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“Let me tell you a story…” (Part 4 of 9)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 6, 2014 in Background

It’s an odd bit of serendipity that today’s video in the NCSU Student Leadership Initiative snippets I’ve been posting happens to coincide with Election Day nationwide.1

When I finally rejoined the N.C. State Student Senate in April 2006, I was the campus equivalent of a snakebitten candidate. My initial spot in the Student Senate was only via appointment; when I ran in my first real election in March 1999, I foolishly filed for Student Senate President (as a 17-year-old) and got walloped. I ran again in March 2000 only to get pulled off the ballot en route to dropping out. Then I tried for a simple Student Senate seat in March 2006, with 4 candidates running for 3 College of Engineering seats…

…and I came in 4th out of 4, losing to a guy who didn’t even campaign :beatup:

So after starting 0-for-3*2 in the election arena, I finally had an uncontested race for a Senate seat going into March 2007 and was looking forward to getting my first notch in the “Win” column.

Then I gave it up.

The rest of the story is too crazy for words,3 so here’s the video:

Questions in this Clip:

0:00:00 – During that time period, the Elections Commission decided to remove Student Senator James Hankins from the Student Senate President ballot. Can you talk about that, and your response to his removal?

Thanks for watching :) I hope all of your respective candidates won on this particular Primary Election Day! :D

—===—

From the law:/dev/null Student Leadership Initiative-related archives:

  • Part 1 of 9: The Backstory (05/03/14)
  • Part 2 of 9: In the Beginning… (05/04/14)
  • Part 3 of 9: Dropping Out (05/05/14)
  • Part 4 of 9: Prelude to Revolution (05/06/14) [this post]
  • Part 5 of 9: Party Time in Witherspoon (05/07/14)
  • Part 6 of 9: “Collaboration” (05/08/14)
  • Part 7 of 9: SSP Round Two and UNCASG (05/09/14)
  • Part 8 of 9: Law School (05/10/14)
  • Part 9 of 9: Traffic Tickets (05/11/14)
  1. And, believe it or not, I didn’t plan it out that way! :crack: []
  2. Don’t know if getting removed from the ballot counts as a loss or not. I’ll leave that for y’all to decide ;) []
  3. As testament to the craziness: my 2nd (3rd?) SSP campaign became course material for -3- different classes at N.C. State :surprised: Professors taught students about the campaign in a course on marketing in the College of Management, a course on campaigning in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, and a course on computer ethics (using Facebook for opposition research) in the College of Engineering. :spin: []

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2

A Mercenary’s Lament

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 10, 2014 in NotFail

mer•ce•nar•y (pl. mercenaries) – noun. a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.

Today’s my first day “back in the real world” after spending the past weekend at the annual TYLA NTC Regionals.1 And where I coached my very first TYLA trial team, comprised of two 2Ls and a 3L.

A team that ended the competition as finalists :surprised:

In turn making them the best trial team in both North Carolina and South Carolina.2 Not to mention going further in that competition than I ever made it myself.

From… the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

That’s not a typo. It’s the same institution I’ve ridiculed on this very website as The University of Non-Compliance at Cheater Haven. The one whose students meme’d me in my NC State hat. The one with its very own “#gthc” tag here at law:/dev/null.3

And I was their coach :beatup:

So how did a guy with an eagle carving on his dining room table plus another on a bookshelf and a third on my bedroom wall — alongside a wolf painting, a wolf carving, even the comforter on my bed — end up in the finals of my favorite mock trial competition helping the one institution that happens to be a rival of both my undergrad and professional school alma maters?4

My team, from L to R: Jonathan Williams '15 (Defense), Michelle Markham '14 (Swing), Dave Fitzgerald '15 (Plaintiff), Eli Sevcik-Timberg '14 (Student Coach)

My team, from L to R: Jonathan Williams ’15 (Defense), Michelle Markham ’14 (Swing), Dave Fitzgerald ’15 (Plaintiff), Eli Sevcik-Timberg ’14 (Student Coach)

Well first we had an amazing team. I was a little nervous at the start because only one student was a 3L; the other two were 2Ls who’d never competed in anything before, and the 3L student coach assigned to work with me had experience but not in TYLA.

I also got the impression at a few points in practice that our goal was just to not embarrass ourselves — I don’t think anyone (admittedly, myself included) thought we had any shot at going anywhere.

