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Warrior Cops Gone Wild

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 6, 2014 in Unsolicited Commentary

One of the things I’ve been dabbling with during my most-recent extended absence from law:/dev/null has been the near-daily stream of news stories about police going totally bonkers while carrying out their once-upon-a-time mission to “serve and protect.”

It started out with a one-off rant on Facebook two Septembers ago, about Jonathan Farrell getting gunned down by Charlotte Police while going to them for help after a car accident.

Then, before the day was even out, there was a different news story about the NYPD shooting innocent bystanders while trying to take down a mentally ill man. I added as a joke (because a number of my FB friends are flaming liberals) that we needed cop control more than gun control.

That was it. Two news stories that happened to be on the same day, followed by some banter about whether or not I should be allowed to own my Smith & Wesson M&P9 with three fully loaded 17-round clips.

But then there was a toddler in Georgia.

And a professor in Arizona.

And a photographer in Texas.

Before I really noticed it I’d posted 72 of these stories, adopting a “Warrior Cops Gone Wild!” motif similar to the late-night ads for the college girl videos. Somehow on top of those 72 posts I’d still amassed a queue of 69 unposted entries, and kept getting new material all. the. time.

(See, e.g., the non-indictment of Mike Brown’s killer in Missouri, the non-indictment of Eric Garner’s killer in New York, or the LAPD gunning down a man last night amid dozens of tourists just two days after their own police chief admitted they like to use excessive force.)

It’s some disturbing sh*t that just gets more disturbing as time goes on.

And I’m not really sure what to do about it. I’m certainly not the first person to document that police brutality exists. I don’t have any special influence with any decision-makers who could change anything. I’m also not really the protest type.1

But I am an attorney, and a constitutionalist, and a small government conservative who isn’t that big a fan of the police state we’re becoming — and damn sure not a fan of a police state freed of the shackles of due process.2

I feel like I need to do something.

I’m open to suggestions. Because something has to change.

  1. I think I’ve attended maybe three protests in my life just to see what the fuss was about, and engineered one to cause trouble for a certain Student Body President. []
  2. I’m sorry, selling untaxed cigarettes is not a crime that should ever be punishable by the death penalty. No matter what I may think about it. []

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NC Bar Exam 2012 Postmortem

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jul 25, 2012 in The After-3L Life

[CORRECTION (07/28/12): Madame Prosecutor informed me that the +$125 extra that computer users get charged is actually the ExamSoft licensing fee, and not extra cash going to the NCBLE as I surmised near the end of the Day 1 rundown. I’ve left the original blog entry as-is for posterity but wanted to ensure the wrong info was corrected. :) ]

***

And that’s a wrap: after 3 years of law school — including extra summer sessions both summers, plus bar prep every day since graduation — I’m officially done with the 2012 North Carolina Bar Examination! :D

It was also apparently an unprecedented clusterf*ck :beatup:

 

DAY 1: “Electricity? You mean, that’s important?”
Things started out pretty well on Tuesday morning. I had taken Samson down to a pet-sitter in Raleigh on Monday night, checked in to a hotel a few minutes away from the test site, and took the evening to relax.1 As I left my room the next morning2 I saw a guy all the way down at the opposite end of the hall getting ready to leave as well.  I hate waiting for the elevator myself, so I decided to hold the elevator for him. He got on, asked if I had any exciting plans for the day, and when I told him I was taking the bar exam he goes “Just remember, there is no failure. The only failure is not doing it.”

It was a random encounter, but good vibes heading over to the test site. :D

When I got to the NC State Fairgrounds around 7:15am there were already hundreds of other test-takers already lined up at various entrances to the Jim Graham Building, sorted by starting letter of everyone’s last name. I wandered around until I saw some NCCU Law classmates and we waited in line for an hour or so as folks eventually got checked in. Most of our professors were there talking with Legal Eagles in the different lines, including The Chief and our new Dean,3 encouraging all of us not to stress out and to do well. :)

After checking in — and getting fussed at because I had inadvertently kept my NCCU Alumni hat on4 — I found my seat near the back side of the Jim Graham Building and waited through nearly an hour of instructions on the documents we were being given, what needed to get filled in where, and all the other oodles of stuff the NCBLE is required to announce to ensure everything is done fairly (even though most of it was in printed material sent to us before we showed up). Then we got to open our essay packets and get to typing.

