10

All good things come to an end…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 31, 2012 in The 3L Life

In a case of déjà vu all over again, I went ahead and stepped down from my internship with the Durham County District Attorney’s Office earlier this afternoon :(

I really enjoyed the job — especially after winning my first “real” trial — but after praying about things this weekend and talking things out with MDG earlier today, I realized I’d kick myself for a good long while  if I graduated a hair’s breadth under a 3.0 and didn’t at least try to make it above.1 The staff was very understanding during our conversation about my decision; my hope is they’ll have me back at some point down the road if I end up heading in that direction professionally.

In the meantime, I plan on using my newly-recovered free time to put some real effort into my classes and flesh out this proposal for the Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment idea. I’ve been marinating on it over the past couple weeks and really think I could turn it into something awesome :)  Fingers crossed.

That’s it for now, lots going on this week then heading to New Orleans this weekend for the ABA Midyear Meeting. More soon!

  1. Can any of you imagine 1L version of me ever saying that? :crack: []

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4

Hi! I’m alive, thanks for checking

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 29, 2012 in The 3L Life

Yes, I’m still here :D

When I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was sequestered in my own personalized version of 3L Hell, I wasn’t joking. For most of January my schedule’s followed a pattern: Wake up at 6am, feed/walk dog, bathe, get dressed, go to class then work then trial team practice, come home around 10pm, feed/walk dog, do homework until midnight-ish and go to bed. For a time I had briefly hit the point where I was downing five 20oz bottles of Diet Mt Dew a day and living off Pop-Tarts, animal crackers, multivitamins, and anything else I could eat in the car  :sick:

Which of course didn’t leave much room for updating law:/dev/null :beatup:

I don’t have *too* much time to write tonight, but I miss talking with y’all so here’s a quick bullet list on some of what’s happened since mid-December:

  • Fall semester continued in perpetuity; finally done. With the different extracurricular activities I was engaged in, plus a job on the side, the Fall semester didn’t actually end until a couple weeks ago. I had papers due in Employment Discrimination and another for Constitutional Law II, so I had flashbacks of undergrad and never really got a substantive break during the winter. It was basically a mini-mester trying to clean up what didn’t get finished and spending more hours than I care to admit in the law building.1
  • Wolfpack won the Belk Bowl. But I did take a few hours from the ongoing academic tedium to go with 雅雅 to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, where the NC State Wolfpack dismantled the Louisville Cardinals :D  Didn’t have the time or money to stay overnight like we did for the Champs Bowl last year, but I needed the break and the game was only a few hours away. Watching another win in person was worth the freezing temps and packed stadium :)
  • Most un-Christmas-y Christmas evah. Christmas is my 3rd favorite holiday of the year, following Independence Day at #1 and Thanksgiving at #2… but this year there basically was no Christmas at all :beatup:  With the academic stuff due I couldn’t take the time to go visit anyone (and didn’t have the money for it anyway), but then on top of it I couldn’t even put up my own tree because Samson tried eating the ornaments — the stuffed ones apparently looked like toys worth chewing apart, and the ceramic ones evidently looked like dog treats. So it was easily the most un-Christmas-y Christmas I’d ever “celebrated.” Not sure what the plan will be for next year, but I need to figure something out to stop the dog from destroying things.
  • Samson nearly died before New Year’s. Speaking of Samson, he nearly died right before New Year’s :cry:  He was given one of those big raw pork bones as a Christmas gift, because they’re allegedly great for dogs, but somehow the snippets of bones he managed to chew off clogged up his insides. He wasn’t able to poop and howled in pain when he tried, then woke me up at 4am to go outside and puke. So I freaked out and rushed him to the vet; they took an x-ray and discovered he had backed up fecal matter running nearly the length of his body. They put him in the pet hospital, gave him an enema and an IV and some special food, and a few hundred dollars later he was miserable but alive. Though you can’t tell he nearly died from the way he acts now, as he still tries to eat every damn thing in sight… :mad:
  • Got myself a Christmas present: fixed TV. I can’t remember if I mentioned it in a past entry, but what seems like an eternity ago the bulb in my bought-cheap-on-CraigsList projector television finally burned out so I’ve been working for the past couple months either (i) in dead silence or (ii) with video-less music on in the background. So while Christmas itself wasn’t particularly festive, in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve I decided to give myself a Christmas present and finally fix the burned-out projector in the name of being more productive.2 With bulb costs being what they are for a projector that was/is 5 years old, it was actually cheaper to get a brand new projector with better specs. Money I couldn’t really afford to spend given the mortgage payments I still owe BarBri, but I wasn’t going to be able to make it all the way through to August without a TV :beatup:
  • Finally completed NC Bar application! On January 3rd I finally got my monster-of-a-bar-app mailed off. The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners likes knowing every single thing you’ve ever done in your life since you’ve turned 18 — and, in the case of my last name changing when I was adopted at 3-years-old, the stuff before 18 :crack: — to the point where starting the app back in September wasn’t even early enough for me to get all of it done before the last possible moment. I had to request documents from the Social Security Administration to make sure I listed every single place I’ve ever worked, go rummaging through my Bucket-o’-Files to find residential records from the period right after I dropped out of college,3 go to the Clerk’s Office to find out all the cases I testified in back when I worked as the Clerk’s Office ombudsman down in Wake County, come up with 12 different character references, make three copies of everything, and on and on and on. Then include the $700.00 fee to apply, and set aside another +$125.00 to use my computer on the bar exam.4 But fortunately — it’s all done. So yay. And to anyone even older than me: START NOW or you’ll regret it!
  • 1Ls won Kilpatrick-Townsend competition. I’ve already talked about this one at length so nothing much more to say. I’m just glad it validated my philosophy that people produce a better work product when they’re forced to develop it themselves :) Very proud of these folks!
  • Any guesses on which team is mine?

