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SPRING 2003 SYLLABUS

  1. Classes. Our class will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 to 10:30 in Room 109. Our first class will be on Thursday, January 16, and our last class of the semester will be on Thursday, May 1. We will not meet on February 6, March 4, or March 13. In substitution for these classes, we will have a make-up class on Thursday, February 27 from 1:00 to 2:30 in Room 3, students will do a computer discovery exercise outside of class, and class members will observe actual court proceedings.


  2. Office Hours. If I'm not in my office in Room 203, my assistant, Mary Kempf, will know when I can meet with you. I'd also be happy to talk with you before or after class so that we can schedule a mutually convenient time to talk. My office telephone number is 882-3246, my home telephone number is 256-6825, and my email is DessemRL@missouri.edu.


  3. Disability Accommodations. If you need accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please inform me immediately. Please see me privately after class or at my office in Room 203. To request academic accommodations (for example, a note taker), students must also register with Disabilty Services, AO38 Brady Commons, 882-4696. It is the campus office responsible for reviewing documentation provided by students requesting academic accommodations and for accommodations planning in cooperation with students and instructors, as needed and consistent with course requirements. For other MU resources for students with disabilities, click on "Disabilty Resources" on the MU homepage.


  4. Attendance and Participation. I consider class attendance and participation to be extremely important and believe that not only your success, but the success or failure of our class, will depend, in part, upon the preparation and participation of each student in the class. For this reason, I expect any student who will not be present in class, or who will not be prepared to participate, to present me with the motion for extension of time contained in this packet of materials. Your class attendance will be considered in determining the class participation portion of your grade in this class, as described below. I also reserve the right to impose upon students who, without a valid excuse, do not attend class or are not prepared to participate all other sanctions permitted by the rules of the School of Law.


  5. Class Preparation. I will expect that each student has carefully read all of the day's assigned text material and has come to class prepared to discuss both that material and any problems or exercises contained in that material. In reading the text, you should check out citations to rules and statutes highlighted in the textual material. At least some of our class discussions, such as many of the classes concerning discovery, will focus on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or Federal Rules of Evidence. For these classes, I expect students to have with them in class not only the class text but also copies of the pertinent rules.


  6. Class Materials. The required texts for this course are Dessem, Pretrial Litigation: Law, Policy and Practice (3d edition) and Stern, The Buffalo Creek Disaster (both of should be available at the University Book Store). In addition, you should bring with you to class a set of supplementary materials that should be purchased at the Quick Copy Center at Brady Commons. I also expect that students will have with them copies of the current version of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence in those classes in which they are likely to be discussed. You may bring with you copies of the rules from other classes—so long as the Rules are current. Included in your photocopied materials for this class are portions of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, which will govern all written and oral exercises done in the class.


  7. Grading. Your grade in this class will be based upon the number of points that you earn in the following three areas. There will be a total of eighty (80) possible points that can be earned in the class. At the end of the semester, the number of points earned by students will be added and a grade on a 55 - 100 scale will be assigned. The scores on individual assignments are not meant to reflect grades on the 55 - 100 scale. Thus, for instance, 9 out of 10 points on a written assignment does not necessarily represent a grade of 90 or any other specific grade on the 55 - 100 point scale.


    1. Class Participation. Up to ten (10) points can be earned in this class based upon class participation. In awarding these points I will consider your class attendance, your preparation for class, and your participation in the class. I expect regular, valuable contributions from all members of the class, and I do not want to engender a competition to see who can talk the most in class. Instead, it is my hope that all students in the class will achieve at or near the maximum score for this portion of the final grade.


    2. Written Assignments. Up to fifty (50) points can be earned in this class based upon your work on written class assignments. There will be five written assignments throughout the semester, each of which will be worth up to ten (10) points. The assignments should be roughly comparable in the amount of work that they entail (generally the drafting of a short litigation document or a three to four page memorandum). In grading these written assignments, I generally will consider: (a) the quality of the writing (including grammar, spelling and other errors that proofreading should uncover); (b) the quality of advocacy evidenced in the document; (c) how well grounded the document is in the governing law; (d) the student's sensitivity to any ethical issues; (e) the creativity displayed by the document; and (f) any outside research that was conducted in connection with the drafting of the document.

      The School of Law's Honor Code applies to all written work done in this course. I expect that the signatures of all who have contributed to a written assignment will be affixed to the document.

      The following is a tentative listing of the five written assignments with the tentative due dates: (1) litigation plan (February 18); (2) complaint (March 4 -- even though we will not have class that day); (3) interrogatories (March 20); (4) opposition to a motion for a protective order (April 10); and (5) settlement agreement (April 29). Except for the March 4 assignment (which should be handed in to Mary Kempf in my office), the assignments should be handed in to me at the beginning of our classes on the days in question.

