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How to Feel Like an Underachiever

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 27, 2015 in Unsolicited Commentary

QuietStorm and I worked with this guy when we were all in the Student Senate at NC State. And now he’s in the New York Times:

How to Prosecute Abusive Prosecutors

By BRANDON BUSKEY | NOV. 27, 2015

WHEN it comes to poor people arrested for felonies in Scott County, Miss., Judge Marcus D. Gordon doesn’t bother with the Constitution. He refuses to appoint counsel until arrestees have been formally charged by an indictment, which means they must languish in jail without legal representation for as long as a year.

Judge Gordon has robbed countless individuals of their freedom, locking them away from their loved ones and livelihoods for months on end. (I am the lead lawyer in a class-action suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against Scott County and Judge Gordon.) In a recent interview, the judge, who sits on the Mississippi State Circuit Court, was unapologetic about his regime of indefinite detention: “The criminal system is a system of criminals. Sure, their rights are violated.” But, he added, “That’s the hardship of the criminal system.”

There are many words to describe the judge’s blunt disregard of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Callous. Appalling. Cruel. Here’s another possibility: criminal — liable to prosecution and, if found guilty, prison time.

Right on, sir.

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Giving Thanks, 2015 Edition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 26, 2015 in Randomness

Greetings from Virginia Beach! 😃

It’s been 6 years (!) since I posted a Thanksgiving entry, reflecting on the things I’m thankful for and where I was in life 1 / 5 / 10 years ago. Taking the time to reflect is something I started doing back when I had dropped out of college, trying to keep my spirits up when it felt like I was never going to amount to anything.1

Whether I’ve actually amounted to anything is up for debate — but at least now my spirit is doing OK 😊

A year ago today, I was here in Virginia Beach with my family. Survived my second full year as a solo practitioner. Excited about an uptick in the practice and recently joining the speakers circuit with a quasi-CLE on starting your own law firm.

I sacrificed Thanksgiving cooking for that 3.333

I sacrificed Thanksgiving cooking for that 3.333

Five years ago, I learned that I was actually capable of cooking my own Thanksgiving dinner 😂

It was my 2L year at NCCU Law and I decided to stay home for the holiday so I could study for final exams — even though I stood by my belief that grades don’t matter (reaffirmed in this Mailbag entry), I was close enough to a 3.0 that I’d regret not trying to make it.2

So I cooked my own turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and croissant rolls… and a few weeks later made the Dean’s List for the first time since 2005.

And ten years ago, to be honest I don’t remember where I was 😶 I’d just returned to NC State, terrified by Calculus III,3 and focused on not bombing academically. That was the semester I made Dean’s List. 😄

I’d go through and give you the full list of the things I’m grateful for like I did back in 2009, but the main one is my grandparents. The Thanksgiving meal this year was so different from everything I had growing up — Nan can’t physically cook, so Pops and my Aunt Diane prepared a few things while I handled getting the table prepared (and I’m on deck to mow the lawn and rake the leaves before I leave). It was just the 4 of us. A smaller meal, smaller group of family members. Everything just felt… off. Smaller. Like twilight. It’s tough to accept.

I’m grateful to have the ability to travel up here to be with them. Grateful for a team at TGD Law willing to put up with my idiosyncrasies and family drama. Grateful for friends who’ve texted throughout the day to wish me a happy Thanksgiving.

And grateful for each of you, still stopping by even though I’ve done a terrible job of keeping things up to date.

Thank you. And I hope you’ve had a happy Thanksgiving! ❀️

  1. I’d never wish the experience on anyone, but you really start to understand how important a college degree is to people when you feel like you’ll never get one yourself. []
  2. A story for another post! []
  3. Where I actually learned more than in 3 different attempts at Calculus II 😂 []

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Old habits die hard…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 21, 2014 in The After-3L Life

To the extent not doing something can be considered habit-forming, I slipped back into my old habit of not updating law:/dev/null on a regular basis — I wrote a “stub” for a handful of entries, never actually finished them, and now they’re just not nearly as interesting as I thought they were at the time. :beatup:

So rather than an in-depth entry this go-round, I’m gonna go with one of those bullet-point updates I use in situations where I’ve been gone awhile:1