But let me tell you: when it counted, they competed. All three of them turned in solid performances to nab the #6 seed after the first three rounds, setting up a semifinal match against the University of South Carolina for Sunday morning. They promptly slaughtered USC and pushed us on to the finals.5

“But TDot! But TDot!” I hear you saying, “WHY were you working for them?”

Aaanndd… that’s where the title for the blog post comes in. ;)

Last winter my 2L/3L TYLA coach6 and I had talked about the future of NCCU Law‘s team and whether there’d be a spot for me anywhere as an assistant coach. Nothing ever happened with it, so in the Spring I volunteered to be one of the guest judges for the TYLA Regionals when they were hosted by Campbell Law down in Raleigh.

For my round I watched an absolutely superb performance by a team from WFU Law — a team that ended up getting functionally disqualified when a meritless protest was filed over WFU’s cross-examination of the other side’s expert, and the “protest committee” voted to give them -0- points for the cross.7 I felt bad for them. And I also decided that I hated the idea of “just” being a judge if our ballots could be summarily disregarded by a 5-member committee of other competing coaches.

Fast forward to early October. The Monday before the 2L/3L trial team tryouts to be exact. I still stop by the NCCU Law building on a fairly regular basis, so during one of those trips while I’m down in our clinic area I make some inquiries about the process to become a trial team coach.

Now in retrospect I don’t know what response I expected. I figured, at the very least, it would be something along the lines of “All the coach spots are filled for every team at the moment, but when something opens up we’ll let you know.”8 Instead the response I got was as clear as it was unambiguous: “Coaches have to have 5 years of practice experience. That’s the rule.”

I was a smidge annoyed. But rules are rules, right?

So a couple days later, when I’m down in Wake County for a traffic case, I talked with one of my 2L AAJ trial coaches (a District Court Judge down there) about how he got involved. Apparently someone just called and asked him to do it. But he went on to tell me no one even asked him to return as a coach my 3L year or the year after. That in turn led me to express my frustration over how I felt the law school treated our competitions as afterthoughts, and how I really wanted to run one of these teams to show what could be done.

Well even though he’s an NCCU Law alum, he’s also a dyed-in-the-wool Tar Heel as well. He had heard the UNCCH trial team advisor was out for the semester due to a medical issue and suggested I consider looking there.

I then texted a friend of mine from my NC State days who had just graduated from UNCCH Law the prior year. She confirmed the story on the advisor and said it would be “awesome if [I] potentially think about maybe” being their coach (after confessing surprise that I like trial team :crack: ). And if I wanted her to make a call the spot would be mine.

Unpaid, but a shot nonetheless.

Not quite ready to go calling in favors, I had lunch with my other 2L TYLA coach the next week to get his advice on basically squaring off against my own school. And he said to go for it. I’m paraphrasing here, but his argument was something along the lines of “Think about what it says for Central if you do well, what it says if your alma mater’s graduates do a better job at this than their own.”

Still not fully comfortable with the thought of switching sides, I sent a text message to my 2L/3L TYLA coach to get his thoughts since he was still in charge. When he saw me at the Alumni Association meeting that Saturday, he said to take the spot as well.

So I did.

I Facebook-messaged a UNCCH 2L I knew from UNCASG, who in turn put me in touch with the Trial Advocacy Board chairman over there, who in turn connected me with the TYLA squad and a 3L student coach to assist. And the rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

“But TDot! But TDot!” you interrupt again, “WHHYYY??”

Well… because my alma mater didn’t want me :(

Look, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who loves NCCU Law more than I do (or NC State for that matter). You’ll be equally hard pressed to find anyone who takes quite as much glee in disparaging UNC Chapel Hill as I do. The students on the NCCU teams that didn’t make it were real people, including two of my mentees

And I can’t even articulate for you in words how awkward it felt when I actually typed “#goheelsgoamerica” into my phone for a Facebook status. :beatup:

But the fact is it didn’t make a d*mn lick of sense for me to sit on the sidelines getting rusty for another year waiting on my alma mater to let me help. And it most definitely didn’t make a d*mn lick of sense for me to do that for 4 more years until I’d reach some arbitrary quantum of real world experience.

UNCCH needed someone. They offered me that opportunity. The folks I met turned out to be really cool people. And, having made a commitment to them, I wasn’t going to let them down.

