CS 306 Individual Project:  Persuasive Research Memorandum

Assignment Overview: You are a lawyer who will soon be going to trial on a case of law and ethics. In order to explain your case to the judge, you must prepare what is sometimes called a "legal memorandum" to summarize the facts, discuss your position, and outline legal and ethical research to support your position. You will need to conduct research to develop a theory for your side of the case, which you will present in the format of a persuasive essay designed to convince the judge that your side is the "right" side…and therefore that you should win!

Initial Draft Memo: Your initial draft needs to demonstrate significant research and outline your persuasive arguments. It should include notes on why you should win (your "arguments"), as well as a clear bibliography with reliable source analyses for non-legal sources. (Non-legal sources include anything other than statutes or case law.) It should include fully written final conclusions and an overview of facts, but persuasive argument may be presented in note or outline format.

Draft Memo Due Date: Tuesday Sept. 16 by 5:00 p.m., via WebCT.  Your submission should either be in HTML or Word format, with direct links to all online citation sources.  A hardcopy of your Draft Memo also should be submitted in class on Tuesday Sept. 16. Feedback will be provided either through written comments or through a meeting with your UTA or instructor.

Final Memo Submission:  Your final Memo should expand on the research presented and flesh out the arguments outlined as part of your Draft. Your Final Memo should also incorporate any comments, suggested changes and/or feedback given in writing or provided in your Draft Memo meeting. (See additional details below regarding format and content of your Final Memo.)

Final Memo Deadline: Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 5 p.m., via WebCT.  Your submission should either be in HTML or Word format, with direct links to all online citation sources.  A hardcopy of your Final Memo (printed double-spaced on 8.5x11 paper with an original signed class honor code pledge) should be submitted in class on Tuesday Oct. 7.
Late assignments will be penalized. NO Memo submissions will be accepted after completion of your in-class Mock Trial.

Assignment Details:

    Once you receive your trial assignment, which will either be posted on WebCT or provided to you in class, you are ready to begin work on your Persuasive Research Memorandum. While called a "Memo," this is actually a paper of significant length (approx. 8-12 pages) which summarizes the facts of your case and the arguments you plan to make during your Mock Trial.

    Your research memorandum will be a combination of research and discussion of your chosen topic.  Begin your research by following the links provided by the team that prepared your topic, and reviewing those materials.  Use this as your basis to conduct further original research until you feel well versed in the underlying law and ethical issues suggested by your topic questions.  (As part of your research, remember to conduct searches using Lexis/Nexis for potentially relevant case law, statutory law and articles.)

    When writing your memorandum, be aware that your goals are somewhat different than they might be for a standard research paper.  Your primary goals here are:  (1) to educate the reader regarding the general law and ethical issues related to your topic;  and (2) to persuade the reader that your designated position on the given questions is the proper position to take, legally and ethically.  Feel free to use whatever legitimate sources and/or arguments you have at your disposal, but remember that persuasion does not necessarily mean fanaticism.  Many persuasive writings deal with the issues fairly and sometimes concede certain points.  Your task is to anticipate your opponents' own arguments and provide answers to the most likely arguments against your position.  You should present your research and explain your reasoning in the light most favorable to your own side, without misrepresenting any opposing research or analysis.

    Your research memorandum should cite relevant and reliable research sources to support your arguments. Your memorandum should include a full bibliography with standard source information, such as title, author, publication date and date accessed, together with either a direct link or sufficient information for the reader to easily locate each source.  (See the following link for discussion of how to recognize and analyze online research sources, particularly those found online.  Reliable Source Analysis Criteria.)  Because this Memorandum is used to satisfy half of the Writing Intensive requirement for Computer Science majors, the final version must contain a minimum of 1750 words, not counting the Bibliography, citations, or any materials reproduced from the assignment or trial description themselves. Please note that while the minimum number of required words is 1750, significantly more words may be necessary to prepare a high quality Memo.

A well-constructed memorandum should include the following:

   (a)    1-2 page introduction, summarizing the facts of your case and describing what your Memo will present to the reader.

   (b)    3-4 pages persuasive discussion, supported by research citations, for *each* question addressed.

   (c)    1-2 page conclusion, summarizing your arguments (i.e. "Why you should agree with me")

   (d)   Bibliography with information on all sources cited.

   (e)   5-Part Source Reliability Analysis on each non-legal source (this means any source that is not actual current law)

   (f)   Class Honor Code Pledge, signed by you. (An original signature is necessary for the final hardcopy submission; typed signatures are acceptable for the Draft and WebCT submissions.)

 **  Remember that the final version of this assignment should be submitted in *two* ways: (a) Submission on WebCT, by 5:00 p.m. on Tues. Oct. 7; and (b) by hardcopy in class to your individual instructor, also due Tues. Oct. 7. Hardcopies not submitted in class will be penalized unless prior arrangements were made with your instructor. **