Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 22, 2011 in The 2L Life
Happy Almost-the-Weekend everybody!
There’s been a lot going on this past week and all sorts of news in the legal arena that I’ve been wanting to comment on but just haven’t had the time. The internship at I-Cubed has been a lot more enjoyable than I thought corporate work would be,1 grades for Summer Session I courses have all come in,2 it looks like I’ll be the CrimLaw tutor next Spring for the 1Ls and this Fall for the 2LEs,3 I was invited to give a leadership development presentation to the NCCU SGA earlier this week4 — there’s just been a lot going on in a very short amount of time!
Before diving in to the data, I want to give a huge *THANK YOU* to everyone who participated! We had nearly two-dozen people submit their anonymous information, including folks from the upper and lower ends of the spectrum. Coupling those with some data points provided by the Registrar we’ve got what should be fairly accurate models for each of the 3 classes submitting information.
Now for some charts…
CLASS OF 2012 (Day Program): ONE YEAR LATER
We’ll start with my class, since it’s my blawg
Class of 2012 Rankings: the top is 2011 (after 2L) and the bottom is last year (after 1L)
Factor out the 18ish folks who fell below a 2.0 and another handful who enrolled in the 4-year JD-MBA program (pushing them into the Class of 2013), then add in folks who transferred in from the Evening Program or are from the August 2008 cohort who are now “in sync” with our class (either from being in a dual-degree program or being readmitted after falling below 2.0 in the 2008-09 year), and we’re down to 152 people.
You can see the impact of students being able to self-select their courses as each of the percentile cutoffs have climbed since last year. The biggest jumps have come at the lower end of the ranking spectrum; for example, the 50th percentile cutoff is actually higher than my GPA last year when I was at the 40th percentile.
You can also tell from my class rank that there’s a decent amount of fluidity in the rankings. I jumped from #62 to #32 in the span of a year,5 with only a just-over-three-tenths-of-a-point bump in my GPA (e.g. a hair’s breadth greater than the difference between a B- and a B).
CLASS OF 2013 (Day Program)
Based on the incoming class profile, this year’s 1Ls were an interesting mix.
On the similarities side of the ledger, their class started out slightly larger than mine (174 for them compared to 169 for us) but had shrunk the same amount (-12 students apiece by the end of 1L year). The 75%ile/median/25%ile LSAT scores were also practically identical between the two cohorts.
Class of 2013 Rankings
But on the differences, the Class of 2013 was more polarized. The median age was almost the same (25 to our 24) but the Class of 2013 had more “really young” students in the 21-24 range and more “not as really young” students in the 40+ range. On the GPA side, they also had more students who did better than us in undergrad (75%ile GPA was +0.11) and more students who did worse (25%ile GPA was -0.12).
That polarity also shows up from two points in the 1L ranking data: (1) both their 15%ile and 25%ile GPAs are higher, meaning their high achievers racked up comparably more of the high grades than ours did; and (2) it looks they’ll have a lower number falling below a 2.0, meaning their low achievers soaked up comparably more of the low grades than ours did. Really high and really low grades were more broadly distributed in the Class of 2012.
You can also see the effect of the C-curve to an extent. Even with the low-ranked students taking up more of the bad grades, the median is still almost two-tenths of a point below a B-. And even with their higher-achieving high achievers, no one in the Class of 2013 scored above a 3.78.
CLASS OF 2014 (Evening Program)
When I started this data gathering operation I really didn’t expect anyone from the law school’s Evening Program to send me their information. They were extended the invitation of course, but I only know maybe 3-4 people in the entire program who I know have been to law:/dev/null at least once so I figured the odds of someone seeing the call for submissions were a bit low.
Class of 2014 (Evening) Rankings
You can imagine my shock when I ended up getting just as many submissions from the Class of 2014 evening students as I did from the Class of 2012 day students
The Class of 2014 Evening Program started out with 34 students in Fall 2010, which has since shrunk to 32.
