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I’M DONE! (for real this time!)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 4, 2012 in The 3L Life

I’M OFFICIALLY / COMPLETELY / TOTALLY DONE WITH LAW SCHOOL FOREVER!!!! :D

Believe it or not, I truly have loved the past three years I’ve spent at the North Carolina Central University School of Law (seriously!) but being finished just feels absolutely amazing!

Ah… mayzing…! :spin:

I stayed up until 4am studying for this morning’s Professional Responsibility exam, falling asleep on top of my book with a couple chapters more to go :beatup:  Yesterday I found out that prof Arbitration was nice enough to give me the B+ I fought for in that class, but my NC Distinctions grade didn’t turn out where I wanted it to be — so for my “path to victory” I now need a 97% (!) on this Prof Resp final to graduate with honors :(

Walking out of the exam I wasn’t feeling too good about it at all. Prof DVLaw1 sent out the answer key a few minutes ago though and I’m at least somewhere in the ballpark. I can’t remember my answers well enough to know for sure, but I’m close enough that I’m getting antsy thinking about it so I’m trying to focus my attention elsewhere. :)

So forget the grades for now: I’M DONE! :spin:

I’m off to go play video games / eat junk food / relax — y’all have a great night! :D

  1. This is my 3rd class with her, she’s a tough but great professor! []

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1

Judges == Old Law Students

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 16, 2011 in The 2L Life

The main reason I signed up for NCCU Law‘s Scientific Evidence course this semester was because it’s being taught by Professor DVLaw, a challenging professor but one who focuses on making sure students know the material and how to apply it. She invited the class to sit in on a national conference for judges titled “Developmental Forensics of Children Adjudicated by Courts” where she is one of the attorneys moderating today’s panel on genetic testing of minors.

I decided to head over there after I was done tutoring the 1Ls in CrimLaw.1 And let’s just say I wasn’t impressed.  :roll:

On the positive side, the place was packed wall-to-wall with a wide variety of people from all over the place. I got to meet judges from North Carolina, New York, Texas, California, Maryland, and several places in between.

But on the negative side, I came to the realization that judges are really just old law students :beatup:

One session debated a hypothetical involving a 16-year-old who was pregnant with a fetus potentially carrying a fatal gene, with the issue being how the judge would rule on a request to have the fetus tested against the mother’s will based on a variety of variables. You had the “gunner” types who felt the need to raise their hands and talk at every single opportunity. There were the judges who gave long-winded answers that didn’t actually address the question. The ones who were too timid to actually say anything publicly, but would lean over and comment to the people on either side of them. The political ones who always gave the same answer no matter the change in underlying facts and case law. The list goes on.

The panel discussion focused on a child with a predilection for pyromania, committing arson occasionally, frying a cat in a microwave, and so on, and asking how the judge would rule on a prosecutor’s motion to have the child tested for a “violence” gene or some similar genetic marker.2 Here there wasn’t even that much discussion of the law — one of the judges turned to one of the science experts on hand to ask if such a gene existed, asking “I just need you to give me the science and then I can make a ruling.” The scientist goes “for the sake of argument, assume there is”… at which point every single judge in the room said they’d order the testing.  :surprised:

Maybe it’s because I come from a science-oriented background at N.C. State, but that kind of reflexive judicial fealty to experts makes me apprehensive. Science isn’t law; while we might have “settled law” on some issues, we rarely ever have “settled science”.3 You don’t just have to take my word for it either: you can read the 352-page indictment of forensic sciences issued by the National Academy of Sciences a couple years ago. My hope was that the folks in the black robes would be more circumspect in their decision-making.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly thankful for the opportunity to go4 and it’s probably important for me to know how judges look at experts if I’m going to be practicing in a courtroom. But about all it did was shatter any misconception I had about judicial competence — judges are just law students like us, aged a couple decades ;)

  1. In what I sheepishly confess is now the 3rd day in a row I’ve voluntarily set foot in Chapel Hill… (pun intended) []
  2. With the objective of having him civilly committed permanently, instead of being charged with a crime, serving a sentence, and being released. []
  3. Otherwise scientists in a “settled” field would all be out of a job. []
  4. Especially gratis :beatup: []

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5

A sneak peek at 2L Spring

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 27, 2010 in The 2L Life

Good evening y’all! :)

This morning was class registration day for the 2Ls at the N.C. Central University School of Law, meaning all of us were up at the crack-o’-dawn with fingers curled over the keyboard frantically refreshing a TWEN page around 8:00am.

