Law in American Society (PS 356) Space Still Available

What role will you play in the American judicial system?

Maybe you will choose to be a lawyer, judge, criminal detective or jury consultant. Perhaps you will be hired as a medical, engineering, architecture or psychology expert witness. You may even be asked to design a courtroom. Or maybe you will sue someone or even be sued. Perhaps you will be summoned for jury duty. Regardless of how you may become involved, you will at some point in your life play a role in the American judicial process. Spend the spring 2013 semester learning about how the American judicial system is structured and examining how it functions.

Law in American Society (PS 356), taught by a full-time practicing attorney and IIT alumna, explores the unique roles and the impact of key players in the judicial process, including judges, juries, police, prosecutors, lawyers and experts. Focusing on the jury, we examine how juries interpret, comprehend and evaluate evidence. We ask whether juries are qualified to render decisions involving complex legal, technological, medical or scientific matters. We partake in a mock jury exercise in an effort to comprehend how juries award damages in civil trials. Focusing on the judge, we not only look at how judges make and should make decisions, but we look at the importance of and how judges maintain the public’s trust, paying particular attention to society’s reaction to various Supreme Court decisions over a period of time.

We will explore these topics through a series of four lively books, with accompanying lectures. Two are written by judges: one a district court judge in New York, looking at his path to the bench and the particular challenges he has faced throughout his judicial career, and the other by a retired United States Supreme Court justice, commenting on a judge’s duty to society. A third book recites everyday stories of a Chicago criminal courtroom as observed through the eyes of a journalist that spent a year in Courtroom 302 studying the judge, deputies, clerks, prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses, the media, and defendants and their families. The final book is a study on juries and their role in the judicial system, looking at everything from jury nullification to expert witnesses to the CSI effect.

Enroll today! Join and contribute to our mock jury and discussion-oriented class, which meets on Tuesday evenings from 6:25–9:05 pm. Please direct any questions to Adjunct Professor Meghan Carlock-Gonnissen at