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From O to A for life…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 25, 2009 in The 1L Life

Skipping the usual blog entry today folks. I’m currently studying Property with Madame Prosecutor in preparation for final exams that start… wait for it… next Wednesday :eek:

We’ve been going over defeasible estates to the point that my eyes are bleeding.

(ok not really, but I can imagine bleeding eyes feel roughly the same :P )

Have a great day folks! And I’ll hopefully stop slacking on the entries once I’m more comfortable with finals :)

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #10

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 3, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

Enjoying the Scalia-vs-Brennan cases in CivPro :D Future interests in Property? Not so much. btw, not a fan of darkness @ 5pm. EST ftl… :mad:

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #7

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 13, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

Best mile & 400m in my life @ PT this AM… I hurt :beatup: Caught up in Property + CivPro (Asahi Metal is an ugly case). Reading torts til bed! :)

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About those midterms…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 12, 2009 in Fail

A couple keen observers noticed that my last three entries completely avoided any reference at all to my final two midterm exams in Torts and Property.  The omission was intentional — I discovered on Friday that the N.C. Central School of Law is apparently one of relatively few law schools that even have midterms (which just seems strange to me) so I didn’t want to dwell on the topic in deference to my non-NCCU readers :*

But then we had CivPro this morning…

Now remember I mentioned a few days ago that I thought things turned out better than expected in CivPro. And although I got [K]O’d in Contracts, I also felt pretty good about Property and at least so-so in Torts (I n00b-ishly didn’t watch the clock and ran out of time on the essay, but blazed through the multiples).

And then Mean Dean Green1 took all that confidence — both from myself and other students in the class — and dashed it across the cold, jagged rocks of reality.  He noted we will be having a “debriefing session” on Friday.  That translates to “extra class,” which triggered alarm bells in my mind since a midterm that generally turned out well could just use a snippet of pre-existing class time for review.

He also noted at several points that we would be “kicking it up a notch.” And if that didn’t adequately convey the point, he also noted that “y’all are not where you need to be.”

::cue the little siren GIF from the Drudge Report::

So to satisfy my own morbid curiosity, after class I went to his office hours and inquired about the class grades. He wasn’t willing to divulge much information, except to note that “the class average on the multiples was failing. And the essays I’ve read so far are much, much worse.” :beatup:

I’m going to be pulling out the little bit of hair I have left on my head waiting to get my paper back on Thursday…

Off to study Contracts and Property for tomorrow, and hoping those midterms turned out better.  Have a great night everybody! :)

  1. An appellation that, as previously noted, really doesn’t fit the man at all. []

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omgz BlackAcre, w00t!!1

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 30, 2009 in The 1L Life

At the risk of her thinking I’ve turned into some kind of eStalker, I’m going to mention The Reasonably Prudent Law Student twice in a 48 hour timeframe.  I promise it’s entirely coincidental :)

Some quick background:

Dennis Jansen over at No634.com was/is essentially the progenitor of law:/dev/null — I stumbled across his “5 reasons why I blog” post while searching Google for law school tidbits in the week leading up to  orientation, and his #2 item on “Actually ‘Keeping in touch'” prompted me to give the blogging thing a shot myself.

(So if you enjoy reading, thank him.  If you don’t, keep it to yourself ;))

He’s got a lengthy and neatly categorized list of dozens of similar bloggers on his site, where I promptly burned half a day just reading. Those sites linked to more sites which linked to more sites and… you get the idea.

So TRPLS (think “turtles” but with a ‘p’ replacing the second ‘t’ sound) was one of the first blogs I came across, and the first thing I noticed was the banner at the top (ok I’m lying — the first thing I noticed was the picture on the right, the 2nd was the banner.  Sorry >_<).  After reading the text, my mind goes “wtf is BlackAcre?” and follows up with “wtf is FSA?”

I fully intended to consult Google for the answer, but I also easily get distracted and never got around to it.

Fast forward to yesterday.  The Traveling Professor (my Property I instructor) picks me as the lucky schlub to go over adverse possession in Howard v. Kunto (477 P.2d 210); I’d actually read and think I understand the material, so it was both an almost-enjoyable and almost-terrifying experience at the same time.  Made it through the case itself without much trouble, get to the book’s problems relating to tacking… and there it is.

BlackAcre.

Specifically, O seems to own it, A seems to want it, and B & C are either lucky or screwed depending on the various circumstances.  But the coolest part was the text in the footnote (my thoughts noted as I read):

Hypothetical tracts of land have been referred to as BlackAcre, WhiteAcre, and GreenAcre — just why no one knows for sure…

Me: “Ah, so it’s basically a variable name. Like foo and bar in Computer Science. Got it.”

…The Oxford English Dictionary suggests the terms indicate lands growing different crops (peas and beans are black, corn and potatoes are white, hay is green). Or the terms might originally have referred to lands receiving different rents (black rents are payable in produce, white rents in silver)…

Me: “Ooohh and the generic variable names theoretically have meanings behind them too. As opposed to the CSC obsession with simple FUBARing. Interesting…”

…One of the earliest law treatises written in English, Coke on Littleton 148b (1628), refers to BlackAcre and WhiteAcre.

