Under the new ministry guidelines you will be required to do research on a question OR case of your choosing and then write a Ratio Decendi and Legal Research Model
Unit Overview Chart
Step 1 Choose a topic, research relevant sources, including cases that deal with your topic. or choose a case and analyze the issues complete a an annotated bibliography using APA format on your case
Step 2 Conference with teacher and submit rough report and Ratio Decendi
Step 3 Write the Legal Research Essay
Each student will write one Legal research essay and one ratio decendi approximately 4-6 typed pages in length (250-words per page). You will be given time to work on the assignment in the classroom, school library and in the computer lab. The remainder of the research will have to be completed on your own time.
In Canada new laws are created and old ones are modified in response to public opinion, events and evolving societal values and environmental factors. You must be able to research current controversial issues and questions outside of case law in order to form educated opinions about potential future changes to laws and other legal matters.
Part One: Choosing Your Topic! - DUE DATE:.
When choosing a topic the key is finding a subject that YOU are interested in! If you don’t like your subject you will not be motivated to study it. I want you to look forward to doing the research. Ask questions that you actually want to know the answers to. There are many interesting topics out there, you just need to take the time to discover what interests you. If, after much thought you still can’t think of a subject come and see me and we will sit down together and find something that fits your interest areas.
Part Two: Complete a Annotated Bibliography- DUE DATE: An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.
Things to consider when completing an annotated bibliography:
Date of Publication
Edition or Revision
Research Method and Strategies:
When you are doing research you need to know what you are looking for which will be covered in your guiding questions but you also need to understand another important aspect in research, BIAS.
The Social Scientist’s second rule is the bias rule. It says that every source is biased in some way. Documents tell us only what the creator of the document thought happened, or perhaps only what the creator wants us to think happened. As a result, historians follow these bias rule guidelines when they review evidence from the past:
Every piece of evidence and every source must be read or viewed skeptically and critically.
No piece of evidence should be taken at face value. The creator's point of view must be considered.
Each piece of evidence and source must be cross-checked and compared with related sources and pieces of evidence.
There are many resources out there for you to choose from. Your job is to decide which sources best suit your needs and if they are valuable, objective sources.
In your research you should include:
Three more specific informational sources (magazines, newspapers)
Four scholarly choices (books or scholarly journals)
Any websites you might come across
While the internet has become many students primary source of research it is not the only way, nor is it necessarily the best way to do research. You can’t always trust information on the internet because anyone can post to it and there is no quality control. If you do use the internet for your research be sure to critically analyse you source to see if it is valuable. When looking for sites the ones that tend to be the most valuable are sites that end with .org or .edu. Keep this in mind when doing your research.
Part three: The Rough Draft and Conference- DUE DATE: Wednesday June 13th.
This part is the final aspect of the paper. It is where you take all of the information you have prepared and you write it in the form of a formal research paper. Be sure to read this section carefully as it will provide you with many useful approaches to successfully writing a Case research paper.
THE FINAL CASE ANALYSIS & RESEARCH ESSAY IS DUE
Tuesday January 22nd at 9:00AM
Topic Choice Handout
TOPIC CHOICE and CASE :
Here you state your proposed topic. This topic is not binding; you may change it if you find there isn’t enough information for your research. That said, you will want to put some energy into this question as it will guide your research for the remainder of the project.
Give two reasons why you selected this topic.
This is where you explain your interest and reasons for wanting to study the topic you chose.
CHOOSE A CASE OR A TOPIC
TOPICS The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its impact on the Canadian Legal system.
Trial by Jury. (Is it an outdated custom?)
The Insanity Defence/the Mental Disorder Defence. (How valid is it?)
Impaired Driving. (What should the consequences be?)
The Supreme Court of Canada. (Background development, relevance, significance and justice?)
The Criminal Records Act: Parole and Pardons. (If you did the crime, shouldn't you do the time…and
shouldn't we keep of record of that?)
Capital Punishment and Canadian Society. (Should the government kill?)
Euthanasia. (The right to die)
Pornography and Censorship. (Can the conflict be resolved?)
Organized Crime in Canada. (From the mob to street gangs)
The legal status of Canada's Native People's.
1The Youth Criminal Justice Act. (A licence to commit crime?)
The Parole system. (Is it too lenient?)
International Human Rights. (Are they respected?)
The United Nations (Can there ever be a world government?)
Corporate Corruption. (Big business and the Law)
Stem Cell Research. Biotechnology and the Law. (Where does the right to life begin?)
Diplomatic Immunity. (why diplomats have the power to break the law?)
Canada's Extradition Law. (Purpose, functions and cases.)
SPECIFIC CASES: The Klause Barbie Trial 1987. (Former SS officer who escaped justice for over 40 years)
The Jane Stafford Case 1983-84. (A study in wife abuse)
The Donald Marshall Case1971-90. (Wrongful Conviction)
The David Milgaard Case 1970-94. (Wrongful Conviction)
Susan Nelles and the Murders at Sick Kids 1981-85. (A Nurse who allegedly killed numerous children at the hospital)
The Jim Keegstra Case 1984-85. (School teacher who told students that he holocaust never happened and used the freedom of speech to justify it)
The E. Zundal Case 1985-88. (Freedom of Speech: argued that the holocaust never happened and used the freedom of speech to justify it)
The Colin Thatcher Case 1984. Wife killer?
