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Course Details

Community Lawyering to End Mass Incarceration (Grote/Holbrook)

Fall 2021   LAW 584-001  

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Additional Information
Experiential Course

Yes

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement

No

Location

Class meets in person.

Course Continuity
Students are encouraged to stay home if you are ill or experience flu-like symptoms. If you miss a class for any reason, it is still your responsibility to make up the work missed.

I offer the following to students who miss class due to illness:

- I will make PowerPoint slides or other class materials routinely available on the course site to everyone in the class.

Meeting Times/Location
R 4:30PM - 6:20PM
Tanenbaum Hall 145

Category
Upper-Level

Credits
2.0

The challenges faced by individuals and communities that are disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal and incarceration systems of this country present complex practical, strategic, and ethical questions for lawyers. Since conventional client representation models that exclusively focus on application of established law in criminal or civil litigation are all too often inadequate to remedy deeply entrenched structural injustices, this course offers students a more expansive, alternative mode of legal practice that situates client representation within the context of movements for social change. By exploring the social and political roots of the racialized mass incarceration system, exploring the role of family and advocacy support for strengthening and improving attorney-client relationships and case outcomes, recognizing the role – and sometimes the priority – of non-litigation strategies for change, and through working on actual cases students will get an in-depth, practical experience in developing a multi-strategy, community-oriented approach to lawyering that aims to enhance their professional creativity and effectiveness while serving to end the movement to end mass incarceration. Students will study the recent historical trend that has seen an explosion of life-without-parole and other extreme sentences in Pennsylvania and across the country. With more than 5,400 people serving life-without-parole sentences in the state, Pennsylvania is second only to Florida in the imposition of this criminal punishment. Philadelphia has sentenced more people to LWOP than any other jurisdiction in the world, and the racial disparity in LWOP sentences is staggering. The course will focus on Eighth Amendment doctrine that permits most – but not all – LWOP and extreme sentences, paying special attention to recent developments in constitutional law that prohibit mandatory LWOP sentences from being imposed on children. Guest speakers will include formerly incarcerated people who were serving life sentences and community activists organizing to end LWOP. All students will work with incarcerated individuals serving life sentences on a litigation or advocacy project.

Course Concentrations

Constitutional Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of constitutional law; Perform legal analysis in the context of constitutional law; Communicate effectively on topics related to constitutional law; Demonstrate an understanding of constitutional law affects other areas of law.

Courts and the Judicial System Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of both substantive and procedural issues in the operation of our legal system; Perform legal analysis in the context of procedural issues and the judicial process; Communicate effectively on topics related to procedure and the judicial process; Demonstrate an understanding of how procedural issues and the judicial process affect all other area of our legal system.

Criminal Law and Procedure Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of criminal law and procedure; Perform legal analysis in the context of criminal law and procedure; Communicate effectively on topics related to criminal law and procedure; Demonstrate an understanding of the role criminal law and procedure play in society and their impact on other areas of law and society.

Public Interest Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of the varied legal aspects of public interest law; Perform legal analysis in the context of public interest law; Communicate effectively on topics related to public interest law; Demonstrate an understanding of how public interest law is connected to and affected by a wide variety of legal and regulatory structures and doctrines.

Equity and Inclusion Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of the varied legal aspects of equity and inclusion; Perform legal analysis in the context of topics related to equity and inclusion; Communicate effectively on the legal aspects of equity and inclusion; Demonstrate an understanding of how equity and inclusion are connected to and affected by a wide variety of legal and regulatory structures and doctrines.