Irene Merker Rosenberg

Criminal Procedure I, Con Law, Criminal Law

It took me a couple of weeks to adjust to Prof. Rosenberg's style, but once I did Crim Pro I quickly became my favorite substantive class this semester (and it's hard to get a 3L interested in anything legal, believe me). Prof. Rosenberg is somewhat eccentric, but in a good way. She commonly makes asides in class (such as "Do you think I'm too old to teach? Maybe I should just quit?") and if she is friends with students she'll joke with them from time to time. There was a running joke about her being on "probation" because of a fender bender where she was at fault. I cut off all my hair at one point (as in, totally scalped) and she asked me what I'd done to myself, advised me not to do it again, and said she thought I was getting chemotherapy. All in good fun (I showed up next class wearing an afro wig). Anyway, I digress...  

Crim Pro I, at least as Prof. Rosenberg teaches it, covers:  
* retroactivity - when can a person with a final conviction get the benefit of a new ruling by the US Supreme Court?
* 4th amendment: searches and seizures, the warrant requirement, what constitutes "probable cause", and the exclusionary rule for "bad" searches/seizures
* 5th amendment: the right to silence and to not incriminate oneself
* 6th amendment: the right to an attorney, ideally one that doesn't suck  

The initial few weeks of the class were kind of boring. Retroactivity (while important) is pretty dry. Once you hit the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendment cases though, it gets a lot more interesting. The bulk of this class is reading cases about what the cops can/can't do to private citizens and it's really quite interesting stuff. Can a cop stop you on the street and pat you down for weapons? You bet, it's called a Terry stop. Can he pull you over using a minor traffic infraction as a pretext to conducting a criminal investigation? Oh sure, the Whren case says so.

Word is that Crim Pro is a good bar class to take, but independent of that, I think it is interesting enough in its own right to take it anyway. I expect professors hate it when they see/hear this, but you don't have to read for this class to understand the material. Prof. Rosenberg will give a speedy summary of the essential facts of a case before discussing the black letter law, so even if you haven't read, if you're paying attention, you can keep up. If you've taken Buchanan's 1st amendment class, you'll know what I mean - he does the same fact summary.  

Prof. Rosenberg is very good about distilling the cases down to the black letter law or test you need to know. She's also good about saying "Does everybody get it or do you want it one more time?"  

The casebook for this class is expensive (>$100), so plan on hunting down a used one at bookswap. We had a capacity class, so there should be plenty floating around. Don't waste your money on the supplement, you can pull those cases online, and besides, see the above note re: not having to read.  

Prof. Rosenberg does not call on people in the "Let's see if you did the reading" sense, but if you email her a question outside of class, or express a particular interest or concern on a given point during class, she may gravitate to you on that issue. Prof. Rosenberg's class is a laptop free zone. The exam (which I'll be taking in three days) is closed book. I've heard her tests are fair, and she herself said that her exams "aren't hard." She has been selling us on arguing both sides all semester, so be sure to do that. Three hour exam, three questions, worth 80%, 10% and 10%.

Bottom line is this: Prof. Rosenberg (I think) is quite the character, and you'd be missing out if you didn't take her at least once while you're at UHLC. This is supposed to be a good bar class, and she distills the law clearly. It's also a low pressure class in terms of being called on, or doing the reading. My suggestion is that you take it.

Exam update: The exam was fair in that it reflected the material taught in the course, and the points awarded for each section fairly reflected the emphasis given that material during the course. More people than is usual finished early; I'm not a speedy exam taker particularly, and I was done with 30 minutes to spare. One of the two 10 point questions (I felt) was a bit squirrely in the way it was worded. It wasn't intentionally deceptive, but it wasn't clear on it's face what it was asking. I talked to Prof. Rosenberg about it afterward and it turns out it was something we'd covered early on in the semester. There's a lesson for you: pay close attention to everything she raises, even if it seems like a minor issue, try to get it in your notes, you might see it again on the exam. And don't blow off the early material on incorporation, new federalism and retroactivity to study just the 4th/5th/6th amendment stuff - early material that not many people tuned in to makes for perfect weed-out questions to grade on a curve. The 80 point question fact pattern was about 1.5 pages long - quite a bit to talk about, but I was able to read through it slowly, issue spot and plan my answer in 20 minutes total. Lots of the fact issues that appeared in the test had been specifically discussed in class, so again...listen to the woman and write down as much as you can while she lectures.

Carter's Criminal Procedure I Outline (Fall 2004)
One-liner practice questions (with answers) for study drill

Robin Phillips' Spring 2004 Con Law Outline
Anonymously contributed Con Law outline 2006

Anonymously contributed Criminal Law Outline