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Related Activity



Related Activity: You be the Legislator

You Be the Legislator invites you to make informed assessments of existing laws and conjure modifications that might better suit our society.  The questions posed – one per chapter – present interesting queries for thought and discussion from the vantage point of an elected state legislator.

Chapter 1 – Custody of Orphan Children
We learned that the court will appoint a guardian for a child without parents.  For the selection process of a guardian, are there any factors in addition to those mentioned in the chapter that you would require the judge to consider?  If so, what  are they?

Chapter 2 – Abandonment of Infants
Would you add any additional permissible drop-off places for a mother who is abandoning a baby?  What would they be and why would you include them?

Chapter 3 – Child Neglect and Abuse
Would you include within the definition of abuse the situation where a child is put in jeopardy of immediate harm but not in fact injured, or would you reserve abuse for the situtation where a child is in fact injured?  Is there anything that a parent might do to a child that would justify automatic loss of parental rights?  If so, what would that be?

Chapter 4 – Restrictions on Minors
Would you change the minimum age requirements for any of the activities discussed?  If so, which one(s) and why? Would you put age restrictions on any additional behaviors?  If so, which one(s) and why?

Chapter 5 – Incest
Search on the internet for the genetic consequences of first cousins parenting a child.  Based on your research, why do you think the legislators in the 24 states outlaw cousins getting married, and 26 did not?  If you were drafting an incest law, would you have included or excluded first cousins within the marriage prohibition?  Why?

Chapter 6 – Compulsory Education
Until what age would you require students to attend school?  Why did you select that age?

Chapter 7 – In Loco Parentis
If you were a member of a school board, what safety rules would you impose to protect the well-being of students:

Chapter 8 – Corporal Punishment
Would you vote to permit corporal punishment in schools or outlaw it?  Why?

Chapter 9 – Bullying
If your state was adopting an anti-bullying statute, what would you include in the law?

Chapter 10 – Students’ Privacy Rights
Would you vote to impose any additional restrictions on school officials’ rights to search your locker or book bag?  If so, what are those restrictions?

Chapter 11 – Americans  with Disabilities Act
Do you think the Americans with Disabilities Act fairly balances the interests of disabled people on the one hand, and schools and business proprietors on the other?  Why or why not:  Would you make any changes to the law?  If so, what would they be?

Chapter 12 – Banned Books
If you were on a school board, what topics might you ban from the library?  Why?  Why do you think some schools banned  the Harry Potter books?

Chapter 13 – Cheating/Codes of Conduct
Can you think of any conduct in addition to that mentioned in the chapter that constitutes cheating that schools should prohibit?

Chapter 14 – Due Process for Students at Suspension Hearings
Would you vote to allow students to have an attorney at a suspension hearing?  Why or why not?  If not, would you favor allowing a pupil facing possible expulsion to have a non-lawyer advocated who can address the judges?  Why or why not?

Chapter 15 – Teacher Tenure
Would you vote to keep tenure or to end it?   Why?

Chapter 16 – School Board
Would you add any responsibilities to those of the school board?  Would you remove any?  Which ones and why?

Chapter 17 – Murder
The death penalty is a hotly disputed topic.  You can easily find good arguments pro and con on the internet and elsewhere.  Would you vote to impose the death penalty for the crime of murder?  Why or why not?

Chapter 18 – Assisted Suicide
Would you vote to legalize assisted suicide?  Why or why not?

Chapter 19 – Assault and Battery – The Crime
The crime of assault is elevated if the perpetrator uses a weapon or causes serious injury.  Are there other circumstances that should increase the seriousness of the crime?  If so, what would they be?

Chapter 20 – Kidnapping
If you were designing a kidnapping statute, what factors would you include to elevate the seriousness of the crime?

Chapter 21 – Identity Theft
Given the increasing frequency of identity theft, can you think of ways to strengthen the law to help victims?

Chapter 22 – Hate Crimes
Would you add any categories to the classes of people protected by hate crimes?  If so, which would you add?

Chapter 23 – Endangering the Welfare of an Incompetent Person
Would you vote to make the crime of endangering the welfare of an incompetent person a misdemeanor or a felony? Why?