They’re also ranked separate and apart from their Day Program colleagues so the data isn’t quite as useful for analysis except on a year-over-year basis. For example, on a percentage basis the 1LE 15%ile and 25%ile cutoffs are markedly higher than the corresponding 1L cutoffs.
But there are also only 8 1LE’s at a 3.1 GPA and above, when there are twice as many 1L’s at 3.2+. In other words, to borrow an over-used cliché, comparing the Evening Program to the Day Program is akin to comparing apples and oranges.
One commonality that can be culled from the data is that the Evening Program is obviously bound by the same curving process since their median GPA (even with fewer students) is similar to the median for the day program.
So that’s the class ranking data for the academic year ending May 2011! And it concludes what I can now officially designate as my first successful use of this blawg as a crowd-sourcing app
Hope all of you have a good night and a great weekend ahead!
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 5, 2011 in The 2L Life
I’M OFFICIALLY A 3L!
Although I didn’t have as much time to study for my (9am) Criminal Procedure final as I had planned — courtesy of my near-catastrophic failure to write down the correct exam time — I suspect I got enough of the material right to pass the course. So I’m claiming the 3L status now instead of waiting however long it’s going to take for the Professor to confirm it
To celebrate, I’m going to do absolutely nothing at all tonight except relax.
And since (i) “absolutely nothing” would include refraining from productive blogging and (ii) I had my own potential issue with “wrong place / wrong time” yesterday, I thought now would be a decent time to embed a YouTube clip of the audio from my closing argument that I gave during the TYLA National Trial Competition regionals a little while back
I don’t have a video feed to go with it so you’ll miss out on some of the theatrics, but this was the closing when we went up against the WFU Law team in the very last round (and essentially ate them alive). Hope you like it!1
And for the computer science folks in the audience, this video uses the new HTML5-friendly iframes format for embedding video — if you have trouble playing it, let me know so I can figure out what’s wrong! [↩]
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 3, 2011 in The 2L Life
I’m currently on my lunch break here at my internship1 and figured I’d use the opportunity to finally post something here on the blog
The past couple weeks have been crazy with exams and other end-of-semester festivities. That Scientific Evidence paper I mentioned in my last entry took up the better part of the week, with my routine basically following a “Shower. Eat. Paper. Eat. Paper. Eat. Paper. Sleep.” cycle for days on end. Turns out I went a wee bit overboard in terms of research, and rather than take out huge chunks of stuff I had written about other stuff I had already spent hours reading, I decided to just throw almost all of it in the final memo
On the upside, if you have any interest at all in either the underlying science or current case law regarding the admissibility of expert witness testimony on the behavioral impact of violent video games, you are more than welcome to read my finished memo and let me know what you think / point out the inevitable BlueBook errors.2
The latter part of last week was spent furiously studying for my Business Associations final… which proceeded to thoroughly pummel the daylights out of me on Friday. No clue how the grade on that one will turn out, but for now I’m just ecstatic I’ll never have to take the class again.3
Since then I’ve essentially been dividing my time between working and studying for my Criminal Procedure exam coming up on Thursday. I’m even further behind in CrimPro than I was in BA (if such a thing is possible to imagine) so there will be a whole lot of prayers said between now and exam time…
So that’s life in my neck of the world Congratulations in advance to all the 3Ls who are done or who will be done shortly, and *good luck* to everyone else still in the middle of final exams!
One of the “missing entries” from the past month was about me going back to I-Cubed as of last week. Not sure if this will be a full summer gig, but I’ll stick with it while it’s still fun/interesting [↩]
Be gentle, and bear in mind my patience with doing a solid+thorough writing job waned after Day 3 of reading/writing [↩]
End-of-semester grade expectations / synopses will be coming in a later entry. [↩]
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 19, 2011 in The 2L Life
Good evening folks!
I’m already falling behind (again) on keeping law:/dev/null up-to-date, but seriously hope to get back in the swing of things once the semester is finished.
