scholarly critiques of specific rules and principles, including critical or interdisciplinary perspectives on the traditional approaches underlying evidence law.

Each student will produce a substantial research paper on a related topic to be chosen in consultation with the instructor, and a significant portion of the course will be devoted to the development, writing, and editing of those papers, both during class meetings and in individual meetings with the instructor.

COURSE OBJECTIVES/EXPECTED OUTCOMES:

  • Students will learn specific differences between New Mexico evidence law and the law that has developed under the Federal Rules of Evidence.
  • Students will gain a deeper understanding of the principles and policies underlying selected rules of evidence and of criticisms of those rules.
  • Students will apply and develop legal research and writing skills by articulating and supporting a thesis with significant legal or empirical research.

MAJOR ASSIGNMENTS/METHOD OF EVALUATION & ASSESSMENT:

Each student must complete a seminar paper on a topic related to evidence law that incorporates significant legal or empirical research and has been written exclusively by the student seeking credit. At least two drafts will be required. The first draft will be submitted to me, and I will return it with a detailed critique. Each student also will receive the critique of a classmate and will critique another student’s first draft. The final draft must take into account and seek to remedy the criticisms that I offer.

In addition to participating in class discussion generally, each student will be required to play a role in leading class discussion for one session, to present his or her own paper in a workshop-style session, and to provide written comments on a draft of another student’s paper.

Written work for the seminar will include at least one paper topic proposal; a detailed outline of and research plan for the seminar paper; a first (and, if appropriate, an intermediate) draft of the paper; written comments on a draft of another student’s paper; and a final draft of the seminar paper.

The final grade will be based on the final draft of the seminar paper (75%) and class participation (25%), which includes attendance, quality of contribution to class discussion (including as discussion facilitator during an assigned class), quality of work on assignments related to the seminar paper, quality of paper presentation at workshop session, quality of comments on another student’s first draft, and compliance with course requirements including deadlines. With respect to each student’s own paper, only the final draft will be graded separately on the basis of quality, but the student’s compliance with deadlines and other requirements related to the paper will be considered in determining the “class participation” component of the final grade. Work on assignments related to the seminar paper must show serious and substantial progress toward the final product.