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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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2 out of 3 ain’t bad…

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

Today was the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the TYLA regionals in Charlotte, and I’m glad to say the Legal Eagles of NCCU Law bounced back from yesterday’s shellacking just fine :D

Both rounds today had myself and a 1L K-S team colleague who I’ll dub Christie1 as the Defense counsel. The morning session had us up against a Georgia State Law squad as Prosecution.

The NCCU Law TYLA trial teams -- our coaches are on the far left and right, and then from left it's me, Christie, Co-Counsel, and the 3Ls :)

TYLA provides the witnesses for each round, and unfortunately for the GSU folks their star witness (the detective who conducted the homicide investigation) was a sweet elderly lady who couldn’t remember a single thing they told her during witness prep. Their direct examination of her dragged on and on, with counsel having to refresh the witness’s recollection repeatedly throughout. It was their very first witness too, so it not only threw them off their game for the rest of the round but also let me build my entire case off my very first cross-examination — a judicious nodding or shaking of my head, and what should have been a hostile witness gave me the exact answer I wanted without hesitation :spin:

It was a lucky break for us, but one that provided a much-needed confidence boost for the afternoon round against WFU Law.  Christie and I could tell during the back-and-forth on pre-trial motions that the presiding judge was more friendly than the ones we had gotten in the two previous rounds, so we adjusted our demeanors accordingly.  The WFU team did a solid job on direct and with witness prep; their detective was the most challenging for me to control out of any of the witnesses I crossed in the competition. But he could tell I wasn’t going to let him venture outside of his box, so to trip me up he started inventing facts — and did so at precisely the wrong time.

As background, you can go to the TYLA NTC website to read the fact pattern (State of Lone Star v. Robert Duffie), but essentially the only forensic evidence tying the Defendant to the crime scene was 1 latent fingerprint found on a piece of tape taken from one of the victim’s bodies. My line of questioning on cross-examination included a closing crescendo designed for maximum drama and impact — basically building up how thorough the investigation was and then pointing out all they found was that single latent print — and at the beginning of that sequence I ask if the Detective found any packaging for the tape. The answer of course is supposed to be “no”, and then I argue in closing that they found no packaging because it was the roll of tape used by the store personnel to make repairs so of course my client’s fingerprint was on it.

Well this particular detective was getting annoyed that I had kept him in the box where I wanted him for the past 7ish minutes, and doubly annoyed that the judge had been responsive to my occasional objections to his non-responsive answers. So he decides he’s going to invent facts. I ask him if he found any packaging on the roll of tape. He pauses to think, looks at me, and goes “No I didn’t. It’s my understanding from my investigation that it was the role of tape the employees used to make repairs around the store.”  :crack:

I have no earthly clue how he thought that was going to trip me up, but I look at him with my jaw almost-but-not-quite on the floor. I turn to look at Christie, who looks at me like she’s not quite sure he just said what he just said but maybe he said it after all. I look at the jury members, who are giving me raised eyebrows. I look at the judge, who’s giving the witness a raised eyebrow. And in a voice that ended up cracking because I was still in total shock, I go “Well in that case sir, no further questions!”

The look on the detective’s face when he realized where I was going with it was priceless.

At that point the wheels came off for the WFU crew. Their star witness had just flamed out and their next witness had nothing substantive to add. Then we got part of their expert forensic testimony excluded on 403 grounds. Then both of our defense witnesses were phenomenal under cross-examination. Then came closing arguments, where I reminded the jury of broken promises made by the State before hammering home my “Wrong man. Wrong place. Wrong time.” theme the whole way through :D

It was a beginning-to-end shellacking of our own, and a fitting conclusion to our performance.

