This course investigates the reasons why authoritarian leaders devolve power to courts and the control strategies they deploy to keep judges, lawyers and plaintiffs in check. The course will mix more theoretical readings on approaches to law and the logic of courts with empirical studies of how law works in settings as diverse as Nazi Germany, the Czech Socialist Republic, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt and contemporary China. Throughout the semester, we will ask ourselves how world historical time (e.g. the rise of rights talk, the global trend increased judicial power) and regime type (e.g. military dictatorship, competitive authoritarianism, one-party states) influence both the letter and the practice of law. In addition to scholarly books and articles, course materials will include original court documents as well as memoirs and films that illustrate how ordinary people experience the legal system.
Course cross listed with Law 209.12 Instruction begins Thursday January 10 2013