2

Quick update on the past week

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 20, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening y’all :)

Sorry for the abrupt disappearance this past week, but the end of the semester brought a flurry of activity that I’m still slogging through. Here’s a quick bulleted update on life:

  • I don’t remember what happened last Monday during the day, but I distinctly recall waking up from my first bona fide law school-related nightmare in awhile :crack: It was next semester and I was at my first CrimLaw tutorial… except I didn’t have my Keynote slides.1 So I decided that, to preoccupy the 1Ls, we’d go around introducing ourselves… except apparently several of the students had issues with each other, so when one girl introduced herself another called her a b*tch, shouting back and forth ensued, and not a single soul was listening as I tried to get them to shut up and pay attention. Then I decided to distract people with index cards, having them write down names and other tidbits about themselves instead of talking… except I couldn’t find any blank index cards. :beatup:  Every time I’d find a pile of them, they were already filled out. Even a mostly-fresh pile of index cards had an occasional filled-out card included, so I was trying to gather enough fresh cards while the room re-descended into chaos. It was a strange, odd, unpleasant dream. That thankfully has a 0% chance of happening next semester or I’ll physically beat someone :angel:
  • Last Tuesday was the first meeting of the NCCU Law 1L trial teams, letting them know roughly what to expect in the now-Kilpatrick-Townsend competition that will take place in January. This is now the 3rd generation of teams to compete so I’m hoping it will be a more-comfortable experience for these 1Ls now that they have both 2Ls and 3Ls available to share their experiences.
  • Right after the team meeting at 1pm was the release date for my Criminal Prosecution Clinic exam, which I spent the next 48 hours grinding through. Not difficult per se, but lengthy and detailed. Impressed that police and prosecutors are able to remember all of these various statutes…
  • Speaking of academics, I’m still not done.2 :beatup:  I’ve still got 2 briefs for Employment Discrimination to finish, and a paper for ConLaw II that hasn’t even substantively been started aside from my prep work for the radio show on my topic. I had long ago accepted the probability of failing both classes given all the other stuff I foolishly piled on my plate. Tack on the fact they’re both electives that I don’t need to graduate, and you have a dangerous recipe of grade-A Motivation Killer™ to at least turn in some kind of work product.
  • Not sure I’ll have time to get around to my usual guesswork “Here’s what I’m hoping to get grade-wise” posts for 3L Fall, so I’m tucking it in here: B+ in Sales, B- in Tax, A in Criminal Prosecution Clinic, D- in both Employment Discrimination and ConLaw II, for a 2.333 semester GPA. Fingers crossed for that or better. Will elaborate if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Part of why I’m not finished academically is because I’ve very successfully sidetracked myself on this going solo idea and exploring the creation of a small practice incubator at the law school. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading and researching, put together a proposal complete with financial projections, and have started farming it around among faculty at the school. I even came up with a snazzy acronym for it: the Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment… because a little seasoning makes everything better! ;)
  • I had also already stacked my calendar high with stuff scheduled for last week because I’m habitual about planning ahead, so when the papers didn’t get done on time they’ve got pushed even farther back then they would be otherwise as my focus shifted elsewhere. In addition to the Crim Prosecution exam, spent Wednesday afternoon catching up with a good friend over lunch who I hadn’t seen in ages. Thursday was spent finishing up the exam, turning it in, then skipping the first TYLA trial team meeting to immediately drive down to Raleigh to help with another good friend’s bachelor party.3 Friday was a smidge of work on the papers followed by the wedding rehearsal dinner, Saturday was the wedding, then Sunday was returning the tux to Men’s Wearhouse and finally catching up on life basics like laundry / dishes / vacuuming the disaster that had become my apartment.
  • Yesterday I got a smidge bit more work done, though not before inadvertently crossing paths with MDG in the hallway at school (my Emp Disc professor). I greatly appreciate that he hasn’t reamed me out for my slacker-ness… but it was still awkward exchanging pleasantries knowing I still owed the man two papers.4
  • And voila here we are at today. Behind on academics. Behind schedule on the moot court problem I’m working on.5  Behind schedule on the TYLA problem I’ll also be litigating in February. But otherwise alive, breathing, and determined to make it through the vacation in one piece ;)

That’s it for tonight’s entry. Hope all of you are doing well and enjoying the break yourselves! More to come once I get caught up :beatup:

