Choose any case on a criminal law topic heard by the Supreme Court of the United States to research and write an essay about it
- Choose a Supreme Court case that interests you. You may choose any case on a criminal law topic heard by the Supreme Court of the United States to research and write an essay about it.
One good case to review is Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. __ (2016).
- Research the details about the case (answer the 5 research questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why). Take notes about what you discover. Note the sources of your information. You must list your sources at the end of the essay in BlueBook or APA citation format, proper
footnotes in Bluebook format throughout the essay, and properly cite the sources of each piece of information in the essay itself.
- After researching a case, organize the information you have collected by making an outline. A basic structure for organizing your information might be as follows.
1. Identify the name of the case and when it was heard before SCOTUS.
2. Identify the parties involved in the case.
3. Briefly describe the focus of the case.
B. Describe the case itself: What was the controversy in the case?
C. How did the case move through the courts before reaching SCOTUS?
1. What court had original jurisdiction in the case?
2. How had previous courts ruled in the case?
D. What did the Supreme Court rule in the case?
1. What was the argument of the majority opinion?
2. What was the argument of the minority opinion?
E. What was the reasoning used by the Supreme Court to reach its decision? How did it reach its decision?
F. Conclusion: How does the Court’s ruling in the case affect Americans today?
1. Has the Court’s ruling in the case affected other rulings in other cases?
2. Has the Court’s ruling affected the interpretation and enforcement of any particular laws, and how those laws are enforced?
3. If applicable: Has the Court’s ruling in this case affected you, or someone you know, personally?
- Write your essay. If you organized your information based on the suggested outline, then all you have to do is write down what you have learned from your research, and put it into a footnoted two to three page essay. Your first paragraph is the introduction (the information under letter A of your outline). The second paragraph is the information under letter B, and so on.
- Sources: Be sure to cite your sources, using sequentially numbered footnotes. That means any information you learned from another source, such as a website, a magazine article, a videotaped interview etc., must be properly noted in your essay. Make sure you use footnotes in proper BlueBook or APA citation style. Footnotes appear at the bottom of EACH page, not at the end of the document (those are endnotes). If you have questions about citations, ask your instructor prior to turning in the assignment.
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