Turns out it’ll be stretching a little bit longer than planned for me. My first final is Business Associations on Friday April 29th @ 2:00pm, with Criminal Procedure following @ 2:00pm the very next day. (Un?)fortunately one of my Legal Eagle colleagues has protested and gotten the CrimPro exam pushed back a few days for us 2Ls — apparently NCCU Law‘s exam conflict policy, intended to apply only to exams with start times within 24 hours of each other, is written in a sufficiently broad manner that it could be read to include exams where any portion of the whole start-to-finish exam window overlaps with another in the same 24 hour time period.
The upside is that I’ll get an extra 4 days to try and actually learn this material… but the catch is that I’m burned out and want this semester to be over with already
That’s all I’ve got for tonight’s super-brief entry — have my last CrimLaw tutorial tomorrow, followed by my first meeting with the faculty as SBA President-elect, followed by an SBA transition meeting, followed by frantically writing my last paper of 2L year so I can finally be done with my Scientific Evidence class
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 21, 2011 in The 2L Life
One of the downsides to still having no clue what I want to do after I pass the bar is that I’ve got a long list of classes I’m still interested in taking and not enough time to actually take them.
Summer 2011: A little bit of everything
Soooo I decided to sign up for my 6th consecutive year of summer school classes
You can get a sense of my indecisiveness just from the course subjects:
Plea Bargaining: Taught by the same professor who taught my ADR Practices course (and from whom I earned my first bona fide A in law school), I’m taking this class to complement the other coursework I’ve already knocked out if I end up going the criminal prosecution route.1 My uneducated guess is that this will be functionally similar to the other ADR courses I took last year, but with a negotiating eye focused more toward evidence and admissibility issues to provide the leverage in negotiations.
Intellectual Property: On the other end of the “what am I going to do with my life?” spectrum, this class will be my first dip into the intellectual property side of things to see if I’d actually like it. NCCU Law has a fairly wide array of IP-related courses — in addition to this one and the USPTO Clinic below, we’ve got courses on patents, licensing and technology transfers, bioethics, and several others — that I never really considered taking until I got an internship in the tech arena. So I’m figuring I need to perform some due diligence and see if this could be an enjoyable option for me
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Practice & Procedure: Since my undergrad degree was in computer science, I’m able to sit for the patent bar without any further technical education if I decide to take it. This course is the classroom prerequisite for anyone taking our USPTO Clinic in the Fall/Spring, so I wanted to get some exposure to how the USPTO works just in case I decide to dabble in IP. It’s only 1 credit and taken pass/fail but will (hopefully) provide some useful insights.
Time-wise, the schedule is somewhat similar to what I took last summer with late afternoon and night classes on Monday / Tuesday / Thursday. The upshot is that there’s no Friday or weekend classes like I had with ADR last year, so that gives me time to catch up on anything I need to catch up on. It also leaves me free during the day once I figure out what I’m going to do internship-wise, be it heading back to I-Cubed or working pro bono for a local DA’s office (or something else entirely).
I decided to head over there after I was done tutoring the 1Ls in CrimLaw.1 And let’s just say I wasn’t impressed.
On the positive side, the place was packed wall-to-wall with a wide variety of people from all over the place. I got to meet judges from North Carolina, New York, Texas, California, Maryland, and several places in between.
But on the negative side, I came to the realization that judges are really just old law students
One session debated a hypothetical involving a 16-year-old who was pregnant with a fetus potentially carrying a fatal gene, with the issue being how the judge would rule on a request to have the fetus tested against the mother’s will based on a variety of variables. You had the “gunner” types who felt the need to raise their hands and talk at every single opportunity. There were the judges who gave long-winded answers that didn’t actually address the question. The ones who were too timid to actually say anything publicly, but would lean over and comment to the people on either side of them. The political ones who always gave the same answer no matter the change in underlying facts and case law. The list goes on.
