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Throwback [Sunday]: Wolfpack takeover of NCCU Law Graduation 2012

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Apr 27, 2014 in NotFail

(I know the Twitter thing is to post pictures on Throwback Thursday, but I’m trying to get back in the blogging habit and needed something to write about tonight :P )

Back on Friday I had the high honor of presenting one of my good friends to the Court for her attorney oath of office.

Madame President1 made the smart play and had spent her post-graduation time making real money in the immigration department of a local corporate behemoth. Obscene wealth notwithstanding, she decided now was the time to get sworn in and dive into bona fide lawyer stuff.

Me introducing Madame President to the Court (Photo courtesy of Shutterbug)

Me introducing Madame President to the Court (Photo courtesy of Shutterbug)

As part of the process here in North Carolina, anyone wanting to take the oath of office that enables him or her to practice law first has to be introduced in open court by a member of the bar who can attest to the person’s good character (including uttering magic words like “has passed the bar exam”).

It’s also appropriate to highlight some of the applicant’s achievements, so I noted she had distinguished herself as a senior member of our Moot Court Board, the Articles Editor for our Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical Law Review, and of course was elected by her peers to serve as the Class of 2012 President.

I also mentioned our shared alma maters and mutual love for all things North Carolina State University, which reminded me of a story the NCSU Alumni Association did on us (and our two valedictorians) back during graduation time.

I went through the law:/dev/null archives and realized I never actually mentioned it here, so I’m doing it now :)

From the the N.C. State University Alumni Association:

NC State alums make mark at N.C. Central’s School of Law

05.22.2012 | Posted by Bill Krueger | Filed under Alumni News, NC State People | Tags: Jeremy Adams, N.C. Central University, N.C. Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment, Sharika Robinson, Shauna Guyton, T. Greg Doucette

When the School of Law at N.C. Central University held its commencement earlier this month, four students were given seats on the platform and a chance to speak in recognition of their leadership and scholarship.

But they had more in common than their good work in law school — all of them are proud alumni of NC State.

Doucette, Guyton, Robinson, Adams

Doucette, Guyton, Robinson, Adams

None of the students knew each other when they studied at NC State, but they became friends during their time in law school.

“N.C. Central’s law school has a small, tight-knit student body, so all of us became friends over the past three years through our different activities,” said T. Greg Doucette, a 2009 NC State graduate who was president of the Student Bar Association at N.C. Central.

The others in the group are:

  • Shauna Guyton, a 2008 NC State graduate who was president of the senior class at the law school.
  • Sharika Robinson, a 2005 NC State graduate who was valedictorian of the three-year day program at the law school.
  • Jeremy Adams, a 2005 NC State graduate who was valedictorian of the four-year evening program at the law school.

All four of them will be busy for the next several weeks getting ready for the North Carolina bar exam in late July. But Doucette says everyone in the group already has plans beyond taking the bar exam.

  • Doucette is executive director of the N.C. Small Practice Incubator & Collaboration Environment (NC SPICE), a nonprofit that provides mentorship, education and office support to new attorneys in exchange for pro bono legal service for those who can’t afford legal representation.
  • Guyton is hoping to be a law clerk at the N.C. Supreme Court, but is also considering becoming an assistant district attorney.
  • Robinson is moving to Michigan to become a law clerk for a federal judge.
  • Adams plans to start his own law firm in the Triangle, with a focus on employment law.

Some of the new law school graduates made it a point to include a touch of the Wolfpack in the commencement exercises at N.C. Central. Doucette wore a Wolfpack red dress shirt and an NC State tie under his robe, while Guyton wore her NC State class ring. “I never take it off!,” she said in a text message.

“State is just the best school in this state!!!” Robinson wrote in a text message. She said that NC State’s homegrown students are “the best talent, and it is evident in us.”

The whole NC SPICE thing has had a bumpier start than I expected back at graduation of course, but I still think this was a pretty cool story. And I’m honored to share it with some pretty cool people too :D

Hope all of y’all had a great weekend, and a great week ahead!

—===—

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

  1. The elected leader of the Class of 2012, who I relied on frequently my 3L year to help ensure events went smoothly and were well-attended during my overlapping term as SBA President. Definitely one of my favorite people from law school. :) []

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NCCU Law alumnus blocks Bloomberg’s soda ban

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 13, 2013 in Randomness

Most of y’all have probably read by now that, in what was likely one of the most widely-covered trial court decisions issued by any court in years, a judge on the New York “Supreme” Court1 earlier this week struck down the absurdly overbroad “soda ban” enacted by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Some snippets from this article in the Wall Street Journal:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was dealt a stinging blow on Monday when a state Supreme Court Judge quashed his plan to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in the city’s restaurants and other venues…

…New York state Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling declared invalid Mr. Bloomberg’s plan to prohibit restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums or arenas from selling sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces. The ban was set to begin Tuesday.

