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This is more like it…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 6, 2012 in The 3L Life

I’m hoping against hope that I just might have turned a corner on this semester.

The day didn’t start off that well — I did end up oversleeping and missed 8:30am Moot Court practice :beatup: — but things turned around by mid-afternoon.  Our first NC Distinctions tests came back, and while I didn’t do as well as I should have I did “good enough” to avoid being subjected to a re-test tomorrow afternoon. I got some more work done on law:/dev/null, got my roadmap cobbled together for moot court, and did reasonably well at my first practice.1

There’s still a lot left to be done: homework is still due weekly for my other classes, the TYLA trial team coaches are pissed at my future absences,2 and I’ve got upcoming subjects in Distinctions that I’ve never taken before so the tests will be more challenging.

But coming off my worst semester of law school, progress is progress! :)

  1. A clutch performance, as our coach noted in the feedback afterward that she “was expecting you [me] to be my [her] biggest disappointment.” []
  2. Even though I made clear to them when we came up with our original practice schedule that I wouldn’t be available M/W/F, and later acquiesced to temporary availability on those days when they altered the practice schedule to 7 days a week… :mad: []

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Wrong man. Wrong place. Wrong time.

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on May 5, 2011 in The 2L Life

I’M OFFICIALLY A 3L! :D

Although I didn’t have as much time to study for my (9am) Criminal Procedure final as I had planned — courtesy of my near-catastrophic failure to write down the correct exam time — I suspect I got enough of the material right to pass the course. So I’m claiming the 3L status now instead of waiting however long it’s going to take for the Professor to confirm it :beatup:

To celebrate, I’m going to do absolutely nothing at all tonight except relax.

And since (i) “absolutely nothing” would include refraining from productive blogging and (ii) I had my own potential issue with “wrong place / wrong time” yesterday, I thought now would be a decent time to embed a YouTube clip of the audio from my closing argument that I gave during the TYLA National Trial Competition regionals a little while back ;)

I don’t have a video feed to go with it so you’ll miss out on some of the theatrics, but this was the closing when we went up against the WFU Law team in the very last round (and essentially ate them alive). Hope you like it!1 :D

If you want to read through the fact pattern that was used in this case, check out State v. Duffie from TYLA.org.2

Have a great night everybody! :)

  1. And for the computer science folks in the audience, this video uses the new HTML5-friendly iframes format for embedding video — if you have trouble playing it, let me know so I can figure out what’s wrong! []
  2. There were some amended pages clarifying minor points, and you can download those from TYLA.org if you’re so inclined. []

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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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In Case You Missed It (Round VI)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 23, 2011 in In Case You Missed It

After spending most of the past week preparing for or competing in the TYLA NTC regional competition, I finally worked my way through the blog entry backlog — just in time for me to disappear again the rest of this week so I can prep for AAJ as well as study at some point for my Business Associations midterm :beatup:

If you have a few minutes to spare, below are the posts from last week just in case you missed them — please enjoy during my pending absence :)

In chronological order:

Enjoy, and have a great night y’all! :D

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Top 10 works for me! :D

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 20, 2011 in NotFail

On the ride home from the TYLA regionals in Charlotte this afternoon, I got a text message from one of my 3L colleagues with the ranking results for the 2Ls.

Apparently we came in 9th! :spin:

Only the top 8 teams got to advance to the semi-finals — including both teams from Charlotte Law and the Emory Law team that beasted us on Friday — but to make the Top 10 of a 30ish team field, in the first full-scale competition any of us 2Ls have had (and my very first ever as counsel) sounds pretty damn good to me :D

To the folks who made the semis this go-round:  be prepared next year, because you’ll be seeing me again ;)

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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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“It’s a Small World After All”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 18, 2011 in The 2L Life

Well that certainly didn’t go as planned  :(

First round of the TYLA regionals ran from 6pm-9pm tonight. I wasn’t prepared last night but thought I was where I needed to be by today. Co-Counsel and I represented NCCU Law, facing off as the Prosecution against a pair of 3Ls from Emory Law on Defense. And there’s just no other way for me to describe it…

…they completely kicked our ass :beatup:

Evidence we expected them to oppose, they let in without objection.  Stuff we just knew was coming in, they managed to get excluded. My normally-10-minute cross-examination of the Defendant was pared down to 5min because of all the evidence that didn’t come in :crack:

The only thing keeping it out of “unmitigated disaster” territory — just in merely “disaster” range — was that my opening statement was on-point and Co-Counsel’s closing was flawless.  But beyond that I was totally thrown off my game and the two of us got beaten like rented mules.