The essays were split into four parts, with two parts per session (AM and PM). For the morning session we were tested on:5

  • Civil Procedure:  π files a wrongful death suit against a company on the day the SOL expires, then later amends to add that he’s suing as representative of the estate and names two additional ∆s; lawyer for ∆ company opposes arguing they’re futile due to SOL lapse. Which, if any, of the 3 amendments should be allowed?
  • Contracts:  Underage ∆ (claiming he’s 19) enters into referral agreement with temp employment agency π, who gets ∆ a job as a photographer for a child porn syndicate. Can π recover the referral fee ∆ was due to pay?
  • Evidence (2-part):  ∆ charged with second-degree murder following accident while intoxicated says during interrogation “I’m not drunk”; ∆’s lawyer tries to get the statement in during cross-examination of the police officer, and prosecutor follows up by trying to introduce ∆’s prior DWI to prove malice. Which, if either, of these two items should be excluded?
  • Family Law (3-part):  ∆ and wife separate; wife has 1 child not adopted by ∆ from prior marriage, 2 more children with ∆, and doesn’t work because she and ∆ agreed at time 3rd child was born that she’d be a housewife until child starts kindergarten.  Does ∆ owe support for unadopted child, can he force wife to go back to work to support kids, and what of ∆’s various items of income will be used by the court in determining child support?
  • Professional Responsibility (2-part):  Prosecutor loses bond hearing against defense counsel; within minutes he finds a state statute (partially quoted) after returning to his office, then approaches judge ex parte to ask for new hearing under the statute, and gets original bond reinstated. Did he violate the RPC in asking for the new hearing and/or getting the bond reinstated?
  • Property: Easement on parcel of land recorded 75 years ago; BFP acquired parcel with no mention of easement in deed. Can successors in interest of owner of the dominant tenement enforce the easement?

I finished the first set of essays about 45 minutes ahead of time, then we had a break for lunch until 1:45pm. The law school had a particularly tasty selection of deli sandwiches, sweets, fruits, drinks, and so on. It was unexpectedly good, and filling — I’d been expecting something low-budget in light of the state’s budget cuts but was pleasantly surprised. :spin:

After lunch we all filed back into the warehouse for the afternoon session. In that one we were tested on:

  • Criminal Procedure: DV victim consents to search of apartment for abuser boyfriend; officer discovers marijuana in cigar box under the bed and charges DV victim with possession. Should the cigar box contents be suppressed?
  • Torts: π loses medical malpractice case against doctor. What does he need to prove to succeed in a legal malpractice claim against ∆ lawyer?
  • Constitutional Law: Kelo v. City of New London question; city condemns π’s property under eminent domain as part of economic development project getting turned over to private developer. What are π’s odds of successfully enjoining the condemnation?
  • Agency: President of ∆ corporation enters into contract to buy expensive equipment from π, even though bylaws prevented her from doing so, π knew of bylaws restriction, and Board voted to defer all equipment purchases until next year. Is the contract enforceable?
  • ZombieLaw: Pastor owns rental properties as tenants by the entireties with mentally incompetent wife, joint checking account with right of survivorship with one son, life insurance policy naming both sons as beneficiaries, and modest home; son holding durable power of attorney changes life insurance policy to name himself as sole beneficiary; pastor’s will splits estate between both sons; pastor dies with mountains of debt. Who gets what?
  • Secured Transactions: Creditor 1 finances ∆ company in exchange for security interest in all of ∆’s after-acquired personal property; Creditor 2 finances piece of equipment in exchange for Purchase-Money Security Interest, but doesn’t file a UCC-1 until months later; ∆ defaults on both loans. Who has priority over the piece of equipment?

It was in the middle of this second session when things went to hell in a handbasket testing-wise.

You see, this part of North Carolina has a long-standing history of late afternoon summer thunderstorms — even confirmed scientifically by my alma mater NC State and the State Climate Office back in 2001.6 The day starts out great, then around 4pm the clouds form, you have 20 minutes of the worst rain, wind, and lightning that you’ve ever seen, and then the sun’s out again.

