471.01 Amicus Lab

The purpose of the Amicus Lab is to teach students about the use of emerging science and technology in the courts and regulatory agencies through the drafting and submission of amicus briefs and comments to rule-makings. The amicus briefs will be submitted to the federal courts of appeals and the US Supreme Court, as well as state appellate courts, as appropriate; the comments will be submitted in federal notice-and-comment rulemakings. The briefs will be unaligned with any party and both the briefs and comments are intended to provide the courts and regulatory agencies with unbiased, current, accurate and coherent information on the science underlying the pending decision or proposed rule. The course is cross-listed in the Graduate School. PhD students in the sciences and MA students in bioethics or other relevant disciplines will be encouraged to enroll. The course will begin with a brief overview of appellate court practice and the role of amicus briefs in the process; notice-and-comment rulemaking; how to translate scientific information into the language of the courts and agencies; and the standards for consideration of expert scientific information in the court process. The ethical issues presented in each phase of this process will be an important component of the class content. The students will then, in conjunction with Science & Society’s Science Policy Tracking Program (“SciPol”), prepare a series of briefs on recently proposed rules and court decisions, which will analyze the purpose of the rule or the decision of the court, and the science underlying the rule or decision. The students will be divided into interdisciplinary teams and, with the assistance of the faculty, will select a pending rulemaking or appellate court case and draft a comment or amicus brief to be submitted in the proceeding. A science background is recommended, but not required.


Spring 2017

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Nita A. Farahany, Michael B. Waitzkin
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW.471.01.Sp17
Email list: LAW.471.01.Sp17@sakai.duke.edu