Evelyn Dick and the Torso Murder Case 1946 (Solving crimes in older times)
Paul Bernardo Cases 1995 (The Scarborough rapist and murderer)
Clifford Olson Case Canada's #1 Serial Killer 1980-86 who was payed by the police to locate his victims
Robert Latimer Case 1993-99. (Mercy Killing)
Miranda vs. Arizona Case 1966 (The right's of the accused when under police custody)
Lee Harvey Oswald. (Assassination as an illegal means of political change)
O.J. Simpson. (Criminal vs Civil Law)
The Scott Peterson Case 2005 (Wife killer whose wife was 8 months pregnant)
Brown vs. Board of Education Case 1954 (Civil Rights in America and racial discrimination)
Jeffrey MacDonald Case 1979
Stanley Tookie Williams 1979/2005 (Is redemption an excuse for Murderer? Co-founder of the Crips Gang
Noble Peace Prize winner and sentenced to die by lethal injection) (Redemption)
William Pickton. Pig Farm Killer. 2002 (Most notorious serial killer in Canadian History?)
Karla Homolka. (Injustice: participated in the murder of three Young girls and was out of jail in 12 years because of a plea bargain agreement)
23. BTK the Serial Killer. (Return of a killer and Statute of limitations).
ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ASSIGNMENT
In the second stage of your project you are required to complete an annotated bibliography of the sources you intend to use. This will be evaluated and count as a part of the project as a whole. Before we begin however you need to know what an annotated bibliography is.
WHAT IS AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY? An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.
Creating an annotated bibliography calls for a concise explanation while examining the books for information that would help you in your research. An annotated bibliography involves a few steps:
1. Locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
2. Cite the book, article, or document in bibliographic format.
3. Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.
SAMPLE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY FOR A JOURNAL ARTICLE
The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation:
McBain, T. (2011). The Art of Tisha McBain. Brampton, Ontario, Canada: Fletcher’s Meadow Press.
This is the annotation of the above source. In this example, I am following APA guidelines for the bibliographic information listed above. If I was really writing an annotation for this source, I would now be offering a brief summary of what this book says about stem cell research.
After a brief summary, it would be appropriate to assess this source and offer some criticisms of it. Does it seem like a reliable and current source? Why? Is the research biased or objective? Are the facts well documented? Who is the author? Is she qualified in this subject? Is this source scholarly, popular, some of both?
The length of your annotation will depend on the assignment or on the purpose of your annotated bibliography. After summarizing and assessing, you can now reflect on this source. How does it fit into your research? Is this a helpful resource? Too scholarly? Not scholarly enough? Too general/specific? Since "stem cell research" is a very broad topic, has this source helped you to narrow your topic?
Your job is to look through the resources available to you both in the library and on the internet. Remember when you are examining potential sources that you must examine them for content and quality. Is the information related to the topic you have chosen? Does the information help you when researching your topic? Try to look for different points of view in order to look at both sides of an issue.
very little evidence, examples, and/or details are incorporated
attempts to follow APA style, but there are many major and minor errors are evident
applies inquiry method to legal issue with some effectiveness
makes some inferences and insights
evidence and examples need to be more relevant or specific
follows APA style but there are several minor errors in style are evident
Insert text here-applies inquiry method to legal issue with considerable effectiveness
makes considerable inferences and insights
relevant evidence and examples have been incorporated, but could be more detailed in some areas
follows APA style, but a few minor errors in style are evident
applies inquiry method to legal issue with exemplary effectiveness
makes exemplary inferences and insights
substantial and relevant evidence, examples, and details have been incorporated to confirm topic sentences
follows APA style and very few (if any) minor errors in style are evident
Components of the Legal Research Essay Select a short article from a magazine or newspaper and site it with proper documentation.
Summary of the Legal Issue: Identify the area of law you are studying. Summarize the key facts and legal information in the source using your own words.
Identification of Questions and Legal Concepts: authority, justice, ownership, jurisprudence, religion, social & political influences, constitutional,
Preparation of Supported Legal Argument : Develop a two page informed argument on the legal issues and concepts identified in the original article. Support your argument by finding and documenting other sources, at least 7, including precedent cases, other experts and other leading law journals.
Legal Conclusion: Prepare a brief summary of your opinion and the key legal arguments presented in your analysis.
Ratio Decidendi In one sentence, state your decision on the case.
In a civil case, the court finds in favour of one of the parties;
In a criminal case, the defendant is convicted or acquitted;
In appeals, the original charges either stand or are set aside, in which case a new trial might be ordered, or the court would find in favour of one of the parties, or the defendant would be declared convicted or acquitted of all charges.
Provide your ratio decidendi (your rationale, or reason for your decision)
Summarize and analyze all the precedent if you have access to it. It should take a few paragraphs to complete a proper analysis of the precedent, as you should even include precedent that does not support your decision and explain how it is not relevant to your case.
Explain why you made the decision you did. If there is no precedent available, try to come up with other logical, educated reasons.
Be sure to analyze the circumstances surrounding the case. What evidence was presented by both sides? Was it valid? Were the laws stated valid by today’s standards, or is there a need to change it? Have society’s values changed? Have there been any changes in modern society to require a need to rethink our current laws. NOTE: it is NOT the responsibility of a judge to create law – it is the job of Parliament to do so. You should NOT be indicating that you would “change the law” to... You should merely recommend revision or striking down the existing laws.