Well in the middle of my ZombieLaw essay the power went out the first time. It lasted for about 7 minutes before things came back on, and the proctor announced that everyone would get an extra 7 minutes of time. I’d ensured my MacBook Pro battery was fully charged the night before the exam so I wasn’t phased by the outage and just kept on working.

Then, as I’m a paragraph away from finishing my Secured Transactions essay around 3:30pm, the power goes out again. And stayed off this time :beatup:

I finished my essay and turned in my forms about 5 minutes later, but found out that night that power stayed out for nearly an hour and folks were given an extra 45 minutes to finish; the essay portion that was supposed to end at 5:11pm stretched out until just before 6 o’clock. Bear in mind no electricity also meant no air conditioning — on a summer day, in 90º+ heat, housed in what is essentially the livestock barn for the State Fair each year. :crack:

Maybe it’s just because I was a computer scientist before I was a law student… but contingency plans for a loss of electricity seems like something you’d have for an event like this. I can only imagine the number of threatened lawsuits that are going to crop up when results are released and people who failed the test argue it was/is because of the stressful testing environment.

Did I mention that the NCBLE makes us pay an extra +$125 to use our laptops? Multiplied by the number of laptop users, that’s well over $100K going to the NCBLE just from laptop users alone. Surely they could drop $5K (or more) on a durable industrial generator. :roll:

After leaving the building I continued my non-diet indulgences by getting Zaxby’s for the first time in ages, went back to the hotel and swam for a bit, then did a hundred practice MBE questions while watching television.

 

DAY 2: “What the hell is that sound? And did that rat just piss on your foot?”
Wednesday was the Multistate Bar Exam multiple choice questions, covering ConLaw, CrimLaw/CrimPro, Evidence, Ks, Property, and Torts in two 100-question chunks. Things started around 8:15am and it was as dull and mundane as 100 multiple-choice questions sounds.

I’d been averaging around a minute per question practicing all summer, and did about the same on the exam wrapping up a couple minutes after 10am. The lunch break was absolutely dreadful the second time around because it was so… @#$%ing… long. It was already slated to last two hours, and me finishing an hour early added to it. Most of the time I was debating whether or not I should do more practice multiples, and didn’t eat lunch until the tail end of the break because I was still full from breakfast.

Oh and I forgot to point out there was a rat running around a quadrant of the testing area in the morning session, that staff captured on the lunch break by throwing a trash can over it :beatup: One of my classmates had the misfortune of it running across (and peeing on) her foot.

Things got back under way just after 2pm for the next batch of questions. Throughout most of the afternoon I kept hearing a loud noise outside, wondering if there was another thunderstorm going on — and turns out there was a wood chipper running full blast for hours. :surprised:

I tuned out the noise and kept grinding on the questions, finished about 3:55pm, then picked up the dog and headed home.7

 

So how did it go?
I have no clue :(

On the essays, I thought they were a lot “easier” than I expected. That word’s in quotes because I have -0- clue if I actually got the answers right; it just wasn’t nearly as difficult coming up with words to put on the paper as it had been during bar prep. I know for sure that I railed the Agency, ConLaw, and CrimPro questions, had only a partial clue on the CivPro and Prof Resp questions, and was somewhere in the middle on all the rest. NCCU Law has a supplemental bar prep program called “Invest in Success” that exclusively focuses on the essay portion of the exam and I’m thinking that was instrumental in getting me prepared.

The MBE, on the other hand, was inordinately difficult across the board.

My practice scores jumped, but the MBE was still far more difficult

My scores had improved dramatically on the practice multiples I’d been taking from BarBri so I went into Wednesday expecting it to be a piece of cake. But wow. I could narrow most questions down to two choices fairly quickly but would have no idea which of the two was correct.

