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Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Department of Communication
COM 557 – Legal Communication – Spring Semester 2011
Instructor: Irwin Mallin

Courtroom Observation Assignment
Due at the beginning of class on Tuesday, April 12

This is your opportunity to compare what happens in court to what we read and discuss in this class.  Visit any open session of any public court (i.e., not arbitration).  Write a brief paper in which you describe and critique what you saw and heard from a communication perspective.  What sort of arguments do litigants make and what persuasive strategies do they use?  Are some more effective than others?  In what ways does what you observe seem consistent with our readings and class discussions and in what ways does what you observe seem inconsistent?  What do the litigants do that you would do differently?  You should take notes as you sit in court so you can comment on your observations with specificity. 

A separate handout listing opportunities for court observation will be provided in class.

The best papers will also be grammatically correct, free of spelling and punctuation errors, and will follow APA style.  Of course, you will include an introduction in which you set up your paper as well as a conclusion in which you wrap up.

The essay should be between three and five pages in length.  It should be typed (double spaced, margins of 1" all around, font no larger than 12).  It should also be stapled.  Be sure and keep a copy of your paper.

Hints for success for this paper:

•Make sure you do everything called for in these directions.
Start now, take your time, and use the services of  the Writing Center in Kettler G19 if you need to.
•You are invited to show me a draft or discuss potential paper topics in office hours or by appointment. 

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Last Updated: 7 February 2011