Book Reviews

Praise for this new book in the Context and Practice Casebook Series:

Professors Say:

"Professor Ricks has managed to accomplish in this textbook, with prose at once clearheaded and lyrical, in a format at once straightforward and complex, and with materials at once conventional and unexpected, the difficult and seemingly contradictory task of pointing the way to the future of the casebook while at the same time proving herself a true intellectual heir to Langdell's original vision of the case method."
--Aderson Bellegarde François, Howard University School of Law

The full review is available here What's Past is Prologue: A Review of Current Issues in Constitutional Litigation: A Context and Practice Casebook.

"Professors Sarah Ricks (Rutgers Camden) and Evelyn Tenenbaum (Albany) just published a master text book for an advanced class on constitutional law. This is not your grandmothers casebook. Like several of the recent publications I have seen from Carolina Academic Press, the focus is on practice-not law school theory. Unlike so many texts which just focus on Supreme Court cases, this case book includes cases from the lower courts as well as excerpts from briefs. The book includes simulations which involve realistic situations. The book actually helps students to learn to practice law and not just to read cases."
--Mitchell H. Rubinstein, Adjunct Professor, St. John's and New York Law Schools

More information available from the Adjunct Law Prof Blog.

"This new casebook admirably fills a significant need in the teaching of the complex and dynamic issues in the area of constitutional litigation. For many years, law teachers of this increasingly important topic have either had to generate their own materials or choose among some few standard case books. Now, Professor Ricks has authored a new and quite different casebook that provides far more than the usual cases, comments and questions.

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. 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. Students are provided with the full range of materials from the files of litigators to the decisions by the courts.

As an example, the chapter on prisoner rights litigation includes the leading cases and the development of controlling doctrine, but also provides a rich mix of materials from litigation files, investigative reports from public interest organizations, and legislative hearings that bear on the major issues. Professor Ricks also provides thoughtful questions and innovative simulations that will encourage students to think through these problems from the perspectives of the lawyers, inmates, prison officials, judges, and legislators.

The world of constitutional litigation is far broader than case law. Professor Ricks has captured the multi-dimensional aspects of this field of law and has produced a casebook that will greatly enhance teaching, learning and practice of constitutional litigation. "
--David Rudovsky, a leading civil rights lawyer and Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

"For years I’ve been putting together my own materials to teach a course on Police Misconduct Litigation. The course takes a practical approach and gets the students involved in working on real cases with attorneys, from both the plaintiffs’ and defense bar, who are experienced in the area of section 1983 litigation. 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.

Chapter Six explores Fourth Amendment standards and Police Misconduct. The Chapter begins with facts and statistics about a police officer’s job, the typical job requirements, salaries, and training. This is important information for students to have when they are reading cases that evaluate the reasonableness of a police officer’s conduct. Following the key cases of Tennessee v. Garner and Graham v. Connor, the Chapter includes sample jury instructions and verdict forms for excessive force cases. An excessive force "dog-bite" case is followed from complaint to verdict, giving the students insight into how multiple claims and defendants may be reduced as the case proceeds, with the ultimate disposition of the case turning on a single issue in a single claim with respect to a single officer. Students are invited to think about the time and expense of litigation and the economic pressures to reject a settlement that would not compensate for the investment of time expended by plaintiff ’s counsel. The coverage of Scott v. Harris includes excerpts from the oral argument and an amicus brief submitted by the National Police Accountability Project. A post-Scott Circuit decision provides a window for exploration of how Scott is being applied and whether it establishes a “per se” rule for the use of deadly force in cases involving motor vehicle chases.

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. "
--Karen M. Blum, a leading expert in the Section 1983 area and Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School

Civil Rights Lawyers Say:

"[This] book improves upon the old casebook model in two important ways. First, it places each case in a broader context that helps explain the doctrinal developments that might otherwise feel counterintuitive or arbitrary to students who limit their study of the subject to the four corners of the opinions. Second, the book emphasizes the advocate's role in shaping the development of constitutional law."
-- Circuits Split Blog

"This book does careful justice to an area of constitutional law that is often overlooked - domestic violence. By featuring in the Due Process chapter the Castle Rock case in which the Supreme Court with a stroke of the pen virtually eviscerated mandatory arrest around the country, and excerpts from the Supreme Court briefs, it demonstrates the risks as well as the potential in looking to courts to advance women's protections.

The chapter then invites students to explore legislative advocacy and development as an alternative (or responsive) avenue for law reform, through an engaging and stimulating roleplay which brings these policy challenges alive. Finally, the author has done a fine job of making the case both humanly and legally "real" by including excerpts of several amicus briefs, a poignant photograph of the three murdered girls, as well as an excerpt from the mother's subsequent petition for redress to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in which she retells her harrowing story in her own words."
--Joan S. Meier, Professor of Clinical Law Director, Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project George Washington University Law School