Taking everything overall, and the 60-40 split NC uses on the essays-vs-MBE, if I were a gambling man I’d put my odds of passing somewhere around the mid-60% range. I feel OK but not comfortable. And now I have to find a way to put the test out of my mind for five weeks until we get the results…

That’s it from me for tonight y’all! Now that I don’t have class or studying I’m going to try to get law:/dev/null up-to-date (seriously!) and work on getting NC SPICE off the ground. Thanks to all of you for your support the past couple months, and have a great night! :D

  1. Dropped my diet for a 72-hour window by eating McDonalds, then sitting in the bathtub for an hour reading through some essays and collecting my thoughts, then sleeping. []
  2. After indulging on a delicious breakfast from room service :spin: []
  3. I’ll come up with an adequate nickname for her at some time down the road :) []
  4. Trying to make sure my bald scalp didn’t get sunburned! :beatup: []
  5. I’m using the delta symbol and pi symbol for defendant and plaintiff respectively; these should show up regardless of your browser and operating system, but if they don’t let me know and I’ll revert to D and P. []
  6. They suspect it’s because of the geological makeup of the region. []
  7. Didn’t get to celebrate being done though, because Samson puked shortly after dinner which prompted me to take him to the 24-hour emergency vet. :cry: Instead I got home just after 11pm, ate Bojangle’s for dinner, and working on this blog entry. []

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2

TDot’s Tips: “A penny for your [outlines]?”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 15, 2011 in TDot's Tips

In addition to law school Orientation — if you’re a NCCU Law 1L, make sure to  read yesterday’s Orientation entry — this is the time of year where the 2Ls and 3Ls start hitting up everyone they can to accumulate outlines for the upcoming year :beatup:

Starting last year I’ve tried to compile as many of those as I can and bundle them into a ZIP file hosted here on law:/dev/null. If you’re looking for outlines, follow these steps:1

  1. In your browser’s address bar, type in the base URL for this blog; if you came to this specific entry’s page and don’t know the base URL, just click this link to go to the law:/dev/null main page ;)
  2. After the “.com/”, if you’re a 1L you’re going to type in “docs/1LStuff.zip” (without the quotation marks), or “docs/2Land3LStuff.zip” (also without the quotes) if you’re a 2L or 3L.

If you have any trouble with that, send me an email (address at the bottom of our About page) or contact me on Twitter.

Now for some obligatory caveats and 1 contractual obligation on your part:

  • On the contractual obligation side:  in exchange for downloading this file, you’re agreeing to help spread the word to your colleagues at the law school about its existence; I want everyone to have access to the outlines, even if they don’t necessarily take advantage of the opportunity to download them.
  • These files are large, and they come from a lot of different sources so there are some duplicates. If you’re on a Mac, the easiest way to find what you need is to use Spotlight; if you’re on a PC… well… I don’t know how to help you on that one :beatup:
  • Many of these outlines will need updating. The 1L classes introduce new cases, and many of the 2L and 3L classes have either new cases (CrimPro) or new statutes (ZombieLaw) or both.
  • These outlines are for NCCU Law classes, so if you’re one of my non-Legal Eagle readers and download them you probably won’t get much utility from them.
  • Most importantly:  the benefit to briefs and outlines is in creating/editing them, not in getting them from someone else. You’ll still need to read for class, and you’ll still need to study. Don’t come back to me in December crying because you have all these outlines, did no work on your own, and then failed your classes. :*

Hope that helps! I’m heading to bed so I can go help with the first day of 1L Orientation for the Day Program in the morning. Have a great night y’all! :D

—===—

Past TDot’s Tips entries:

  1. Sorry for being so tedious about it, but spambots like to link to file URLs so I’ll end up with folks in Russia or China downloading these over and over again without actually using them if I posted the links directly :mad: []

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Wrong man. Wrong place. Wrong time.

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 5, 2011 in The 2L Life

I’M OFFICIALLY A 3L! :D

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 :beatup:

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 :D

If you want to read through the fact pattern that was used in this case, check out State v. Duffie from TYLA.org.2

Have a great night everybody! :)

  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! []
  2. There were some amended pages clarifying minor points, and you can download those from TYLA.org if you’re so inclined. []

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Dear Future 2Ls…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 4, 2011 in Fail

…if you’re going to write down the wrong time for your last 2L final exam, at least make sure the time that you write down is before the actual exam time and not after it.

That is all.

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2L Year: 1 more exam to go…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 3, 2011 in The 2L Life

Hey y’all!

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 :beatup:

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 :D

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! :D

  1. 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 :) []
  2. Be gentle, and bear in mind my patience with doing a solid+thorough writing job waned after Day 3 of reading/writing :beatup: []
  3. End-of-semester grade expectations / synopses will be coming in a later entry. []

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Tradeoffs

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 19, 2011 in The 2L Life

Good evening folks! :D

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 :beatup:

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 :)

Hope all of you have a great night!

