This course will focus primarily on police misconduct litigation under 42 U.S.C. section 1983. Materials for the course will include recent federal cases on racial profiilng, excessive force, high-speed pursuits, use of canine units, police response to incidents of domestic violence and failure to provide police protection. There will be extensive examination of the problems encountered in establishing, as well as defending against, claims asserting individual officer liability and supervisory or municipal liability based on inadequate screening, training or disciplining. Considerable attention will be given to the particular defense of qualified immunity for individual officers and its application in various contexts.
Faculty comments: This course concentrates on Section 1983 actions arising from alleged violations of constitutional rights by persons acting under color of state law. We spend considerable time on Fourth and Fourteenth amendment rights that may be enforced through Section 1983. We also address issues of qualified immunity, municipal and supervisory liability and racial profiling. During the course of the semester, there will be two or three classes where outside speakers with expertise in certain areas make presentations and direct discussions of certain topics with the class. There is no text for the course. Assigned cases are downloaded from westlaw. Students have an option of taking a final exam or doing a project with a practicing attorney. The details of the project option are discussed in class, but generally the project will culminate with a written product of 10-15 pages. This may be a motion for summary judgment, a memo, a complaint or whatever the attorney needs for that particular case. Heavy emphasis is placed on class attendance, preparation and participation, and class participation can result in a “bump” up in grade. I use TWEN and make PowerPoint slides available to students.
Professor Blum’s course on Police Misconduct Litigation may be taken as a two-credit course with an exam only or as a three-credit course that will require, in addition to a multiple choice exam, doing a project related to an actual case with a practicing attorney. The “project” will be 10-15 pages of written work that will vary according to the assigned attorney’s need. For example, it may be a complaint, a motion for summary judgment, or a memorandum of law. The project is intended to be of a practical nature and does not qualify to satisfy the writing requirement. Please let the registrar know if you are electing the course for two or three credits.
Civil Litigation Concentration Requirements
Exam or Project Required
<<Course Updated: April 03, 2013>>