Good night! :D

  1. Which was weird, because I put a lot of time and effort into producing high-quality visuals to go with my rapturous voice… []
  2. No one who knew me at NC State is surprised by that comment, after I somehow spent nearly all of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Christmas breaks working on homework… []
  3. He’s one of my former Student Senators and UNCASG colleagues, marrying another one of my former Student Senators. Having known both of them back when they were freshmen, and now not only being part of their wedding but knowing they’re graduating in May, reminds me (1) how old I am and (2) how blessed I’ve been to cross paths with the people I’ve crossed paths with :spin:   []
  4. A point he gently raised with a side-eye and a “Are you going to have something for me soon?” :beatup: []
  5. Haven’t had time to mention that I made Moot Court beyond a footnote in a previous MPRE entry, but I’ll be participating in Howard Law‘s William Bryant-Luke Charles Moore Invitational in February :)  Briefs due early January so it’ll be a busy break. []

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2

Maybe I could do a career in radio?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 18, 2011 in The 3L Life

Good evening y’all, and welcome to the weekend! :D

Posting on law:/dev/null will be hit-or-miss until around December 9th or so — I’ve currently got 6 papers, 2.5 oral arguments, and an in-class final exam in the next 2 weeks alone, leaving me with almost no time to blog.1

Without the luxury of coming up with something new and pithy, I’ve taken the luxury of linking to a “Behind the Mic” webstream of an online radio show I hosted with my classmate Hahvahd2 on Wednesday for our ConLaw II class :)

Each week during the academic year, we host something call iSpeak Blog Radio talking about a variety of First Amendment-related topics. You can access the main website, including the archived shows, online at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ispeak.

My topic was California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) shutting off all cell phone service within their subway stations, as a way of squelching an alleged protest that they claim was going to take place.3 We also brought in ECU’s Peter Romary4 to help give a lawyer’s perspective on the issues. Personally I think BART’s decision was shamelessly illegal and I’m a bit disappointed no one’s filed suit over it yet, but until someone does I decided to comment from my perch in the law school  :angel:

Before we get to the video, if you’re interested in the factual background and links for more info, here’s what I included in the Facebook event listing I cobbled together for the radio show:

[FACTUAL BACKGROUND]
The operators of California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) public transportation subway system pay mobile phone providers to offer mobile phone service throughout the Transbay Tube. Mobile transmitters/towers exist throughout the BART system providing cellular coverage. BART maintains physical control over the towers, including providing electrical power.

On July 3rd, 2011, BART police shot and killed Charles Hill at its Civic Center Station in San Francisco. Hill was a homeless man who was allegedly inebriated, and was reportedly armed with a bottle, two knives, and was “acting aggressively” toward police when he was killed. The official security camera video released by BART is inconclusive (the YouTube video can be seen at the link below).

This was the third fatal shooting by BART police in three years. The first, occurring in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009, resulted after police arrested and handcuffed Oscar Grant for disorderly conduct at the Fruitvale Station in Oakland. While Grant was handcuffed and prostrate [face-down] on the ground, Officer Johannes Mehserle pulled out his revolver and shot Grant in the back. Grant later died for his injuries and Mehserle served 11 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter: Mehserle claimed in court he intended to pull his Taser instead.

Following Hill’s July 2011 death, the group “No Justice, No BART” organized a protest at several metro stations beginning at 4:30pm calling for BART to be disbanded and the officers who killed Hill to be criminally charged for yet another killing. As the crowd grew in size, some protestors attempted to prevent trains from departing and service was eventually disrupted. Several stations were closed entirely as a result of the protest.

A month later, BART claimed “[o]rganizers plann[ed] to disrupt BART service on August 11, 2011… us[ing] mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police.” BART officials cut off electricity to all mobile phone towers from 4:00pm to 7:00pm at four stations in an attempt to thwart the alleged protest. In the process, everybody (including non-protestors) lost mobile phone service in BART stations.

[LEGAL ISSUES PRESENTED]
==> Did the alleged “credible information” obtained by Bay Area Rapid Transit, claiming an impending August 11th protest, satisfy the 3-pronged test articulated by the Supreme Court in Brandenburg v. Ohio (intent / imminence / likelihood) for infringing upon speech rights?

==> Assuming arguendo the Brandenburg test was satisfied, was the BART decision to end mobile phone service nonetheless an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech, particularly when BART acknowledges portions of its stations are “free speech zones” for lawful protest?