Different from undergrad,1 where we got our PIN numbers weeks in advance and our custom-built registration system was inaccessible until a certain day/time, the Banner registration system at NCCU is up for everyone and instead the PIN numbers get automatically posted at 8am via the Registrar’s TWEN page. So folks have realized the most efficient way to snag classes involves a bit of computer know-how:

  • Look them up in Banner in one browser window
  • Click the “Register” button (which takes you to the PIN screen)
  • Then in another browser window open the Registrar’s TWEN page
  • Hit refresh until the PIN spreadsheet link appears
  • Open the attachment within TWEN as an HTML preview
  • Use Ctrl/Cmd+F to find your Banner ID
  • Highlight and then copy your PIN
  • Alt/Cmd+Tab to go to the other browser window with Banner in it
  • Then paste the PIN in the box and click “Register”.

The whole process from start to finish takes maybe 5 seconds at most.

And people have gotten very good at it…

Last time around that included me. It’s why my Fall 2010 schedule only included 1 elective, as I tried to knock out as many required courses as possible so I could spend 3L year learning interesting stuff.

But this morning I made a fatal mistake :beatup:

After opening the PIN window and clicking the spreadsheet attachment, I accidentally clicked the “Download spreadsheet” link instead of the “Open as HTML preview” option. In the less-than-3-seconds it took me to (i) realize wtf I had done, (ii) frantically click back to the browser, and (iii) open the HTML preview instead, I had given up priceless registration time.

By 8:00:xx, three of the classes I had planned on taking were filled :cry:

So now my 2L Spring schedule is an inverse of the 2L Fall schedule: only 1 required course this time around, with a boatload of electives to go with it.

< 3 seconds == near-total schedule change :cry:

Business Associations is the required course and will be taught by Professor Ks. After my poor showing in both semesters of Contracts last year I’m a little terrified of taking another class with him, but every 3L I’ve talked to has told me he’s better than our other BA professor so I’m gonna try again ::fingers crossed::

Trial Practice I isn’t required but just about everybody takes it, given NCCU Law’s reputation in North Carolina for producing top-rate trial attorneys. I haven’t had this professor before so I have no clue how that’s going to turn out. If I’m lucky enough to make it onto one of our trial teams I’ll be using the class to prep for competition.

Scientific Evidence is taught by Professor DVLaw, which is actually the only reason I’m taking it because I hate pre-9am classes :beatup:  It goes into deeper and more-practical detail on some of the CSI-esque forensics that lawyers see in a courtroom nowadays (DNA, emails, digital photos, etc) which should be cool to learn. But the main motivator is the professor: like MDG she’s tough on the workload and grading, but you leave her classes actually knowing stuff and how to apply it.

Criminal Procedure is a prerequisite for both our Criminal Prosecution and Criminal Defense clinics that folks can take their 3rd year, so I signed up for it now instead of taking Taxation like the vast majority of 2Ls. The downside is that I’ll be stuck taking both Tax and Sales & Secured Transactions during 3L Fall — too many #s in one semester for my taste — but it should give me a leg up in snagging an ADA-ship after graduation. It’s taught by Professor CrimLaw so at the very least it should be entertaining :)

And then Appellate Advocacy I is my throwaway class. The Professor teaching it is the same guy who runs the Criminal Prosecution Clinic during 3L, and it’s a required course if for some reason I decide to try Moot Court in my 3rd year despite my total lack of current interest. Most of the 3Ls have told me taking App Ad and Trial Practice in the same semester is suicidal, so I’m fully prepared to drop it and take it next year if it gets too burdensome.

So that’s what next semester is going to look like :) I’m excited! :D

And the crazy part? I only register for classes 2 more times before becoming an attorney… :surprised:

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From the schedule-related archives:

  1. Not sure about other law schools — how do your schools handle registration? []

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5

2L Year: Initial Impressions

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 16, 2010 in The 2L Life

Good evening y’all! :D

The first day of my 2L year at NCCU Law is officially done! ::happy dance::

It’s interesting how much different everything feels as a no-longer-1L. Several of the 3Ls were walking around with a “we have class?” look on their faces, while the 1Ls had that “we have class!!!” look instead. The 2Ls were somewhere in the middle, my guess reflecting a new level of comfort with the law school and the whole educational process.