The panel discussion focused on a child with a predilection for pyromania, committing arson occasionally, frying a cat in a microwave, and so on, and asking how the judge would rule on a prosecutor’s motion to have the child tested for a “violence” gene or some similar genetic marker.2 Here there wasn’t even that much discussion of the law — one of the judges turned to one of the science experts on hand to ask if such a gene existed, asking “I just need you to give me the science and then I can make a ruling.” The scientist goes “for the sake of argument, assume there is”… at which point every single judge in the room said they’d order the testing.
Maybe it’s because I come from a science-oriented background at N.C. State, but that kind of reflexive judicial fealty to experts makes me apprehensive. Science isn’t law; while we might have “settled law” on some issues, we rarely ever have “settled science”.3 You don’t just have to take my word for it either: you can read the 352-page indictment of forensic sciences issued by the National Academy of Sciences a couple years ago. My hope was that the folks in the black robes would be more circumspect in their decision-making.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly thankful for the opportunity to go4 and it’s probably important for me to know how judges look at experts if I’m going to be practicing in a courtroom. But about all it did was shatter any misconception I had about judicial competence — judges are just law students like us, aged a couple decades
In what I sheepishly confess is now the 3rd day in a row I’ve voluntarily set foot in Chapel Hill… (pun intended) [↩]
With the objective of having him civilly committed permanently, instead of being charged with a crime, serving a sentence, and being released. [↩]
Otherwise scientists in a “settled” field would all be out of a job. [↩]
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 12, 2011 in The 2L Life
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here at law:/dev/null, largely due to spending Spring Break this past week trying to get caught up on life post-trial team season. I’m still not there yet, but I figured if I waited to post until I was caught up on classwork I wouldn’t have any readers left
So what’s been going on over the past week and a half here in Legal Eagle territory? Here’s a bulleted rundown:
Friday (03/04/11): The 2L team’s first round in the AAJ STAC was against the 3Ls from WFU Law. There were some initial jitters when we found out I had already met the presiding judge — the coach of the GSU Law team Christie and I dismantled at the TYLA NTC — but since we didn’t really know how to go about asking for a recusal (and didn’t even know if doing so would even be appropriate given AAJ’s chronic shortage of judges) we just went ahead and did our thing. EIC and M&M were counsel for the defense on that case and turned in a top-notch performance. It provided a big confidence boost to Tinkerbell2 and I heading into the Saturday rounds.
Saturday (03/05/11): And with that confidence in-hand, we torched the next two teams we faced on Saturday Tinkerbell and I were counsel for the Plaintiff for both rounds, and we first went up against 2Ls from I’m-not-entirely-sure-where.3 The results could be summed up like this: Tinkerbell was so devastating on cross-examination, their lead counsel blurted “DAMN!” in exasperation when yet another one of his objections was (properly) overruled I also got to deliver my first “split” closing, which went over well with the jury both in its execution and content.
NCCU Law's 2L and 3L AAJ Trial Teams
We followed that beatdown with a match against the 2Ls from WFU Law, in what was hands-down the toughest match we had. Their cross-examination was sharp, and it seemed like every evidentiary ruling made by the judge was going in their direction whether it was warranted or not. Tinkerbell finally shook them off their game during her cross-examination of the Defendant, who started fabricating facts under the pressure. I was sufficiently heated at that point4 that I was out for blood when it came time for closing arguments, and proceeded to beat the Defense over the head with their own inconsistencies. It was all very satisfying Afterwards we headed to a post-competition reception, then went back to the hotel and played spades at its downstairs bar until last call.
Sunday (03/06/11): We found out our 2L team came in 7th place overall5 and only the Top 4 would advance to the semis, so Sunday got spent checking out the Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, and then packing up to head back to the Bull City. Before leaving the hotel we also ran into MDG… which was vaguely reminiscent of a 1L nightmare I used to have where I tried to hide from my teachers but they always seemed to find me no matter where I went.6
Monday & Tuesday (03/07-08/11): Both of these days get lumped together because they were both spent knocking out life necessities — several loads of laundry, apartment cleaning, turning in travel-related paperwork, and so on.