    Submitted brief for Howard moot court competition. A couple months ago I mentioned making the moot court team, the end result of an ill-conceived experiment to see if I had been avoiding it out of fear the past two years or if I really had the skill to do it if I wanted. I was slated for the Howard Moot Court Competition taking place in Washington D.C. at the end of February. Making the team and getting the Howard brief done both came at a high cost — days spent brief writing and editing, that probably should have been spent on classwork instead — but I’m proud of the end result. Feel free to review the briefs if you get bored and guess which one is ours ;)

  • Got a position with the Durham DA’s office… I also somehow convinced the Durham County District Attorney’s Office to bring me in as an intern :surprised:  First day was about 3ish weeks ago. The sheer volume of work — and the… mmm… unique folks who come through the courthouse (especially in traffic court) — have made it a pretty awesome experience so far. I could definitely see myself working there after graduation.
  • …and won my first case! I’m also officially 1-0 on my “real world” trial record! :D I’m slated to work on Tuesday afternoons, and typically there’s absolutely nothing going on in District Court so I end up working on subpoenas and other administrative stuff. So last Tuesday I decided to be a good little intern and show up to work 15 minutes early, get sent down to misdemeanor criminal court… and get handed two shucks and told “Go interview your officer, you’ve got this next case” :eek:  I had no expectation of trying a case, so I didn’t have any notes, my North Carolina Crimes book, nada. I was so absolutely terrified I quite literally forgot what it was I was supposed to prove in a criminal trial; as I’m out in the hallway going through the shucks trying to ascertain what’s going on, I grab an ADA who helped us with trial team last year and plead for a smidge of guidance. She replies “Well what are your elements for the offense?” and suddenly “DING!” my inner lightbulb finally clicks on. I find the officer, read his police report, get asked by him what he can expect on cross, and somehow came up with a quasi-intelligent and spot-on answer. I don’t think I’m allowed to go into too much detail, but it involved two Defendants (and their respective attorneys) charged with minor-but-serious firearms offenses.5 I went through my direct a bit fast due to the nervousness, but the more opposing counsel objected to a response — or asked something ridiculous on cross-examination6 — the more I got into my zone. Neither Defendant took the stand, and a few closing arguments later they were found guilty and sentenced to active time, a fine, probation, and a prohibition from owning firearms. Not bad for my first go-round :)
  • Rewarded myself with a new laptop. In exchange for getting the DA gig, I “rewarded” myself by finally upgrading my trusty 5-year-old MacBook Pro. The Department of Education enables students to get a one-time financial aid boost once in undergrad and once in graduate/professional school for a computer purchase, and it was hitting the point where I’d need something I could use for the first couple years when I start practicing. So I’ve now gone from an original Core Duo with a self-upgraded 250GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM to a new quad-core i77 with a 750GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM :eek:  Seeing how much the hardware has advanced in the past half decade is crazy. I don’t like some of the changes (e.g. there are new function keys to play/pause/rewind/fast forward, so I have to press the Function key to use Dashboard and such) but overall it’s nice being back on the leading edge of technology for another couple months.
  • Fall grades were a disaster. While everything else was going smoothly, my grades turned out better than anticipated but worse than I wanted (if that makes sense). I’ve now fallen back below a 3.0 for the first time in a year and will have to pull off a miracle to graduate with honors. And in all likelihood I won’t be able to finish the Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration I’ve been working on for the past 2.5 years. We’ll see what happens.
  • Debating giving up internship to focus on grades and SPICE. The grade situation has prompted me to reassess what I’m doing this semester, and I’m giving serious consideration to dropping the DA internship and some other activities to free up time to focus on grades and the SPICE proposal. It’s not an ideal situation, especially with the economy, but doing the jack-of-all-trades thing clearly isn’t working. I’ll keep you posted.