So I didn’t. :)

Now the only issue at this point is really what other folks’ decide will happen next year. Because now that I know the finals are attainable, I’m not going away until nationals…

—===—

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

  1. I know I’m behind schedule on the “blog more” resolution, but it’s still early in the year and anything can happen :P []
  2. The regional winners were the University of Georgia — the same school that knocked out EIC, Shutterbug, and I back in Memphis two years ago :mad: — and Georgia State University. []
  3. “GTHC” means “Go to Hell, Carolina!” for the uninitiated ;) []
  4. No comments from UNCCH homers on “omg you’re not our rival!” I’ve enjoyed enough hostility while wearing my NCSU paraphernalia to sporting events and NCCU paraphernalia to law events to know better :* []
  5. Frankly I don’t fully understand how we lost the final round, and got the impression the judges were scoring based on the merits of the case rather than the advocacy. But I’m also biased. []
  6. Don’t have nicknames for most of the folks in this entry, so I’m going to titles. []
  7. The ruling was improper, and it was sufficiently improper that TYLA amended their Rules for this year’s competition to prevent situations like that from happening again. []
  8. It’s not like I swept both 3L competitions and was on the #1-seeded team in the 2012 TYLA Regional semis while serving as SBA President and graduating with honors and two concentrations or anything… :beatup: []

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15

It’s October already?? O_o

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 10, 2011 in The 3L Life

Remember when I wrote that I enjoyed being in over my head?

I’ve changed my mind :beatup:

It’s safe to say the semester is going by entirely too d*mn fast when we were more than week into the month before I finally realized it was October.1 Midterms are this week for the 1Ls and 2Ls, and a string of papers are due for me. I’m ready for this month to be over and we just fast-forward to Thanksgiving so I can breathe for a few days…

  • The big news story from the past couple weeks has been the death of Steve Jobs last Wednesday from pancreatic cancer :( The good folks over at MacRumors have this comprehensive entry of news and reflections. I found out via a Drudge Report app alert (on my long-sought iPhone) in the middle of a reception I was attending, followed by a flurry of text messages from QuietStorm, 雅雅, and several classmates asking how I was dealing with the news.2 Steve’s been my role model for over a decade, and the combination of his own talents and his gathering other talented people around him at Apple has definitely enriched my life (and helped me get assignments done on time). Though a good many of us suspected he didn’t have much longer following his resignation as Apple CEO last month, the news still sucks. My heart goes out to his wife and kids :heart:
  • On a less depressing note, Wednesday was a whirlwind day in general — starting with me dropping off Samson for his last round of heartworm shots! :D He had to stay overnight at the Durham APS for two separate injections, but after another few weeks of activity restrictions he should be heartworm free and able to resume life as an active dog! :spin:
  • After dropping off Samson and heading to class, I then drove down to my alma mater for a videotaped interview with staff from N.C. State Libraries. A couple years ago they created a page in their “Historical State” archive chronicling former Student Body Presidents… and at some point expanded it to this Student Leaders page where they’re including folks like me too :surprised:  So they had about two-dozen questions on stuff that happened in Student Government when I was around back in 2006-2009, covering stuff like my role as a Senator when I wrote or sponsored 49 different pieces of legislation, the extensive drama surrounding the Spring 2007 SSP election,3 my first term as Senate President when I had a less-than-cooperative relationship with the Executive Branch, and so on. Makes me glad I did a decent job as SSP, otherwise my incompetence would be enshrined for all eternity :beatup:
  • Right after the NCSU interview I went out west to a reception for incoming UNC-system President Tom Ross, held at the Joint School of Nanoscience & Nanoengineering shared by UNC Greensboro and NC A&T State. I’d been to receptions before back when I was UNCASG President; I expected a sit-down dinner thing where you make small talk with 6-7 other education-oriented folks seated at your table, eat, and exchange pleasantries before departing. This was apparently more of a “make friends and influence people”-type thing, because the place was swarming with politicos, judges, fundraisers, and other people famous by NC standards, with no fewer than 4 different “liquor stations” where attendees could imbibe a variety of beverages.4 In general I’m not a particularly huge fan of these types of big, unstructured social events — see, e.g., my abject terror/awkwardness during the “mixer” at 1L Orientation two years ago — but I appreciated the opportunity to catch up with some folks I hadn’t seen since my term on the Board ended :D
  • Plus I got to meet Governor Easley!5 I saw him while talking to someone about the state budget and the budget cuts going on across the UNC system, and finally worked up the nerve to say hello. I tell him I’m a 3L at NCCU Law and the current SBA President… and he starts motioning other people over to come meet me instead :crack:  It easily ranks among the most surreal experiences of my life
  • My lapel pin collection, now with pins from all 17 UNC institutions! (the top 3 rows)