None of that has anything at all to do with the post title of course :)  The main point for tonight’s entry is a reminder of how surprisingly small the world can be sometimes.

After the competition was over, the guys and I went to a small restaurant on the same block as our hotel for some soul food.1 No sooner do I walk in the door of the restaurant than I hear my name being called from a few feet away. I turn to the right and see one of my college roommates from my N.C. State years :surprised:

Now I’ve only been to Charlotte twice in the past year, and the last time I was in the downtown part of the city was over a decade ago with QuietStorm. And yet somehow, out of the 8,760 hours in a given year, on the one weekend I’m downtown, in a city of almost a million people, I ended up being at the same restaurant at the same time as one of my closest college friends.

It’s a small world out there folks! Keep that in mind when you’re interacting with your law school colleagues who you just might bump into in a random restaurant a few years from now — and remember, don’t burn your bridges ;)

  1. A place called Mert’s Restaurant — some of the best western NC barbecue, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cornbread I’ve had :spin: []

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Game Time

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 17, 2011 in The 2L Life

Tomorrow afternoon is the first round of the TYLA National Trial Competition regionals, hosted by the Charlotte School of Law this year.

My trial binder isn’t ready.

I still have no case law.

Nothing’s packed.

And it’s my first-ever competition as an advocate.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a little freaked out. So I’m just going to take a few deep breaths, go to bed, and skip class tomorrow so I can leave for Charlotte at the crack of dawn and get checked in to the hotel and set up.

Thoughts + prayers are appreciated :) Good night y’all!

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Summer ’10 Final Grades

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 16, 2011 in NotFail

A couple days ago I posted an updated entry on how my 1L Spring grades turned out, and this entry is a follow-up with my summer school grades so y’all will have the “full picture” of how my 1L academic life turned out :)

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SUPERIOR COURT MEDIATION
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This 5-day, 40-hour pass/fail class doubled as a CLE for practicing attorneys and is required for all certified mediators in North Carolina.

Tagged by me as “Lobbying for Lawyers“, essentially we learned about various types of alternative dispute resolution and then plowed in-depth into various aspects of mediation, followed by a series of role-playing exercises where we rotated as mediator with other classmates acting as attorneys or clients.

The variety of ages and student-vs-practicing-attorney split made for a different dynamic than the other classes (in a good way). Even though there were some boring moments, I enjoyed it overall and feel like I learned some useful snippets from it. It certainly helped with my ADR Clinic experience :)

Expected final grade for class: Pass
Actual final grade for class: Pass

Synopsis: Useful topic + free food == #win

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ADR PROCESSES AND PRACTICE
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While Superior Court Mediation focused on teaching the various types of alternative dispute resolution and training people on how to be effective mediators, this class focused on ADR from the vantage points of the advocates.

The first day of class covered some of the essentials on ADR that I had already learned, but beyond that each subsequent class involved reading a chapter or two on negotiating styles, competitive tactics, and so on along with learning a new fact pattern. Then we’d have a mock settlement conference with opposing counsel for each of these sets of facts.

The professor for the course was hilarious and laid-back. I also surprisingly enjoyed the course textbook (even though it was dry in parts).