  • A couple weeks ago I agreed to join a classmate at the veterinarian for moral support as she had one of her dogs put to sleep. :( This particular pooch was in horrible shape — cataracts, tumors, seizures, unable to eat, tremendous weight loss — so euthanasia “made sense.” But it still ranks among the most heart-wrenching things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Ever. Over the past 33 years I’ve lost pets, I’ve lost friends, I’ve been to funerals; the pain from those losses is real, but totally unrivaled compared to being inches away watching as a living thing takes its last breath. In her case I was horrible as moral support because I’m pretty sure I cried more than she did (and it wasn’t even my dog). Not an experience I want to repeat.
  • That same afternoon I came back to the TGD Law headquarters to resume work, and met my first bona fide batsh*t crazy prospective client. He was referred to me by another lawyer,2 said he had an issue that fell squarely within my realm of expertise, and had $5,000.00 in-hand ready to pay me — until I started asking him questions, his responses threw up red flags, I asked more questions, and got more nonsense. Essentially what he wanted me to do was get myself disbarred trying to use the legal system to pursue a foreclosure-related scam, with nearly a dozen different justifications already debunked in North Carolina appellate law that he heard at some seminar he paid to attend in Florida. It was a horribly awkward consultation, and he was mystified when I told him I couldn’t take his money and then sent him on his way.3 After nearly 2 years in practice I hadn’t met anyone with a truly outlandish claim; he is now officially at the top of the list.
  • Speaking of TGD Law: I convinced two of my NCCU Law classmates to come work for the firm starting this past Monday :eek: Shutterbug is now on board helping with the business law side of the practice, as well as the Class of 2013 President Miss ርαŠ₯ሰα‰₯αˆ”αˆ­ helping with the higher education / criminal defense side.4 It’s slightly nerve-wracking knowing I’ve now got a team of people to look after. We’ve all got complementary strengths, though, so I’m hoping it will lead to greater success for all of us :)
  • That same day, I was walking back to my car after lunch with one of my good friends from my UNCASG days (the UNCCH Daily Tar Heel reporter assigned to cover ASG at the time). As we get near the parking deck we happen to pass two uniformed officers with the Durham Police Department. I say hello as we pass, one of the officers mentions he likes the NCCU Law baseball cap I’m wearing,5 and after a few more paces I hear the same officer shout “Doucette, right?” For an ever-so-brief instant, my mind raced to figure out what I could possibly have done to merit me getting arrested.6 :beatup: Turns out he’s a third-year student in the law school’s evening program who had visited law:/dev/null on occasion and wanted to let me know. Felt pretty cool after the fact but I was definitely nervous beforehand!
  • Even though I’m in my mid-30s, in my mind I’m still somewhere in my mid-20s. Then Q.T. sent me a text earlier tonight to let me know she’s the new Student Government advisor at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics and wants me to do my training program for them in the Fall. And I realized: Son of TDot is now the same age as most NCSSMers :crack: I’ll be training kids who are quite literally young enough to be my own children…
  • I also spent the afternoon helping conduct the character and fitness interviews for the 14th Judicial District Bar :) I don’t think I ever finished the post I meant to write way back in 2012 about my own experience, but it was marginally terrifying at the time — so I thought I’d volunteer in the hopes of making it not terrifying for this year’s batch of applicants. It was a fun experience, plus I got to serve with another lawyer I met for the first time who handles an area of law I will never touch if I can help it (ZombieLaw). I’m looking forward to doing it again next year if they need me.
  • I’ve also got an incredibly important brief due Monday that I haven’t started yet :beatup: So time to close this entry out so I can get to bed and start tomorrow!

That’s the extent of what’s been new and exciting in my life. I hope all of you are doing well, and enjoy the rest of your weekend! :D

  1. Though I’ll note for the record that “gone awhile” this time around was only 2 weeks, which is much better than my average absence last year ;) []
  2. Who I already called an *sshole for sending him to me… []
  3. I’ll admit, my bank account was mystified too :beatup: []
  4. There’s a better-than-half chance I’ve butchered this as a nickname. She’s an Ethiopian-American — even writes a blog on her experiences — so I tried to find the Amharic word for “president” and use that. Hopefully I got it right, but if not someone can correct me :) []
  5. The only downside to summertime for me: potential sunburn on my bald scalp requiring the near-constant wearing of a hat… no matter the temperature. []
  6. My Facebook page tends to have quite a few anti-government posts on it, which inevitably includes a string of anti-police posts as well. []

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Greetings from Alabama!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 25, 2014 in Randomness

I never got around to doing an update of my first-ever visit to Chicago last summer,1 but I was there (really!), so it finally got shaded in on the map of TDot’s Travels.

While pulling up the map in Photoshop, I also noticed that for several years now Alabama remained the only state in the Southeast I still hadn’t visited.