    …and when the event was winding down, on the shuttle back to the parking lot I had the serendipitous opportunity to meet Dr. J. Todd Roberts, the new Chancellor of the N.C. School of Science & Mathematics (North Carolina’s residential high school for high-achieving students). :D I noticed the NCSSM lapel pin on his jacket when his wife asked if  I had enjoyed the event. I replied that I had, then asked if he was “the new guy” running NCSSM.6 We exchanged introductions, and I somewhat-imperiously asked if they sold NCSSM lapel pins anywhere; it was the only institution still missing from my collection, where I had gathered lapel pins from all 16 other UNC institutions. He told me they didn’t, and he really needed his for President Ross’s inauguration the following day… but he offered it to me anyway! I basically pledged my undying loyalty to NCSSM right there on the shuttle, and sent the school a $50 donation when I got back to Durham — right after filling the one remaining gap in my collection :spin:

  • I wish I could say academics were going quite as well :( I’m currently sitting on a legitimate, bona fide “F” in Tax right now. Right alongside another “F” in Appellate Advocacy I. Fortunately both courses still have 80%+ of the grade still remaining to be earned, but the current standings highlight that I’m in deep sh*t academically. I’ve been trying to pare back my extracurricular activities to focus more on the papers and other miscellaneous stuff we have to do. It’s a deep hole to climb out, and will be taking me awhile to get there…7
  • To highlight how bad things are going, I was walking through the law clinic earlier today when Prof Tax herself called my name — in that “Go straight to the Principal’s Office young man” tone of voice that I think all teachers, from K-12 to college, have innately mastered — to make known she wasn’t happy with my sub-standard performance in her class. I pleaded my case but at the end of the day I’ve just been doing too much non-academic stuff. I promised I’d be in class on time tomorrow and work to catch up.
  • (On a somewhat-related note, I really dislike paper-based classes :mad: My colleagues gravitate toward them because it’s easier to get an A on a paper you can pour hours of time into — but I just can’t seem to find the time. I miss going through a couple weeks of hell studying for exams, having a test, and being done. Having four different classes with various papers due at various points over the semester currently qualifies as the most grating experience of my law school career…)
  • Even so, I’m still trying to write a brief to apply for our Moot Court Board8 :beatup:

There’s more stuff to write about, but I think I’ll cap it for this particular entry because I really need to get back to reading for class.

I hope all of you had a great Monday, and have a great week! (and a great October! ;) )

  1. And the only reason I noticed was because the 1Ls were panicking about midterms. []
  2. And yes, I’ll confess I cried a little when I got home :beatup: []
  3. For more details see Technician’s SSP Timeline 1 and SSP Timeline 2, along with the FIRE Act. []
  4. I stuck with the lemonade since I was driving :) []
  5. And yes, I was/am still excited even if he was/is our first governor to plead to a felony — he’s still a graduate of NCCU Law, the namesake for our 2L Opening Statement competition, and was both a superlative District Attorney and the twice-elected Governor of the 10th most-populous state in the nation. Bill Clinton was the first President impeached since Nixon, but I’d still be honored to shake the guy’s hand :P []
  6. When I was UNCASG President I had worked with NCSSM’s former Chancellor Gerald Boarman, who left to work in Maryland soon after my term ended. []
  7. Note to 1Ls/2Ls: DON’T REPEAT MY MISTAKES. #kkthxu []
  8. Just trying to see if I’m competent enough to do appellate work, that’s all! :angel: []

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2

#icanhazgoldnow?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 30, 2011 in Randomness

Meant to post this yesterday but wanted to give y’all the class rundown first :)

No leprechauns nearby so far as I could tell...

I’m also noting up-front that I’m generally not the type to ascribe supernatural causes to naturally occurring phenomena.

But yesterday I was busy having a mini-meltdown over finances after a follow-up dental appointment for the crown issue I mentioned in passing last week, trying to figure out how to pay for the bar app, bar review, etc etc etc and knowing my financial aid refund was still days away.