Wednesday (03/09/11): Had a business lunch with the Pickle Princess, who I hadn’t seen since the April festivities celebrating the end of my second term as UNCASG President. After catching up on how our respective lives had progressed over the past year, I gave a tour of my alma mater to a quartet of her students who were participating in a FFA competition we were hosting. Turns out one of them even wants to go to law school eventually If I ever get sick of the whole “being a lawyer” thing, I think I’d really love being a booster for N.C. State and for NCCU Law
Thursday & Friday (03/10-11/11): These two get lumped together too, since they were basically split between watching the opening games of the ACC tournament and trying to catch up on all the mounds of schoolwork that amassed themselves between focusing on TYLA, focusing on SBA, and focusing on AAJ.
Which brings us to today: catching up on law school work, catching up with law school friends, and catching up on the law school blog
God willing I’ll be able to resume my somewhat-normal life now that I’ll have some free hours again, which in turn should (hopefully) mean more work around the blawgosphere — keep your fingers crossed!7
And until then, have a great night y’all!
I did, however, nearly choke to death at one point amid drinking said tea. Madame Prosecutor was not pleased. [↩]
Another 1L K-S veteran with me. She’ll probably object to this nickname, but as 1 of the 2 shortest people I know at NCCU Law I thought it was appropriate [↩]
I think they said Mercer Law, but I can’t remember for the life of me [↩]
I know it’s a competition, but lying under oath? Really? [↩]
In reviewing the ballots, we swept Saturday but somehow lost the Friday night round. Even given my natural bias toward my own team, I’m still at a loss to explain how any rational judge (let alone 3 of them) could have arrived at that conclusion. When a pair of Emory Law 3Ls kicked our butts at TYLA, I admitted it to you. The people we went against that night in AAJ were far worse, while EIC and M&M easily outperformed Co-Counsel and I ::shrug:: [↩]
He was supposedly in town for a NBA game, not to tell me my 1L CivPro grades were entered wrong and I had actually failed. [↩]
Unless you don’t actually like reading this stuff, in which case you can stop visiting [↩]
I’ll be filling in for NCCU Law‘s SBA President, who is currently in Washington DC battling the lawyerly hordes as part of the Luke Charles Moore Invitational. It works out well for the both of us — he’s got the brains to do moot court, and after 2 tours as UNCASG President I’ve got the experience in sitting still in the same room from 8am-4pm listening to people
Not sure if anyone from any of the 4th Circuit law schools happen to read law:/dev/null, but if you do and you know anyone coming to this meeting, let me know so I can introduce myself3
More tomorrow. Until then, have a great night!
Right smack in the middle of my birthplace in northern Virginia and my childhood home in Virginia Beach [↩]
I apologize in advance for linking you to the ABA’s new website. It’s prettier than the old one, but functionality-wise it’s one of the worst I’ve seen for a national organization… [↩]
Or let them know so they can find me instead of thinking I’m a stalker [↩]
Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 21, 2011 in The 2L Life
I swear I’ve got one of the most profoundly blessed lives a guy can have — it makes me worried I’m going to use up all my good fortune before I hit 30!
No sooner did I get back to the Bull City from the TYLA regionals than I got a phone call from Madame Prosecutor. Turns out one of the members of NCCU Law‘s 2L AAJ trial team had to step down due to family issues, leaving the team 1 person short of the 4 they need to compete in Atlanta on March 3rd-6th.
So they asked me to fill in!
That means I’ve only got 1.5 weeks to completely learn an entirely new fact pattern (a civil case this time), develop a direct, cross, closing, etc — but it also means I’ll get to develop even more experience plus help out some of my colleagues in the process
Definitely a win-win situation, even though I’ll probably have to scale back on the academics a little bit more We’ll see how it goes… but for now, I’m excited!
