Amicus Brief Project

When capital punishment cases reach a court of last resort, interest groups, members of government, and other stakeholders often seek to provide input for the justices’ consideration in the form of amicus briefs. Your task for this project will be to put yourself in the shoes of one of those stakeholders and argue either for or against the exercise of capital punishment. While I do not expect you to conduct the legal research that would be required in “real-world” amicus briefing, below is a list of components that may provide for a successful assignment:A description of the role you are taking on (i.e. advocacy group, member of the government, victim’s family member, law enforcement, etc.);A brief review of the most important historical developments in the use of capital punishment;A synthesis of court cases that would support your chosen position and why they do so;A synthesis of court cases that would not support your chosen position and why your position is better supported;Applicable social science research; andProper use of grammar, formatting, and signposts that make it easy for the reader to know your position.What structure should you generally follow?•    Title pageo    The examples all have a first page that follows a set format. I do not expect nor do I want you to use that format.o    You should use an APA-formatted title page. Give me the essentials there: name, date, etc.•    Table of contentso    You will see the following categories on many of the tables of contents. I’ll work through those in turn. Those, of course, are also in the order in which they would best be placed in the body of the brief.o    I do not need page numbers for subcategories unless you will work better including them.o    Table of authorities    This is essentially your reference page. I would like you to put it up front as the examples have them.    Typical subdivisions are cases, statutes, scientific/professional publications, and other. Using those subdivisions would be good.    Use APA formatting for those citations. At this point, you should be able to incorporate that formatting and you will be held responsible for accuracy.o    Interest of amicus curiae    This is where you would describe the role you are choosing for the brief. No more than a couple of sentences. Expand slightly on what you included in the summary.o    Background    This one is a little less necessary for our purposes. It is essentially a statement of the facts of the case. I’m not expecting you to come up with a full scenario unless you want to.o    Arguments    This is where you will explain, well, your arguments on why your chosen position on capital punishment should prevail. You’ll notice that the example briefs have headings for each individual argument, followed by the explanation and evidence.    What does case law say about how capital punishment is treated in similarly situated cases as yours?    What does the scientific evidence say about how capital punishment is treated in similarly situated cases as yours?    Be compelling. Be creative. Be accurate.    You are welcome to structure your arguments in whatever way you believe best communicates your desired perspective, though organization is definitely a good idea and this structure would not be a bad choice.    Use APA in-text citation format. Consult the resources I’ve provided on D2L or the APA manual I strongly suggested in the syllabus for assistance.o    Conclusion    The briefs will conclude with a short and simple statement of the amicus’ desired outcome(s), no more than one or two sentences.