The weather was forecast to be clear. And rather than go back to school, I randomly decided to go home instead… where it was practically a monsoon :beatup:

I tried to take a photo what greeted me when I got to the apartment.1

Never been that close to a rainbow in my life (except the ones I created myself while hand-washing a car). Didn’t see a pot of gold anywhere, but I’m taking it as a sign not to stress ;)

  1. The actual rainbow was a lot brighter but the camera barely picked it up. []

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Where are the HBCU advocates?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 5, 2011 in The 3L Life

Today was Day 2 of the ABA’s 2011 Annual Meeting in Toronto Canada, and in the ABA Law Student Division that meant an opportunity to hear from candidates for a handful of LSD offices about their plans for the future and their responses to questions from us.1

One of the things I teach organizations as part of my T.I.D.E.S. leadership development presentations is that questions are usually the most potent weapon in any leader’s arsenal. So I came prepared with a pair of my own: (1) asking what, specifically, these folks will do to address the embarrassingly low volume of students seeking ABA leadership positions;2 and (2) with the ABA again considering an increase in the minimum bar-passage rates required for reaccreditation of law schools, how would they ensure those reforms don’t disproportionately harm the country’s 6 HBCU-based institutions?3

A couple things stuck out to me in asking that second question: apparently I was the only one interested in bringing it up,4 and almost no one knew anything at all about it.  :surprised:

If you’re not familiar with what the ABA is considering, take a look at this story on Law.com. Here’s a snippet:

ABA Faces Diversity Dilemma With Proposed Change to Law School Standards
The ABA is trying to reconcile the legal profession’s need for greater diversity with its desire to push law schools to better prepare students to pass the bar. For the second time in four years, it is considering raising the minimum bar-passage-rate requirement for law school accreditation.

By Karen Sloan (07-22-2011)

Nearly 70 percent of the entering class at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law was black in 1998. A decade later, that figure hovered at around 30 percent — the lowest percentage among the country’s six historically black law schools.

The catalyst for that shift was a 1999 letter from the American Bar Association urging the school to examine its admissions standards and low first-time bar-passage rates. The school responded by accepting students with higher credentials, but the percentage of black students began to decline as the average Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores rose.

That experience highlights the dilemma now confronting the ABA. The organization is trying to reconcile the legal profession’s need for greater diversity with its desire to push law schools to better prepare students to pass the bar. For the second time in four years, it is considering raising the minimum bar-passage-rate requirement as part of a comprehensive review of law school accreditation standards.

Definitely take some time to read the full article, there’s a lot more in there.

Three initial points I want to make on this:

  • I totally agree with some form of a “bright line” cutoff with bar passage rates and accreditation. While many of those advocating for the cutoff seem to hope it will lead to fewer accredited law schools and (theoretically) fewer new attorneys as a result,5 I’m of the more-economics-oriented belief that the simple existence of the cutoff will incentivize law schools to better serve their students. People respond to incentives, it’s as simple as that.
  • I also agree with The Chief’s quote in that article about other schools having a harder time complying with a heightened cutoff before HBCUs. NCCU Law in particular has enjoyed passage rates well above the state average for most of the past decade, even while joining FAMU Law and SULC in taking in the broadest array of students in the nation. The schools facing the biggest challenge will be those whose business model is based on being a diploma-mill, bringing in thousands of students a year just to get as much federal student aid $$$ as possible.6
  • But, while it’s true other non-HBCU law schools will have a steeper hill to climb, HBCUs will still face an acute challenge because of the timing of this proposal. It comes at a time that could be considered a “perfect” storm” for them: industry complaints of all law schools churning out too many incompetent students with JDs, prompting industry-wide reforms, while the economy has basically imploded with no hope of an immediate recovery. The publicly-funded HBCUs are facing substantial budget cuts7 and an inability to raise tuition at whim, while both public and private HBCUs face a steep drop in the alumni and corporate donations that enable institutions to improve things like their academic support services. Couple that with fewer paying jobs available for their students to raise $$ for bar prep courses while in school — prep courses apparently being the primary method for learning bar material at high-performing law schools — and you’ve got all the ingredients for a cow pie of a proposal.

I’ve gotta head to bed so I can get up for an SBA “Roundtable and Idea-Raiser” in the morning, but wanted to put that issue on the radar for my HBCU-attending colleagues who didn’t know what was coming down the pike.

