The Judicial Observation class provides an opportunity for LL.M. students to learn about the U.S. judicial system and civil or criminal procedure by observing judicial proceedings and the work of a judge and his or her staff. Participating students are paired with a judge—either federal magistrate judge or federal district court judge, or state trial court judge—and arrange a schedule with the assigned judge and his or her staff according to which the student will attend court for the semester to observe the proceedings to which the judge is assigned.
The number of hours that the student is required to attend and observe the court proceedings depends on whether the student has enrolled in the class for 1 or 2 credits. Students enrolled for 1 credit must observe court for a total of 36-45 hours over the course of the semester, while those enrolled for 2 credits must observe for a total of 54-60 hours over the course of the semester.
The proceedings that students observe depend upon the court and the calendar to which the judge is assigned but frequently include civil motion hearings, civil and criminal trials, Order for Protection hearings, arraignments, plea agreements, or sentencing hearings. Students are not required to do any substantive research or writing assignments for their assigned judge.
At the completion of the required hours of observation and to receive credit for the course, students must submit a reflective paper of 8-10 pages for 1 credit or 12-15 for 2 credits in which they recount observed events or proceedings from the semester, describe what they learned, and reflect upon their observations.
Enrollment is limited to ensure placement with a judge, but students on the waiting list will be added to the class as additional judges are confirmed for placement.