Comparative Procedure-France Syllabus

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LAW 6930: Comparative Procedure (2 credits)
Section 75HF
Professor Pedro A. Malavet
Summer 2015
Third Period: 11:50 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
(But varied as noted in the printed schedule that has already been distributed
and in the notes page here).

Please note that I have to leave France one week early because I have to start teaching in my LL.M. in Comparative Law summer program starting during our final scheduled week in France. Professor Stinneford will then take over as program director.

Course Overview and Syllabus Video

  • I prepared this video for Comparative Procedure, the course I taught in the Summer 2015 Program in France. But it provides a general overview of my approach to the Comparative Law courses. Naturally, some items are very specific to the topic, and to the nature of the program. For example, the no-long-weekends rule at the 15-minute mark was very much limited to the France program for the reasons that are clearly stated on the video.

General Rules

The Course. An introduction to the comparative method from the perspective of an American lawyer, focusing on procedure, rather than on substantive matters. Starts with a survey of Comparative Law, its history, current definition and scope. The more substantial part of the semester studies procedure within the Civil Law tradition, the most common legal system in our world today. Given our location in France, I will use the French legal system as the primary point of comparison to the system of the United States. We will cover legal structure, including the ordinary and administrative court systems of France and the specialized operations of the Constitutional Council. We will cover civil, criminal, administrative and constitutional adjudication; the structure of the bodies in which they are practiced; and the professionals that work in each system.

Our class materials: The required materials area book and a collection of edited texts. The book is Principles of French Law by John Bell, Mark Freedland and Helen Stalford (Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. 2008). The book is available in paperback and Kindle editions (I will be using the Kindle edition on my iPad while I am in France). All three U.F. faculty are likely to use some material from this text, but I will assign you the most from it, probably from about the first half of the book. The edited course packet for my class is Comparative Procedure Supplement: Introduction to the Comparative Method and Survey of Modern European Constituionalism, that I will make available in a PDF handout downloadable from the course eLearning in Canvas page. I will also distribute materials about the U.S. legal system to your French colleagues in order to assist them in understanding our legal system. I will use some of the lectures from the LCOL MOOC: The Global Student's Introduction to U.S. Law, for this purpose.

Recommended Reading: John Henry Merryman and Rogelio Pérez-Perdomo, The Civil Law Tradition, An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Europe and Latin America (3rd ed. 2007).

Assignment Sheets. I will post weekly assignment sheets with specific assignments in the course website, which is my usual course page for the JD Comparative Law course on my own website. I will structure assignments by class session.

Office Hours: Although I will be available after class and at our hotel, and will be happy to schedule specific appointments then, I will have regular office hours, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.; the location(s) will be posted in Canvas. Do not wait until the end of the course to review material and bring your questions to me. Review material regularly, at least as we finish different sections. Additionally, if you feel lost, or if you have doubts that cannot be resolved during class or during the period immediately following it, please do not hesitate to come and see me. Office time is also a good opportunity to explore matters that are not directly related to the material being discussed in class.

Office hours are also an opportunity for you to become more comfortable with my mandatory class-participation policy. You are encouraged to come by and talk to me during office hours before you choose to participate in class to chat with me about the material. In the past, I have been pleased to see that students who dread class-participation have really done well by simply "talking it through" with me beforehand.

E-mail. You may communicate with me by E-mail, but only for administrative matters. My address is MALAVET@LAW.UFL.EDU. E-mail messages from students must include the student's full name, so that I may ensure that I am communicating with a member of the class. I rarely answer substantive questions by E-mail because I find it a very inadequate medium to discuss course content.

Web Page and Canvas Course Page. This Syllabus and the currently-available weekly Assignment Sheets will be posted on my web site ( This is the first time I have taught a course focusing on comparative procedure, but I will link to a few of my existing notes for your reference. I will also post the Power Points I use in class and other supplementary materials on the Canvas page on the University's eLearning system.

Testing Score:

  1. One short essay project. This work will count for 10% of your testing score and will be graded on a pass/fail basis. This project is just a creative-writing exercise. In the past, students have had a lot of fun with it, and I have greatly enjoyed reading them.
  2. An open-book, take-home, written final exam, this will cover the remaining 90% of your testing score. The completed exam will be due on the date set by the university for in-room exams. My approach to grading in this class is a bit different from Evidence and Civil Procedure; creativity becomes really important in this course.

Class Participation: When determining your final grades, I will consider class participation to adjust your testing score in two ways:

  1. Minimum participation (20% of the overall grade). Each student will be required to participate in class discussion at least five (5) times during the semester in order to meet minimum participation requirements. It is up to you to choose the specific session when you do so.
  2. Minimum Class Participation further includes:
    1. Regularly accessing the class materials made available online both in my webpage or in the class Canvas page (please note that accessing the website will show by your level or preparedness for each session; access to Canvas, however, is carefully tracked by the analytics system, which is quite detailed).
    2. ONE visit during office hours during the term to ask a substantive class question.
  3. Class participation can occur in several ways: (a) I may call upon students at random during class; and (b) you raise your hand to participate in class discussion.
  4. Quality of Participation. I will consider the quality of student participation and conduct to further adjust final grades, as I deem appropriate, accordingly, you are encouraged to volunteer to answer questions at any time, i.e., class discussion should not be limited to the minimal expectations
  5. Current Grading Scale. The University of Florida follows a letter grade and grade point average system with a maximum letter grade of “A” and a maximum GPA of 4.0. Please visit the University Registrar's site for information on the current grade scale. []