Have a great night y’all! :D

—===—

From the law:/dev/null ABA Annual Meeting-related archives:

  1. I also took an opportunity to check out a “Hot Topics in Internet Law” CLE class with Ian Ballon and some other panelists, which was amazing and reminded me of my Privacy Technology, Policy & Law class in my last semester at N.C. State. I also got to meet two folks I’ve been talking with on Twitter: Monica Goyal of My Legal Briefcase, and Vanderbilt Law student Amy Sanders (who I serendipitously sat in front of without even realizing it) :D []
  2. Several of the ABA LSD Circuit Governors were either unopposed or chosen after floor nominations because no one filed for office. And the first candidate who responded to my question gave such a non-specific, mealy-mouthed response I couldn’t help but think of offering this in response. :roll: []
  3. For those who haven’t seen the acronym, “HBCU” stands for “Historically Black Colleges and Universities.” The overwhelming bulk of these long-lived institutions are in the Southeast, created as the only means for black students to receive a legal education during the de jure segregation era. See footnote 5 in this entry for some federal case law relating to the UNC system. []
  4. If you think a middle-aged white Republican being SBA President of a HBCU law school is odd enough, imagine that same middle-aged white Republican being the only person to proactively bring up an issue that could affect it and others — despite representatives of other HBCU law schools being in the same room :beatup: []
  5. Not to disparage any of these undoubtedly-kind folks, but I consider that analysis not only too self-interested to be a valid decision-making criterion, but also utterly Pollyanna-ish in assuming the remaining schools wouldn’t simply expand their own enrollments. []
  6. Here’s looking at you, Cooley Law. ;) []
  7. 14% at NCCU for the upcoming 2011-12 academic year, basically meaning $1 of every $7 has now disappeared. :crack: []

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1

Weird Sh*t in My Life #219

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 6, 2011 in The 3L Life

As a 1L, there was the miraculously timed fire alarm when I was late for CivPro.

As a 2L, there was the random phone call from an expatriate in Mexico asking me for legal advice.

Now as a 3L, there was… a kitteh trapped in an engine :crack:

A few weeks ago I started jogging with a classmate to recover from exam-induced sedentariness. And with my Intellectual Property class stretching into the wee hours of the night Mondays / Tuesdays / Thursdays, that meant running on the illuminated gym track next to NCCU Law instead of the nature trail by my apartment.

We’re walking back to our cars afterwards and I notice I’m parked next to Co-Counsel. I also hear a very loud and very distressed-sounding “meow” coming from the front of her car — sufficiently loud and sufficiently distressed-sounding that, rather than a cat, I suspect one of my classmates is crouching behind the passenger side trying to play a prank of some kind :beatup:

I look around the vehicle and don’t see anyone behind it.  I look inside and don’t see anything moving. I look under and don’t see any thing at all.

Then I hear another meow.

Even though I’m a dog person and generally despise cats,1 I’m a big ol’ softie when it comes to animals in general so I was determined to figure out where this thing was at and make sure it wasn’t hurt.

Pretty sure kittehs don't come standard

Our security staff rolls up (as I’m on the ground looking like I’m about to boost someone else’s car) and I calmly explain there’s a cat somewhere. The officer gets out of his vehicle, looks at me like I’m crazy and need to be hauled in to jail… then hears a meow too.

Given the shape of this part of the lot, neither of us can get a good enough vantage point to figure out where the sound is coming from.  So the officer leaves to go get a stronger flashlight while I tell Co-Counsel there’s a cat in her car somewhere.

Then I kneel down by the passenger wheel, start looking around the wheel well with my keychain flashlight, and notice I can see inside the engine compartment itself… where I discover an orange-and-white striped cat looking absolutely pitiful :surprised:

Co-Counsel and Luca come down and Co-Counsel pops the hood, at which point we realize it’s a baby kitten that has somehow climbed so far into the engine compartment that it couldn’t get back out. There were too many cables and hoses to lift the kitten out from the top, but after some gentle nudging backwards it was able to move again and climbed down out of the car.

It ran across the parking lot so fast after it was free we didn’t even realize it was out of the car until we heard the same meow from 100 paces away. And the trio of us became kitteh-savers for the day :spin:

So that’s how my Monday went down :) I actually had a bona fide law entry ready to go for tonight, but it’ll have to be saved until later this week — have a great night y’all! :D

  1. When you come home to your dog, it says to you “You come home and you feed me, take care of me, love me — you must be a god!”  When you come home to your cat, it says to you “You come home and you feed me, take care of me, love me — I must be a god!” []

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“I think I got him Chief.”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 18, 2010 in Randomness

Qualified for my concealed carry permit today :spin:

One of the things I enjoyed growing up in a military-heavy city and living in the South is that firearms have been a normal part of life. They’re not regarded as these mythical creatures with minds of their own to be avoided at all costs. They’re machines that serve a purpose — and should be respected accordingly — but just like automobiles and other tools they’re totally harmless without a human user behind them.

