One of the most important skills in law school is the ability to read a judicial opinion efficiently and accurately. To improve your active reading skills, consider implementing the following techniques:
- Use cues in your casebook to provide information about a case - the table of contents, headings, prefatory explanatory material, the date of the opinion, the court that issued the opinion, "notes and problems" after the case, and related cases.
- Develop a working hypothesis while reading a case. Speculate about what the author means, make predictions, and correct them as you read an opinion.
- If you are struggling to discern the point of a case, use a hornbook for a one-sentence description of the case to focus your reading.
- Use a one-sentence tag line for each case you read and write it at the top of your brief. Given the large number of cases you will read in one semester, the name of a case will not mean much after a week or two.
- Do not read cases as if they stand alone. Each case should be read for the contribution it makes to your developing understanding of the concept under discussion. Compare the rule in each brief with the rule in the case preceding it under the same section.
Professor Sweeny's research interests are wide-ranging but focus mainly on the problem of how law cannot keep up with technology or changing historical circumstances. Her current scholarly pursuits include international constitutional law, criminal law and legal history. Professor Sweeny is currently researching criminal law issues such potential constitutional challenges to the prosecution of teenagers under child pornography laws because they have "sexted" each other nude or erotic photos of themselves. Her most recent publication, "The United Kingdom's Human Rights Act: Using its Past to Predict its Future" is a comparative constitutional law piece that uses legal history techniques and social science theories such as Rational Choice Theory and Social Movement Theory to analyze the factors that led to the creation of the Human Rights Act in the UK and may also lead to its repeal in the near future. Her past articles have focused on emerging wage and hour problems that result from the practical problems of modern working situations, as well as the civil procedure issues inherent in the imposition of appellate sanctions for frivolous appeals.
Professor Sweeny begins teaching classes in the Fall 2011 semester.
On August 12, 117 first-year law students participated in the community service day component of orientation. That equates to 90% participation! They were joined by 8 upper-division law students, 6 staff members, and 8 faculty members.
The volunteers lent a helping hand at 10 non-profit organizations, including Catholic Charities, Dare to Care Food Bank, Family Scholar House, Habitat for Humanity, Hosparus of Louisville, Masonic Homes, New Albany/Floyd County Animal Shelter, Operation Brightside, Ronald McDonald House, and St. Vincent de Paul.