Class Attendance and Conduct: Attendance is mandatory. This is especially critical in the compressed class schedule of our five-week summer program. Additionally, students arriving late or leaving the room during class are an undue distraction. I will take roll daily by noting who is absent on a preprinted class roll (as I mentioned in the video, I have changed the usual system of having each student initial the roll, I will do it myself). I will allow two (2) unexcused absences for the summer term on a no-questions-asked basis (provided however, that they may not occur on either the first or last session of any given week). Additionally, I am willing to be flexible about allowing excused absences to deal with unforeseen contingencies, provided that the good cause is brought to my attention beforehand or as soon as possible thereafter in the case of unanticipated occurrences.

Please keep in mind that as program director for the first four weeks of the term I will be responsible for assisting you to resolve or simply to deal with any emergency situation that might arise, so feel free to contact me by email, on my Skype profile, or using the telephone numbers that I have already made available, when emergencies arise. Hopefully this will not be necessary, of course, but if it is, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Electronics in the Classroom. Pagers and cellular telephones should be turned off during class (unless you need to be "on call" for serious matters; in such cases, however, please put the phone or pager on "vibrate only" mode).

Laptop Use. Laptop computers are wonderful tools for class-related note-taking and reference, however, during class time it is inappropriate to use laptops for any other purpose. In addition to any other appropriate sanction, laptop use in class is a privilege and —pursuant to our faculty policy— I will suspend or rescind it, individually or collectively, if it is abused.

Professionalism in the Classroom. Naturally, you are all bound by the Regulations of the University of Florida, University Student Code of Conduct, the College of Law Honor Code and my rules. But more than obeying rules, classroom behavior is about showing proper professionalism. Proper conduct in the classroom is intended to encourage everyone to participate in, to derive benefit from, and ultimately to enjoy the class. It is perfectly acceptable, and indeed professionally required, that you demand professional behavior of your classmates in and out of class. If you see conduct that is unprofessional and that affects your quality of life in the classroom or at the college of law, you should privately approach the offending student and ask that they modify their behavior. If private discussion is impractical or unsuccessful, you should bring the matter to the attention of the instructor or an appropriate official at the College of Law or the University of Florida. You should do so privately, though not anonymously, but you are strongly encouraged to bring serious matters to my attention, or that of other pertinent authorities, as soon as possible, so that I, or they, may take appropriate measures.

Sanctions. Absences, tardiness and any other unprofessional conduct will be initially dealt with on a case-by-case basis as a matter of course grading, at the discretion of the instructor. The imposition of disciplinary measures will follow the process provided in the Regulations of the University of Florida, University Student Code of Conduct and the College of Law Honor Code. Serious class disruptions may result in expulsion from the disrupted session. Excessive absences -even if an excuse is offered*- may result in administrative removal of the offending student from the course or in a reduction of his/her grade. Absent waiver, other matters will be referred to the pertinent committee or administrative hearing, without prejudice to the instructor's normal grading discretion.

  • * While I would not reduce someone's grade for excessive excused absences, I might administratively remove them from the course, although I would ensure that this was done on a "passing" basis. I would do this if, in my judgment, the person has missed so much of the semester that he or she cannot really benefit from the course.

Religious Holy Days. Absences due to observance of a religious holy day shall be treated as excused absences. Please inform me via email.

The College of Law’s Policy on Religious Holy Days states: The College of Law respects students’ observance of major religious holidays. If an instructor has an attendance policy limiting the number of absences, reasonable alternative means shall be established by the instructor to satisfy the attendance policy and accommodate the religious obligations of the student.

The University of Florida Policy on Religious Holy Days is as follows: Students, upon prior notification to their instructors, shall be excused from class or other scheduled academic activity to observe a religious holy day of their faith. Students shall be permitted a reasonable amount of time to make up the material or activities covered in their absence. Students shall not be penalized due to absence from class or other scheduled academic activity because of religious observances. If a faculty member is informed of or is aware that a significant number of students are likely to be absent from his or her classroom because of a religious observance, a major exam or other academic event should not be scheduled at that time. A student who is to be excused from class for a religious holy day is not required to provide a second party certification of the reasons for the absence.

Please note that while I will perform many of the functions of the Office of Student Affairs while we are in France (i.e., I am a well-intentioned but very inadequate substitute for Dean Inman while we are in France), that does not include matters that require confidentiality relative to your instructors or that are the sole responsibility of specific offices, such as those discussed below.

Exam Make-up and accommodation. Exam make-ups will be as authorized by the Professor Malavet. Exam accommodation is managed by the Levin College of Law’s Office of Student Affairs. Please visit the Office of Student Affairs’ page to review the College’s policies in this regard:

Classroom Accommodation. Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the professor when requesting accommodation. Students are strongly encouraged to communicate with their professor and with the College of Law’s office of student affairs to ensure that they receive proper accommodation.