Course Description

Citizen Enforcement of
Environmental Law


This seminar will explore the implementation of a novel and experimental feature of modern environmental statutes: the citizen suit. The core of the course will be the simulated initiation and defense of fictitious citizen suits, in which students form two-person teams of attorneys. Each team will be given raw materials appropriate for commencing a citizen suit concerning: (1) the alleged violation by an industrial facility of its NPDES permit under the Clean Water Act; (2) the alleged violation by a stationary source of a state air quality permit under the Clean Air Act; (3) the alleged violation by a small manufacturing concern of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act; and (4) the alleged failure of a municipality or other entity to comply with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. At the appropriate point in the course, each team will also be assigned to defend one of the alleged violators.

During the course of the semester, each two-person team is required to prepare and submit eight written documents (or groups of documents), including: (1) an opening strategy memo sketching out the proposed prosecution of the citizen suit and anticipating the legal issues that must be researched and addressed; (2) a complaint (and instructions describing how it is to be served); (3) a defense strategy memo charting the proposed contours of the defense (each two-person team would also be assigned to represent a defending party); (4) an answer (coupled with any defensive motions); (5) the plaintiff's counter strategy memo; (6) the plaintiff's formal response to the answer and to any defensive motions; (7) motions for summary judgment (accompanied by affidavits), designed to bring the litigation to a definitive ruling; and (8) motions for attorney fees.

Because several of the most significant documents are submitted in draft form, reviewed by me in team conferences, and rewritten, each team is required to submit something in writing during most weeks of the semester. The instructor will review and make comments on each draft, and will provide a grade for each of the eight final written products.

During most weeks (those not devoted to team conferences on the various draft writings), the seminar will meet as a class to discuss the progress of the various cases. While some time will be spent on discussing drafting issues (e.g., whether Team A's complaint could have been more elegantly or effectively drafted), the purpose of these discussion meetings will be to reflect on the broader issues raised by the citizen suit device.

Students completing the seminar will receive three graded academic credits (with the grade based primarily on the written products), including two writing credits.

Enrollment will be limited to eight students who have completed the course in Environmental Law. Because of the collaborative nature of the seminar and the mutual dependency of each student's work upon the other seminar participants, no student attending the first meeting of the seminar will be permitted to drop the course.

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