==> Assuming arguendo the Brandenburg test was satisfied, was ending mobile phone service for everybody (including innocent commuters) an overbroad — and therefore unconstitutional — restriction on protected First Amendment activities?

[NEWS & RELATED SOURCES]
==> “BART Video: Civic Center Shooting,” YouTube.com, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCVj-GIBu6k

==> “BART Police shooting of Oscar Grant,” Wikipedia.org, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BART_Police_shooting_of_Oscar_Grant

==> “Oscar Grant Riots: 86 Arrested, Downtown Oakland Smashed,” SFWeekly.com, http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2010/07/oscar_grant_riots_86_arrested.php (07/09/2010)

==> “Latest BART Shooting Prompts New Discussion of Reforms,” New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/us/17bcbart.html (07/16/2011)

==> “BART Protest Shuts Down Several SF Stations,” KTVU.com, http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/bart-protest-shuts-down-several-sf-stations/nDb2w/ (07/11/2011)

==> “Statement on temporary wireless service interruption in select BART stations on Aug. 11,” Bay Area Rapid Transit, http://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2011/news20110812.aspx (08/12/11)

==> “BART Officials Blocked Cell Phones During Transit Protest,” CBS Sacramento, http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2011/08/12/bart-officials-blocked-cell-phones-during-transit-protest/ (08/12/2011)

==> “A letter from BART to our customers,” Bay Area Rapid Transit, http://bart.gov/news/articles/2011/news20110820.aspx (08/20/2011)

==> “BART Pulls a Mubarak in San Francisco,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/08/bart-pulls-mubarak-san-francisco (08/12/2011)

==> “Cell Phone Censorship in San Francisco?,” American Civil Liberties Union, http://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/cell-phone-censorship-san-francisco (08/12/2011)

Now for the fun stuff!

If you just want to access the audio-only feed from the Blog Talk Radio website, go to http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ispeak/2011/11/16/can-you-hear-me-now-ca-silences-phones-to-silence-protests

But if you’re a visual learner like me, enjoy the video (and requisite facial expressions) below ;)

Have a great night y’all! :D

  1. And a heaping pile of regret for trying to be an overachiever academically :beatup: []
  2. New person added to the law:/dev/null pantheon, previously referenced indirectly (and so named) for being the partner to my SBA predecessor noted in this Site Stats entry. []
  3. Yes, you read that right — supposedly we do stuff like that here in America now? :crack: []
  4. Long-time law:/dev/null readers might recognize Peter from this entry mentioning his new blog, The True Verdict. []

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6

Overwhelmed… but I like it (really!)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 23, 2011 in The 3L Life

So the whole “look for a whole bunch of posts around mid-week” thing didn’t quite pan out as planned (surprise! :beatup: )

To be totally candid with y’all, I’ve waaaaaayyy overextended myself this semester — even moreso than my senior year at N.C. State1 — and trying to convert my thoughts into words (and proofread them) just takes a big chunk of time that I haven’t been able to set aside like I hoped.

That’s not a complaint; I actually like the insane pace and crushing workload because it prevents me getting bored. I just wanted to make sure you don’t feel like I’ve abandoned you ;)

There’s been a lot going on over the past couple weeks that I can’t really elaborate on at length, so here’s a bulleted list with some quick thoughts:

  • The class schedule I created is unquestionably the single dumbest decision I’ve made in a very, very long time :beatup:  Stacking up nearly all my classes on T/H means I get almost nothing done on those days, then I also fall for the illusory appearance of an empty M/W/F by scheduling meetings and other events when I should be reading for class instead. And there is -0- redeeming value to having Sales at 6pm-7:15pm beyond Prof Sales being highly recommended by the students who came before me.
  • I was reminded by a friend from undergrad that I actually tried a similar T/H-stacked schedule setup my freshman year at N.C. State, with disastrous results…
  • Class performance is all over the map. I’m more-or-less on track in AppAd and ConLaw II, on track but confused in Tax, behind but not confused in Employment Discrimination, not sure where I’m at in Criminal Prosecution Clinic, and completely and totally lost in Sales & Secured Transactions. We don’t get Fall Break this year so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to turn everything around, but I’m hoping now that we’re through appropriations season in SBA I’ll be able to catch up.
  • I feel particularly sheepish about Sales, because Prof Sales has stopped me on at least 3 separate occasions and warned me not to let my extracurricular activities interfere with my academic work… and that’s exactly what’s happened despite my assurances to him that it wouldn’t :oops:
  • Speaking of SBA appropriations, we went from 2pm-midnight last Friday — 5 hours for presentations, 5 for deliberations — and barely finished voting on 9 of 21 groups. Then spent another 7 hours last Sunday before getting through the rest. I’m not sure what other changes SBAs can make to expedite this in the future, but one thing that needs to be done is mirroring NCSU where group presentations happen in the week before the vote instead of a marathon Friday+Sunday session. This year’s challenge was a -40% cut in the funds available for appropriations, from $115,039.83 down to $68,976.22, and unfortunately SBA isn’t likely to get that money back any time soon.
  • On a related note just to vent a bit, just one time I’d really like to preside over a group that has its budget go up while I’m in office. The Student Senate’s first funding increase in a decade kicked in the year after my graduation, my tenure as UNCASG President coincided with the economic meltdown and an ensuing freeze on spending by state agencies, last year as Treasurer we discovered SBA was missing nearly $17K compared to what our predecessors said we had (just before main campus gutted the budget further in January), and my back-of-a-napkin estimate this past weekend suggests I’m currently presiding over the lowest amount of funding the SBA has had since George H.W. Bush was President… and most of our students were too young for elementary school :crack:
  • ♫ One of these things is not like the others... ♫

    While we’re talking about SBA, apparently I’m the oddball of the group :surprised:  As some background, I’m a huge fan of personality assessments to help people learn more about themselves and offer clues on how they can better interact with their colleagues; self-awareness is one of the most-versatile weapons a person will ever have in their arsenal as they go through life. So I took some personal time and went through a trio of them myself2 then asked the SBA to try one we were given during my senior design project in undergrad. I’ve posted the results on the top of the picture at the right (the bottom part contains my 5 “Themes” from StrengthsQuest).  I can’t help but feel like I’m on Sesame Street

  • Oddball status notwithstanding, we make a good team. The dynamic is vastly different from last year but generally we all play to each other’s strengths. Earlier this week I was actually called “the Lil’ Jon of SBA” in light of my hype-man role… which actually suits me just fine ;)
  • Did I mention that last Friday was the first day of near-winter weather we’ve had this season?  And, in true North Carolina fashion, rather than give us any semblance of Fall the temperature simply dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight :mad:
  • And I hate Fall and Winter btw…
  • On the other hand, I absolutely adore my dog! :D  He’s still incredibly well-behaved, hasn’t soiled the apartment at all, deals with me being in class from 8:30am to 7:15pm three nights a week, and is generally just all around awesome. He has his dog quirks — scent hounds don’t particularly care if the temperature’s dropped from lower-80s to upper-50s overnight — but I’ll happily deal with it in exchange for having a happy and loving dog greet me every time I walk into the apartment :spin:
  • Switching gears over to the “real world” for a bit, way back in the halcyon days of 2004 I got myself fired from the Wake County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office after writing and signing this letter that got published in the Raleigh News & Observer (on the first day of the NCGOP’s state convention to boot). So imagine my (non-)surprise when the now-Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly approved a referendum seeking to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, an utterly bizarre proposal that was generating unintended consequences before it was even adopted. Even though I’ve mentioned my own reservations about gay marriage, there’s simply nothing conservative at all about this Amendment One business and the government effectively decreeing to churches what will and will not constitute a valid marriage between consenting adults. It’s particularly galling given its timing alongside the repeal of DADT: the self-proclaimed “most military-friendly state in America” is essentially saying it’s perfectly acceptable for homosexuals to die abroad defending our freedoms, just make sure you don’t bother coming back and trying to claim the same government-bestowed privileges conferred upon the other folks who are married… :crack:
  • The most-irksome aspect of Amendment One, from this ConLaw-loving law student’s standpoint, is the timing of the vote: you’re essentially taking a duly ratified constitution adopted by an overwhelming majority of voters in a general election, and which includes among its provisions guarantees of religious freedom3 and equal protection,4 and seeking to have those clauses invalidated through an amendment in a primary election when the politicians know turnout is always less. Never in the history of this country has a primary for a presidential election year had higher turnout than the ensuing general election. The politicians not only knew that when debating when to schedule Amendment One, they intentionally planned it that way. Absolutely outrageous. This facet alone has prompted me to join NCCU Law‘s chapter of OutLaw and start encouraging friends and colleagues to vote “NO” next May.
  • On the Student Government side of things, UNCASG has returned to its habit of epic fail-ness less than 2 years after my term as President ended. It’s not really my place to opine on that failure since I’ve already had my time in the spotlight and put my successors in as good a position as any successors have ever been in the group’s 39-year history. But if any of the delegates still happen to read law:/dev/null I’ll tell you this: screwing around with the organization’s structure isn’t going to fix anything if you don’t have the cajones to hold the leadership accountable. The N.C. State Technician was kind enough to publish a forum letter I wrote to them on the point. I just hope someone actually listens.
  • We’ll see if the Technician’s counterparts at the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel follow suit, as their oft-ridiculed Editorial Board continued its habit of plucking fabricated figures from the ether to attack UNCASG. One of their latest editorials inexplicably claims UNCASG spent $50,000 for our NC in DC advocacy trip back in 2009, even though the actual figure was an order-of-magnitude less: $4,750, spent for a bus so that the four-dozen participants (who paid 100% of the remaining costs out-of-pocket) didn’t have to take a dozen or more cars and the attendant gas and parking reimbursements that would have had to go with them. I truly have no earthly clue how the DTH Edit Board picked this random total when I sent them a spreadsheet at the end of FY09 listing out every single expense UNCASG made, down to the penny. It’s one thing to embrace nixing UNCASG’s ability to advocate federally during an election year — something I’d wholeheartedly embrace on pragmatic grounds alone — but simply inventing whatever data you want to support your arguments reeks of journalistic impropriety.
  • Over in the blawgosphere, I’ve gone through our entire blogroll surveying the law school blog landscape and it’s not pretty: more than two-dozen blawgs shut down permanently or otherwise moved to triple-tilde status (see my Blawgpocalypse 1.0 entry on how I handle categorizing blawgs), roughly a dozen more moved to double-tilde status, and only a collective handful of new and/or newly updated blawgs to replace them. Of the 183 blawgs on the law:/dev/null blogroll, 72 are defunct — that’s ~39%, compared to ~15% at this point just under a year ago.
  • But on the bright side, law:/dev/null finally hit the 1,000,000-pageview milestone way back on September 6th :D  I know it’s a small thing, and it’s a testament to how crazy life has been that I haven’t even been able to put together a Site Stats entry to analyze it yet, but in light of blawgs wilting like roses in a heat wave I’m incredibly privileged to still have y’all dropping in to see what’s going on in my law school life :) Thank you! :*