Final grades for the course were based on a journal maintained throughout the summer session1 and two essays critiquing the results of a negotiation session and a mediation session respectively. I figured I aced the essays but also lost points on the journal because I missed an entry or two. Luckily it wasn’t enough to alter my grade :D

Expected final grade for class: A-
Actual final grade for class: A

Synopsis: Good professor + good textbook == #win

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ADR CLINIC
====================

Most of my experiences in this class already got written about elsewhere on the blog under the ADR tag. Basically every participant had to mediate about a dozen cases, the bulk of which were in Criminal District Court in Wake County. We also mediated cases involving child support, 50(B) protective orders, Medicaid cases pending before the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings, and had to sit in on a session with Wake County’s Drug Court.

Clinic grades were based on performance/professionalism during the mediations, teaching a class on an ADR-related topic of choice, completing three different reflections on various mediations (mine were late), and compiling a portfolio including a résumé and pricing list for use if/when we became real mediators.

The main upside to the class was learning that I’m probably not cut out for mediation. I’m incredibly talented at it, but I’m also accustomed to having an opinion and I’m ill-suited to simply facilitating :beatup:

Expected final grade for class: B-
Actual final grade for class: B+

Synopsis: Tangible experience + decent grade == #win

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RACE & THE LAW
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This class was the highlight of my summer :spin:

It’s a seminar course that focuses on the impact race has played on American jurisprudence, through the lens of 5 different groups (lumped together in the casebook as whites, blacks, asians, hispanics, and American Indians). In addition to examining the core case law — sizable chunks of which are still surprisingly considered good law, even though they were based on what we now know are inaccurate perceptions of race — the book then follows with looking at race-based cases as applied to issues such as free speech, marriage/adoption, immigration, political participation, and so on.

As you can probably guess, conversations in the class periodically got emotional but everything was kept at a high level of professionalism. It was engaging to hear the different perspectives based not only on folks’ own races, but also their age, socioeconomic status, sexuality, upbringing, military service and various other factors. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though my somewhat-outspoken views aren’t exactly politically correct.2

Final grades were based on two different group presentations and two essays. I had to give myself a crash course in constitutional law because all of the essay options included either First or Fourteenth Amendment considerations, but I anchored myself to a desk at the law school until I learned it and wrote solid responses. The effort was worth it ;)

Expected final grade for class: A
Actual final grade for class: A

Synopsis: Engaging discussion + “A” in a 3-credit course == #win^2

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FINAL SCORE: SUMMER 2010 FINALS
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Expected End-of-Summer GPA: 3.523
Actual End-of-Summer GPA: 3.810

Actual End-of-1L GPA: 2.898 (Law school median: 2.000)

*****

I’ll be focused on the upcoming TYLA regional competition in Charlotte for the next few days so I don’t know when I’ll have a follow-up post, but once life settles down I’ll go through the Fall 2011 semester and I’ll finally be more-or-less caught up with things :)

Have a great night y’all!

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From the grade-related archives:

  1. I hate those things []
  2. While I recognize actual racism still exists across society — a recognition affirmed throughout the 7 years I dated QuietStorm — I think the overwhelming majority of problems attributed to “race” today are more accurately attributable to class / socioeconomic differences, particularly for people 35 and younger. []

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Über-huge mini-update on life

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 7, 2011 in The 2L Life

Evening y’all! :D

I’ve been gone from the blawgosphere for what seems like an eternity — I looked at the little calendar thing on the right for January, and for the first time since I started law:/dev/null there were more days without entries posted than with them :beatup:

As you can probably guess, I had totally overcommitted myself this semester. But I’ve started paring back and hope to get back into the swing of things here starting now ::fingers crossed::

Here’s a quick update on my life, which encompasses most of the dozen-ish entries I had queued up but never got around to posting:

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I. ACADEMICS
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The academic vibe this semester is totally different from last semester. Thus far I’ve got no real interest in any of my classes… plus I’m behind in pretty much all of them :(

Trial Practice is boring because all the stuff we’re going over — openings / closings / directs / crosses / objections — has already been beaten into my brain from trial team practice (see Part II below). Business Associations would probably be a fun class, if not for the fact I’m about 4 lectures behind in the reading.

