Distinguished Clinical Professor Sarah Ricks has published the third edition of her groundbreaking casebook, titled: Current Issues on Constitutional Litigation: A Context and Practice Casebook (Carolina Academic Press 3d Ed. 2020).
The casebook has earned praise from other law professors, who wrote in the preface:
"Professor Ricks has managed to accomplish in this textbook, with prose at once clearheaded and lyrical . . . the difficult and seemingly contradictory task of pointing the way to the future of the casebook while at the same time proving herself a true intellectual heir to Langdell’s original vision of the case method," said Aderson B. Francois of Georgetown Law.
This "quite different casebook" "admirably fills a significant need in the teaching of constitutional litigation," writes David Rudovsky of University of Pennsylvania Law School. "Professor Ricks approaches the constitutional and statutory materials from several perspectives: doctrinal development, legislative responses, litigation decisions, and practical considerations that inform the litigation and decision making in this area."
For law teachers seeking to integrate practical skills into doctrinal teaching, finding teaching materials is a challenge. This textbook focuses on practical materials to teach the constitutional and statutory doctrines necessary to litigate claims arising under the 4th, 8th, and 14th Amendments, under the 1st Amendment in the prison context, and the 11th Amendment defense. Every chapter places students in attorney roles handling simulated practice situations. The casebook is structured around law practice simulations that allow students to creatively explore how attorneys shape and apply doctrine. Simulations include a jury charge conference; a client meeting to decide next steps in the litigation; a settlement conference before a federal appellate mediator; testimony before a legislative body; and appellate oral arguments.
The book includes differing circuit court applications of Supreme Court doctrine. While the Supreme Court issues about 80 opinions per term, the federal circuits annually decide about 30,000 appeals on the merits. Realistically, for most litigants, federal circuit decisions are final. However, voices in the book are not limited to those of appellate judges. Rather, to help students grasp the roles of attorneys and administrators in shaping doctrine, the book includes oral arguments, briefs, government policies, expert reports, jury instructions, and interviews with civil rights lawyers.
To help students grasp the difficult choices facing those on the front lines of constitutional decision-making, the book includes factual background about the work of prison guards, police, and social workers. To remind students of human faces behind the doctrines, the book includes photographs and statements by people affected by these doctrines.
The new casebook is rooted in Ricks' 11 years of law practice – including a federal clerkship and seven years litigating civil rights appeals for the City of Philadelphia – and in contributor Albany Law Professor Evelyn Tenenbaum's years of litigating civil rights cases for the State of New York. Ricks joined the Rutgers Law faculty in 2001
Some Rutgers Law alumni continue to use the book while practicing. This textbook "remains a staple on my desk," said Carl Minniti, RLAW ’17. He said he used the earlier edition of the book “both in representing clients pro bono as a Big Law associate and in clerking for a federal judge.," Edward Park RLAW ‘16, an associate at Marshall Dennehey, said, "Practical lessons I learned in the course and from the book help me in advising clients, negotiating settlements, and other intangible but important aspects of practice, even in other areas of the law."