Me: “Awesome, lawyers created internet-style memes over 3 centuries before the internet was even invented — I’m clearly associating myself with the right caliber of people!”

It’s stuff like this that validates my decision to go to law school… ;)

Have a great night y’all! :D

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #5

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 29, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

LRA test seemed easy — makes me worry. Grilled in Property, but knew the material enough to almost enjoy it :) Plus I know BlackAcre now :D

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Getting supplemented

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 21, 2009 in The 1L Life

idwsj is one of the blawgs I check daily because the writing is just that good.  Seriously.

So when I read this post from a few days ago, I figured I’d save myself the $$ and forgo buying supplements for my classes since it seemed they weren’t that useful.  Especially when I almost feel comfortable in Contracts, Property and Torts.  But Civil Procedure.  Ohhh Civil Procedure…

I genuinely like CivPro.  It’s basically the class on being a lawyer and doing lawyerly things.  It’s rule-based.  It’s fairly objective.  And it’s the #1 source of 12(b)(6) jokes ;)

But I’m lost.

It’s not that the material is difficult to understand, we’re just blazing through so many Rules and statutes and case law that my mind is having a hard time digesting all the chunks of FRCP, USC and judicial commentary.  So I broke down and dropped some cash on a copy of Emanuel’s CivPro law outlines.  And then while I was at it made an impulse purchase of the Contracts, Property and Torts books also — just in case.

Final price tag:  $$$$.

I’ll let you know if they’re useful at all.  For my sake, cross your fingers :)

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The joys of the Socratic method

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 16, 2009 in Fail

Envision for a minute that you’re watching television.

A Pay-Per-View channel specifically.

And not just any Pay-Per-View channel, but one with shows that are kind of a blend between a UFC match and the movie Gladiator.

Where the bad guy is a robot, wielding a 500ish-page Torts textbook in one hand and a 500ish-page Contracts textbook in the other, trying to bludgeon its opponent to death, and the only way to stop it is to utter the right combination of cryptic phrases like “shopkeeper’s privilege” and “sua sponte” and “offer / acceptance / consideration / mutual assent”.

And the hero dies in the end.

That’s a rough approximation of how I envisioned the Socratic method of teaching law.  Fortunately it hasn’t turned out nearly that bad — no one’s died so far as I know :) — but as I mentioned yesterday I’m a little worried I’ve become a marked man.

It all started this past Monday in Torts.  Remember a couple Fridays ago when I volunteered to go over Pearson v. Dodd, flubbed my response, and Professor Torts noted with a Cheshire Cat smile that she’d be “coming back to [me] very soon”?  Yeah, that was Monday.

We’re going over defenses to intentional torts, and the case being reviewed was Bonkowski v. Arlan’s Department Store (12 Mich. App. 88). Unlike my last crash-and-burn experience, though, this time I just knew I had outmaneuvered Professor Torts! Figuring she’d call me at some point in the week, I not only (i) had hand-written case notes but (ii) instantly pulled up my typed case brief on my laptop and (iii) flipped to the well-highlighted pages in my textbook.  I was going to nail these questions.

I went over the case summary without a hitch.  Answered the first couple questions without a hitch.  Then got asked why the Court brought in the Montgomery Ward case for comparison (Montgomery Ward & Co v. Freeman, 199 F2d 720), and… splat.

There were/are essentially 3 “take-home points” from Bonkowski as far as defense goes:  validating the shopkeeper’s privilege, a distinction regarding the length of time a customer is detained, and a distinction regarding where the customer is located at the time the shopkeeper attempts to detain them.  I had all 3 points written down with corresponding notes, but never put in my notes the source documents the Court was comparing against with each (the Restatement (Second) of Torts, the Montgomery Ward case, and the R2T again, respectively).

So after making it through shopkeeper’s privilege and getting the M. Ward question, I realized the shortcoming in my notes, mentally freaked, couldn’t find the right passage in the textbook quickly enough, figured I had a 50-50 shot at guessing 1 of the 2 remaining points I wrote down, and picked the distinction re location (aka the wrong answer).  The Professor gives me the raised eyebrow that says “You’re totally wrong and trying to BS me.” I notice, then promptly correct myself by referencing the timeframe of detainment.  The Professor confirms but notes that “Whenever the Court is bringing in another case, you need to make sure you understand why the Court is bringing in the case” (“Yes ma’am.”).  Now I’m thinking I’m in the clear… when she asks what other take-home points, if any, I found.

In my mind I’m thinking I already brought up the location issue so that covered the 3 issues and there shouldn’t be anything else. But since the location issue was the wrong answer at the time I brought it up, I found out after class that the Professor was expecting me to repeat it at the appropriate time… and instead I had said I didn’t have any other points.  Which prompted a less-than-happy string of commentary to the class that we’re clearly not reading the material and if we don’t stop playing around with her and the course we’d regret it by midterms.