Chapter 24 – Larceny
In most states there are two levels of larceny, petty larceny refers to stealing smaller amounts of money and is a misdemeanor.  Grand larceny refers to stealing larger amounts and is a felony which is a more serious crime.  The dividing line varies from state to state.  For some states the amount is $200, $250, $300, $500, or $1000.  In at least one state, all stealing is a felony regardless of the value.  What amount of money would you recommend as the correct amount to differentiate petty larceny from grand larceny?  Why did you choose that amount?  Or would you vote to make all stealing a felony?  Why or why not?

Chapter 25 – Robbery
Would you add any factors in addition to those referenced in the chapter to elevate the seriousness of the crime of robbery?

Chapter 26 – Unauthorized Use of A Motor Vehicle
Why do you think the legislature created a crime covering unauthorized use of a motor vehicle separate from larceny?

Chapter 27 – Trespass
Should trespass in a school result in higher penalties than trespass in other buildings?  Why or why not?

Chapter 28 – Burglary
Burglary consists of larceny with the intent to commit a crime in the trespassed building.  Do you think burglary should remain a separate crime, or would it be sufficient to outlaw just trespass plus the additional crime that the burglar commits?

Chapter 29 – Criminal Mischief/Vandalism
Most states have two levels of criminal mischief, one being a misdemeanor and the other a felony.  The determining factor is the amount of damage caused.  Some states draw the line at $250 and other states use $400 or $500.  What do you think is the appropriate amount?  Why did you choose that figure?

Chapter 30 – Arson
Should arson apply to the burning of other property in addition to buildings and motor vehicles?  If so, what other property and why?  If not, why not?

Chapter 31 – Forgery
What do you think prompted some legislatures to include within the definition of forgery not just signing another person’s name but the additional acts of making or altering a written instrument?

Chapter 32 – Loitering
Would you vote to adopt a law restricting masks and other disguising clothing?  Why or why not?

Chapter 33 – Disturbing the Peace/Disorderly Conduct
Would you add to the behaviors that constitute disorderly conduct?  If so, what conduct would you add?

Chapter 34 – Riot
The minimum number of participants required to charge the crime of riot varies from state to state.  Some states mandate a minimum of three, some four, others five and another seven.  Recognizing that the goal of the statute is to protect the public from alarm and injury, what do you think the minimum number should be?

Chapter 35 – Mail Abuse
Recognizing the popularity of email, would you advocate a similar law for unauthorized interception of email?  Why or why not?  Would the penalties be the same, less, or more?

Chapter 36 – Cruelty to Animals
Are there any animals you would exclude from coverage of the crime of cruelty to animals?  Which ones and why?

Chapter 37 –Illegal Possession of Cultural Artifacts
What additional legislation might help to protect against the problem of stolen cultural artifacts?  Would you support such legislation?  Why or why not?

Chapter 38 – Illegal Possession of Drugs
Would you vote to change the penalties for possession of illegal drugs, perhaps to reduce the jail time?  Or might you be inclined to stiffen the consequences?  Why or why not?  Should possession of small amounts of marijuana be legalized?  Why or why not?

Chapter 39 – Gambling
Some people argue that gambling is a “victimless crime” and should be legalized.  Would you vote to legalize gambling?  Why or why not?

Chapter 40 – Fortune Telling
Should fees for fortune telling be prohibited?  Why or why not?

Chapter 41 – Escape
Many states assign a degree to the crime of escape based on the level of the crime that resulted in the jail sentence.  Recognizing that the acts constituting escape are the same regardless of the underlying crime, do you think that the level of the underlying crime is an appropriate degreeing factor?  Or should the level of the crime of escape not be impacted by the level of the original crime?  What is the basis for your answer?

Chapter 42 – Hindering Prosecution
Some states exempt from prosecution close relatives of the fugitive (spouse, parent, grandparent, child, sibling) who conceal or otherwise provide assistance.  Why do you think these people are excluded from liability?  If you were a legislator would you vote to exclude them?  Why or why not?

Chapter 43 – Aiding and Abetting
Would you vote to eliminate the distinction between an accomplice and a facilitator?  If not, why not?  If so, would you make the facilitator liable as an accomplice or not liable at all?

