Tuesday, May 31, 2011

field trip

My Contracts professor organized a trip to the 1st Appellate Division court today. A bunch of us from his class and 3 peeps from other sections showed up to get a small tour of the court house and sit in and watch appellate arguments. This court hears all kinds of appeals and since everyone appeals, this court is a busy one.

My shoes were giving me blisters and I was in agony for the 6-minute tour we got. I actually threw the shoes away afterwards. You do not want to see my toesies, who really hate me now.

The court house is just ornate. It still has much of the original marble and structure from when God was a small boy. For whatever reason, and I can't say I minded much, they kept the cloakrooms where lawyers hung their coats and top hats. It's right next to the the Western Union telegraph booth!

We were given the mini-show round by a sitting judge, who then took us into the room the 5 appellate judges use to discuss the cases after hearing the oral arguments. They get the attorneys' briefs and bench memos from their team of lawyers which give a recommendation about the outcome and they have about 4 or 5 days before hearing the arguments to read all that mess. Power to them!

My professor asked a very interesting question: if they get the info beforehand and a recommendation, and read all the briefs themselves, what good does the oral argument do? Attorneys rarely have more than 10 minutes, and even 10 minutes is a lot, to state their case and their briefs are hundreds of pages long. I'm not sure she gave a proper answer to the question. I think maybe the lawyers use the oral argument to sway the judges on a small matter of law or fact they might have overlooked. Or hammer home public policy. At least that's what my Legal Writing professor said last semester.

A lot of what I saw went against much of what said Writing professor said last semester! In fact, the judge even told us that if we're going out for Moot Court don't use ANYTHING we saw as an example! Too funny.

For example, it was hammered home not to talk over the judge's question. I practically have that tattooed on the back of my hand! Every single lawyer bull-dozed right over judge's questions!

The cases were actually interesting, and not too bad to follow, given that we were not aware of any of the facts beforehand. One case had to do with the Housing Authority and the Appellant lawyer kept referring to his client as "horrifically disabled". He said this multiple times and I cringed every time because one of the sitting judges is a member of the disabled community. He looked like a real show-off because when he asked for rebuttal time, he got a resounding "No" from the presiding judge. Ack!

Another case had a student intern for the appellant. The presiding judge told her supervisor to give her an A!

There were a couple of contract and employment law cases, which were fun. It's nice to know what all the terminology means and how it's being applied. Lots of interpretation, statutory and contractual. That was the best part, in my book. One case had the trial judge ruling that the contract had a clear and plain meaning. The appellant argued that there was another "plain" meaning, and it only has to be plausible, so parol evidence has to be admitted. Loved it!

There was even a procedural issue. A complainant did not move for default judgement at trial, when he should have, and now the other side wants the case dismissed but the respondent is going on about it! It was too funny. I wish I could have laughed out loud over that one.

The longest case was the most confusing. I think it had to do with lawyers! Ok, if the judges couldn't get the issue, how am I supposed to? I think what was going on is that the City... ok let's start from the beginning. If someone cannot afford an attorney, one is provided for them. By Legal Aid, because there is no Office of the Public Defender in NY. Fine. If, for some reason, LA cannot provide an attorney, the judge appoints one pro bono from lawyers in the court. Private practice lawyers are supposed to give up some of their hours to pro bono work. Apparently, NY wants to re-draft the system to do something else. What, I am not rightly sure, but it involves some brouhaha with the Bar Associations.

The last case was a tort medical malpractice case, which was boring and took about five minutes in all.

But it was great hearing the lawyers. Apart from that long case, no one spoke for more than 5 minutes. At the beginning, all the lawyers have to be present, regardless of when they are appearing, and request their time. Most asked for 5 minutes, some appellants asked for rebuttal time as well. There were 18 cases on the calendar, but only 10 were actually heard, as the others were only submitting the written briefs. Oh, 1 set of lawyers just stuck around, for nearly 2 hours, just to make sure the judges do not rule on their case as it is being heard before the Court of Appeals on Thursday! The presiding judge thanked them for waiting so long.

It wasn't the cat fight between lawyers you'd think it could be. In fact, many of the opposing lawyers shook hands and chatted. There was a full viewing house and most of the place got up and left after the Bar Association case. Maybe they knew what was going on!

The judges were awfully nice, not like the ones I had for Moot Court. Even when lawyers were talking over them, THEY hushed and waiting for the lawyer to finish. I wonder how much tattoo removal costs?

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Has it really only been 10 days since my last final? It seems like forever. This month is really dragging on.

I've been so not a law student for the past 10 days, apart from grade-panic! I've cooked nearly every day this week (not today, I tired!), did laundry, cleaned the kitchen and trying desperately to keep it clean. I really want to put away the living room, but I want to watch tv even more. Guess which wins?

I start back school next Wednesday with Drafting for Contracts. Corporations starts the following week. I got a locker assignment and am going later to store my books and pick up some stuff from the copy center.

I gave up one of my 2 summer jobs, for reasons I cannot list here. But it was the right thing to do. The other job keeps me hip-deep in research and I work from home. No complaints there.

It's been nice to spend time with Derek. We've had tons of family time since I've been home, going out every weekend. My birthday is coming up, as is our outing to Yankee Stadium, which is my birthday gift to the husband. I'm really looking forward to that as it's my very first night game.