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2

Not quite according to plan…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 15, 2011 in Fail

Hey everybody :)

I just realized it’s been a week now since I posted that I’d be trying to catch up on old law:/dev/null entries “in the coming day or two”. And in the 7 days since then I’ve only managed to get two of those entries posted, one on my summer school schedule and the other on my 3L Fall schedule :beatup:

As you can probably guess, I completely overestimated the degree of “done”-ness of my semester. On the academic side of things, even with liberally skipping my Business Associations and Criminal Procedure classes to catch up elsewhere, my Fridays have been eaten up with trials for Trial Practice and my paper for Scientific Evidence has turned out to be a bigger deal than I originally thought.

Outside of that, on a personal note the issues with my family have flared up again, and one of my (formerly close) “friends” has essentially decided I’m not worth the time of day now that she no longer needs me around for moral support. And of course the state budget is shaping up to be a disaster for the UNC system and UNCASG continues to be MIA, so I’ve been diving in to start some advocacy work from my vantage point here within the law school.1

One day I’ll get back to updating the blog regularly. Seriously. Until then I’d recommend using our RSS feed so you can get updated whenever new entries get posted instead of waiting for me to get my life together ;)

Thanks for still reading, and have a great weekend! :D

  1. I’ve got a separate entry on it in the works, but I won the Presidency of our Student Bar Association for next year. []

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1

Über-huge mini-update on life

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 7, 2011 in The 2L Life

Evening y’all! :D

I’ve been gone from the blawgosphere for what seems like an eternity — I looked at the little calendar thing on the right for January, and for the first time since I started law:/dev/null there were more days without entries posted than with them :beatup:

As you can probably guess, I had totally overcommitted myself this semester. But I’ve started paring back and hope to get back into the swing of things here starting now ::fingers crossed::

Here’s a quick update on my life, which encompasses most of the dozen-ish entries I had queued up but never got around to posting:

====================
I. ACADEMICS
====================

The academic vibe this semester is totally different from last semester. Thus far I’ve got no real interest in any of my classes… plus I’m behind in pretty much all of them :(

Trial Practice is boring because all the stuff we’re going over — openings / closings / directs / crosses / objections — has already been beaten into my brain from trial team practice (see Part II below). Business Associations would probably be a fun class, if not for the fact I’m about 4 lectures behind in the reading.

Same deal with Scientific Evidence; I’ve got high hopes for enjoying it as the semester progresses, but between falling behind in the reading and class being at 8:30am, I’ve been very “blah” every day. As for Criminal Procedure, I finally managed to get caught up last week just to fall behind again by the next class.

I’ve basically been keeping my head down in all of my classes praying I don’t get called on :beatup: God willing I’ll be able to get everything caught up tomorrow and Tuesday…

====================
II. EXTRACURRICULAR STUFF I’M IN
====================

Trial team has essentially consumed my life. Back in early January during our first practice I was worried I’d be blown out by my teammates in our draft closing arguments, so I did a lot of prep on mine… and ended up giving the best one :surprised:

That netted me the team captain spot for the 2Ls with the designation as “swing” counsel. Since TYLA teams are either 2 or 3 people, in our case we’ve got 1 person solely doing prosecution, 1 solely doing defense, and the “swing” (me) doing both :crack:

So there have been multi-hour practices 4-5 days a week for a month now. On the off days I’m tweaking things and updating my trial binder and thinking about possible curveballs that could be tossed at us by the competition. Add in the fact I’d never actually questioned a witness before — abjectly failing on the first couple attempts as a result — and you get what’s been an awful loooong month.

For several days I’d get to the law school at 8am and not leave until 10pm, a scenario I assiduously avoided during 1L year and now can’t escape :beatup:

On the SBA end, Treasury work has been a mess too. All NCCU Law school students pay a fee to the main campus student union, which goes into a programming fund to which different organizations can submit requests for event funding. At some point years and years ago, the administrators on main campus decided it would be more efficient to just give the SBA that $$$ paid by law school students and letting us distribute it (since our folks almost never use main campus facilities) instead of having the law school groups submit a boatload of requests to main campus.