That’s it for tonight y’all, thanks for still reading :) Hopefully more posts in the days ahead. Good night!

  1. Including 2 separate occasions where I got thrown out by Public Safety because the building was supposedly closed :beatup: []
  2. I am, for reasons unknown to me, more productive when I have Law & Order reruns on in the background… []
  3. Note to the Board of Law Examiners: homeless people generally don’t have files or records of their homelessness. Nowhere to put our file cabinets and all… ::smh:: []
  4. As a point of comparison, the Marine Corps only wanted 10 years of documents back during my 1L year to make sure I passed the security check, and didn’t charge me for the application. Completing those docs was a cakewalk compared to this. []
  5. City code violations (hence the “minor”), but just about anything involving the discharge of an assault rifle qualifies as serious when it comes to prosecuting people. Especially in Durham. []
  6. “Didn’t my client tell you it was his mother’s assault rifle?” No bullsh*t on that one, that was the actual question! :crack: []
  7. Meaning 8 total virtual processors :surprised: []

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4

NCCU Law 1Ls *sweep* Kilpatrick-Townsend competition!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 15, 2012 in NotFail

Hey everybody! :)

Sorry I’ve been MIA for nearly a month now, I’ve been sequestered in my own personal 3L Hell for most of that time and just haven’t had much opportunity to update the blog :beatup:

I’ll try to get things caught up some time this coming weekend, but for now I wanted to mention our 1L trial teams completely dominated the annual Kilpatrick-Townsend 1L Trial Advocacy Competition this year!

We had one team win 1st place, one team win 2nd place, and a third team (who was eliminated in a head-to-head matchup with the first team) taking #1 in overall quality points. Every single match where NCCU Law had a team — 6 total preliminary rounds, 2 separate quarterfinals, 2 separate semifinals, and the final round — someone from that team won the round’s award for Best Advocate.1

So basically we’ve got the 3 very best 1L trial teams in the State of North Carolina :spin:

Here’s the press release we put together and a team photo:

NCCU LAW 1Ls SWEEP STATEWIDE TRIAL ADVOCACY COMPETITION
Legal Eagles Take 1st Place, 2nd Place, Best Advocate Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DURHAM, NC (01/15/12) – Defeating trial teams from Campbell, Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest, 1Ls from the North Carolina Central University School of Law (“NCCU Law”) made history this weekend when they won both 1st Place and 2nd Place in the annual Kilpatrick-Townsend 1L Trial Advocacy Competition hosted by the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law.

NCCU Law's three 1L trial teams for 2011-12

In just NCCU Law’s third year participating in the competition, the school’s three 1L trial teams advanced to the final round for the third straight time — a 100% record of reaching the finals.

But this year’s competition featured a twist: after practicing against each other for 6+ hours a day from January 2nd-11th, Legal Eagles dominated every other school so thoroughly that both finalists were from NCCU Law, guaranteeing a 1st Place finish in the competition for the first time in school history. The only team to beat NCCU Law was another team from NCCU Law.