    3. In-Class Performances. Twenty (20) possible points can be earned based upon your in-class performance of various simulated pretrial litigation tasks. Students will perform in class twice during the semester, with their in-class performance grade thus being based equally upon their two performances. All students will be expected to come to class prepared to perform the assigned exercises. Those who do not perform in any given class may be asked to turn in the outline of the performance that they would have given had they been called upon to perform and will be expected to join in the class critique of the performances given. The exercises in question will include such tasks as interviewing clients, arguing motions, taking depositions, and attempting to negotiate the settlement of a lawsuit. The tentative dates for these exercises are January 28, 30, February 20, and April 1, 3, 10, 15, and 29.


  8. Class Coverage. We will proceed systematically through the course text. The topics that we will cover, and the order in which they will be covered, are: client interviewing, investigation and litigation planning, drafting the complaint, responses to the complaint, discovery, motion practice, pretrial orders and conferences, negotiation and settlement, and alternative dispute resolution. During the course of the semester, we will read the entire text.

    In addition to the daily assignments in the course text, students should read The Buffalo Creek Disaster as soon as possible in the semester. At the latest, students should have read Part I (pp. 1-97) of this book by January 23, Part II (pp. 101-197) by February 25, and Part III (pp. 201-303) by April 1.

  9. Additional Resources. In addition to the texts required for this course, there are several other resources that I recommend for your consideration. These materials are available in the law library, and I would not purchase any of the recommended texts until you have determined that you, personally, find them useful.

    Among the materials focused specifically on pretrial litigation are:

    • R. Haydock, D. Herr & J. Stempel, Fundamentals of Pretrial Litigation (4th ed. 2000). This comprehensive text concerning civil pretrial litigation is especially strong concerning discovery and motion practice.


    • T. Mauet, Fundamentals of Pretrial Techniques (4th ed. 1999). This is a companion text to Professor Mauet's Fundamentals of Trial Techniques, which you may have used in Trial Practice. As with his trial practice book, this text is very readable and understandable and provides various checklists that should be helpful to the civil practitioner.


    • M. Berger, J. Mitchell & R. Clark, Pretrial Advocacy: Planning, Analysis, and Strategy (1988). This text covers both civil and criminal pretrial proceedings, and, as a result, its focus on civil cases is less extensive than that of the texts by Mauet and Haydock, Herr and Stempel. The strength of this text is its focus on litigation planning. It also contains more extensive coverage of interviewing than do either of the other two texts mentioned above.


    • R. Dessem, Pretrial Litigation in a Nutshell (3d ed. 2001). What can you say about a Nutshell?


    • The American Inns of Court, Visions of Excellence. This series of videotapes, produced by the American Inns of Court, focuses on pretrial and trial advocacy, with a particular focus on ethical issues presented during the trial and pretrial process. The series is on reserve in the law library.


    • Because much of pretrial litigation is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence, I also recommend the following texts.


    • J. Friendenthal, M. Kane & A. Miller, Civil Procedure (3d ed. 1999). This is one of the better, and most exhaustive, one-volume civil procedure treatises. I believe that it achieves a nice balance between the theoretical and practical, it contains many case citations, and it is relatively up to date.


    • J. Glannon, Civil Procedure: Examples and Explanations (4th ed. 2001). This paperback, now in a fourth edition, contains short discussions of much of the material covered in your basic civil procedure courses. In addition, the later chapters of the book contain a discussion of a hypothetical civil case, which is used to show "the [R]ules [of Civil Procedure] in action" and which has illustrative civil pleadings.


    • F. James, G. Hazard & J. Leubsdorf, Civil Procedure (5th ed. 2001). This civil procedure treatise focuses more on theoretical aspects of civil procedure than on the day to day, more routine, problems that the civil practitioner may encounter. For instance, while the book devotes little space to the nuts and bolts of class actions, much attention is given to the historic background of procedure and there is a separate chapter concerning "social and economic aspects of civil litigation."


    • J. Moore, Moore's Federal Practice (3d ed. 2002) This is one of the two major multi-volume treatises in the area of civil procedure. I have not found it to be as helpful, or as exhaustive, on civil procedure as Wright & Miller, but in certain areas, such as the finer points of federal jurisdiction, it can be extremely useful.


    • G. Shreve & P. Raven-Hansen, Understanding Civil Procedure (3d ed. 2002). This recent one-volume civil procedure treatise does a good job of comprehensively covering its subject in a single and clearly written volume.


    • J. McLaughlin, Weinstein's Federal Evidence (2d ed. 2002). This multi-volume treatise provides comprehensive coverage of the Federal Rules of Evidence, although the Wright & Miller treatise also devotes several volumes to this subject.


    • C. Wright, Law of Federal Courts (5th ed. 1994). The focus of this well established one-volume treatise is on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, the Friendenthal, Kane & Miller treatise is more extensive in its general coverage of civil procedure and the James, Hazard & Leubsdorf volume is significantly more up to date.


    • C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure (3d ed. 2002). This is the most extensive civil procedure authority, and I highly recommend it for any in-depth research in the area of civil procedure, pretrial or otherwise. It is particularly good concerning the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.


  10. Suggestions. I am quite interested in any constructive criticism and hope that you will share your thoughts on the course with me as the semester progresses. If you have any suggestions concerning any aspect of the course, please speak with me after class, in my office, leave a note for me at my office, or send me an email.