SPRING 2003 SYLLABUS
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Among the materials focused specifically on pretrial litigation
- 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
- 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.
- 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.