Statutory Analysis: Using Criminal Law to Highlight Issues in Statutory Interpretation
UC Irvine Law Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2011
16 Pages Posted: 27 May 2011 Last revised: 17 Dec 2012
Date Written: 2011
In the fall semester of 2009, I taught a course called “Statutory Analysis” to half of the students in the inaugural first year class at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law. This article is my attempt to dissect and analyze the “Statutory Analysis” class that I created, and to make some preliminary assessments of its strengths and weaknesses. Part I of this essay offers an explanation of the ambitions and intentions of the founding faculty members who decided to include the course in the first year curriculum and who settled on the basic parameters of the course. Part II sets forth the basic parameters of my Statutory Analysis class. In Part III of the essay, I explore the benefits and limitations of this particular statutory analysis course. In Part III, Section A, I discuss the compromises I made in terms of the coverage of criminal law. Part III, Section B focuses on the cost this course design exacts from efforts to teach the history, theories and tools of statutory interpretation. Ultimately, I believe that the course I designed has expanded first year students’ understanding of and attention to issues of statutory interpretation without extracting too great a cost in terms of their knowledge of substantive criminal law. Nevertheless, anyone wishing to implement such a course should carefully consider both the benefits and the costs of doing so.
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