If you couldn’t tell from the length of this list, there’s been a lot of stuff I’ve wanted to write about! But I’m gonna wrap it up here so I’ve hopefully got some spare thoughts to pen in the near-term future ;)

Have a great night and an amazing weekend y’all! :D

  1. When I was President of the UNCASG, President of the NCSU Student Senate, policy analyst for a state legislator, and graduating senior in Computer Science… all at the same time :crack: []
  2. My Myers-Briggs/Keirsey test has me back to ENFP (“The Champion”), the first time I’ve turned out the same as something I’ve gotten before. []
  3. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 13: “All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” (emphases added) []
  4. N.C. Const. art. I, sec. 19: “No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws[.]” (emphasis added) []

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3

Law school: putting the labor in Labor Day

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 5, 2011 in The 3L Life

I’ve officially concluded that the course load I signed up for this semester was, in fact, insane :crack:

Scarcely two weeks in to my 3L Fall semester at NCCU Law and I’ve already burned an extended weekend getting caught up on reading for classes. I took some time on Saturday to clean up the apartment1 and enjoy some Wolfpack football, but otherwise have been steadily immersed in my Tax and Sales books.

And the sad part is I’m technically not even caught up yet: I wasn’t able to get my Employment Discrimination textbook until this weekend, I’ve saved ConLaw II reading for tomorrow in between classes, and I’ve got Sales practice problems to knock out somewhere along the way.2 :beatup:

But on the upside (and on a totally unrelated note), either today or tomorrow law:/dev/null should hit its 1,000,000th pageview! So I’ll have another Site Stats entry to queue up later in the week :D

That’s it from me, I’m heading to bed so I can get up for the 8:30am Tax class — have a good night y’all! :)

  1. In what has quickly gone from a bi/tri-weekly ritual to a weekly one, solely to keep the results of Samson’s shedding from growing out of control :beatup: []
  2. And that’s not even getting into the fact I’m behind on SBA work, which in light of my recent and not-so-recent history is almost more annoying than being behind academically… []

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