New York state Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling declared invalid Mr. Bloomberg’s plan to prohibit restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums or arenas from selling sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces. The ban was set to begin Tuesday…

…The judge ruled the regulations are “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” noting how there would be uneven enforcement within a single city block. The regulations didn’t affect the Big Gulp at 7-11 because supermarkets and convenience stores are regulated by the state, not the city.

He wrote that regulations exclude other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and calories on “suspect grounds.” The regulations don’t limit patrons from getting refills; that provision, the judge said, appears to “gut the purpose of the rule.”

Even though I read through the whole 37-page opinion and agree with nearly every word, normally I wouldn’t care enough to make a blog entry out of it.2

But in this case the judge’s name looked familiar, and I figured out why — Judge Tingling is actually a 1982 graduate of my alma mater, the North Carolina Central University School of Law, and was our guest speaker3 at our annual Law Week Banquet my 3L year :spin:

Just wanted to share :) And tell you I’m still alive, still not bankrupt, and still keeping this blog on something at least vaguely resembling life support!

Have a good night y’all! :D

  1. That’s actually what their trial-level courts are called in New York. I don’t get it either… []
  2. Clearly, in light of my near-month-long absence :beatup: []
  3. Along with Congressman G.K. Butterfield, who wasn’t a bad speaker himself! []

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TOP 8!!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 18, 2012 in NotFail

AAAHHHHHHHHHH!! :D

Sorry, had to get that out :)

So after finally getting things caught up here at law:/dev/null a couple weeks ago, I promptly disappeared again to focus on my upcoming competitions. I’m the “swing” counsel for one of NCCU Law‘s TYLA National Trial Competition teams again this year and have been determined to improve on last year’s just-barely-missed-it 9th place finish…

…and tonight WE DID IT!!! :spin:

NCCU Law's 2012 TYLA Trial Teams! From left to right: Associate Coach Jessica Major '09, Head Coach Clayton Jones '03, Me, Deyaska Spencer '13, Robert Brooks '12, Jillian Mack '12, Nikia Williams '13, Omari Crawford '13. Not pictured: Associate Coach Dominique Camm '09. Photo courtesy of 雅雅 :)

Teams are a little different year — instead of doing straight 2L-only and 3L-only squads, we have two 3Ls1 and one 2L2 on one team and one 2L, one 2.5L,3 and a 3L on the other — but even with the switched up pairings we still had a team make it into the Top 8 to advance to tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

And not only did we advance, but we discovered (i) we were 1 of only 5 teams4 to win all three of our preliminary rounds and (ii) we also swept all 9 of the judges’ ballots, making us the #1 seed in the quarterfinal pairings! :surprised:

For a time it didn’t seem like things were going to turn out that way.

NCCU Law’s been getting hammered with budget cuts, so we couldn’t afford to print our enlarged exhibits locally and then ship them from Durham; we had to get them printed here in Memphis before our arrival… only to discover yesterday morning (before the first round) that the order was completely FUBAR’d :mad:  So rather than spending our time focusing on the upcoming trial we were scrambling to get the prints done like they needed to be, get additional prints for the stuff that never got done, etc etc.

The first round was against the University of Memphis School of Law with EIC and I on defense, and after it was over we felt pretty good — no repeats of first-round jitters like we had at both the TYLA competition and the AAJ competition last year. Then came this morning, with Shutterbug and I representing the Plaintiff against a team from Duke Law. It was the same Duke Law team that won the 1L K-S competition last year so Shutterbug was looking for revenge and did a superlative job; Duke Law’s main strength was the breadth and quality of their objections, but we had a special pow-wow before heading to Memphis where we anticipated almost everything they threw at us.

But then the afternoon session was against a team from Charleston Law and we just knew EIC and I had lost our shot. One of the other side’s witnesses was actually a witness from the Friday night round playing the same guy, so he knew our cross-examination; the Memphis hosts went out of their way to try and find someone else, but couldn’t come up with anybody so we had to roll with it. I think knowing that was an issue had both of us mentally thrown off because neither of us were really “in the zone” like we should have been from that point onward.

By the grace of God we somehow eked it out though, winning that particular round by a couple points :)

I was so nervous when they were announcing the results of who advanced that I completely forgot my alphabet too. The hosts were announcing winners in alphabetical order, and when they said “E” I dropped my head thinking we had lost again  :oops:  Then they said “H” and I did a little foot stomping before giving the team a bear hug :D

Coach Jones and I with the Sunday rounds poster (before the re-flip)

The 8 advancing teams got called into a side room to get entered onto the chart of Sunday rounds and call a coin toss to see who would be which side. We were originally slated to go against Mercer Law, but their team was late to the meeting (for reasons that’ll be apparent in the next paragraph) so we were given the chance to call the coin toss, won, and were slated to go against them on Defense.