During the summer, the kids in my neighborhood would even gather up all the water guns we could find,1  split off into teams, and roam the neighborhood playing a game that was a cross of hide-and-seek and capture-the-flag. My first “real” water gun was even molded to look/function like a single-action Beretta (though painted bright orange so law enforcement wouldn’t confuse it for a real gun ;) ).

I don't think he's getting up :smoke:

But since moving to North Carolina I’ve eschewed firearms, since state law requires educational institutions to be Easy Target Zones and up until last year I lived on campus.2

Until, in a bit of serendipity, I discovered one of the 1Ls at NCCU Law is a former Chief of Police and firearms instructor. He mentioned he was running a concealed carry handgun training course out in Maiden so I signed up.

Though I didn’t realize at the time I’d have to leave around 4:30am to be there when it started :beatup:

After several hours of reliving through CrimLaw to get re-educated about when the use of deadly force in self-defense is justified under NC law, we headed out to the open-air shooting range. The actual qualification routine requires shooting 40 rounds from 7/5/3 yards in a certain timeframe, with at least 28 rounds hitting the target.

I was a little nervous since it was my first time firing a real handgun (in my case a .22 Ruger Mk I) instead of the fake Beretta from my youth… but it turned out pretty well.  Sufficiently so that I asked to try from 25 yards against one of their metal knockdown targets about half the width of the paper — and hit it 8-for-8 :surprised:

Where was this precision when I tried winning stuff at the State Fair? :mad:

Anyhow, now I’m back in Durham and get to go fill out a bunch of paperwork with the Durham County Sheriff’s Department before waiting a few months for my permit to come through. It was a fun day :D

I hope all of you have a great night — and check back tomorrow for a surprise :angel:

  1. This was before the abominations known as Super Soakers. You actually had to be a good shot in those days, not just have a parent willing to shell out $$$ to buy you a mobile aquarium you could strap on your back :roll: []
  2. Except for the years I was a dropout, when I couldn’t afford buying a gun anyway :beatup: []

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3

Maybe it’s something about November?

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 15, 2010 in The 2L Life

So the original title of this entry was going to be “Serendipity”… until I did a search through my previous posts, and found out I already used that same title a year and four days ago :surprised:

I’m now becoming convinced that instead there must simply be something about November in the space-time continuum that leads to events converging just right.

Here’s the deal: our Dean for Career Services at NCCU Law sent me an email earlier today about a company looking for a law student to help with some contract review work. Now, aside from the fact that it’s an opportunity to earn experience or $$$ or both, it was an otherwise-inconspicuous proposition. Especially for a guy whose confidence in Ks was rocked until I started getting my academic life together this past summer.1

But then I found out that this company is in the information technology field…

And their headquarters is based at my alma mater

And they’re e-Partners with my department

And their CEO gave a presentation last November… that I attended… the night before that previous Serendipity post :crack:

::cue mini-“omg omg omg” freak-out session::

Needless to say I’ve gotten -0- done on a paper I have due in Legal Letters at 9am tomorrow morning. Instead I’ve been re-tweaking my résumé for the n-th time, reaching out to friends who work for or with the company to get background info, trying to cobble up something for a cover letter that doesn’t sound totally inane, debating whether or not I should reach out to the hiring person on LinkedIn before the Career Services folks have sent my résumé (thoughts??) — the list goes on.

And the craziest part? I wanted to intern with these folks when I was in undergrad! But my Computer Science GPA was toast because I was investing all my time serving students through Student Government (since I was planning to go to law school instead of working in the IT field professionally) so I never applied. How totally awesome would it be if I got a chance to work here in a law-related capacity?!

And yes, I fully realize I’m getting totally carried away and haven’t even gotten to the point of being interviewed yet, much less getting a job. But still. Talk about a crazy confluence of circumstances…

I’m off to go work on this paper, but just thought I’d share in light of the job-related discussion that’s been taking place over the past two days on the “Is law school really worth it?” entries :)

Have a great night everybody! :D

  1. I just realized I never did provide a post-summer session breakdown on grades like I did for the Fall and Spring — that’ll be coming up soon! []

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5

Quick hat tip to Zuckerberg

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 10, 2010 in Technology

Good evening y’all!

I promise you I haven’t forgotten about the race relations entry and $$ entry

For tonight I just wanted to give a quick hat tip to Mark Zuckerberg, the guy who created Facebook. Rarely a week goes by on the internet where someone somewhere doesn’t complain about Facebook’s privacy settings, interface changes, or some other component. Amid all the complaints — many of them legitimate — it’s easy to forget Facebook has done wonders for networking and finding people you once lost contact with.

