Our Pro Bono Collaborative mobilizes Rhode Island law firms, law students and community organizations to provide desperately needed legal assistance for the underserved residents of the state. The unique program includes 10 major law firms, over 20 community-based organizations and several dozen law students.
Civil Rights: Equalilty Discrimination
This course focuses on constitutional tort damage actions brought against federal and state officials and governments based on 42 U.S.C. §1983 and the United States Constitution. Attention will be given to both the substantive constitutional rights that form the basis of the damages actions and to the procedure, defenses, and immunities that pertain to constitutional torts.
When class actions became a feature of the American civil litigation landscape in the 1960’s, few people anticipated how pervasive and powerful they would become. However, as loudly as supporters have applauded the ability of courageous plaintiffs and their innovative attorneys to use class actions to seek redress for social and economic wrongs, critics have just as vocally attacked what they perceive as unaccountable, attorney-driven litigation. This seminar is designed to provide a basic introduction to the fascinating world of class action litigation. Topics to be covered include: the purpose of class actions; class certification; notice and opt-out rights; litigation strategy and settlement. Throughout the course, students will also explore the thorny academic and practical questions raised by class actions.
Critical Race Theory
This seminar will examine the ways in which race has played a role in the development of American law. We will look at how race is defined in America and look at the experience of different racial minorities both historically and in the present day. The ways in which race plays a role in particular areas of law, such as criminal law and housing law, will also be examined. The course material for this seminar will be the work of scholars who have explored the historical and on-going subordination of racial minorities and provided critiques of legal regimes which have enforced racial subordination.
Law & Literature
This course explores how literature depicts the legal system and what that depiction reflects about society’s view of the law. Through close readings of fiction, we will explore the following questions: Is the lawyer a hero and crusader for justice? Can the law unveil the truth? Does fiction portray the reality of the legal system? Can the legal system adequately address complex moral problems? Readings include To Kill A Mockingbird and 12 Angry Men. Final paper required.
Ocean Management Policy and Reform
This course explores the basis for contemplated and ongoing changes to ocean governance and the status of current governance reform efforts. Reports by the Pew Oceans Commission and U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy in 2003 and 2004, respectively, called for significant changes to management of coastal and ocean resources. Since then, reform has been contemplated via various state and federal initiatives, involving legal, policy and political considerations. This course will examine the background for ocean management reform, the findings of federal and state bodies, and the status of current reform efforts.
Creativity and productive ideas have proven essential to economic progress. The federal government has developed an elaborate set of laws and regulations to protect these ideas from appropriation by others. This body of law, and elements of the practice under it, will be covered in detail.
Refugee and Asylum Law
This seminar explores US asylum law and practice employing a comparative and international approach. After establishing the international context within which refugee law has developed, the seminar focuses on U.S. practice, procedure, and doctrine. Through case law and comparative analysis, the substantive elements of refugee status are covered in greater detail. Specific topics to be addressed include the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, the Refugee Act of 1980, Convention Against Torture and other related policies and statutes. To expose students to the practical aspects of asylum advocacy, the class will watch a video about the asylum process, and observe an asylum hearing in immigration court.
Selected Issues in Criminal Procedure
This seminar will use several full-length, award-winning documentaries regarding specific criminal cases as fodder for the examination of timely criminal justice issues, primarily with a constitutional inquiry. Film verities allow the overlapping of doctrinal and practical problems for analysis, deconstruction, and reconstruction. Role-playing may be utilized. Topics covered will include: character evidence, investigative techniques, a variety of police and prosecutorial misconduct, racial and gender assumptions, mental health issues, evidence and emotions, the forensic science paradox, and epistemological questions regarding truth. The required paper may fulfill the graduation legal-writing requirement.