Then we went back to the room to change clothes before getting dinner… only to get called back because apparently there was a ballot error,5 Mercer Law was right in thinking they hadn’t advanced after all (hence why they were late), and we had to do everything all over again with a different team. We lost the coin toss the second time and the sides have switched, so we’re now on Plaintiff paired up with Georgia Law‘s defense.

In addition to us and Georgia Law, there’s one team apiece from Wake Forest Law (NC), Campbell Law (NC), Georgia State Law (GA), Vanderbilt Law (TN), Memphis Law (TN), and Emory Law (GA).

I’m more nervous than a Mythbusters insurance agent about how tomorrow is going to go down, especially after the unexpected change in plans about who’s going on what side. But after last year — and I hate to say this in print because it seems preemptively defeatist, but it’s true — I’m totally content with where we’ve gotten. NCCU Law made it to the Sunday rounds for the first time in at least 3-4 years,6 we are 1 of only 3 North Carolina schools to advance this year, we swept everything, and we snagged a #1 seed… and, the biggest relief for me, I redeemed myself for blowing the first round last year :beatup:

Totally unrelated to how things go, I want to publicly give some praise to the University of Memphis School of Law on how they implemented the competition this year.  They did an excellent job of making sure the judges didn’t know what schools the different competitors were from, reminding coaches and competitors both not to disclose that information intentionally or accidentally, went out of their way to ensure there were no conflicts with judges or witnesses seeing the same teams more than once, the list goes on. The competition coordinators were moving around all over the place keeping things running like a well-oiled machine, and I greatly appreciate that.

And I’m not just saying that because we advanced :P  I’d rather lose a fair contest than win a rigged one.

Aside from all the competition-ness, I also got to see 雅雅 who gave up her weekend to come out and support us, ate some delicious ribs and bbq from Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous, and generally just enjoy having the weight of last year’s failure lifted off my chest. It’s been a good day :)

I’ll keep you posted on how things go tomorrow, but for now I’m heading to bed so I can get ready for tomorrow morning. Good night y’all! :D

—===—

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

  1. Myself and EIC, who was on the AAJ team last year. []
  2. Shutterbug from last year’s Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L team. []
  3. A 3rd-year student in our 4-year JD/MBA joint-degree program []
  4. Out of 32 teams from 16 law schools across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee []
  5. One of the judges marked a defense ballot part of the ballot as a plaintiff part of the ballot :crack: []
  6. No one’s been able to tell me the last time our TYLA team actually made it to Sunday :beatup: []

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Hi! I’m alive, thanks for checking

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 29, 2012 in The 3L Life

Yes, I’m still here :D

When I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was sequestered in my own personalized version of 3L Hell, I wasn’t joking. For most of January my schedule’s followed a pattern: Wake up at 6am, feed/walk dog, bathe, get dressed, go to class then work then trial team practice, come home around 10pm, feed/walk dog, do homework until midnight-ish and go to bed. For a time I had briefly hit the point where I was downing five 20oz bottles of Diet Mt Dew a day and living off Pop-Tarts, animal crackers, multivitamins, and anything else I could eat in the car  :sick:

Which of course didn’t leave much room for updating law:/dev/null :beatup:

I don’t have *too* much time to write tonight, but I miss talking with y’all so here’s a quick bullet list on some of what’s happened since mid-December:

  • Fall semester continued in perpetuity; finally done. With the different extracurricular activities I was engaged in, plus a job on the side, the Fall semester didn’t actually end until a couple weeks ago. I had papers due in Employment Discrimination and another for Constitutional Law II, so I had flashbacks of undergrad and never really got a substantive break during the winter. It was basically a mini-mester trying to clean up what didn’t get finished and spending more hours than I care to admit in the law building.1
  • Wolfpack won the Belk Bowl. But I did take a few hours from the ongoing academic tedium to go with 雅雅 to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, where the NC State Wolfpack dismantled the Louisville Cardinals :D  Didn’t have the time or money to stay overnight like we did for the Champs Bowl last year, but I needed the break and the game was only a few hours away. Watching another win in person was worth the freezing temps and packed stadium :)
  • Most un-Christmas-y Christmas evah. Christmas is my 3rd favorite holiday of the year, following Independence Day at #1 and Thanksgiving at #2… but this year there basically was no Christmas at all :beatup:  With the academic stuff due I couldn’t take the time to go visit anyone (and didn’t have the money for it anyway), but then on top of it I couldn’t even put up my own tree because Samson tried eating the ornaments — the stuffed ones apparently looked like toys worth chewing apart, and the ceramic ones evidently looked like dog treats. So it was easily the most un-Christmas-y Christmas I’d ever “celebrated.” Not sure what the plan will be for next year, but I need to figure something out to stop the dog from destroying things.
  • Samson nearly died before New Year’s. Speaking of Samson, he nearly died right before New Year’s :cry:  He was given one of those big raw pork bones as a Christmas gift, because they’re allegedly great for dogs, but somehow the snippets of bones he managed to chew off clogged up his insides. He wasn’t able to poop and howled in pain when he tried, then woke me up at 4am to go outside and puke. So I freaked out and rushed him to the vet; they took an x-ray and discovered he had backed up fecal matter running nearly the length of his body. They put him in the pet hospital, gave him an enema and an IV and some special food, and a few hundred dollars later he was miserable but alive. Though you can’t tell he nearly died from the way he acts now, as he still tries to eat every damn thing in sight… :mad:
  • Got myself a Christmas present: fixed TV. I can’t remember if I mentioned it in a past entry, but what seems like an eternity ago the bulb in my bought-cheap-on-CraigsList projector television finally burned out so I’ve been working for the past couple months either (i) in dead silence or (ii) with video-less music on in the background. So while Christmas itself wasn’t particularly festive, in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve I decided to give myself a Christmas present and finally fix the burned-out projector in the name of being more productive.2 With bulb costs being what they are for a projector that was/is 5 years old, it was actually cheaper to get a brand new projector with better specs. Money I couldn’t really afford to spend given the mortgage payments I still owe BarBri, but I wasn’t going to be able to make it all the way through to August without a TV :beatup:
  • Finally completed NC Bar application! On January 3rd I finally got my monster-of-a-bar-app mailed off. The North Carolina Board of Law Examiners likes knowing every single thing you’ve ever done in your life since you’ve turned 18 — and, in the case of my last name changing when I was adopted at 3-years-old, the stuff before 18 :crack: — to the point where starting the app back in September wasn’t even early enough for me to get all of it done before the last possible moment. I had to request documents from the Social Security Administration to make sure I listed every single place I’ve ever worked, go rummaging through my Bucket-o’-Files to find residential records from the period right after I dropped out of college,3 go to the Clerk’s Office to find out all the cases I testified in back when I worked as the Clerk’s Office ombudsman down in Wake County, come up with 12 different character references, make three copies of everything, and on and on and on. Then include the $700.00 fee to apply, and set aside another +$125.00 to use my computer on the bar exam.4 But fortunately — it’s all done. So yay. And to anyone even older than me: START NOW or you’ll regret it!
  • 1Ls won Kilpatrick-Townsend competition. I’ve already talked about this one at length so nothing much more to say. I’m just glad it validated my philosophy that people produce a better work product when they’re forced to develop it themselves :) Very proud of these folks!
  • Any guesses on which team is mine?

    Submitted brief for Howard moot court competition. A couple months ago I mentioned making the moot court team, the end result of an ill-conceived experiment to see if I had been avoiding it out of fear the past two years or if I really had the skill to do it if I wanted. I was slated for the Howard Moot Court Competition taking place in Washington D.C. at the end of February. Making the team and getting the Howard brief done both came at a high cost — days spent brief writing and editing, that probably should have been spent on classwork instead — but I’m proud of the end result. Feel free to review the briefs if you get bored and guess which one is ours ;)