Alabama is covered! Next: the Ohio River Valley

Alabama is covered! Next: the Ohio River Valley

Well I’ve now driven across it twice this weekend — so it gets shaded too! :D

One of ι›…ι›…’s friends from optometry school was getting married in New Orleans this weekend, and after just flying to Memphis two weeks ago for her graduation2 I was/am too poor to afford another plane ticket so soon.

So we’re currently driving back from New Orleans after driving down there two days ago, and stopped here in Auburn at a Firehouse Subs for lunch :)

The downside of course is that we’ll have both been stuck in the car for roughly 26 hours over a 72-hour period — the equivalent of three whole workdays :beatup:but it provided a low-cost chance to go back to New Orleans, catch up with one of my closest friends and political allies from undergrad (currently a 2L at Tulane), see the southern edge of Mississippi, and travel through Auburn / Montgomery / Mobile in Alabama :spin:

We’ve gotta get back on the road so that’s it for now, I’m off to resume enjoying this sub and gearing up to drive the next leg of the trip to/through Atlanta. Y’all have a great rest of the Memorial Day weekend!

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From the law:/dev/null travel-related archives:

  1. Which included being quizzed by TSA for having a few thumb drives in my briefcase, my first airplane being attacked by its onboard toilet (necessitating a flight change) and then the next being plagued by a malfunctioning battery (necessitating another flight change), a 30-minute conversation with a taxi driver who was almost better versed in the law than I was, and all sorts of other craziness :crack: []
  2. That’s the main reason I started the series on my interviews with the NCSU Libraries — it made posting entries easier while I was away from the Bull City ;) []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 9 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 11, 2014 in Background

I’ve learned after writing this blog for almost 5 years now that I have -0- clue what the future is going to hold.

See, e.g., me thinking I might make it to Marine Corps OCS (nope), or me thinking I might become a prosecutor (negative), or my in-retrospect-absurdly-ambitious plans for NC SPICE (LOL).

So I made sure to eschew making any predictions when I got asked the inevitable question of what I looked forward to in my undergraduate alma mater’s future.1 :beatup:

Here’s the last snippet from the interview, followed by some stuff on my history with traffic tickets:2

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – What do you look forward to for the future at NC State?

01:46 – Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

03:03 – Outtake: Traffic Tickets

And that’s it! Hopefully over these past 9 entries you’ve got a slightly more detailed view of the man-behind-the-blog.3 :)

Back to law-related stuff in the weeks ahead :D Hope all of you have had a great weekend, and enjoy the upcoming week!

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  1. Though I did make one small quip about our football team around the 1:31 mark… :angel: []
  2. Mentioned after inadvertently learning the camera hadn’t been cut off yet :beatup: []
  3. Also, I’ve now officially knocked out a third of my New Year’s resolutions ;) []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 8 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 10, 2014 in Background

Many years ago, back during the days-you-couldn’t-pay-me-to-relive when I was a 1L, I wrote this entry on LRA mentioning how my computer science background helped me with studying law (and also how I hated LRA :mad: ).

That was the main topic in the penultimate snippet from my interview with the NCSU Libraries as part of their Student Leadership Initiative — not just how computer science prepared me for law school, but how my NC State education in general factored in.

Before we get to that though, you get to witness me being stumped by a question because the thing I thought was the highlight of my career in Student Senate was dead by the time I had the interview :beatup:

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment as a student leader at NC State?

02:11 – Do you think your time at NC State has prepared you so far for law school?

06:07 – Could you talk a little bit about how your time at State has influenced your life more broadly?

Only one more video left, then I’ll get back to law-related stuff :) Good night y’all!

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 7 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 9, 2014 in Background

Long-time readers of law:/dev/null1 have likely already come across at least one of the several dozen entries I’ve posted over the years on the UNC Association of Student Governments under our UNCASG tag and the Student Government category :beatup:

If my time leading the Student Senate2 was best characterized as a hobby, UNCASG quickly developed into an obsession.

The group had grown so wholly and completely dysfunctional that it was practically begging for unconventional leadership, and I truly felt called to step up and fix it. So I eventually teamed up with the Pickle Princess to burn everything to the ground and start over — with N.C. State as my template.

But first there was the whole issue of running for reelection for the purpose of vanquishing a certain villain

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – So what factors influenced your decision to run for reelection?

07:27 – How did you handle both responsibilities as Student Senate President and ASG President?