Same deal with Scientific Evidence; I’ve got high hopes for enjoying it as the semester progresses, but between falling behind in the reading and class being at 8:30am, I’ve been very “blah” every day. As for Criminal Procedure, I finally managed to get caught up last week just to fall behind again by the next class.

I’ve basically been keeping my head down in all of my classes praying I don’t get called on :beatup: God willing I’ll be able to get everything caught up tomorrow and Tuesday…

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II. EXTRACURRICULAR STUFF I’M IN
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Trial team has essentially consumed my life. Back in early January during our first practice I was worried I’d be blown out by my teammates in our draft closing arguments, so I did a lot of prep on mine… and ended up giving the best one :surprised:

That netted me the team captain spot for the 2Ls with the designation as “swing” counsel. Since TYLA teams are either 2 or 3 people, in our case we’ve got 1 person solely doing prosecution, 1 solely doing defense, and the “swing” (me) doing both :crack:

So there have been multi-hour practices 4-5 days a week for a month now. On the off days I’m tweaking things and updating my trial binder and thinking about possible curveballs that could be tossed at us by the competition. Add in the fact I’d never actually questioned a witness before — abjectly failing on the first couple attempts as a result — and you get what’s been an awful loooong month.

For several days I’d get to the law school at 8am and not leave until 10pm, a scenario I assiduously avoided during 1L year and now can’t escape :beatup:

On the SBA end, Treasury work has been a mess too. All NCCU Law school students pay a fee to the main campus student union, which goes into a programming fund to which different organizations can submit requests for event funding. At some point years and years ago, the administrators on main campus decided it would be more efficient to just give the SBA that $$$ paid by law school students and letting us distribute it (since our folks almost never use main campus facilities) instead of having the law school groups submit a boatload of requests to main campus.

Turns out this was all a totally unofficial arrangement. With catastrophic budget cuts looming, the folks on NCCU’s main campus decided a few weeks ago they’re not going to give the SBA that money — months after the fiscal year started and we had adopted a budget including it. So I got to spend a good chunk of late January working with the SBA Exec Board and law school administrators to fill a ~$90K budget hole with only a few months left in our terms.

Fortunately we wrote a very austere budget back in September so we were able to pull it off, but at the cost of having to cancel our Spring appropriations process and trim back a bunch of other expenditures.

My campaign logo+slogan for SBA President

The whole situation’s roots in budget cuts has also persuaded me to run for SBA President in March. The impending cuts being handed down by the state legislature are truly mind-boggling in their enormity. Consider, for example, that for every $1 in state funding that’s eliminated from North Carolina’s university system, tuition has to be raised by $3 to make up the difference. The NCGA is currently talking about cutting $400,000,000.00+ from the UNC system. That means we’re facing $1.2B+ (yes, “billion” with a “b”) in tuition increases just to stay where we are — increases of roughly $5,600 per student.

Those kind of increases lead to mass dropouts like we had back in the early part of this millennium — including your humble author — and it makes for horrible public policy. Our SBA this year had to focus on rebuilding its internal credibility with the Student Body and faculty, and now it’s time for us to focus our sights elsewhere. I think (hope?) my experiences can make me a solid advocate for this university and law school in the year ahead.

I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes :)

====================
III. EXTRACURRICULAR STUFF I’M NOT IN
====================

Speaking of student advocates, UNCASG has been in the news quite a bit lately — and it seems for all the wrong reasons.

My successor and his administration pushed me out of the group and ran as far away from my way of doing things as quickly as his legs could carry him. I can’t really complain because that’s how politics goes and I certainly did the same thing when I took over.  The difference between then and now, though, is that I discarded things that didn’t work and found ways that did.

On the other hand, the new kids on the block have basically taken a timewarp back to 2006-07 :crack:

First there was a controversy over the President threatening Executive Officers who support local SG candidates who “disagree with the ‘ASG vision'”. This kind of institutional arrogance is precisely what alienated campuses from UNCASG in the past and led to the withdrawals in the year before I was elected. How anyone thought it was a good idea is beyond my limited mental faculties to comprehend; in my world, if you’re going to have to fire someone… you just don’t hire them in the first place.