  • Got a position with the Durham DA’s office… I also somehow convinced the Durham County District Attorney’s Office to bring me in as an intern :surprised:  First day was about 3ish weeks ago. The sheer volume of work — and the… mmm… unique folks who come through the courthouse (especially in traffic court) — have made it a pretty awesome experience so far. I could definitely see myself working there after graduation.
  • …and won my first case! I’m also officially 1-0 on my “real world” trial record! :D I’m slated to work on Tuesday afternoons, and typically there’s absolutely nothing going on in District Court so I end up working on subpoenas and other administrative stuff. So last Tuesday I decided to be a good little intern and show up to work 15 minutes early, get sent down to misdemeanor criminal court… and get handed two shucks and told “Go interview your officer, you’ve got this next case” :eek:  I had no expectation of trying a case, so I didn’t have any notes, my North Carolina Crimes book, nada. I was so absolutely terrified I quite literally forgot what it was I was supposed to prove in a criminal trial; as I’m out in the hallway going through the shucks trying to ascertain what’s going on, I grab an ADA who helped us with trial team last year and plead for a smidge of guidance. She replies “Well what are your elements for the offense?” and suddenly “DING!” my inner lightbulb finally clicks on. I find the officer, read his police report, get asked by him what he can expect on cross, and somehow came up with a quasi-intelligent and spot-on answer. I don’t think I’m allowed to go into too much detail, but it involved two Defendants (and their respective attorneys) charged with minor-but-serious firearms offenses.5 I went through my direct a bit fast due to the nervousness, but the more opposing counsel objected to a response — or asked something ridiculous on cross-examination6 — the more I got into my zone. Neither Defendant took the stand, and a few closing arguments later they were found guilty and sentenced to active time, a fine, probation, and a prohibition from owning firearms. Not bad for my first go-round :)
  • Rewarded myself with a new laptop. In exchange for getting the DA gig, I “rewarded” myself by finally upgrading my trusty 5-year-old MacBook Pro. The Department of Education enables students to get a one-time financial aid boost once in undergrad and once in graduate/professional school for a computer purchase, and it was hitting the point where I’d need something I could use for the first couple years when I start practicing. So I’ve now gone from an original Core Duo with a self-upgraded 250GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM to a new quad-core i77 with a 750GB hard drive and 4GB of RAM :eek:  Seeing how much the hardware has advanced in the past half decade is crazy. I don’t like some of the changes (e.g. there are new function keys to play/pause/rewind/fast forward, so I have to press the Function key to use Dashboard and such) but overall it’s nice being back on the leading edge of technology for another couple months.
  • Fall grades were a disaster. While everything else was going smoothly, my grades turned out better than anticipated but worse than I wanted (if that makes sense). I’ve now fallen back below a 3.0 for the first time in a year and will have to pull off a miracle to graduate with honors. And in all likelihood I won’t be able to finish the Civil Rights & Constitutional Law concentration I’ve been working on for the past 2.5 years. We’ll see what happens.
  • Debating giving up internship to focus on grades and SPICE. The grade situation has prompted me to reassess what I’m doing this semester, and I’m giving serious consideration to dropping the DA internship and some other activities to free up time to focus on grades and the SPICE proposal. It’s not an ideal situation, especially with the economy, but doing the jack-of-all-trades thing clearly isn’t working. I’ll keep you posted.

That’s it for tonight y’all, thanks for still reading :) Hopefully more posts in the days ahead. Good night!

  1. Including 2 separate occasions where I got thrown out by Public Safety because the building was supposedly closed :beatup: []
  2. I am, for reasons unknown to me, more productive when I have Law & Order reruns on in the background… []
  3. Note to the Board of Law Examiners: homeless people generally don’t have files or records of their homelessness. Nowhere to put our file cabinets and all… ::smh:: []
  4. As a point of comparison, the Marine Corps only wanted 10 years of documents back during my 1L year to make sure I passed the security check, and didn’t charge me for the application. Completing those docs was a cakewalk compared to this. []
  5. City code violations (hence the “minor”), but just about anything involving the discharge of an assault rifle qualifies as serious when it comes to prosecuting people. Especially in Durham. []
  6. “Didn’t my client tell you it was his mother’s assault rifle?” No bullsh*t on that one, that was the actual question! :crack: []
  7. Meaning 8 total virtual processors :surprised: []

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NCCU Law 1Ls *sweep* Kilpatrick-Townsend competition!!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 15, 2012 in NotFail

Hey everybody! :)

Sorry I’ve been MIA for nearly a month now, I’ve been sequestered in my own personal 3L Hell for most of that time and just haven’t had much opportunity to update the blog :beatup:

I’ll try to get things caught up some time this coming weekend, but for now I wanted to mention our 1L trial teams completely dominated the annual Kilpatrick-Townsend 1L Trial Advocacy Competition this year!

We had one team win 1st place, one team win 2nd place, and a third team (who was eliminated in a head-to-head matchup with the first team) taking #1 in overall quality points. Every single match where NCCU Law had a team — 6 total preliminary rounds, 2 separate quarterfinals, 2 separate semifinals, and the final round — someone from that team won the round’s award for Best Advocate.1

So basically we’ve got the 3 very best 1L trial teams in the State of North Carolina :spin:

Here’s the press release we put together and a team photo:

NCCU LAW 1Ls SWEEP STATEWIDE TRIAL ADVOCACY COMPETITION
Legal Eagles Take 1st Place, 2nd Place, Best Advocate Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DURHAM, NC (01/15/12) – Defeating trial teams from Campbell, Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest, 1Ls from the North Carolina Central University School of Law (“NCCU Law”) made history this weekend when they won both 1st Place and 2nd Place in the annual Kilpatrick-Townsend 1L Trial Advocacy Competition hosted by the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law.

NCCU Law's three 1L trial teams for 2011-12

In just NCCU Law’s third year participating in the competition, the school’s three 1L trial teams advanced to the final round for the third straight time — a 100% record of reaching the finals.

