Friday, July 23, 2010

Environmental Enforcement at NLSI

Here's my class -- or at least some of the students in it -- at the National Law School of India University.  I had the great privilege of teaching a 1-credit course to about 40 LLM students.  The course was essentially a distillation of the Environmental Enforcement class that Craig and I teach at L&C.  I focused on the aspects of our administration and enforcement of pollution control law that I thought might be useful bases for comparison with India's system.   These students are well-informed and thoughtful people.  We had some very lively discussions and debates. 

There are many ways in which our legal systems are similar, as they are both based in the common law, but of course each country has made adaptations suitable to its own needs and experiences.  For example, India does not use jury trials for criminal cases.  Students explained that the diversity in this country--and the strong identification that people have with their own groups--make it hard for people to trust juries with the important decisions involved in criminal cases.  But there are so many ways in which we share legal traditions and concepts that it was easy to get beyond basics to a discussion of the subtle issues and choices involved in developing an environmental enforcement system.

I was impressed and gratified at the dedication of the students in this class.  Normally a 1-credit course would be spread out over 2 weeks, but I had only 4 days.  So the students had their normal classes from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and then had class with me from 2:30 to 6:30 (with some breaks, of course).  I had distributed reading materials electronically, and even with their normal heavy preparation burdens most of the students found time to be very familiar with the statutes, cases, and EPA guidance documents I provided.

 Each student will be writing a short paper comparing some aspect of India's approach to enforcement with what they have learned about our approach.  I've seen some of the papers they've written for other courses, and the quality is excellent.  I'm looking forward to reading this batch once I'm back at L&C.


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