Turns out this was all a totally unofficial arrangement. With catastrophic budget cuts looming, the folks on NCCU’s main campus decided a few weeks ago they’re not going to give the SBA that money — months after the fiscal year started and we had adopted a budget including it. So I got to spend a good chunk of late January working with the SBA Exec Board and law school administrators to fill a ~$90K budget hole with only a few months left in our terms.

Fortunately we wrote a very austere budget back in September so we were able to pull it off, but at the cost of having to cancel our Spring appropriations process and trim back a bunch of other expenditures.

My campaign logo+slogan for SBA President

The whole situation’s roots in budget cuts has also persuaded me to run for SBA President in March. The impending cuts being handed down by the state legislature are truly mind-boggling in their enormity. Consider, for example, that for every $1 in state funding that’s eliminated from North Carolina’s university system, tuition has to be raised by $3 to make up the difference. The NCGA is currently talking about cutting $400,000,000.00+ from the UNC system. That means we’re facing $1.2B+ (yes, “billion” with a “b”) in tuition increases just to stay where we are — increases of roughly $5,600 per student.

Those kind of increases lead to mass dropouts like we had back in the early part of this millennium — including your humble author — and it makes for horrible public policy. Our SBA this year had to focus on rebuilding its internal credibility with the Student Body and faculty, and now it’s time for us to focus our sights elsewhere. I think (hope?) my experiences can make me a solid advocate for this university and law school in the year ahead.

I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes :)

====================
III. EXTRACURRICULAR STUFF I’M NOT IN
====================

Speaking of student advocates, UNCASG has been in the news quite a bit lately — and it seems for all the wrong reasons.

My successor and his administration pushed me out of the group and ran as far away from my way of doing things as quickly as his legs could carry him. I can’t really complain because that’s how politics goes and I certainly did the same thing when I took over.  The difference between then and now, though, is that I discarded things that didn’t work and found ways that did.

On the other hand, the new kids on the block have basically taken a timewarp back to 2006-07 :crack:

First there was a controversy over the President threatening Executive Officers who support local SG candidates who “disagree with the ‘ASG vision'”. This kind of institutional arrogance is precisely what alienated campuses from UNCASG in the past and led to the withdrawals in the year before I was elected. How anyone thought it was a good idea is beyond my limited mental faculties to comprehend; in my world, if you’re going to have to fire someone… you just don’t hire them in the first place.

The UNCCH Carolina Review decided to make hay from the issue with a piece of their own of course. You might recall the folks at the Carolina Review are the self-proclaimed conservatives cited by the Pope Center in the Center’s hit piece on my tuition views last March.1

I can’t blame the Carolina Review for trying to boost their readership with a timely article on a manufactured controversy, but pegging it as a conservative issue struck me as amusing — once upon a time conservatives opposed non-local people getting involved in local affairs. Instead the Review encourages it, as long as the involvement coincides with their own political views.

The whole situation is a mess, and one that should have been avoided. When I originally wrote UNCASG’s Ethics Act 2.5 years ago, I included this provision:

§1-2.5. Electioneering Prohibited.
(a) No Executive Officer receiving compensation funded by student fees shall knowingly engage in election-related advocacy or other campaign activities on behalf of any candidate for elective office at a constituent member of the Association.
(b) No Executive Officer shall allow his or her name and/or official title to be used to further the candidacy of any candidate for elective office at a constituent member of the Association.
(c) This section shall not be construed to prevent an Executive Officer from filing for elective office at a constituent member of the Association and from campaigning on his or her own behalf.

The section was removed in committee, at the urging of students from… UNCCH.2

The folks at the Carolina Review have also been circulating a petition to have a referendum on UNCCH’s participation in ASG put on their Student Government ballot in an effort to have the University remove itself. As the guy who created N.C. State’s student fee referenda from scratch back when I was Student Senate President, I’m actually in total support of having this particular referendum… but (unsurprisingly) they haven’t yet collected enough signatures to get it on the ballot. If they did, it would deprive them of an issue to carp about :roll:

“But TDot,” you say, “all of the stuff you’re talking about is small potatoes. None of this matters when a group is doing meaningful work and making a difference.” And you’d be right — but that’s not what’s actually going on.