But this year’s competition featured a twist: after practicing against each other for 6+ hours a day from January 2nd-11th, Legal Eagles dominated every other school so thoroughly that both finalists were from NCCU Law, guaranteeing a 1st Place finish in the competition for the first time in school history. The only team to beat NCCU Law was another team from NCCU Law.

“Hard work plus confidence equals success,” said Jonathan Savage ’14, lead counsel for the 1st Place team and winner of the competition’s Best Advocate Overall award. “The hours of practice were well worth it, and I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity!”

Going into Saturday’s quarterfinals, all NCCU Law teams were in the Top 8: the #1-seed team of Jeannelle Alexander, Emily Custer, Amelia O’Rourke-Owens, and Ernest Roberts; the #2-seed team of Helen Baddour, Stephanie Faris, Jason Howe, and Sonyé Randolph; and the #8-seed team of Molly Brewer, Christina Carter, Jonathan Savage, and Matt Wareham.

Based on bracket-style seeding NCCU was paired up against NCCU in the quarterfinal round, where Team Brewer edged past Team Alexander to advance to the semifinals, while Team Baddour knocked out a group from UNCCH Law to advance as well. Once in the semifinals, Team Baddour took down a squad from Duke Law while Team Brewer dispatched another team from UNCCH, setting up a second NCCU-vs-NCCU battle in the competition’s final round.

Before a packed courtroom with nearly 70 observers, prosecution Team Brewer faced off against defense Team Baddour in a highly polished championship match. In a close finish following extensive jury deliberations, Team Brewer was declared the winner with Matt Wareham winning the award for Best Witness and Jonathan Savage taking home the title of Best Advocate Overall.

With 32 teams competing, NCCU Law’s three teams made up just 9.4% of the participants — but 37.5% of the quarterfinalists, 50% of the semifinalists, and 100% of the finalists.

[Photo, from left to right: Bottom Row: Stephanie Faris, Molly Brewer, Helen Baddour, Jeannelle Alexander, Emily Custer; Middle Row: Molly Morgan, Jason Howe, Sonyé Randolph, Christina Carter, Amelia O’Rourke-Owens; Top Row: Ernest Roberts, Matt Wareham, Jonathan Savage]

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It was an awesome closing match, with just short of 70 people in the courtroom watching — including 3 of our Deans, a half-dozen professors, a few alumni and tons of Legal Eagles :D

I also had “a dog in the fight” beyond just school pride, because the results this year also validated my whole philosophy on how to approach this competition.

My 1L year we were left to our own devices to develop our case, as we’re supposed to do, and miraculously ended up coming in 2nd after going 5-0 before losing in a rematch against Duke Law. Last year our 1Ls came in 2nd too (against another Duke Law team), but the 3Ls tried to micromanage the process so thoroughly — over the objections of myself and other members of that 2009-10 team — that only a few of the 2010-11 1L team members came back for TYLA/AAJ as 2Ls.

Once there was new leadership on the Trial Advocacy Board, we changed things around back to how they used to be. In October all interested 1Ls had to attend a workshop on opening statements and closing arguments before trying out a couple weeks later, then once we decided who made the three teams we left them alone with one condition: they had to practice against each other from 9am-3pm from January 2nd-11th, plus extra practice as needed. During the formal practices one team would be paired against another with a third in the jury box, rotating so every team faced everyone else at least twice apiece.

The variety of opposition and frequency of the practice helped ensure they were comfortable and confident when they got into Chapel Hill. I got to watch two rounds of the competition on Friday night, and then the closing arguments on Sunday. I was absolutely tickled pink at how great they did — still several pages of things done wrong,2 but a level of polish on par with some of the 2L/3L teams I’ve seen and easily better than I was as a 1L.

Having made history for the law school once this weekend, I’m hoping they’ll stick around and make history over the next couple years too ;)  One day I want to see NCCU Law not just hitting up TYLA and AAJ, but making it back to some of the invitation-only trial advocacy competitions we used to win in the halcyon days the old folks talk about…3

That’s it for tonight, I’m going back to a brief. Have a great week! :D

  1. And on Friday night, all 3 teams racked up both Best Advocate and Best Witness awards in the same night! []
  2. I’m a very nitpicky observer when it comes to trial team stuff :beatup: []
  3. We’ve got a few plaques from the Tournament of Champions competition tucked in a room in our Clinic. It’s a travesty they’re not displayed somewhere prominent for all the students to see. []

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NCCU Law Legal Eagles sweep mediation competition!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 14, 2011 in NotFail

Good evening y’all! :)

Apparently mediation-related competitions exist in the law school arena? Definitely news to me :beatup:

And the only reason I found out is because two Legal Eagles from NCCU Law took 1st and 2nd place in one of them! :D From the “Well this is something cool to get in my email inbox on a Monday morning” files (via this story at University of Houston Law Center):

North Carolina mediators sweep Abrams Competition

Nov. 14, 2011 – Leah Leone of the North Carolina Central University School of Law has taken the top honor at the Jeffry S. Abrams National Mediation Competition, held Nov. 11-12 at the University of Houston Law Center. As the winner, Leone received the Frank Evans Mediator Scholarship award, valued at $2,000.

