COURT OBSERVATION

You are required to go to any state district or circuit court or federal courthouse in Maryland or in the District of Columbia (including the Supreme Court) or to the Maryland Court of Appeals Building in Annapolis and observe a civil trial (or trials) or other civil court proceedings or appeals. Criminal trials or proceedings are acceptable as well. The focus of the course, however, is on civil matters.  If you live out-of–state and want to do your observation when you are at home, that is fine, as well. Your actual total in-court observation time should be in the range of not less than 4 hours. Right here within walking distance of the University is the Circuit Court of Maryland for Baltimore County (located at 401 Bosley Ave). You are not limited to Baltimore County and are encouraged to go to any courthouse as noted above, wherever is most convenient.   All the information you need is available on the internet.
You may want to contact the assignment office or the clerk’s office of the court before you go to see if they may be able to direct you to a particular case. Alternatively, you could just show up and walk around the courthouse to find an interesting civil case, or maybe ask court personnel (security guards are sometimes helpful) when you get there.  You also could do some research on the net and/or the court website to learn about cases scheduled in a particular day. Except for juvenile matters, all cases are open to the public. 
[Possible exemption: For the following exemption to apply, you need special written permission from me for the exemption and you will need to provide me with a one page request and rationale why you need this exemption. As an alternative to going to a courthouse, if you receive this exemption, you can watch eight webcast  appeals from the Court of Appeals of Maryland and prepare your paper on those civil appellate hearings as described below (this would be civil only). The website is: www.courts.state.md.us/coappeals/webcasts/index.html‎]
The requirements for the court observation writing assignment are as follows:

• In a separate page provided on Bb and to be appended to your paper, identify by case name and number each case you observed (up to four cases); the court house and the date and the time of your observation (i.e. start observation time-end observation time; and other information required on the form; please verify your total time of observation .
• Choose one or two cases to write about. For each case or proceeding state the material facts of the case or the proceeding you observed, the legal issues involved, describe what portion of the case you observed (if not the entire case or proceeding) and what occurred; what was the outcome of the proceeding or the portion of the case you observed
• Provide an analysis of your observations, either in terms of what occurred, or in terms of one of the characters involved in the proceedings (i.e an attorney, judge, party, witness, and/or courtroom personnel) If you observed more than one trial or proceeding, you can focus on one specific case or discuss multiple cases for your analysis.
• State at least one thing you learned from your experience
• Set forth one or more questions you have as a result of your experience
• Relate one observation you made with something specifically in the text that may relate to your observation or that may seem inconsistent with your observation

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