This course focuses on the art of persuasion, with attention paid to both written and oral advocacy.
Students will have an opportunity to write from either prosecution or defense perspectives. Using
transcripts of two actual criminal trials – one raising 4th Amendment issues and the other exploring 5th
Amendment Miranda law – we look at how the choice of language impacts persuasion. Words count!
When do we choose to call a defendant “Ms. Smith,” when “Jacqueline,” when “Jackie” and when “the
young woman”? Do we refer to “the prosecution” or “the State” or “the government” or the prosecutor by
name? Do we say, “Despite the late hour, she claimed she was alert and watching carefully out the
window,” or do we say, “She testified she was awake and looking out the window at 2:14 a.m.”? Or
even, “Apparently wide awake and unable to sleep at 2:14 a.m., she was intently peering out the window.”
What difference does it make? We stress creating themes, supporting them with propositions, and crafting
messages to sell those propositions. We will also spend time on issue selection and framing: how does
framing influence success? Issue analysis, creative reasoning, research skills and persuasive organization
are all part of the advocacy process. The class is conducted as a writing workshop. You will write drafts,
we will review and discuss them, and you will have the benefit of instructor and peer comments in
refining your graded product. We will also look at research techniques and focus on using both good and
bad cases to our advantage. By the end of the course, you will have written two short appellate briefs. No
exam or final paper; all work will be completed by the final class.
See Course Type DescriptionsElective
Course DegreeJuris Doctor