Hope all of you have had a great week, and enjoy your weekend! :D

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  1. **THANK YOU**! :* []
  2. The single most-distinguished student deliberative assembly ever conceived in the State of North Carolina :spin: []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 6 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 8, 2014 in Background

Every good story needs a good villain, and during my tenure as N.C. State‘s Student Senate President that villain was the Student Body President.

It might have been my own fault, informing the then-President-elect1 “I’m not taking any sh*t off the Executive Branch” — on the night we got elected :beatup:

Maybe I never gave him a fair shake because I’d always hated the Office of the Student Body President as an institution.

Or perhaps it really was how I saw it at the time: our two paths diverging over the failed leadership of the statewide UNC Association of Student Governments, and the fissures growing with each misstep from there.

Whatever the reason, the discord was sufficiently epic2 that it became the single longest response to any question I got asked as part of my interview with the Student Leadership Initiative. Take a look:

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – Can you describe how you collaborated with other Student Government branches, particularly your relationship with Student Body President Bobby Mills?

Needless to say I wasn’t a member of the fan club :)

Thanks for watching, have a great night!

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  1. A recent candidate for the N.C. General Assembly down in Onslow County. []
  2. Including me having him thrown out of Senate chambers, and later chronicling his foibles in a censure resolution that was (intentionally) blocked before it could reach committee — ensuring its text would never be amended :angel: []

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 5 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 7, 2014 in Background

So what would you do if you suddenly found yourself elected to public office with a huge mandate… and no platform?

That’s the question-behind-the-question of this next snippet of my interview with the NCSU Libraries Student Leadership Initiative.

Here’s a hint: we did a lot of things for the first time ever, and didn’t give three-tenths of half a damn what the University Administration thought about it :D

Questions in this Clip:

00:00 – So following your election to the presidency, did you make an effort to instate Hankins as Student Senate President?

02:23 – So you just mentioned the fee referendum, so we’ll talk about that if you don’t mind. Can you describe the student fee referendum and how your administration implemented it?

08:45 – As Student Senate President, you called for Congressional repeal of a bill that limited financial aid given to students with drug convictions. What inspired you to advocate for that issue?

Hope all of you had a great Wednesday! More tomorrow :)

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 4 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 6, 2014 in Background

It’s an odd bit of serendipity that today’s video in the NCSU Student Leadership Initiative snippets I’ve been posting happens to coincide with Election Day nationwide.1

When I finally rejoined the N.C. State Student Senate in April 2006, I was the campus equivalent of a snakebitten candidate. My initial spot in the Student Senate was only via appointment; when I ran in my first real election in March 1999, I foolishly filed for Student Senate President (as a 17-year-old) and got walloped. I ran again in March 2000 only to get pulled off the ballot en route to dropping out. Then I tried for a simple Student Senate seat in March 2006, with 4 candidates running for 3 College of Engineering seats…

…and I came in 4th out of 4, losing to a guy who didn’t even campaign :beatup:

So after starting 0-for-3*2 in the election arena, I finally had an uncontested race for a Senate seat going into March 2007 and was looking forward to getting my first notch in the “Win” column.

Then I gave it up.

The rest of the story is too crazy for words,3 so here’s the video:

Questions in this Clip:

0:00:00 – During that time period, the Elections Commission decided to remove Student Senator James Hankins from the Student Senate President ballot. Can you talk about that, and your response to his removal?

Thanks for watching :) I hope all of your respective candidates won on this particular Primary Election Day! :D

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From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  • Part 1 of 9: The Backstory (05/03/14)
  • Part 2 of 9: In the Beginning… (05/04/14)
  • Part 3 of 9: Dropping Out (05/05/14)
  • Part 4 of 9: Prelude to Revolution (05/06/14) [this post]
  • Part 5 of 9: Party Time in Witherspoon (05/07/14)
  • Part 6 of 9: “Collaboration” (05/08/14)
  • Part 7 of 9: SSP Round Two and UNCASG (05/09/14)
  • Part 8 of 9: Law School (05/10/14)
  • Part 9 of 9: Traffic Tickets (05/11/14)
  1. And, believe it or not, I didn’t plan it out that way! :crack: []
  2. Don’t know if getting removed from the ballot counts as a loss or not. I’ll leave that for y’all to decide ;) []
  3. As testament to the craziness: my 2nd (3rd?) SSP campaign became course material for -3- different classes at N.C. State :surprised: Professors taught students about the campaign in a course on marketing in the College of Management, a course on campaigning in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, and a course on computer ethics (using Facebook for opposition research) in the College of Engineering. :spin: []

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