Chapter 44 – Conspiracy
When people commit conspiracy, they usually also commit another crime – the crime they conspired to carry out.   As a legislator, would you consider eliminating the crime of conspiracy as a duplication?  Why or why not?

Chapter 45 – Misconduct of Public Officials
What laws would you propose to discourage coercive tactics by a public official?

Chapter 46 – Self–Defense and Defense of Others
Would you consider changing the law to allow an attack victim to use any amount of force to defendant himself or others?  Why or why not?

Chapter 47 -  Insanity Defense
Which of the two definitions of insanity would you vote for?  Why?

Chapter 48 – Justification
Would you limit at all the actions that can be taken to save a life?  If so, what restrictions would you impose?

Chapter 49 – Eavesdropping and Wiretapping
Should people other than law enforcement officials be entitled to apply for and receive an eavesdropping or wiretapping warrant?   Why or why not?

Chapter 50 – Investigations
What components of an investigation, in addition to those listed in this chapter’s Muggle Law section, might you propose?

Chapter 51 – Search and Seizure
Would you vote to eliminate the exclusionary rule?  Or would you vote to expand it?  Why?

Chapter 52 – Arrest
Should the police have the ability to arrest whenever they suspect a person has committed a crime?  Or is probable cause the appropriate requirement?

Chapter 53 – Bounty Hunters
What qualifications would you require for a bounty hunter?  Why?

Chapter 54 – Informants and Immunity
Is immunity or even leniency an appropriate means to encourage a criminal to provide testimony or other evidence?  Would you vote to restrict the incentives police can offer to informants?  Why or why not?

Chapter 55 – Notice and Opportunity to Be Heard
The amount of advance notice to given to a defendant about the date of a hearing or trial varies depending on the type of proceeding.  How much notice would you mandate for criminal cases?  Why?

Chapter 56 – Right to an Unbiased Judge
What other qualifications, if any, would you require of judges?

Chapter 57 – Right to an Attorney
Should civil litigants be entitled to a free attorney?  Why or why not?

Chapter 58 – Evidence
Should a defendant go to jail on circumstantial evidence alone?  Or should some direct evidence be required for conviction?

Chapter 59 – Innocent until Proven Guilty
Some countries have a system in which a criminal defendant is guilty until proven innocent.  Why do you think our country chose to give a presumption of innocence to defendants?

Chapter 60 – Self-Incrimination/Confessions
Would you change the corroboration rule for confessions?  Why or why not?  If so, what changes would you make?

Chapter 61 – Lie Detectors
Would you vote to make polygraph test results admissible into evidence at trial?  Why or why not?

Chapter 62  -  Appeals
Recognizing that each appeal takes many months, would you limit the number of appeals in any one case?  If so, what would be the permissible number?

Chapter 63 – Sentencing
When crafting a sentence, would you require the judge to consider any factors in addition to those mentioned in the chapter?  If so, what would those factors be?

Chapter 64 – Death Penalty
If you live in a state without a death penalty statute, would you vote to adopt one?  Why or why not?

Chapter 65 – Negligence
Do you believe there should be a lower or higher level of care associated with malpractice than with other types of negligence?

Chapter 66 – Defamation
Is it fair to public figures that the press can make false statements about them without liability?  Would you change this law in any way?  Why or why not?

Chapter 67 – False Imprisonment
Assume you are about to vote on whether to adopt a false imprisonment law.  The law will include a list of circumstances when restrictions or confinement of a person is permissible.  What would you include on that list?

 Chapter 68 – Fraud
Fraud, including resume fraud, is a tort.  Would you make resume fraud a crime?  Why or why not?

Chapter 69 – Invasion of Privacy
Would you vote to modify the requirement of written permission and allow oral authorization to use someone’s picture or name?  Why or why not?

Chapter 70 – Assault and Battery – The Torts
Would you change the name of these torts to better distinguish them from the crimes?  Or, given the similarity of the conduct prohibited, would you leave them the same?  Why?

Chapter 71 – Assumption of Risk
Would you change the law to allow an injured athlete to obtain compensation for injuries incurred in the normal course of playing a sport?  Why or why not?