Earlier today I had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen since I graduated high school in 1998. We’ll call her Melinda.1 She and I were close friends back in high school, but lost contact when I had to drop out of NC State back in 2000. By the time I had regular access to the internet  and a phone again, her email address had changed, my email address had changed, and both of us had new phone numbers (and no mutual friends who kept in touch with us both).

Then at some point a couple months ago I found a whole raft of high school classmates when I was invited to a Facebook group for alumni of our high school chorus,2) and she was among them. Well over a decade had gone by for both of us: two degrees / a family / a dream job for her, and stuff y’all have already read for me.

We only talked for about an hour today before both of us had other obligations to attend to, but considering once upon a time I thought I’d never see Melinda at all until the 20-year class reunion3 I’m grateful to even have the option of having that lunch.

So Mark, if you ever happen to swing by my little piece of internet real estate: thanks :)  And feel free to join our law:/dev/null Facebook page ;)

I’m off to bed folks, getting up early to watch my successor as UNCASG President get sworn in to the UNC Board of Governors. Hope all of you have an amazing night! :D

  1. As in Medical Examiner Melinda Warner. Any Law & Order: SVU buffs here? []
  2. Yes, I confess: TDot used to sing. And the Salem High School Madrigals are a sufficiently Big Deal™ that they’ve got their own section in the school’s Wikipedia entry ; []
  3. Our 10-year class reunion was cancelled because apparently the class officers we elected back in 1998 never raised any money for the reunion trust fund :beatup: []

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3

Serendipity

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Nov 11, 2009 in NotFail

Every now and then it’s nice to know The Big Man Upstairs is keeping an eye out for you :)

I had to give some friends a ride to campus this morning (they go to a certain university in an adjacent town) so naturally I was significantly late for CivPro. Unlike Professor Contracts, the standing rule for late people in CivPro is that you don’t enter if the door is shut and/or MDG has started the lecture.

And as much as I love talking about venue, I wasn’t going to press my luck ;)

So I finally make it to campus, end up parking in a lot now thoroughly muddy courtesy of the ongoing wind/rain leftovers from Hurricane Ida, slowly trudge to the law building… and hear a sound over the wind.

It’s faint. But distinct.

I look up from under the umbrella, and think I can see 1 lone strobe light flashing.

The sound gets a little louder as I walk a little closer.

In disbelief, I pick up the pace and walk as fast as one can with a wind-tossed double canopy umbrella in one hand and a 5″ binder + 3 textbooks in the other. I get to the granite porch outside the entrance and can’t believe my good fortune.

The fire alarm is going off :D

For a couple brief seconds I feel bad for my classmates who had to evacuate the building in this miserable weather (mid-40s and pouring rain a mere day after we broke 70ºF), but then I realize folks will have to be walking back into class and I might have an opportunity to sneak into CivPro. I double time it to the classroom, and sure enough see a pair of my classmates walking in.

I head to the door. MDG sees me, and gives me a raised eyebrow like he doesn’t remember seeing me in class before but he isn’t 100% certain. I give him a look along the lines of “Of course I was here earlier, I love CivPro!”  I walk in, make it about a fifth of the way to my chair…

…and apparently the rest of my classmates noticed I wasn’t there when class started, because the whole room busts out laughing.  MDG lets me slide though since I’m in my chair before he can say anything, then he starts laughing too and goes “Well I guess we know who pulled the fire alarm.” And the rest of class went off without a hitch… though I still didn’t sign the attendance sheet, out of recognition I was 30 minutes late to a 50-minute class :beatup:

He did hit me with his trademark wit before class was out though, the price I paid for being late. My left-side neighbor Karl(a) raises her hand to answer a question, and in recognizing her he slips and goes “Mr. TDot. Miss TDot. I mean Miss Karl(a). I’m so so sorry, I done married y’all. And let me tell you, y’all would make some uuuuuuuuggggllllllyyyyy babies.”

The words can’t articulate how hilariously funny it was, both in terms of timing and delivery — even though it was a (well-deserved) swipe at me, I was laughing for a solid 2-3 minutes (as was Karl(a) and everyone else in class).  The man is hands-down, without any sarcasm in this statement, my favorite professor this semester.

And all because of a serendipitously-timed fire alarm :D

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