On trial…“Robber Barons” or “Captains of Industry” Introduction



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ON TRIAL…“Robber Barons” or “Captains of Industry”??
Introduction:  During the "Gilded Age" of the 19th century, a few businessmen became extremely wealthy through manipulation of the economic system.  Many called these men robber barons, while others considered them to be great entrepreneurs. To understand them is to understand economics.
Task: The industrialists listed below have all been separately found guilty of crimes associated with being a robber baron.  Based on the roles assigned to you in class, you have been charged with drafting a legal brief to the U.S. Federal Appellate Court to convince the court to either uphold or reverse the previous verdict.  Upon completion of your brief, you will have 3-5 minutes to deliver your argument to the court.
Prosecutor’s Specific Task:  The plaintiff has been found guilty of committing crimes associated with being a Robber Baron.  You are a prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney's Office.  It is your responsibility to write a brief that convinces the Federal Appellate Court to uphold the guilty verdict of the lower court. Determine the following: What was the nature of their business? How was the business run? Did he break any laws? What did he do with the profits?

Then, create a legal brief that meets the standards addressed in the legal brief rubric. Use a word processor to create a 4-6 page brief that meets the standards addressed in the legal brief rubric. (The brief should be typed, in 12 point font, and double spaced. After writing your brief, create a 3-5 minute oral argument that defends the positions taken in your brief.  Be sure that your oral argument is outlined. You will be assessed using the oral defense rubric.



Defense Attorney’s Specific Task:  Your client has been found guilty of committing crimes associated with being a Robber Baron.  You have been hired by the plaintiff to create a brief that convinces the Federal Appellate Court to overturn the ruling of the lower court. Determine the following: What was the nature of their business? How was the business run? Did he break any laws? What did he do with the profits?

Then, create a legal brief that meets the standards addressed in the legal brief rubric. Use a word processor to create a 4-6 page brief that meets the standards addressed in the legal brief rubric. (The brief should be typed, in 12 point font, and double spaced. After writing your brief, create a 3-5 minute oral argument that defends the positions taken in your brief.  Be sure that your oral argument is outlined. You will be assessed using the oral defense rubric.



RESEARCH DATE: _________________

TRIAL DATE: _________________

THE ACCUSED



John Jacob Astor (real estate, fur)




Andrew Carnegie (railroads, steel)




James Buchanan Duke (tobacco)




James Fisk (finance)




Jay Gould (finance, railroads)




J. P. Morgan (finance)




John D. Rockefeller (oil)




Leland Stanford (railroads)




Cornelius Vanderbilt (railroads, shipping)




James J. Hill (railroads)




George Mortimer Pullman (railroads)




INCIDENTAL INFORMATION


  • Lawyers will dress appropriately for their court session.

  • The Judge, the Honorable Mr. Alberts, will render a decision in each case.

  • There will be two prosecutors and two defense attorneys for each case.

  • Attorneys will be appointed to their case by the presiding judge.


ROBBER BARONS LEGAL BRIEF
I.     Introduction

 

This is a short summary of the keys points you are making in the brief.  It is intended to give the reader a quick understanding of the arguments you are making, without providing the details of each argument and without citing the authorities you will be relying on to support your arguments.  The purpose is to persuade the reader -- from the very beginning -- that your position is correct by catching the reader's interest and attention with a relatively short, punchy summary of the main points your brief is making. 



 

II.    Background

 

This section provides the factual context for the arguments you are presenting later.  This section should present the facts the reader needs to know to be able to follow and understand your arguments.  You need to cite the authorities that you rely on for each fact you state, such as a book or article in which you found that particular fact.  This section is important in establishing the credibility of your facts, by showing that you have not made them up, but instead you are relying on the scholarship of highly-regarded authorities on the given subject.



 

III.   Argument

 

This section is the "guts" of the brief.  It is a logical presentation of the key arguments you are presenting in support of your position.  This section should be divided into several main headings -- the main propositions that form the logical structure of the argument.  Typically, there are three or four principal reasons for the overall position you are taking and each reason is a candidate for its own separate heading in the Argument section 



 

Each heading should be in the form of an affirmative statement (usually a sentence in bold typeface to standout and show the way).  After the heading. you then present the reasons why that statement is correct, that is, the affirmative case for why the reader should believe or credit this component of the overall argument.  The discussion below each heading must present your position as persuasively as you can, drawing upon the facts discussed in the Background and any authorities that have taken a position that supports the points you are making in each heading.  When you refer to the facts you don't need to cite the sources because they already have been identified in the Background section. 

 

If you plan to present a number of subtopics within a given argument heading, you can set out each point with its own separate subheading -- again, the form is to provide a brief statement that describes the subtopic, followed by the discussion of the subtopic.



 

Repeat this process for each main component of your argument.  You typically will end up with several main headings, each followed by a persuasive analysis that weaves together the relevant facts and the research that you have found that supports your position.  After you lay out the affirmative case for a given argument heading, you can (if you wish and if it is appropriate for the assignment) give reasons why the opposite view is incorrect and should not be accepted by the reader.  If you know the opposite side's position and reasons for taking that position, you can use your argument to show why the opposite side has it all wrong.  The idea is to start each argument heading with a forceful presentation in support of your position and then, if appropriate, follow it with a critique of the opposite side's position. 

 

IV.   Conclusion   

 

Unlike the style used for many journal articles, this is not intended to be a summary of the issues raised in the argument or a wrap up of the reasons why your view is correct.  Rather, the Conclusion in a legal brief is a very short statement of the relief you are asking a court to grant, such as "For all of the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff asks the court to grant judgment in its favor on liability and set a trial for the presentation of Plaintiff's damages."  For the class assignment, you might be asking the reader to conclude that there was no harm (or alternatively, there was harm) caused by the historical events or people the assignment is focused on.  


Oral Defense Rubric - 12 point scale


Score

Defense

Voice

Presentation

Content

3

Able to defend

position effectively on all issues.



Presentation is clear and enthusiastic.

(student is selling the position and is persuasive)



Organized, effective use of notes. (student not

reading off cards, just using them for reference)



Specific content that is

effectively used and

relevant.


2

Able to defend, but not all issues defended effectively.

Presentation is clear, but little enthusiasm.

(student's response to

topic is uncertain)


Organized notes are present, but student is constantly reading them.

Some specific content is

present, but not fully integrated into the presentation.



1

Defense is weak.

(Unable to answer direct questions)



Presentation is lacking in effort or enthusiasm.

(student is just standing up to get it over with)



Notes are poorly used and disorganized.

Content is not

relevant or is poorly suited to the topic.



0

Unable to defend

position.



Voice is garbled; hence presentation is not coherent.

No notes

No specific content.


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