The UNCCH Carolina Review decided to make hay from the issue with a piece of their own of course. You might recall the folks at the Carolina Review are the self-proclaimed conservatives cited by the Pope Center in the Center’s hit piece on my tuition views last March.1

I can’t blame the Carolina Review for trying to boost their readership with a timely article on a manufactured controversy, but pegging it as a conservative issue struck me as amusing — once upon a time conservatives opposed non-local people getting involved in local affairs. Instead the Review encourages it, as long as the involvement coincides with their own political views.

The whole situation is a mess, and one that should have been avoided. When I originally wrote UNCASG’s Ethics Act 2.5 years ago, I included this provision:

§1-2.5. Electioneering Prohibited.
(a) No Executive Officer receiving compensation funded by student fees shall knowingly engage in election-related advocacy or other campaign activities on behalf of any candidate for elective office at a constituent member of the Association.
(b) No Executive Officer shall allow his or her name and/or official title to be used to further the candidacy of any candidate for elective office at a constituent member of the Association.
(c) This section shall not be construed to prevent an Executive Officer from filing for elective office at a constituent member of the Association and from campaigning on his or her own behalf.

The section was removed in committee, at the urging of students from… UNCCH.2

The folks at the Carolina Review have also been circulating a petition to have a referendum on UNCCH’s participation in ASG put on their Student Government ballot in an effort to have the University remove itself. As the guy who created N.C. State’s student fee referenda from scratch back when I was Student Senate President, I’m actually in total support of having this particular referendum… but (unsurprisingly) they haven’t yet collected enough signatures to get it on the ballot. If they did, it would deprive them of an issue to carp about :roll:

“But TDot,” you say, “all of the stuff you’re talking about is small potatoes. None of this matters when a group is doing meaningful work and making a difference.” And you’d be right — but that’s not what’s actually going on.

Instead of focusing on the impending tuition battle I mentioned in Part I above, the leadership of UNCASG has focused instead on getting the President a vote on the university system’s Board of Governors — an utterly useless power on a Board where almost all votes are unanimous, and doubly useless when reaching out to the 215,000+ students the ASG President represents can carry more power than any vote. The last ASG meeting produced a total lack of consensus on a legislative agenda, leading to a factually-inaccurate DTH editorial touting a student vote as a good thing to try and fix the total dysfunction currently gripping the group.

The DTH (unsurprisingly) is wrong. Unfortunately the ASG leadership is wrong too.

Then there are the upcoming campus elections which will produce the next salvo of anti-ASG fireworks when new SBPs take office in a few months. Among the amusing candidacies is Rick Ingram, the odds-on favorite to become Student Body President at UNCCH. You might remember Ingram as the Kerry-esque flip-flopper who voted in favor of the UNCASG budget before he decided it would be more beneficial politically to oppose it. He’s been aggressively courting students for their votes — apparently so much so that the campus’s Board of Elections has already fined him for violating campaign rules and is now debating having him disqualified.3

Ingram also proclaimed on his website that “The simple truth is this — the days of fighting against tuition increases are over.”… an odd proclamation from a student and aspiring student leader in light of $1.2B+ in upcoming tuition hikes, and one which (1) the media (unsurprisingly) never covered and (2) promptly disappeared from his website when it became a political liability. Ingram’s victory would speak volumes about the UNCCH electorate, but more ominously it would ensure UNCASG wastes all of next year fighting pointless internal battles instead of serving students.

With all of this drama going on, for some unknown reason I made the mistake of heading to the NC General Assembly to catch up with some old colleagues and ask a few legislators of their thoughts on the situation. To say UNCASG has lost nearly all the credibility we built for it over two years would be putting it mildly :mad:  If I had any doubt that things were really as bad as they seemed, I actually got calls from several campuses asking me to come back and run for the organization’s Senior Vice President position.4 It’s disheartening that I’m actually considering it…

====================
IV. PERSONAL LIFE
====================

The saying “when it rains, it pours” was a pretty good epitaph for January 2011.