Instead of focusing on the impending tuition battle I mentioned in Part I above, the leadership of UNCASG has focused instead on getting the President a vote on the university system’s Board of Governors — an utterly useless power on a Board where almost all votes are unanimous, and doubly useless when reaching out to the 215,000+ students the ASG President represents can carry more power than any vote. The last ASG meeting produced a total lack of consensus on a legislative agenda, leading to a factually-inaccurate DTH editorial touting a student vote as a good thing to try and fix the total dysfunction currently gripping the group.

The DTH (unsurprisingly) is wrong. Unfortunately the ASG leadership is wrong too.

Then there are the upcoming campus elections which will produce the next salvo of anti-ASG fireworks when new SBPs take office in a few months. Among the amusing candidacies is Rick Ingram, the odds-on favorite to become Student Body President at UNCCH. You might remember Ingram as the Kerry-esque flip-flopper who voted in favor of the UNCASG budget before he decided it would be more beneficial politically to oppose it. He’s been aggressively courting students for their votes — apparently so much so that the campus’s Board of Elections has already fined him for violating campaign rules and is now debating having him disqualified.3

Ingram also proclaimed on his website that “The simple truth is this — the days of fighting against tuition increases are over.”… an odd proclamation from a student and aspiring student leader in light of $1.2B+ in upcoming tuition hikes, and one which (1) the media (unsurprisingly) never covered and (2) promptly disappeared from his website when it became a political liability. Ingram’s victory would speak volumes about the UNCCH electorate, but more ominously it would ensure UNCASG wastes all of next year fighting pointless internal battles instead of serving students.

With all of this drama going on, for some unknown reason I made the mistake of heading to the NC General Assembly to catch up with some old colleagues and ask a few legislators of their thoughts on the situation. To say UNCASG has lost nearly all the credibility we built for it over two years would be putting it mildly :mad:  If I had any doubt that things were really as bad as they seemed, I actually got calls from several campuses asking me to come back and run for the organization’s Senior Vice President position.4 It’s disheartening that I’m actually considering it…

====================
IV. PERSONAL LIFE
====================

The saying “when it rains, it pours” was a pretty good epitaph for January 2011.

I was sick for the first week. My sister was committed to a mental institution the second week. QT’s dad unexpectedly died of a heart attack the week after. That very same day in trial team practice I found out a friend of mine was killed in a car accident.

At some point around that portion of the month I discovered both of my parents are either currently having or recently had affairs (I was sufficiently disappointed in both of them that I didn’t bother to inquire further) and the situation with my sister has them contemplating divorce. My dad was laid off from his job. My sister got released from the mental hospital and within the week was off her meds and smoking weed like she had nothing better to do with her time. At which point my parents discovered she had been stealing my mom’s jewelry to sell in an effort to finance her drug habit. Etc etc etc ad nauseum.

I’m pretty sure there was other crazy sh*t going on last month too but I did my best to forget as much of it as possible :beatup:  I’m trying to be a supportive friend to QT and her brother as best I can, trying to avoid the quagmire that is my family and their attendant refusal to make the tough decisions necessary to actually improve their lives, and otherwise trying to avoid having my generally sunshine-y disposition rained out on a near-daily basis like it did last month.

====================
V. PROFESSIONAL STUFF
====================

Things are at least marginally better on the professional side. I’ve started my tutoring sessions with the 1Ls in Criminal Law, and so far I’ve got the highest-attended tutorial and office hours out of the 15 different 1L classes (3 each in CrimLaw, CivPro, Torts, Property, and Ks). It’s too early to tell if that trend’s going to continue, but the feedback has been very positive and it really boosts my spirits :spin:

My internship with I-Cubed was also going really well. The people are great, the company culture is cool, the issues are interesting, and I was turning in sterling work product (even earning the praise of an attorney at another tech company). I was also getting addicted to the four-figure paychecks…

…but I walked away :surprised:

Between trial team consuming my time, my personal life being a crucible, and trying to keep up with academics, I just wasn’t able to give the company the 20 hours a week they needed. So I met with the CEO last week (my boss) and basically quit for now. I’m still part of the company and available for non-time-sensitive ad hoc projects as needed, but I’ve otherwise wound down to -0- hours a week until summer when the company will re-assess if I’m still useful to them.

