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Page history last edited by Joseph Pettigrew 7 years, 9 months ago

The American Legal System Elective

Boston University

Center for English Language & Orientation Programs

Fall 2011 / Tuesday & Thursday, 1:30 - 3:55 pm


Joseph Pettigrew


617-353-7383 / jpettigr@bu.edu

Course Information


Schedule & Assignments

Thursday, September 29
  • Introduction to the course:  overview, main assignments, discussion
Tuesday, October 4
  • Reading:  Government and Politics in the United States  (given out in 1st class) p. 142 - 146
Thursday, October 6
  • Finish reading Government and Politics in the United States - to page 151.
Tuesday, October 11
  • Read All About Our Legal System - p. 9 - 12; answer questions 1 - 5 on the handout
  • Go to the Street Law website and choose two (2) cases you would like to study for your oral presentation.
Thursday, October 13
  • Read All About Our Legal System - p. 12 - 15; questions 6 - 8 on the handout
  • Go to the Street Law website and read the Marbury v. Madison case (at least the first-level version)
Tuesday, October 18
  • Class trip to the Moakley Courthouse in Boston. (See the e-mail message at the bottom of this page.)
  • Meet in the CELOP Lobby at 12:30
  • You will need money for the subway (The T) or a Charlie Card
Thursday, October 20

Supreme Court Presentations

  • Daniela Hermoso - Plessy v. Ferguson
  • Elena Villarreal - Tinker v. Des Moines
Tuesday, October 25

Supreme Court Presentations

  • Yi Wu - Mapp v. Ohio
  • Rongdian Zhu - US v. Nixon
Thursday, October 27

Supreme Court Presentations

  • Monan Zhang - Roe v. Wade
  • Adbulrahman Alanbari - Gibbons v. Ogden
Tuesday, November 1
  • Midterm Exam
Thursday, November 3
Tuesday, November 8
  • Read the summary of Brown v. Board of Education (class handout - or online:  Case summary / Decision)

Thursday, November 10

  • Read "The Federal Judicial Process in Brief" - pages 14 - 16  /  Class Handout or download the pdf And answer the questions.

Supreme Court Presentations

  • Alanna Rizel - Texas v. Johnson
  • Hanady Bafayad - Brown v. Board of Education
Tuesday, November 15
  • Read Mass Moments "Complaint filed on toxic pollution in Woburn" - handout from class or read online

Supreme Court Presentations

  • Hamad Alameri - Korematsu v. United States
Thursday, November 17

Supreme Court Presentations

  • Michelle Sandler Fascovich - Dread Scott v. Standford
  • Eunjung Oh - Regents of the U. of Cal. v. Bakke
Tuesday, November 22
  • Read When Eyewitnesses are Mistaken and answer the questions that begin each section of the article
Thursday, November 24
  • Thanksgiving
Tuesday, November 29
  • Film:  12 Angry Men
Thursday, December 1
  • Continue with 12 Angry Men
Tuesday, December 6
  • Review of the second half of the semester
Thursday, December 8
  • Class trip to the Suffolk County Superior Court - Meet in the CELOP Lobby at 1:30
Tuesday, December 13
  • Final Exam

Links and Other Information


The US Constitution

The United States Constitution and other historic documents 

This site has the full Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, etc. 

It also explains the basics of the Constitution and Bill of Rights in simple language.

(There's one for students in Kindergarten, and others for different grade levels.)


Transcript of the Bill of Rights


The Electoral College

270 to Win

An interactive map of the electoral college system, which elects the U.S. president.

You can look at results for past elections, and see the results of Congressional elections as well.



U. S. System of Government (PowerPoint Presentation)

The U.S. System of Government

Download to view. Does not require PowerPoint on your computer to view.


Legal Vocabulary

A Glossary of Legal Terms

Definitions of legal terms and crimes from acquittal to warrant - in easy-to-understand language. 

From the Minnesota State Bar website.  In Word (*.doc) format.


Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Landmark Cases of the Supreme Court (Streetlaw web site)

Summaries of several important US Supreme Court Cases written at three different levels - from easy to more complicated. This is the source for your oral presentation assignment. 


Legal Lad Podcast

Legal Lad's Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Lawful Life

 A podcast by a lawyer on a wide variety of legal issues.

Each page also has the transcript of the podcast, so you can read along

as well as listen to it.





Legal Systems of the World


     Civil Law

     Common Law

     Bijuridical (civil and common law)

     Islamic Law

Source:  Wikipedia


Links to

A Civil Action




The Academic Word List

The Academic Word List contains 570 word families which appear frequently in a broad range of academic texts. These are not the 570 most common words in English; they are the ones you will encounter most often while reading in university - as well as in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet. If you want to improve your vocabulary, this is a very good place to start.
The list on Simple English Wiktionary (click on the words and go to the definition)
The list with all forms of each word (e.g., abstract/abstraction/abstractly/...)
Practice exercises with answers (practice 10 words at at time with immediate feedback)

Video Links

CNN:  Supreme Court to Hear a Range of Cases
Starbucks Barista Song
Facebook Got Me Fired - Kabrina Chang, BU SMG
The Eyewitness Test  - Professor Gary L. Wells, Iowa State University (His - confusing - main page is here.)
Test Yourself - on the YourAmazingBrain website 
The Eyewitness Test - News story from KXLY-TV Spokane, Washington
Twelve Angry Men - The entire film is available on YouTube if you'd like to see (parts of) it again

Class Trip to the U.S. Courthouse in Boston

Subject: Moakley Tour Confirmation
From: Nathan Klipp (nklipp@discoveringjustice.org)
To: jpettigr2002@yahoo.com;
Date: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 9:25 AM

Hi Joe,


My name is Nathan Klipp, the Tour Coordinator for Discovering Justice. I am writing to you to confirm your tour of the Moakley Courthouse on October 18th, 2011 at 1:30 pm. Directions to the courthouse can be found at http://www.mad.uscourts.gov/boston/boston-directions.htm.  I will greet your group before you proceed through security at the main entrance on Northern Avenue.  If you are going to be early or are running late, please call me at 617.748.4185


I'm not sure if you are familiar with the court security procedures, but I just want to remind you of some of them. Per U.S. Marshal’s order, all visitors over the age of 18 must have two forms of ID with them, one containing a photograph. Electronic devices, including cell phones, cameras, and portable music players, are not permitted in the courthouse. Additionally, containers with liquids, such as water bottles, will not be allowed to pass through security. Please ensure that your group is able to comply with these security regulations - it will allow for the tour to run much more smoothly.






Nathan Klipp
Tour and Office Administrator
Discovering Justice
One Courthouse Way, Suite 3120
Boston, MA 02210
p. 617.748.4185
Connecting Classrooms and Courtrooms



















Supreme Court Presentations

  • Daniela Hermoso - Plessy v. Ferguson
  • Elena Villarreal - Tinker v. Des Moines

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