Jeffry S. Abrams (L) and 1st place winner Leah Leone of NCCU Law (R)

“This has been an amazing experience for me,” Leone said. “From start to finish, the competition has taught me so much. The insight I gained and the lessons I have learned here in the great state of Texas from my competitors and all the judges has been invaluable.”

Presented by the Blakely Advocacy Institute and sponsored by distinguished Houston mediator and UH Law Center alumnus Jeffry S. Abrams, the competition allowed top law students nationwide to put their mediation skills to the test before a team of judges.

“The competition went very well. There were 11 student mediators and the national reach of the competition was evidenced by the fact that students from California (UC-Hastings) to New York (St. John’s) were in attendance. The competitors, and coaches, were high in their praise of the competition, stating that the opportunity to learn from experienced mediators (as judges) in the competition context was one of the best experiences of their law school career,” said Jim Lawrence, Blakely Advocacy Institute Director.

The final rounds saw Leone and Valoree Hanson, a student mediator also from the North Carolina Central University School of Law, being judged by Abrams; Tom Newhouse, University of Houston Law Center Professor emeritus; and the Hon. Frank Evans, generally recognized as the father of ADR in Texas. NCCU School of Law Professor Mark Morris was Leone’s and Hanson’s coach. Leone and Hanson came in a respective first and second place in the competition. Henson received the Jeffry S. Abrams Mediator Scholarship Award, which is valued at $500.

UH Law Center students presently do not compete in the Abrams competition.

The Abrams competition is designed to run in parallel with the Law Center’s Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition, where UH Law Center students participate as advocate/client in mediation. These intramural participants serve as the parties to the mediation rounds for the national competition. Team members Garrett Gibson and Frank Carroll won the Tom Newhouse Mediation Competition.

Very cool, and CONGRATULATIONS to Miss Leone and Miss Hanson (and coach Prof ADR)! :spin:

Have a great night folks!

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Things TDot Likes: Exceptionalism

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 4, 2011 in Things TDot Likes

Not sure when that bullet-pointed update I mentioned is going to get posted, but this is one of the items I was going to add — and it really merits its own entry instead :)

From the “Ways to Feel Like an Underachieving Underachiever” file, check out this awesome story from the Raleigh News & Observer:1

Motivated 16-year-old enters NCCU law school
BY LANA DOUGLAS – ldouglas@newsobserver.com
Tags: University of Baltimore | Durham | eduation | Ty Hobson-Powell

One look at Ty Hobson-Powell and you may think that he is an average teenager.

N.C. Central University law student Ty Hobson-Powell, 16, with his trademark Washington Redskins hat, waits to see one of his law professors. HARRY LYNCH - hlynch@newsobserver.com

He likes to play basketball and video games; he even occasionally wastes time on Facebook and Twitter.

But Ty isn’t the average 16-year-old.

He began classes at N.C. Central University Law School in August after he became the youngest person to graduate from the University of Baltimore at age 15, finishing a four-year degree in two.

The average age of a daytime student at NCCU is 24, according to Linda Sims, associate dean for student services at NCCU school of law.

“I wouldn’t say that I always knew that I wanted to get finished early,” Ty said. “I can say that from a young age I was driven.”

When he was 3 years old, he learned how to read, write and speak Chinese.

“He’s always been a very above-average kid, but normal,” said Edwin Powell, Ty’s father. “The word ‘why’ was always in his vocabulary.”

His mother, Liz Hobson-Powell, describes him as always being “very inquisitive.”

Ty credits his success to motivation and having a semi-photographic memory.

“If I study very intensely for a week, I can remember some things word for word. For example, I remembered all of the elements of adverse possession in a week,” he said.

Ty’s three siblings also are accomplished.

His older sister graduated from high school at age 17 and college at age 19.

His two younger siblings, Quinn and Reid, also show promise in their areas of interest.

“(There was) no pushing force from our parents,” Ty said. “They just reinforced our passions and did everything in their power to help us achieve our goals.”

‘We’ve encouraged them’

Ty’s father is a professor at Howard University, and his mother is a commander with the U.S. Public Health Service.

“I would have to say that we’ve encouraged them and with all the strengths that they have and given them the tools to go out and do what it is they feel they would like to do,” Hobson-Powell said.

“I’ve always said to my kids, putting letters behind your name does not define success, but leaving behind a legacy and looking behind saying, ‘I’ve helped somebody,’ that’s how you define success,” Powell said.

