Comparative Law Final Exam

LAW 6250: Comparative Law (2-3 credits)
Professor Pedro A. Malavet
Spring 2009


Spring 2009

Prof. Pedro A. Malavet

Final Examination
(Posted: April 22, 2009)

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 my office hours on Friday, April 24, 2009. However, should some important matter requiring clarification come up after that, I will post a note about it in the website. 

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. For a helpful definition of plagiarism, please see the St. Louis University School of Law Statement on Plagiarism, which includes the following: “Direct appropriation of another author’s words must be indicated by quotation marks, a block quotation or other formatting, and a footnote or other reference must identify the source from which the quoted material was taken.” (

DUE DATE. Your answer must be turned in to the Office of the Dean (the secretaries in the Dean’s office on the second floor of Holland Hall will be collecting take home examinations). Your answer must be turned in on or before THURSDAY, May 7, 2009 at 4:00 p.m. You may turn in your answer before the due date, at your discretion.

WHAT MUST BE TURNED IN?: You must turn in a printed copy of your exam answer. You can keep this exam, you only need to turn in your answer.

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.

Problems. In order to ensure the anonymity of grading, if you have any problems, please contact the Office of Student Affairs. Note that exam accommodation policies are implemented by the Office of Student Affairs and not by faculty. If you need to turn in your exam by electronic means such as fax or email attachment, you must arrange do so with the Office of Student Affairs and with the Office of the Dean. Under no circumstances should you send an exam answer directly to me.

Use Exam Numbers Only. Do not include your name in the answers, use your examination numbers only. Each page of your answers must bear your examination number.  Because the exams are collected by the Office of the Dean, be sure to include our course title, and my name on the first page of your answer, to ensure that the document is routed properly.

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 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 hand out this exam on the last week of classes. I also want to afford you the choice of turning in your answer when it is most convenient to you, prior to the final due date. But this is not an invitation for you to engage in weeks of research and writing. This is one exam of the many you will take this semester. As a general guide, I would estimate that no more than three days should be spent in researching, drafting and revising your answer.


You are required to provide more comparative examples, details, and more analysis than would be required in a closed book, time-limited exam. This analysis should show your command of the material we addressed in class. In drafting your answers, please keep in mind that I want you to do at least four things:

1) 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 casebook, web postings, and to your notes of our class discussion. References should be simple and straight-forward. Page references to our materials should be identified by “CM” preceding the page number. The date of a class session is enough to identify your notes, the appropriate web-notes section may be identified as it is described in the syllabus.

2) 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. 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 page limit.

3) Show that you can identify analogous United States or Non-U.S. legal concepts and materials that are the proper subject of comparative analysis. This may require you to conduct some modest research outside our class materials. Please keep it simple. I believe that most research can be limited to your first-year casebooks and materials. However, you may use anything you deem appropriate including electronic research systems.

4) As I mentioned in class, you are premitted to take one of two frames of reference: (1) that of United States law student or (2) that of a non-U.S. student. However, you are limited to the class discussion of the U.S., French and German constitutional systems, in order to keep you focused on a reasonably narrow area that was covered in the class materials.

5) Finally, you should discuss the factual or legal factors disclosed by your research in a thoughtful 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.


LIMITED LENGTH. Your answer must be printed on letter-sized paper, in double spaced lines, with one (1) inch margins all around. Typeface should be 12-14 points. Overall, the exam answer cannot be less than ten pages and cannot exceed 25 pages. You should not repeat the question, just write an answer essay.

With that in mind, please answer the following questions:

Considering your study of the U.S., French and German legal systems, what method of constitutionality review would you favor, were you to draft a constitution. In structuring your discussion, you should consider the following topics.

  • (1) What type of body should be responsible for giving the final word on the constitutionality of executive, legislative or judicial action?
  • (2) What should be the number, qualifications, length of service and method of selection and appointment of members of this body?
  • (3) Should the state and/or federal courts be allowed to determine the constitutionality of executive, legislative or judicial action? If so, how? (e.g., the German Reference Procedure, or the U.S. "case and controversy" standard.)
  • (4) How and when will matters be submitted to this body? (e.g., appeal from lower courts, reference procedure, citizen complaint, request for advisory opinion by those with special standing, like the President, the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, any number of congressmen and senators).
  • (5) What will be the effect of the decisions of the constitutional review body when interpreting the Constitution of the United States? (Please consider three areas: (1) In the same case, as to courts and parties involved; (2) Within the judiciary generally as "precedent"; and (3) As to the other branches of government (legislative, executive and judiciary).)