Since only the top 8 teams proceed to the semi-finals, and those top 8 get determined based on their performance on both Friday and Saturday, we learned at the banquet a couple hours ago that we didn’t score enough points to advance to the semi-finals tomorrow. But to beat 2 out of 3 teams in my very 1st competition as an advocate is a solid first step :)

Going to enjoy the rest of the night with my colleagues before packing up to head back to the Bull City tomorrow. It’s been a great experience, and I’m looking forward to what happens next year! :spin:

  1. A reference to her Barbie-like features; at first glance you’d think she was a model instead of a soon-to-be-lawyer :surprised: []

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NCCU Law 1Ls take Silver in K-S competition

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 17, 2010 in NotFail

The unexpected miracle run had to end eventually, and today was the day :cry:

But after a hard-fought trial in a rematch against Duke Law, the NCCU Law 1L Trial Team — the Legal Eagles — still finished in 2nd place in the 2010 Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial Competition :D

I’ll confess there were some aspects of the final that had me in a certifiably frosty mood when I left the UNCCH Law building earlier this afternoon, but the particulars aren’t the type of thing worth detailing in a family-friendly forum like law:/dev/null ;) I will say our entire team turned in an excellent performance, and it’s been an honor to serve as their captain :)

Top 4 teams in the 2010 Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial Competition

Something that was worth pointing out (at least IMO) is this chart I put together of the final 4 teams.

Now I know several of my Duke Law friends will argue with this chart — as some already have :beatup: — claiming that the difference in cost of attendance is irrelevant, since their salaries at summer associateships and after graduation will more than make up for the extra law school expense.

And they’re certainly right… to an extent.

But given my aspirations to spend my career in public service, on top of my acquired distaste for BigLaw, I’d be lucky to pull down in a year what the Duke grads will make in a month. Keeping that in mind, and considering both of us made it to the finals in this particular competition, as of now I’d say we’ve got the better Return-On-Investment :)

The folks over at Fight the Hypo wrote this entry on the topic of ROI a few weeks ago.

Aside from the clichéd “bang for your buck,” this is also one of those cases where I really can’t consider a loss as a loss: when the judges announced the results this afternoon and handed me a certificate for our team’s performance, the crowd was told “If this were a real trial, the verdict would be to acquit.”

So we lost the competition… but won our case. As much as I love being #1, it’s gratifying to know a client paying us would have gotten their money’s worth ;)

Here’s how the final competition turned out for us over 4 days:

  • Round 1A:  UNCCH 1 vs. NCCU (W)
  • Round 1B:  NCCU vs. Campbell 3 (W)
  • Round 2:  NCCU vs. Campbell 1 (W)
  • Round 3:  UNCCH 7 vs. NCCU (W)
  • Round 4:  NCCU vs. Duke 1 (W)
  • Round 5:  Duke 1 vs. NCCU (L)

I’d be ecstatic if my Wolfpack could keep an 83% win-loss ratio in football (or basketball, or hell any sport for that matter :beatup: ) — so I’m pretty doggone happy+proud of us :D

And now I can finally go back to reading the cases I’m paying that $8K in tuition+fees to study ;)

Many thanks to all of you who commented and emailed and FB’d me to send your support, it meant a lot! I’m hoping I’ll be able to repay the gesture at some point over the next 2 years :)

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SUCCESS!!!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 16, 2010 in NotFail

Y’all…

O.

M.

G.

For serious. The final round of the Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial competition is tomorrow. And the NCCU Legal Eagles are in it! :D

The 2009-2010 NCCU 1L Trial Team -- the Legal Eagles :)

We had 3 rounds today, with our prosecution beating a 2nd Campbell team this morning, our defense knocking out a 2nd UNCCH team this afternoon, and the prosecution defeating a team from Duke this evening.

Since the finalists are based on scores, we’re actually having a rematch against Duke tomorrow — this time it’ll be our defense squad (including me) up against their prosecution.

32 teams started. 2 are left.

Wake Forest sent their best… and lost. Elon sent their best… and lost.  Campbell sent their best… and lost. UNC Chapel Hill sent their best… and lost.

I’m hoping in tomorrow’s entry I’ll be able to tack Duke onto that list ;)

Plus our 2L trial team just found out about an hour ago that they’re going to Nationals for TYLA or NOLA or something — I’ve been so wrapped up in my own stuff I don’t even know :beatup: But I know it’s a good day to be an NCCU Eagle :)

I’m heading to bed so I’m bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for tomorrow’s marathon. Good night y’all! :D

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Success

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 14, 2010 in NotFail

The defense team (my side) of the NCCU Legal Eagles competed in the Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Trial Team competition tonight… and we won :D

We successfully beat a team from UNCCH Law, and now we wait until Friday night to figure out if our score was high enough to get us into the next round on Saturday morning.

Now I’ve gotta rush and study for class tomorrow :beatup: Good night folks!

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