The NCCU Law TYLA trial teams -- our coaches are on the far left and right, and then from left it's me, Christie, Co-Counsel, and the 3Ls
TYLA provides the witnesses for each round, and unfortunately for the GSU folks their star witness (the detective who conducted the homicide investigation) was a sweet elderly lady who couldn’t remember a single thing they told her during witness prep. Their direct examination of her dragged on and on, with counsel having to refresh the witness’s recollection repeatedly throughout. It was their very first witness too, so it not only threw them off their game for the rest of the round but also let me build my entire case off my very first cross-examination — a judicious nodding or shaking of my head, and what should have been a hostile witness gave me the exact answer I wanted without hesitation
It was a lucky break for us, but one that provided a much-needed confidence boost for the afternoon round against WFU Law. Christie and I could tell during the back-and-forth on pre-trial motions that the presiding judge was more friendly than the ones we had gotten in the two previous rounds, so we adjusted our demeanors accordingly. The WFU team did a solid job on direct and with witness prep; their detective was the most challenging for me to control out of any of the witnesses I crossed in the competition. But he could tell I wasn’t going to let him venture outside of his box, so to trip me up he started inventing facts — and did so at precisely the wrong time.
As background, you can go to the TYLA NTC website to read the fact pattern (State of Lone Star v. Robert Duffie), but essentially the only forensic evidence tying the Defendant to the crime scene was 1 latent fingerprint found on a piece of tape taken from one of the victim’s bodies. My line of questioning on cross-examination included a closing crescendo designed for maximum drama and impact — basically building up how thorough the investigation was and then pointing out all they found was that single latent print — and at the beginning of that sequence I ask if the Detective found any packaging for the tape. The answer of course is supposed to be “no”, and then I argue in closing that they found no packaging because it was the roll of tape used by the store personnel to make repairs so of course my client’s fingerprint was on it.
Well this particular detective was getting annoyed that I had kept him in the box where I wanted him for the past 7ish minutes, and doubly annoyed that the judge had been responsive to my occasional objections to his non-responsive answers. So he decides he’s going to invent facts. I ask him if he found any packaging on the roll of tape. He pauses to think, looks at me, and goes “No I didn’t. It’s my understanding from my investigation that it was the role of tape the employees used to make repairs around the store.”
I have no earthly clue how he thought that was going to trip me up, but I look at him with my jaw almost-but-not-quite on the floor. I turn to look at Christie, who looks at me like she’s not quite sure he just said what he just said but maybe he said it after all. I look at the jury members, who are giving me raised eyebrows. I look at the judge, who’s giving the witness a raised eyebrow. And in a voice that ended up cracking because I was still in total shock, I go “Well in that case sir, no further questions!”
The look on the detective’s face when he realized where I was going with it was priceless.
At that point the wheels came off for the WFU crew. Their star witness had just flamed out and their next witness had nothing substantive to add. Then we got part of their expert forensic testimony excluded on 403 grounds. Then both of our defense witnesses were phenomenal under cross-examination. Then came closing arguments, where I reminded the jury of broken promises made by the State before hammering home my “Wrong man. Wrong place. Wrong time.” theme the whole way through
It was a beginning-to-end shellacking of our own, and a fitting conclusion to our performance.
Since only the top 8 teams proceed to the semi-finals, and those top 8 get determined based on their performance on both Friday and Saturday, we learned at the banquet a couple hours ago that we didn’t score enough points to advance to the semi-finals tomorrow. But to beat 2 out of 3 teams in my very 1st competition as an advocate is a solid first step
Going to enjoy the rest of the night with my colleagues before packing up to head back to the Bull City tomorrow. It’s been a great experience, and I’m looking forward to what happens next year!
A reference to her Barbie-like features; at first glance you’d think she was a model instead of a soon-to-be-lawyer [↩]