I was sick for the first week. My sister was committed to a mental institution the second week. QT’s dad unexpectedly died of a heart attack the week after. That very same day in trial team practice I found out a friend of mine was killed in a car accident.

At some point around that portion of the month I discovered both of my parents are either currently having or recently had affairs (I was sufficiently disappointed in both of them that I didn’t bother to inquire further) and the situation with my sister has them contemplating divorce. My dad was laid off from his job. My sister got released from the mental hospital and within the week was off her meds and smoking weed like she had nothing better to do with her time. At which point my parents discovered she had been stealing my mom’s jewelry to sell in an effort to finance her drug habit. Etc etc etc ad nauseum.

I’m pretty sure there was other crazy sh*t going on last month too but I did my best to forget as much of it as possible :beatup:  I’m trying to be a supportive friend to QT and her brother as best I can, trying to avoid the quagmire that is my family and their attendant refusal to make the tough decisions necessary to actually improve their lives, and otherwise trying to avoid having my generally sunshine-y disposition rained out on a near-daily basis like it did last month.

====================
V. PROFESSIONAL STUFF
====================

Things are at least marginally better on the professional side. I’ve started my tutoring sessions with the 1Ls in Criminal Law, and so far I’ve got the highest-attended tutorial and office hours out of the 15 different 1L classes (3 each in CrimLaw, CivPro, Torts, Property, and Ks). It’s too early to tell if that trend’s going to continue, but the feedback has been very positive and it really boosts my spirits :spin:

My internship with I-Cubed was also going really well. The people are great, the company culture is cool, the issues are interesting, and I was turning in sterling work product (even earning the praise of an attorney at another tech company). I was also getting addicted to the four-figure paychecks…

…but I walked away :surprised:

Between trial team consuming my time, my personal life being a crucible, and trying to keep up with academics, I just wasn’t able to give the company the 20 hours a week they needed. So I met with the CEO last week (my boss) and basically quit for now. I’m still part of the company and available for non-time-sensitive ad hoc projects as needed, but I’ve otherwise wound down to -0- hours a week until summer when the company will re-assess if I’m still useful to them.

It was the first time I’ve left a job since 2002, when I quit the State Bar to go take a leadership spot in the Wake County Clerk’s Office. There’s a part of me that’s terrified I made the wrong choice, especially with all the doom and gloom about the economy and law school employment stats and etc. But honestly I’d rather put everything out on the table and take my chances down the road than either (1) being miserable every day as I’m stretched too far in too many directions, or (2) start failing at things, turning in below-par work, and ending up getting fired anyway ;)

It was an awesome opportunity and I’m thankful for it, and I’ve got faith everything will work out exactly how it’s supposed to work out :)

====================
VI. BLAWG LIFE
====================

Spam combat on the backend of this blog has been continuing apace. My edition of the (badly-delayed) Law School Roundup will be coming up this week so I can punt the ball back over to Katie Luper :)

And oddly enough we had a real explosion in Google searches last month, so even though I had almost no entries in January we still had fairly decent traffic :crack:

I’ve also got a piece on tap for Beyond Hearsay that should be going live some time over the next couple weeks, and one for The True Verdict that I’m working on in my spare time — hopefully you’ll like them both ;)

—===—

That’s it for this entry y’all! I’m sorry for being gone as long as I was, but I’m gonna make a serious effort to get back in the game.

Until next time, have a great week! :D

  1. Views they fabricated from whole cloth despite five years’ worth of publicly-available commentary to the contrary. []
  2. Conservative UNCCH students at that, who saw an opportunity to back one of their own SBP candidates with ASG EOs. []
  3. Ingram’s response to the potentially-disqualifying allegations is quite entertaining. Anyone who’s taken the “Detection of Deception” CLE should be able to spot several items where he’s being dishonest with the Board; see if you can find them :) []
  4. I wrote term limits into the ASG Constitution so I’m ineligible to serve as President ever again. []

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