332 Spring 2010
Semester Writing Assignment
Purpose: The purposes of this assignment include: 1) prompt you to dig deeper into a
legal issue that interests you by reading legal documents and judicial opinions; 2) present
basic legal reasoning and argument; 3) gain experience with drafting and re-drafting
written work and summarizing complex issues (the most important purpose).
Grading: The paper constitutes 14% of your grade or 100 points. The paper will be
graded based on three areas 1) quality of the reasoning (60%) 2) quality of the writing
(including grammar and format) (25%); and 3) other (15%). The page length suggestions
below are to be adhered to if at all possible. You should gain experience in summarizing
complex issues with this assignment. If you need more than eight (8) pages you are not
summarizing effectively and you need to revise your writing. This assignment should be
turned in to me no later than Thursday May 13, 2009 by 11:55 p.m. You are
responsible for making sure your paper makes it in to me on time. I suggest that you do
not wait until the last minute.
Research: You should use all the resources at your disposal. Google can be a great place
to start, but you should only cite authoritative sources (journals, legal opinions, writings
from accepted experts in the area, etc.). An afternoon of research and reading should give
you the underlying foundation and a few days of writing should be sufficient. Check
Blackboard for additional resources.
Instructions: There are two suggested approaches to this assignment. The first approach
uses an important case that addresses a key legal issue. Essentially you will be required to
write a briefing paper on the case. The second approach addresses a larger legal issue. I
have provided a draft outline for each paper below. These outlines are for illustration
purposes, your own may differ. If you have a different approach, please provide me
with an outline of your paper proposal and I will review it for sufficiency. (This should
be provided not later than April 1).
Approach 1: Choose a case that addresses a key issue. It will be easier if you find a case
that was controversial. For instance, Roe v. Wade was decided 7-2. Two of the justices
did not agree with the reasoning of the majority (make sure you read dissenting opinions,
if only to provide you with an alternative view of the case). The opinion can be a US
Supreme Court opinion, a Federal Appeals court decision, or a state Supreme Court or
Appeals court opinion. If you are addressing a lower court opinion check the status of the
case to make sure it has not been appealed to a higher court. If the case has been appealed
use the highest court that heard the case and issued a written opinion.
Writing Assignment- BUS
332 ??" Spring 2010 ??" Peterson 2
Outline of Paper under Approach 1:
a. Introduce the issues and why it is important
b. Introduce the key legal precedent that was used (or if it overturned
precedent introduce the key reason why the precedent was over turned)
c. Summarize the final opinion
II. What are the key facts of the case? This section should address the facts of
III. What are the rules of law that apply in this case? This section should
address the legal issue that applies in this case. For example, if the case is
about a contract dispute what legal doctrine is applied?
IV. How do the rules of law apply to the facts and circumstances of this case?
Describe how the court applied the law in this case to the facts and
circumstances described above.
V. What was the conclusion the Court reached?
VI. Provide your own analysis of the Court’s Opinion: This section should
address 1) why the decision appears appropriate or inappropriate. For
example, if you think the precedent that the court relied on is faulty explain
why. (Use legal reasoning, try to keep your personal opinion out of this
discussion.); 2) implications of the decision (here you can do a little
speculation based on your own opinion);
Examples: Roe v. Wade (1973) ??"right to privacy; Marbury v. Madison (1803)- judicial
review; Miranda v. Arizona (1965)- right to not confess.
Approach 2: More traditional term paper approach, although shorter in length. Choose
an issue that interests you and write a paper on the issue from a legal perspective. For the
most part, I would like you to keep your personal opinion out of the final draft of this
document. You should address this issue by citing to precedent, academic studies, or
other authoritative documents.
Outline of Paper under Approach 2:
a. Summarize the issue/thesis statement
b. Summarize the legal cases addressing this issue
Writing Assignment- BUS
332 ??" Spring 2010 ??" Peterson 3
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