Professor Torts:  2.  TDot:  0.

And like the last time someone flubbed a response that indicated they hadn’t read, who was the first person to get called on the next day in Contracts?  Yours truly.

Not only was I the first person called, but I felt like I hadn’t even been attending the class because the questions asked didn’t line up at all with the notes I had written down.  By the time my 5 minutes worth of fumbling for answers was finished, it was pretty well-cemented in my mind that I need to do a better job picking the salient points to jot down in my notes…

Anyhow, hopefully I’ll at least have a reprieve for the next few classes :)  I’ve been spared recent humiliation both in Property and in CivPro — though in the search logs for law:/dev/null I noticed 2 separate visitors who came here yesterday after searches for Mean Dean Green, so I might be on the hit list now for that class too (Prof Green, if you happen to read this: the entire Gang of Eight, myself included, thinks you’re a phenomenal teacher.  And I had nothing at all to do with the nickname.  Don’t kill me plz.)

Hope all of you are having a great week so far!  Have a good night everybody!! :D

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Week 0 Retrospective Part II (or, “Good morning”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 17, 2009 in The 1L Life

First day of real class was today; I’m saving a summary of the experience for later on though, otherwise I’ll never get through this look back on Week 1 :) I did have the ignominious honor of being the first student’s name to leave the lips of my Civil Procedure I professor this morning (thankfully for not adding the TWEN course section in a timely fashion instead of having to brief the main case I didn’t read).

Oh and I successfully got a parking ticket.  Which undoubtedly amuses those of you who knew my less-than-stellar parking habits at NC State.

Before I continue yesterday’s entry, let me know if you find any decent and quick intros to WordPress.  I dived into the whole blogging thing before bothering to learn the software, so I haven’t gotten around to things like tweaking up the CSS for this template or editing the blogroll.  And I’m borderline afraid to touch the “Plugins” section…

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But back to orientation.

I’m sitting in the back of the student lounge, feeling slightly obnoxious being dressed to the nines, and thumbing through the documents I was given at registration.  I glance over the orientation schedule.  Look at a pamphlet from the American Bar Association.  Read up on some of the historical sites in Durham.  And notice one of the first letters in the orientation folder is from a Dr. Psyche, the law school’s psychiatrist.

Not the university’s psychiatrist, the law school‘s psychiatrist…

Dr. Psyche works full time just for the law school, offering a whole array of counseling services (with friend- and spouse-related options jumping out, along with a reference to suicide prevention).  Compounded with the agitating but not exactly law school-specific annoyances I had already dealt with that morning, it was at that point I started to wonder what exactly I was getting myself into.  I guess God sensed my nervousness and mild amusement that suicide prevention is necessary in law school, because mere moments later I’d be lucky enough to experience a faux pas that made me want to shoot myself.

I notice folks are leaving the lounge, and we all headed upstairs to our respective classrooms for the day’s schedule; I had Room 102, where I’ll be for the rest of the semester.  NC Central has a pretty impressive array of technology services in their new law school, courtesy of a multi-million dollar cash infusion by the North Carolina General Assembly after the ABA raised concerns about facilities during its reaccreditation review (and also coinciding with Rep. Mickey Michaux, a NCCU graduate, becoming a co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee).  So my room had a large screen in front, and projected onto it was a live video feed from Room 202 upstairs where everyone would be speaking for the day.

Let me preface this whole experience by noting I have a long history in Student Government and “real world” politics.  One of the favorite rhetorical devices of almost every politician, student or otherwise, is to greet his audience with “Good morning,” receive a tepid response, then say something to the effect of “Let me try that again: good morning!,” at which point people laugh and more of them say “Good morning” in response even louder than before.  It’s such a widely (ab)used tactic that student leaders and political operatives instinctually respond “Good morning” the first time, in the hopes the second time won’t be necessary.

You can probably guess where this is going.

The Chief (Dean of the law school), a charismatic guy who clearly enjoys his position “getting to walk around and ‘be dean-ly'” as he later put it, stands next to the podium in Room 202, looks to the audience of 1Ls before him, and starts:  “Good morning.”  And on instinct, the past 11 years of politics and SG experience goes on full display with an automatic “Good morning” from me in response… even though the Chief’s upstairs, and there’s no microphone turned on in Room 102 for him to hear me.  And I happened to be the only one out of the group of 40 or so 1Ls in my room to say anything.

No sooner do the words leave my lips than I notice the lapse in judgment, right as about 10 of those 40 heads turn back toward me wondering who the ignoramus was trying to talk to the video projection.  A bullet to the brain would have been the only cure for the embarrassment at that moment.  Not sure if I successfully played it off by staring intently at the screen as though no one had said a word; I could feel my cheeks burning, but folks turned back around pretty quick so hopefully they never figured it out.

I kept my mouth shut for the rest of the day.

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That’s it for now, have a few cases to brief for Contracts I and Property I tomorrow.  I’ll pick up with the look back after class.  Have a great night everybody! :)

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