I figured I’d jot down some initial impressions to see how they stack up once the semester is over…

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: HISTORY, LAW & PRACTICE
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NCCU Law was one of the first law schools in the country (and the first HBCU) to develop a clinical program dealing with domestic violence issues. This class is the prereq for working in the clinic and is my first class of the day on Mondays and Thursdays — and several 3Ls tell me the course has a reputation as being the most-work-per-credit-hour-earned at the school :surprised:  Professor DVLaw seems personable though, so that should makes it more bearable.

The material is another story. The background details aren’t necessary for a family-friend blog like law:/dev/null, but let’s just say I’ve developed a very visceral impulse reaction toward people who abuse others. And I can already tell trying to learn the law and apply it rationally will be a challenge.

For example, today we were given an in-class exercise featuring three trial themes often used by both the prosecution and the defense in real life domestic violence cases: framing it as (i) an issue of personal choices, (ii) an issue of luck/chance, or (iii) an issue of social standing. We were then given the basic facts of an actual Durham DV case we chose at random: a man attacked a woman, pulled her hair, knocked her (1-year-old) child to the ground, and when the police arrived he verbally threatened to kill both her and her other (7-years-old) child when he got out of prison.

Our task? Come up with an argument on the spot as though we were the defense attorney, and then afterwards do the same as though we were the prosecutor. I had the “personal choices” theme with 2 of my classmates, and I totally failed at coming up with anything defense-oriented. All I kept wondering is what “choice” the 1-year-old had in getting knocked to the ground, or what “choice” the 7-year-old had in being threatened. Thinking about the fact pattern just really pissed me off, and I was in a dour mood for most of the class because of it.

My displeasure must have been written on my face or something, because when we switched over to the prosecution side Prof DV points to me saying “this will probably make you feel better.” :beatup:

Definitely going to be a challenge…

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EVIDENCE
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Evidence is next in the schedule, and the first thing I noticed is how f*cking PACKED the room was — I swear every 2L and their sister must have signed up for this section of this class. There were even a trio of students who showed up late and had to spend the entire class sitting on the steps because we didn’t have enough desks left in the room :crack:

Even though Professor FRE teaches CrimLaw for one of the other 1L sections (not mine), I did talk with him on a couple occasions during summer school and he seems like a quality guy. Good sense of humor, movie buff, former basketball player, etc. Should keep things interesting.

The class itself started with some preliminaries, then we watched the first 10 minutes of the 2000-remake edition of Shaft and discussed how a prosecutor would build a case within the confines of the Federal Rules of Evidence based just on the information in those first few minutes. Then we just jumped straight into the rules themselves, covering a half-dozen of them before class was out.

I’m actually a little nervous about this class because there are so many rules to remember — and usually with several facets to each one. We’ll see how it turns out :)

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CONSTITUTIONAL LAW I
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NCCU Law switches things up from our nearest law school neighbors at UNCCH Law and Duke Law, teaching ConLaw I and II as 2L courses rather than covering them in the first year…

…but when we take it doesn’t matter for me though, because barring something totally unexpected I can guarantee this will be my favorite class ;)

Today was just a historical overview lecture from Professor ConLaw, who has a reputation for being a challenging professor (and also teaches Torts for one of the other 1L sections). I don’t know if I’ve got the work ethic to earn an A for the class, but as a guy who used to quote passages from Marbury v. Madison and other Supreme Court decisions way back in high school I will definitely enjoy it one way or the other :spin:

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ZOMBIELAW (DECEDENTS ESTATES I)
====================

Class today was mind-numbingly boring. Professor ZombieLaw herself is hilarious — she refers to the course as “Dead People’s Stuff 101” — so that should make it a little bit better I hope…

…but it’s basically just like Property for dead people :(

Upside: it gives me a chance to get caught up on Twitter and Facebook? :beatup:

***

That’s the rundown on Day 1 of classes :) Tomorrow is the first day for Legal Letters, then more ConLaw and ZombieLaw before I’m done for the day.

For anyone else reading this who’s already started classes, I hope you have an excellent week! And to everyone else, have a great night! :D

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