Ty chose to go to school to become a defense attorney after he met someone from the Innocence Project, which works with people it believes have been wrongfully convicted.

“I want to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves,” he said.

“I chose NCCU Law School because it is rooted in the tradition of breeding lawyers that go out and help the community,” Ty said.

He also has a passion for public speaking. His message encourages students to capitalize on every opportunity they get and parents to help their children achieve success in whatever path they choose.

“I think it’s reasonable to believe that a lot more people could be where I am right now,” Ty said. “Hopefully, I can instill values in youth and even adults to go out and strive to be as good as they can.”

“In a non-cocky way, I want to make sure that there are more stories like mine, because there’s a lot of people like me and a lot of people with potential to be like me, but for whatever reason, be it lack of support at home or lack of drive from within, are not where I am currently,” he said.

After he graduates from NCCU, Ty says he may attend medical school or get into politics.

You can follow Ty Hobson-Powell on Twitter @TyTheOriginator.

Douglas: 919-932-2008

And I thought I was hot stuff when I started at N.C. State at 172:beatup:

Assuming this guy makes it through law school — and if you can master Mandarin at 3, I’m assuming NCCU Law‘s strict-C curve is a relative cakewalk — he’s going to have his education knocked out early enough to do pretty much whatever he wants and still make an absolute killing financially.

Remember the chart I put together on gauging whether law school was worth the expense if I worked the rest of my life as an ADA? Where I intentionally overstated the expenses and understated the revenues?

Mr. Hobson-Powell can start in that far right column at Year 1 instead of Year 7 if he chooses :crack:

I realize there are a ton of other factors at play of course: law is as much about life experience as raw knowledge, it’s a clique-ish profession based on relationships he still has to build, etc etc etc.  But the inescapable reality is this young man has some pretty amazing talent and a golden opportunity to chart whatever path he wants when he graduates.3

Hats off to him — I’m looking forward to counting him as a fellow Legal Eagle alum! :D

—===—

From the Things TDot Likes archives:

  1. I’ll ignore that the N&O somehow overlooked tagging this story with either their “N.C. Central University” or “NCCU Law School” tags, while it ensures using them to adorn every negative story relating to NCCU from a commencement speech to missing money to the Durham DA’s office… []
  2. To add even more contrast: he’s going to have his second degree finished by 19; I hadn’t even dropped out from earning my first one at that age :crack: []
  3. Not to mention a level of dedication I certainly didn’t have at his age about anything other than basketball and girls :beatup: []

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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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NCCU Law 1Ls take Silver (again) in K-S competition!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 22, 2011 in NotFail

Amid all these posts about my TYLA exploits in Charlotte this past weekend, I realized that I completely forgot to update y’all on how the NCCU Law 1Ls did in this year’s Kilpatrick-Stockton Mock Trial Competition last month!

Let’s just say the finals triggered flashbacks from 2010 :D

The info’s a bit dated, but I wrote a summary for the law school’s website you can read at this URL. Here’s the copy/paste:

NCCU 1Ls TAKE 2ND PLACE, TIE FOR 3RD IN ANNUAL K-S MOCK TRIAL COMPETITION
Home > News and Announcements > Student News
Posted January 21, 2011

In only NCCU Law’s second year of competition, the Trial Advocacy Board’s 1L trial teams once again dominated the annual Kilpatrick-Stockton 1L Mock Trial Competition hosted by the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law on January 13-16, 2011.

Pictured (from left to right): Cheri Hamilton, Helena Kirland-Werts, Nikia Williams, Kevin Boxberger, Jennifer Turner (Team Captain, "1L of a Team"), Susan Dow (Team Captain, "The Whole Truth"), Deyaska Spencer Sweatman, Diane Carter; Not Pictured: Anna Love

The “1L of a Team” squad advanced to the final round and earned a 2nd place finish, getting edged out by Duke Law after an intense and hard-fought trial by both sides. There were also 35 NCCU Law students, professors and alumni in attendance, a 10x increase over the audience for last year’s competition. The other 1L team, “The Whole Truth”, successfully advanced to the semi-final round and tied a separate Duke Law team for 3rd place.

Not only did NCCU Law’s 1Ls take half of the spots in the Final Four, this now also marks the 2nd year in a row that NCCU Law has made the final round of the competition — setting a 100% track record of NCCU Law 1Ls advancing to the final round.

28 teams participated from 6 North Carolina schools (all schools except Charlotte School of Law), and NCCU Law’s 1Ls successfully beat teams from Campbell, Duke and UNCCH at various stages of the competition.

Everyone delivered an exemplary performance, and the Trial Advocacy Board looks forward to watching these 1Ls blossom into even stronger advocates over their next two years!

A belated-but-much-deserved congratulations to the NCCU Law 1L Trial Teams! :D

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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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