Chapter 72 – Informed Consent
Would you vote to apply informed consent to any aspects of life in addition to medical procedures?  If so, what and why:

Chapter 73 – Freedom of Speech
Would you seek to change the law so that the right of free speech applies to private schools as well?  Why or why not?

Chapter 74 – Freedom of the Press
Do you think the government should be able to impose restrictions on what the media can publish?  Why or why not?

Chapter 75 – Freedom of Assembly
Why do you think freedom of assembly is limited to orderly conduct?  Would you modify this restriction?  Why or why not?

Chapter 76 – Equal Protection
Would you add any new categories to the list of protected classes?  If so, what categories would you add?

Chapter 77 – Abolition of Slavery
What penalties would you add for violations of labor laws?  Why?

Chapter  78 – Gun Control
Would you vote for additional restrictions on the ability to transfer firearms?  What would they be and why?

Chapter 79 – Martial Law
Would you expand, or perhaps narrow, the circumstances when  martial law can be invoked?   Why or why not?                                                                                  

Chapter 80 – Freedom of Contract
Would you change the age at which a person can enter a binding contract?  If so, what age would you choose?  Why?

Chapter 81 – Consideration
Would you vote for a law to make a promise to give a gift consideration for a binding  contract?  Why or why not?"

Chapter 82 – Written and Oral Agreements
What contracts in addition to those mentioned in the chapter might you require be in writing?  Why?

Chapter 83 – Warranties
Would you change the law to make puffing a breach of warranty?  Why or why not?

Chapter 84 – Wills and Inheritance
Would you include godchildren in the list of relatives who inherit when a person dies intestate?  Why or why not?

Chapter 85 – Burial and Grave Issues
In some states desecration of human remains is a misdemeanor, and in others a felony.  What  designation would you apply and why?

Chapter 86 – Employment Issues
What violations would you authorize for violations of labor laws?  Would you support a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights?  Why or why not?

Chapter 87 – Veterans’ Benefits
In addition to health care, our government provides to veterans college tuition assistance, home loan guaranties which facilitates the process of buying a house, unemployment allowances, job counseling, vocational training, and burial benefits to help offset the costs of the veteran’s funeral and burial.  What additional benefits if any do you think should be provided?

Chapter 88 – Performance-Enhancing Drugs
Would you vote to make performance-enhancing drugs legal in sporting events?  Why or why not?

Chapter 89 – Marriage
Would you support Marriage Equality (same-sex marriages)?  Why or why not?

Chapter 90 – Government
What changes might you support to the structure of our government?

Chapter 91 – Legal Tender
Travelling and international trade would be easier if all countries shared the same form of money. What obstacles would need to be overcome before countries might agree to unify their monetary systems?

Chapter 92 – Animal Use for Medical Research
To facilitate the use of animals for medical research, would you lessen the protection the law gives them?  If so, what changes would you make? 

Chapter 93 – Dangerous and Exotic Animals
Are there any additional penalties you might authorize a judge to impose on an owner whose dog bit someone and has been found to be dangerous?

Chapter 94 – Due Process for Animals
Would you add to or eliminate any of the due process safeguards afforded to animals?  Which one(s) and why?

Chapter 95 – Dangerous and Exotic Plants
Should sellers of dangerous but legal plants be obligated to include a warning informing potential buyers of the risk?  Why or why not?

Chapter 96 –Lobbying
What restrictions would you place on the conduct of lobbyists?  Why?

Chapter 97 - Government-Mandated Registration
All states require that  information about the addresses of sexual predators be maintained.  Some states require only that the information be made available if someone asks for it.  Other states require that the information be actively distributed to residents and schools whenever a sexual offender moves into the neighborhood.  Which requirement would you vote for?  Why not the other?

Chapter 98 – Emergency Restriction
Would you authorize the government to impose emergency restrictions for reasons in addition to threats to  public safety and health?  If so, what would they be?

Chapter 99 – Import/Export Laws
Would you add any objectives in addition to those listed in the chapter for prohibiting certain goods from being imported?  If so, what would they be?



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