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.
jackattack17 wrote:Anyone wanna help out? Re: Crim Law policy question
I think Dressler's Understanding Crim Law does a decent job of listing pros and cons for different areas; for example, whether rape statutes should or should not have a force requirement. It's not a short hornbook so it may or may not be worth looking into at this point depending on when your exam is. It is, however, well organized so I think you should have enough time to at least glance at it.
Dressler's book is good. Another very good criminal law book to look at is Delaney's Criminal Law Advocacy book.
Policy and BLL are intertwined, so if your professor is formulating his exam around policy, you need to apply the different policy discussions as the framework for the response and use iconic examples that incorporate BLL principles to intelligently guide the response.
In class, you need to pay very close attention to your professor's particular reactions to the questions he poses. In my crim law class this semester (which I received an A in), a lot of students would zone out during these discussions. However, being able to see the BLL principles through the eyes of your prof, and articulate a response that represents those views into your essay response, will immediately set you apart from the unorganized responses that the majority of students will write (by merely barfing out their outline or throwing out random, irrelevant policy points).
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How detailed should headings be? Obviously headings for conflict pairings and cause of action. But is it necessary to create a separate subheading for privileges? Or even further, for each element of a cause of action and/or privilege?