It was the first time I’ve left a job since 2002, when I quit the State Bar to go take a leadership spot in the Wake County Clerk’s Office. There’s a part of me that’s terrified I made the wrong choice, especially with all the doom and gloom about the economy and law school employment stats and etc. But honestly I’d rather put everything out on the table and take my chances down the road than either (1) being miserable every day as I’m stretched too far in too many directions, or (2) start failing at things, turning in below-par work, and ending up getting fired anyway ;)

It was an awesome opportunity and I’m thankful for it, and I’ve got faith everything will work out exactly how it’s supposed to work out :)

====================
VI. BLAWG LIFE
====================

Spam combat on the backend of this blog has been continuing apace. My edition of the (badly-delayed) Law School Roundup will be coming up this week so I can punt the ball back over to Katie Luper :)

And oddly enough we had a real explosion in Google searches last month, so even though I had almost no entries in January we still had fairly decent traffic :crack:

I’ve also got a piece on tap for Beyond Hearsay that should be going live some time over the next couple weeks, and one for The True Verdict that I’m working on in my spare time — hopefully you’ll like them both ;)

—===—

That’s it for this entry y’all! I’m sorry for being gone as long as I was, but I’m gonna make a serious effort to get back in the game.

Until next time, have a great week! :D

  1. Views they fabricated from whole cloth despite five years’ worth of publicly-available commentary to the contrary. []
  2. Conservative UNCCH students at that, who saw an opportunity to back one of their own SBP candidates with ASG EOs. []
  3. Ingram’s response to the potentially-disqualifying allegations is quite entertaining. Anyone who’s taken the “Detection of Deception” CLE should be able to spot several items where he’s being dishonest with the Board; see if you can find them :) []
  4. I wrote term limits into the ASG Constitution so I’m ineligible to serve as President ever again. []

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Here we go again

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 10, 2011 in The 2L Life

Good evening y’all! :)

First day of the my 2L Spring semester was today, and I’ve got a feeling this is going to be one rollercoaster of a semester. As one might expect from some of my past entries, it wouldn’t be the first day of class without a mini-disaster of some kind :roll:

Usually my car doesn’t like to start up in the cold weather, so I get up early and crank it until it starts, then sit there until it warms up, then leave for class. Well this morning it started on the second try (which was weird) so I let it warm up and headed to class a bit earlier than usual… and no sooner do I get into the inner lane of the major thoroughfare outside my apartment, in the middle of morning rush hour traffic, when the whole car just randomly dies.

No gas. No brakes. No steering. Nada.

Luckily for me I wasn’t going that fast and coast to a stop, so with cars barreling down on me I frantically hit the hazard lights switch, open the door and jump out of the car to start flagging other drivers to go around. I eventually get the car to start again and make my way to school…

…but not before I’m solidly late for Trial Practice class :beatup:

In hindsight it was probably a good thing though, because the first day of class was about as exciting as watching grass grow. It covered the basic mechanics and stages of a trial from voir dire through final judgment, stuff I had already picked up between my past professional experience and spending last year on the 1L trial team.

But the class is taught by a judge though and is practically-oriented (all future classes involve different pairs of us going through different parts of the trial) so I’m hoping the excitement level will crank up soon :)

Then I talked with Professor FRE about the Evidence exam and found out I deserved the grade I got, but for totally different reasons than I expected. I’ll save the details on that for the grade rundown once I get all of mine in (still missing 3 :mad: ).

And then I had Business Associations, which will have me terrified for at least the near-term future. Prof Ks (who also teaches BA) got his timeslots mixed up and was late for class, and for whatever reason I decided to do the responsible student thing and go get him — then got rewarded by being the first person called on to brief a case :beatup:

I feel like I held my own so there’s an ever-so-slim I might actually do well with the material this year, but let’s just say I’m glad the class period only lasted about 50 minutes ;)

While I was in class I got a handful of emails from my internship, including docs I need to get reviewed ASAP. The schedule was posted for my tutoring gig so I’ve gotta get rolling on that. Plus there’s a 15-minute closing argument to write for trial team practice tomorrow night, and somewhere between now and then need to read about 80 pages for BA and Criminal Procedure ::headdesk::

The only real upside to today? We’re currently in the middle of a snow + freezing rain + ice storm, so morning classes got canceled :spin:

Expect me to have no hair left by the end of the semester ;) But hopefully it’ll be some fun :D

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