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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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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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Catching up (again)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 8, 2011 in Randomness

I’ve got a handful of entries to finish editing from the past 2 weeks, ranging from the mundane (registering for my 3L Fall classes) to the slightly embarrassing (running out of time mid-speech during our forum for SBA candidates) to the don’t-really-have-anything-I-can-say-in-response (getting held in contempt by a real judge during a mock trial).1

Hopefully all of those will be posted at some point in the coming day or two now that campaign season is officially over, my Trial Practice class is essentially over, and my Scientific Evidence class will be over once I finish this last paper. Just wanted to let y’all know both myself and law:/dev/null are still alive :)

  1. No, you didn’t misread that last one :beatup: []

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Preview of my 3L Fall schedule

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 22, 2011 in The 3L Life

Welcome to the very first entry in the new “The 3L Life” category! :D

True, I’m not technically a 3L for another 1.5 months yet. But since I’m now all signed up for 3L classes I figured this would be as good an entry as any to make it official on the blog ;)

As you could probably guess from yesterday’s entry on my Summer 2011 classes, Monday was registration day for the 2Ls here at NCCU Law. It was also the first semester the 3Ls did not register, and it showed in the course availability — while 3 seconds last semester was all it took for me to get frozen out of several classes I wanted, I overslept yesterday, logged in to the registration system about 5 minutes late, but still got everything I needed :spin:

Fall 2011 Schedule: almost done!

It’s also shaping up to be a dog of a semester as I knock out more of my required courses :crack:

I’ll be starting my Tuesday and Thursday mornings with our Fundamentals of Income Taxation class. Just about every 3L I’ve talked to has told me to stay far away from Professor Tax, some heatedly so,1 but this is the only Tax section I could take that would fit with the other classes so I’m rolling the dice.

On the opposite end of the day, the earliest Sales and Secured Transactions class I can take that doesn’t conflict with something else starts at 6:00pm M/T/H :beatup:

Sales has a reputation as one of our hardest 3L classes, so combining that (I subject I already know I don’t like) with Professor Tax (who will already be teaching another subject I already know I don’t like) is going to make for interesting / stressed out times.

The rest of my classes are all electives though, and split to complement the similarly-competing interests in my summer schedule. Employment Discrimination is taught by MDG and will cover the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and related hiring issues that might come up if I went the in-house counsel route with a tech firm. The class also goes toward our Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration that I’m working to knock out.

Appellate Advocacy is a class I originally planned to take this Spring, but dropped when I realized 2L trial team was going to be running my life. I’m going to give it another shot in the Fall because it’s a required co-requisite in order to participate in our annual moot court competitions, which I’ve developed a small but persistent interest in trying.  Professor AppAd spent most of his legal career working for the Attorney General’s Office on both trial and appellate cases so it should make for an interesting class.

The last course on the list is our Criminal Prosecution Clinic class, which is the prerequisite for our field clinic in the Durham County Courthouse next Spring. It’s also taught by Professor AppAd, and it’s a course I’ve been planning to take this class ever since the 1L trial team last year. I’m not sure if I’ll be keeping it though — for some reason it’s not included among the clinical programs that apply to the Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration, so if I can’t petition successfully to have it apply I’ll have to look for something else.

The biggest upshot to the schedule is that I’ve got no classes at all on Fridays along with a huge gap in the middle of the day for SBA business.2 At the very least I’ll never have an excuse to fall behind on classwork ;)

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From the schedule-related archives:

  1. Apparently she failed a handful of 3Ls last semester, not only requiring them to re-take the course but nuking some GPAs in the process :surprised: []
  2. Or an internship if I lose this election :beatup: []

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Quick look at Summer 2011 classes

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 21, 2011 in The 2L Life

One of the downsides to still having no clue what I want to do after I pass the bar is that I’ve got a long list of classes I’m still interested in taking and not enough time to actually take them.

Summer 2011: A little bit of everything

Soooo I decided to sign up for my 6th consecutive year of summer school classes :beatup:

You can get a sense of my indecisiveness just from the course subjects:

  • Plea Bargaining: Taught by the same professor who taught my ADR Practices course (and from whom I earned my first bona fide A in law school), I’m taking this class to complement the other coursework I’ve already knocked out if I end up going the criminal prosecution route.1 My uneducated guess is that this will be functionally similar to the other ADR courses I took last year, but with a negotiating eye focused more toward evidence and admissibility issues to provide the leverage in negotiations.
  • Intellectual Property: On the other end of the “what am I going to do with my life?” spectrum, this class will be my first dip into the intellectual property side of things to see if I’d actually like it. NCCU Law has a fairly wide array of IP-related courses — in addition to this one and the USPTO Clinic below, we’ve got courses on patents, licensing and technology transfers, bioethics, and several others — that I never really considered taking until I got an internship in the tech arena. So I’m figuring I need to perform some due diligence and see if this could be an enjoyable option for me ;)
  • U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Practice & Procedure: Since my undergrad degree was in computer science, I’m able to sit for the patent bar without any further technical education if I decide to take it. This course is the classroom prerequisite for anyone taking our USPTO Clinic in the Fall/Spring, so I wanted to get some exposure to how the USPTO works just in case I decide to dabble in IP. It’s only 1 credit and taken pass/fail but will (hopefully) provide some useful insights.
  • Civil Rights: Like my Race & the Law class last summer, this is one of those courses I’m taking just because the subject matter is interesting to me. Where Race & the Law focused on the modern Constitutional implications of our country’s historical race-centric jurisprudence, Civil Rights takes a look at the Constitutional questions surrounding federal civil rights litigation.2 It’s definitely a hot topic here in North Carolina, from the new school assignment policies of the Wake County School Board, to upcoming legislative redistricting by the state’s first Republican-led legislature since Reconstruction, and a variety of other issues in between. It’s actually got me thinking about pursuing our law school’s concentration in civil rights and constitutional law. Should be fun :)

Time-wise, the schedule is somewhat similar to what I took last summer with late afternoon and night classes on Monday / Tuesday / Thursday. The upshot is that there’s no Friday or weekend classes like I had with ADR last year, so that gives me time to catch up on anything I need to catch up on. It also leaves me free during the day once I figure out what I’m going to do internship-wise, be it heading back to I-Cubed or working pro bono for a local DA’s office (or something else entirely).

It should be an interesting summer :D

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From the schedule-related archives:

  1. Already taken CrimLaw and Evidence, in CrimPro now, and will be taking our Criminal Prosecution Clinic in the Fall and Spring. []
  2. Causes of action, jurisdiction, standing, class actions, and so on. []

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Five in a row

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 18, 2011 in Randomness

Earlier tonight I swung by UNCCH to grab Coldstone with one of my Legal Eagle colleagues and talk about life around the law school.

And I realized in the process I’ve now voluntarily set foot in Chapel Hill 5 days in a row… something I’m pretty sure didn’t even happen at the height of my UNCASG campus visits.

As a proud Wolfpack alumnus… I feel dirty :beatup:

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Here we go…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 17, 2011 in Student Government

Officially turned in my candidacy form a couple hours ago.

In two weeks I will either be NCCU Law‘s next SBA President, or one of the best-dressed losers the school has ever had :beatup:

Cross your fingers for me… :)

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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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Shirts are in! :D

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 15, 2011 in Student Government

I know I promised law school-related content in my anti-texting rant yesterday, but there was a slight change of plans — because earlier today I got an email that my t-shirts were done!1 :D

Last month I decided I was going to run for President of the SBA here at NCCU Law, considering the millions of dollars in budget cuts expected to come down from our state legislature. Our law school needs strong student advocates now more than ever (something I’ve got a little bit of experience doing).

Decided to go for a more-professional campaign look ;)

The catch of course is that I have to actually get elected first… and few things terrify more than campaigning :oops:

I know, it’s a weird fear for an aspiring litigator. After all, isn’t a trial nothing more than an attorney campaigning for his client and trying to convince jurors to “vote” for him or her by returning a favorable verdict?

But for some reason campaigning has just never sat well with me. First there’s the feeling that I’m intruding into people’s lives by asking for their support when they’ve got better things to do. Then there’s the hubris factor: running for office is tantamount to declaring “I’m the best person for this job”, but how much of that is accurate versus my ego just convincing me of it?

And then there’s my own 50-50 electoral record at the law school, winning the SBA Treasurer slot but getting beat for SBA rep back during 1L year :beatup:

We’ll see how it all shakes out. I think I’ve got a solid platform, and have about 50 people who’ve agreed to help with the campaign (about 10% of the school) so things are starting to roll along. Just have to get out there and be the advocate I’m being trained to be…

I’ll keep y’all posted on how it turns out. Have a great night! :)

  1. Hopefully this still counts as being law school-related :P []

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Getting caught up

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 12, 2011 in The 2L Life

Hey everybody! :D

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here at law:/dev/null, largely due to spending Spring Break this past week trying to get caught up on life post-trial team season. I’m still not there yet, but I figured if I waited to post until I was caught up on classwork I wouldn’t have any readers left :beatup:

So what’s been going on over the past week and a half here in Legal Eagle territory? Here’s a bulleted rundown:

  • Wednesday (03/02/11): Finally had my nuked Gmail restored… in its entirety :surprised:  I have to admit I was both surprised and impressed, and I’ll concede I was wrong in my entry predicting the worst. After making sure all of my mail was restored / downloaded / backed up / etc, I stayed up until 2am-ish to make sure I was fully packed and my trial team binder was ready for the AAJ competition I was brought in on.
  • Thursday (03/03/11): Skipped classes to head to the airport, then flew down to Atlanta GA for the AAJ Student Trial Advocacy Competition regionals. The first round wasn’t until Friday night, so I spent the day with the team checking out the city.  We had lunch at the Underground‘s Georgia Peach Restaurant & Lounge — some of the best barbecue I’ve had outside of North Carolina, and their peach-blended tea was delicious too.1 :)
  • Friday (03/04/11): The 2L team’s first round in the AAJ STAC was against the 3Ls from WFU Law. There were some initial jitters when we found out I had already met the presiding judge — the coach of the GSU Law team Christie and I dismantled at the TYLA NTC — but since we didn’t really know how to go about asking for a recusal (and didn’t even know if doing so would even be appropriate given AAJ’s chronic shortage of judges) we just went ahead and did our thing. EIC and M&M were counsel for the defense on that case and turned in a top-notch performance. It provided a big confidence boost to Tinkerbell2 and I heading into the Saturday rounds.
  • Saturday (03/05/11): And with that confidence in-hand, we torched the next two teams we faced on Saturday :D Tinkerbell and I were counsel for the Plaintiff for both rounds, and we first went up against 2Ls from I’m-not-entirely-sure-where.3 The results could be summed up like this: Tinkerbell was so devastating on cross-examination, their lead counsel blurted “DAMN!” in exasperation when yet another one of his objections was (properly) overruled :spin: I also got to deliver my first “split” closing, which went over well with the jury both in its execution and content.

    NCCU Law's 2L and 3L AAJ Trial Teams :D

    We followed that beatdown with a match against the 2Ls from WFU Law, in what was hands-down the toughest match we had. Their cross-examination was sharp, and it seemed like every evidentiary ruling made by the judge was going in their direction whether it was warranted or not. Tinkerbell finally shook them off their game during her cross-examination of the Defendant, who started fabricating facts under the pressure. I was sufficiently heated at that point4 that I was out for blood when it came time for closing arguments, and proceeded to beat the Defense over the head with their own inconsistencies. It was all very satisfying :angel: Afterwards we headed to a post-competition reception, then went back to the hotel and played spades at its downstairs bar until last call.

  • Sunday (03/06/11): We found out our 2L team came in 7th place overall5 and only the Top 4 would advance to the semis, so Sunday got spent checking out the Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, and then packing up to head back to the Bull City. Before leaving the hotel we also ran into MDG… which was vaguely reminiscent of a 1L nightmare I used to have where I tried to hide from my teachers but they always seemed to find me no matter where I went.6 :beatup:
  • Monday & Tuesday (03/07-08/11): Both of these days get lumped together because they were both spent knocking out life necessities — several loads of laundry, apartment cleaning, turning in travel-related paperwork, and so on.
  • Wednesday (03/09/11): Had a business lunch with the Pickle Princess, who I hadn’t seen since the April festivities celebrating the end of my second term as UNCASG President. After catching up on how our respective lives had progressed over the past year, I gave a tour of my alma mater to a quartet of her students who were participating in a FFA competition we were hosting. Turns out one of them even wants to go to law school eventually :surprised: If I ever get sick of the whole “being a lawyer” thing, I think I’d really love being a booster for N.C. State and for NCCU Law :spin:
  • Thursday & Friday (03/10-11/11): These two get lumped together too, since they were basically split between watching the opening games of the ACC tournament and trying to catch up on all the mounds of schoolwork that amassed themselves between focusing on TYLA, focusing on SBA, and focusing on AAJ.

Which brings us to today: catching up on law school work, catching up with law school friends, and catching up on the law school blog :D

God willing I’ll be able to resume my somewhat-normal life now that I’ll have some free hours again, which in turn should (hopefully) mean more work around the blawgosphere — keep your fingers crossed!7

And until then, have a great night y’all! :)

  1. I did, however, nearly choke to death at one point amid drinking said tea. Madame Prosecutor was not pleased. []
  2. Another 1L K-S veteran with me. She’ll probably object to this nickname, but as 1 of the 2 shortest people I know at NCCU Law I thought it was appropriate ;) []
  3. I think they said Mercer Law, but I can’t remember for the life of me :beatup: []
  4. I know it’s a competition, but lying under oath? Really? []
  5. In reviewing the ballots, we swept Saturday but somehow lost the Friday night round. Even given my natural bias toward my own team, I’m still at a loss to explain how any rational judge (let alone 3 of them) could have arrived at that conclusion. When a pair of Emory Law 3Ls kicked our butts at TYLA, I admitted it to you. The people we went against that night in AAJ were far worse, while EIC and M&M easily outperformed Co-Counsel and I ::shrug:: []
  6. He was supposedly in town for a NBA game, not to tell me my 1L CivPro grades were entered wrong and I had actually failed. []
  7. Unless you don’t actually like reading this stuff, in which case you can stop visiting :P []

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