jackattack17 wrote:Anyone have any advice on how to tackle a CrimLaw Policy Question?
Some background: we spent a significant amount of classtime discussing our thoughts on the law. I had difficulty with this, seeing as how we're all in our first semester of law school and basically talking out of our asses. So, I didn't really take notes on these discussions and only half listened, figuring that "what so-and-so thinks about self-defense" would not be on the exam. Turns out, prof said there might be a policy question for our exam.
In two of the five past exams he provided us, he asked a sort of policy question. The first gave a long fact pattern on returning female vets of the Iraq war committing more DV and anti-muslim crimes, and asked about things like the role of extreme emotional distress in defining crimes and whether the law should be gender-neutral. (note: prof admitted that this question, from the first exam he ever wrote, was a trainwreck haha) The second did not give a fact pattern, just basically said to advise the judiciary committee of your legislature on reforms to defining sexual offenses and sentencing.
So, how would one go about answering one of these, while maintaining some sort of structure and not just spouting BS for an hour? The only thing I can really think of right now is just talking a lot about theories of punishment (utilitarianism/retributivism), which a lot of our class discussions focused on directly or indirectly.
Most policy questions on a crim law exam will focus on a crime that the legislature will want to turn into a strict liability crime. This means that the legislature is attempting to eliminate the mens era element so that it would be easier for the state to prosecute offenders. This is why policy questions tend to center around rape and drunk driving. They are usually a response to citizens wanting to see tougher laws on violators. You should design a pre write for this type of question because it is highly tested. You can also see how that this type of policy question is rip for a thorough analysis of the theories of punishment. Using various and competing theories of punishment you can support arguments for why the crime should be strict liability (deterrence/retribution) and on the other hand why the crime should not be subject to strict liability (rehabilitation and etc.)
I would highly recommend that you use Levenson's Road Map to help you write a pre write for the policy question. If you would like a PDF of the text (for educational purposes) just shoot me a PM and I'll send it your way.