Comparative Law Final Exam

LAW 6250: Comparative Law (2-3 credits)
Professor Pedro A. Malavet
Spring 2011

Spring 2011

Prof. Pedro A. Malavet

Final Examination
(Posted: April 20, 2011)

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 our review session on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 (from 2-4 p.m. in room 284). 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. 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.” (, the new Student Handbook provides very good examples of plagiarism).

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 Tuesday, May 3, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. You may turn in your answer before the due date, at your discretion, but not to me, since we must maintain anonymity in grading.

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.


LIMITED LENGTH. You should not repeat the question, just write an answer essay. 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 20 pages, subject further to the character limit. The character limit for your answers is 36,000 characters, counting spaces and carriage returns. The limit is computed as follows: Answer space shall be limited to 1800 characters (including spaces and carriage returns) per page. That is enough for 24 lines of double-spaced text in courier type, size 11 for each page. I want a maximum 20-page answer, therefore, 1800 x 20 = 36,000 characters. Each student is responsible for keeping track of answer length. You must certify answer length using your word processing software's character count command. Print out the character length including carriage returns and spaces at the end of your answer; submission of the exam certifies the printed character count as accurate. The penalty for exceeding the character limit will be a deduction from your essay score of a percentage equal to the percentage by which you exceeded the character limit.

GENERAL EXPECTATIONS. 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 these general parameters:

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 (please use the pagination in Handout No. 6, which includes all the texts that I handed out this semester in a single file). 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 character 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) You are permitted 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.


Given what you have learned at the College of Law about the functions and characteristics of the Supreme Court of the United States—and aware of the alternative systems adopted by France and Germany— is there anything that you would change? As to those functions and characteristics of the U.S. Supreme Court that you would leave unchanged, explain why alternative structures and methods used by France and Germany would not work or be appropriate here. In detailing your analysis, please cover 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 that is based on an act of congress?
  • (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 that is based on an act of congress? 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, or equivalent state officials).
  • (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) at both the state and federal levels.