The University of Florida
Fredric G. Levin College of Law

Introduction to the Legal System of the United States, Part I
Fall 2019

Prof. Pedro A. Malavet

Final Examination

(Posted: Friday, December 6, 2019 at 12:01 p.m. to the course Canvas page as an assignment and to the course website with a link).

The Exam GENERALLY. This exam is TAKE-HOME AND FULLY open-book. You may consult any materials you deem appropriate. PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT: Your work must be original. You may not show your written answer or a draft thereof to anyone, nor may you receive any assistance from anyone in writing the answer. You may not coordinate your answers with any classmate. I will not answer questions about the examination after classes and the exit interviews have ended. However, should some important matter requiring clarification come up after that, I will post a note about it in the website and send an email to the entire class.

PLAGIARISM. Your work must be original. Please take care to avoid plagiarism, which —in the era of electronic cutting-and-pasting— can happen remarkably easily. Putting material within quotation marks or otherwise properly identifying the source of text that someone else wrote is crucial.

The College of Law Definition of Plagiarism:

  • 6. Plagiarism. A student shall not represent as the student’s own work all or any portion of the work of another. Plagiarism includes (but is not limited to):
    • a. Quoting oral or written materials, whether published or unpublished, without proper attribution.
    • b. Submitting a document or assignment which in whole or in part is identical or substantially identical to a document or assignment not authored by the student.
    • (LCOL Student Honor Code).
Here are some useful resources from the University of Florida on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism:

DUE DATE. Your answer must be submitted on or before Friday, December 13, 2019, at 12:00 NOON Eastern Time in Gainesville. PLEASE note the NOON deadline is intended to allow plenty of time for the Office of Student Affairs to process the papers and have them printed and ready for me to grade over the weekend before I receive my Evidence exams.

SUBMISSION PROCESS. You must upload your files as instructed by the Office of Student Affairs. You may use MS Word or PDF files only. Consult with the Office of Student affairs about any problems. DO NOT EMAIL ME; you must maintain anonymity, so if you have any problems, coordinate with the office of the Office of Student Affairs. Under no circumstances should you send an exam answer directly to me.

  • You will likely submit through "ExamSoft, more precisely, a web portal on the ExamSoft website, which is designed specifically for Take-Home exams.


  • Answer. A printed answer with a cover page with the namer of our course, my name as the professor for the class, and your exam number. You should use a header or footer to include your exam number in every page of your answer. Using the character count, you must certify the character length in an additional page of the submission.
  • Bibliography. You may submit a separate file with a bibliography so that you can shorten your references in the answer. The bibliography is not subject to the character count described below.

Print and Back-Up your work regularly. Because computers crash, disks get “fried,” and laptops get stolen, I urge you to be careful with your exam. Print drafts of your answers regularly and backup your work on a regular basis as well. One way to keep copies is to send e-mail to yourself with the exam attached.

Use Exam Numbers Only. Do not include your name in the answers, use your examination numbers only. You should eliminate the identifying meta-data from your file before uploading it even though the Office of Student Affairs will simply be printing them for me.

RULES. By turning in your answer, you certify that: (1) you have neither received nor given any aid beyond the allowed use of materials; (2) your work is original and is in no way improperly copied from or inappropriately influenced by any source; and (3) you have complied with all applicable instructions and rules, including, but not limited to, those set forth herein and in the University Student Code of Conduct and the Levin College of Law Honor Code. Violation of the rules may result in a failing grade or a reduction thereof and in appropriate student disciplinary action.

TIME MANAGEMENT. I will post this exam on Friday, December 6, 2019. I want to afford you the choice of turning in your answer when it is most convenient to you, prior to the final due date of Friday, December 13, 2019. But this is not an invitation for you to engage in weeks of research and writing. This is one exam among several and perhaps many that you will take this term. As a general guide, I would estimate that no more than three days should be spent in researching, drafting and revising your answer.


LIMITED LENGTH. You should not repeat the question, just write an answer essay. Your answer must be submitted through the Examsoft portal and system. Overall, the exam answer cannot be less than fifteen (15) pages and cannot exceed twenty (20) pages, calculated on the basis of a character limit. The character limit is computed as follows: Answer space shall be limited to 1800 characters (including spaces and carriage returns) per page. MS Word provides three different counts: word count, character count excluding spaces and carriage returns, and the all-inclusive character count, it is this third one that you must use. That is enough for 24 lines of double-spaced text in courier type, size 11 for each page. I want a minimum 15-page answer, which is 1800 x 15 = 27,000; the maximum would be 1800 x 20 = 36,000 characters. The character limit extends to every part of the answer, including footnotes, but not the bibliography. Each student is responsible for keeping track of answer length. The penalty for failing to reach the minimum or exceeding the character limit will be a deduction from your essay score of a percentage equal to the percentage by which you failed to reach the minimum or exceeded the character limit.

PERSPECTIVE. You must write from the perspective of US student and display an understanding of US legal institutions, systems, and laws as pertinent to the answer.

GENERAL EXPECTATIONS. I am looking for you to show an understanding of the law and legal system of the United States as we discussed it in class. This analysis should show your command of the material we addressed in class. In drafting your answers, please keep in mind these general parameters:

  • Show that you have a command of the material we covered in class that is pertinent to your answer. To this end, provide references to our assigned textbook (proper edition of course so that I may check the proper page numbering), handouts, web and canvas postings, and to your notes of our class discussion. References should be simple and straight-forward. The date of a class session is enough to identify your notes, and the number of the Power Point slide as posted in Canvas is also an appropriate reference. Page numbers from the current edition of the Burnham textbook are easily referenced with "Burnham, p. #".
  • Appropriately identify your sources in your answer. All sources must be identified and textual citations must be properly set-off within quotation marks or in block indents. Please be mindful of the plagiarism warning included earlier, and our discussions about the matter during your exit interviews and my warnings on the subject when commenting on your practical project essays. Footnotes and parentheticals are allowed, but you may not use endnotes. You may use a bibliography to identify sources outside of our class materials as well and the bibliography will not count towards your character limit.
  • You should discuss the factual or legal factors disclosed by your research in a thoughtful, critical and original manner that shows your command of the material related to our course. This last part is especially important if you wish to earn a high grade. Remember the themes, perspectives and emphasis of our class discussions.


Based on your reading assignments, our class discussion and what you have learned about the legal system of the United States, using the state of Florida to illustrate how state courts are organized and operate, and the Federal System of Article III courts, discuss how the organization and function of the courts at the federal and state levels reflect the type of federalism that is created by the Constitution of the United States.