“Hard work plus confidence equals success,” said Jonathan Savage ’14, lead counsel for the 1st Place team and winner of the competition’s Best Advocate Overall award. “The hours of practice were well worth it, and I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity!”

Going into Saturday’s quarterfinals, all NCCU Law teams were in the Top 8: the #1-seed team of Jeannelle Alexander, Emily Custer, Amelia O’Rourke-Owens, and Ernest Roberts; the #2-seed team of Helen Baddour, Stephanie Faris, Jason Howe, and Sonyé Randolph; and the #8-seed team of Molly Brewer, Christina Carter, Jonathan Savage, and Matt Wareham.

Based on bracket-style seeding NCCU was paired up against NCCU in the quarterfinal round, where Team Brewer edged past Team Alexander to advance to the semifinals, while Team Baddour knocked out a group from UNCCH Law to advance as well. Once in the semifinals, Team Baddour took down a squad from Duke Law while Team Brewer dispatched another team from UNCCH, setting up a second NCCU-vs-NCCU battle in the competition’s final round.

Before a packed courtroom with nearly 70 observers, prosecution Team Brewer faced off against defense Team Baddour in a highly polished championship match. In a close finish following extensive jury deliberations, Team Brewer was declared the winner with Matt Wareham winning the award for Best Witness and Jonathan Savage taking home the title of Best Advocate Overall.

With 32 teams competing, NCCU Law’s three teams made up just 9.4% of the participants — but 37.5% of the quarterfinalists, 50% of the semifinalists, and 100% of the finalists.

[Photo, from left to right: Bottom Row: Stephanie Faris, Molly Brewer, Helen Baddour, Jeannelle Alexander, Emily Custer; Middle Row: Molly Morgan, Jason Howe, Sonyé Randolph, Christina Carter, Amelia O’Rourke-Owens; Top Row: Ernest Roberts, Matt Wareham, Jonathan Savage]

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It was an awesome closing match, with just short of 70 people in the courtroom watching — including 3 of our Deans, a half-dozen professors, a few alumni and tons of Legal Eagles :D

I also had “a dog in the fight” beyond just school pride, because the results this year also validated my whole philosophy on how to approach this competition.

My 1L year we were left to our own devices to develop our case, as we’re supposed to do, and miraculously ended up coming in 2nd after going 5-0 before losing in a rematch against Duke Law. Last year our 1Ls came in 2nd too (against another Duke Law team), but the 3Ls tried to micromanage the process so thoroughly — over the objections of myself and other members of that 2009-10 team — that only a few of the 2010-11 1L team members came back for TYLA/AAJ as 2Ls.

Once there was new leadership on the Trial Advocacy Board, we changed things around back to how they used to be. In October all interested 1Ls had to attend a workshop on opening statements and closing arguments before trying out a couple weeks later, then once we decided who made the three teams we left them alone with one condition: they had to practice against each other from 9am-3pm from January 2nd-11th, plus extra practice as needed. During the formal practices one team would be paired against another with a third in the jury box, rotating so every team faced everyone else at least twice apiece.

The variety of opposition and frequency of the practice helped ensure they were comfortable and confident when they got into Chapel Hill. I got to watch two rounds of the competition on Friday night, and then the closing arguments on Sunday. I was absolutely tickled pink at how great they did — still several pages of things done wrong,2 but a level of polish on par with some of the 2L/3L teams I’ve seen and easily better than I was as a 1L.

Having made history for the law school once this weekend, I’m hoping they’ll stick around and make history over the next couple years too ;)  One day I want to see NCCU Law not just hitting up TYLA and AAJ, but making it back to some of the invitation-only trial advocacy competitions we used to win in the halcyon days the old folks talk about…3

That’s it for tonight, I’m going back to a brief. Have a great week! :D

  1. And on Friday night, all 3 teams racked up both Best Advocate and Best Witness awards in the same night! []
  2. I’m a very nitpicky observer when it comes to trial team stuff :beatup: []
  3. We’ve got a few plaques from the Tournament of Champions competition tucked in a room in our Clinic. It’s a travesty they’re not displayed somewhere prominent for all the students to see. []

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