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Rutgers–Camden Law Professor Pens Casebook

News Release
Tuesday December 13, 2011

Rutgers–Camden Law Professor Pens Casebook

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Book enhances teaching and learning of constitutional litigation
Sarah Ricks

Sarah Ricks

CAMDEN —A Rutgers–Camden law professor has written a new casebook structured to enhance both teaching and learning of constitutional litigation.

Sarah Ricks, a clinical professor at the Rutgers School of Law–Camden, is the author of Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation: Roles of the Courts, Attorneys, and Administrators (Carolina Academic Press, 2010).

The book is one in a new series of casebooks attempting to change law school teaching practices.  It is designed to make it easier for law professors to engage students in active learning and to prepare students to practice litigation and counseling. 

The Context and Practice Series of law casebooks was designed by Michael Hunter Schwartz and is co-edited by Gerry Hess, directors of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning.

Ricks says her casebook, recently chosen for the American Constitution Society's Book Talk
feature, focuses on practical materials to teach the constitutional and statutory doctrines necessary to litigate current cases arising under the Fourth, Eighth, and 14th Amendements to the constitution.

The book encourages students to think through problems from the perspectives of lawyers, clients, judges, administrators, and legislators. The text also includes factual background about the work of prison guards, police, and social workers, to help students understand choices faced by constitutional decision makers.

David Rudovsky, a leading civil rights lawyer and Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, says: “This new casebook admirably fills a significant need in the teaching of constitutional litigation.

“Professor Ricks approaches the constitutional and statutory materials from several perspectives: doctrinal development, legislative responses, litigation decisions, and practical considerations that inform the litigation and decision making in this area,” he says. “Included in each substantive chapter are the social and political contexts of the constitutional issues, leading Supreme Court and Circuit Court opinions, excerpts from oral arguments on major cases in the Supreme Court, legislative initiatives, expert reports, jury instructions, representative pleadings, and even interviews with leading civil rights litigators. Professor Ricks has captured the multi-dimensional aspects of this field and has produced a casebook that will greatly enhance teaching, learning and practice of constitutional litigation.”

Karen Blum, a professor of law at Suffolk University Law School says, “For years there has been no casebook that provides students with the opportunity to see how all the facets of a case come together. Sarah Ricks has created an incredibly useful, contextually-based casebook that tells the story of constitutional litigation from many different perspectives.  Students go behind the scenes and come to understand litigation from reading not only case law, but from examining briefs, oral arguments, pleadings, and expert opinions.

“For professors and students who want more from legal education than the unadorned case-method approach can provide, Professor Ricks has compiled a set of materials that brings the case law to life. Teaching and learning about constitutional litigation will be a much richer experience thanks to her efforts,” Blum says.

The book is structured around a series of law practice simulations “designed to allow students to creatively explore how attorneys shape and apply doctrine,” Ricks adds.

Ricks teaches Current Issues in Civil Rights Litigation, Advanced Legal Writing, Public Interest Legal Research and Writing, and Legal Analysis, Writing and Research at Rutgers–Camden law school. She developed casebook materials over several years by teaching Current Issues in Civil Rights Litigation from the draft manuscript. In addition, Evelyn Tenenbaum, a law professor at Albany Law School, wrote two chapters on the 11th Amendment and First Amendment issues that arise in prison.

A Philadelphia resident, Ricks is co-director of the Pro Bono Research Project at Rutgers School of Law–Camden.  She received her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Columbia University’s Barnard College, and her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School, where she co-founded the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism.

Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse

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