Other than that, I will plod along until friends return from places abroad and summer finals start to heat up. I'm so relaxed, I can wait for the tension, thank you very much.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

lazy pet

God, it feels so good not to be studying or heading off to school or worrying about heading off to school and studying! It's going to start back in 2 weeks but I am taking advantage of the guilt-free time off while I can!

I slept till well after 11 today. I took Derek to the doctor and came home and made dinner and watched "M", an excellent Fritz Lang film which just stunned me with it's terrific-ness. Tomorrow is more of the same. Actually, less. I am waking up early to take Der to school but fully intend to come back home and sleep in between loads of laundry! And watch tv in between that!

And now that I've seen Ralph Macchio end his run on "Dancing with the Stars" I am going to hit the bed, where I will read for a while, then play Solitaire which always puts me to sleep. Thank you and g'night.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

when does a 1L stop being a 1L

When I finish my last exam on Monday? When I get grades? When I finish summer courses? When I drop dead from being so tired?

I feel bone-weary. I can hardly keep my eyes open. It's been a long couple of weeks. I blame Crim Law. No. I'm seriously not going to let that go. It's to blame for cancer as far as I care.

I start one of my summer jobs on the 23rd. It's just a part-time writing gig, working from home. I'm taking all of next week off, once Lawyering is over. Sleeping, mostly, whenever I feel like it.

The back pain is starting to ease up a little. It was bitchin' during the Property final. I had to sit perfectly upright for the heating pad to hit the sore area and it wasn't the most conducive to typing. You know that lovely hunched over the keyboard position you must assume during an exam as you furiously type away the issues? Yeah. Not for Mummy Pet. I looked like I was wearing a corset!

I'm looking forward to next year. I'm a Campus Advocate, so I get to brief the new newbies on the ins and outs. I start to specialize, which should be fun, especially since I have no excuse for bitching as I chose the courses I will be taking. I've managed to do a couple of things that require non-legal writing, so I won't forget how to write like a person. Plus Law and Literature.

Even summer should be interesting, in spite of having to wear a suit in 90ยบ weather! I won't be posting about where I'll be working and any real specifics about the job, but I do have a job and I wanted it and was thrilled to get it. But it will stay off of FB and this blog. I don't think it's secret or sensitive, just good form and it's better to be safe than sorry. Sadly, it means that the husband will bear the brunt of any ranting! But, what are husband for?

Friday, May 6, 2011

hopefully last crim law post

The final was yesterday. It was not in the least bit surprising. After setting exams for 25+ years, the dude cannot come up with anything new. Lucky for me.

I was so relieved, for most of it. I did have 2 moments of panic. I killed the Patterson analysis during my prep but in the exam, I completely blanked on a hugely important step. I had about 10 minutes left during the planning time (he gives us an hour to read and plan before we can actually start typing) and I lay back in my chair and began to pray. I repeated over and over, "C'mon, Petal, you know this." I got worried that someone might hear me so I took a bathroom break I didn't actually need. I went and sat in the stall and said it louder! No dice.

I couldn't sit there for more than a couple of minutes so I went back and hoped by the time I get to the question, I'd remember the damn thing. I had actually got to about three-quarters way done with my answer when it hit me. I was so relieved. This is was one question I should not have had any trouble with and I was reasonably happy with my answer.

The other issue was an approach dealing with felony murder. I remember the barest bones but I couldn't remember the application of the analysis. Nothing brought that sucker back at all.

I had a 3rd issue that had nothing to do with me. A law school exam is usually a fact pattern followed by a question. The fact pattern is very important in that it contains all the information you need to spot the issues. Every piece of information is there for a reason. In this exam, there was a fact pattern that threw in 2 last names (or first names, I have no idea) that were not present anywhere else in the pattern, which was in the form of a newspaper report. Now, I had a serious problem with this. In a Crim Law essay, I reasoned, you'd need witnesses and expert testimony and I had no idea who these 2 people were. The info was nice, yes, but to whom am I supposed to attribute it?

So I called a proctor. They gave me a form and I filled it out. They said they would contact the prof and bring back an answer for me. Let's just say that my experience with this man did not fill me with hope. The form provides a stock answer and anything that is outside that answer has to be announced to the entire class. Guess who sent back the stock answer, which is really no answer at all? Give the girl a kewpie doll.

This man is so disrespectful. That was such a glaring mess. What the hell was I supposed to do with it? I really didn't have time to guess who these people were and I had to just leave it. I was really surprised that no one else raised the issue and a couple of people I spoke to after the exam didn't seem to even notice it.

There is nothing I can do about it now. I thought about taking it to Academic Affairs, but I don't know that it will change anything, especially if no one else cares. I should stop caring as well. The exam is over and I don't ever have to see this man again. But this class raised such ire in me that I cannot explain. I feel like I have to teach my Crim Law for the Bar and I am paying a hell of a lot of $ to get educated about what I need to practice. Gone are the days of theory. I recently sat in front of the school's Dean who talked about preparing attorneys for practice. Clearly, someone didn't get the memo. I know nothing about rape, robbery and we never had any debate about outcomes in a case, many of which were screaming for a different kind of analysis. I have no idea why he is allowed to continue to teach 1Ls Crim Law. Let him glory in his field and leave the Crim to people who can teach it.

I have no interest in Crim Law and never will, but I expected this class to be the most interesting of the lot. I expected the most debate over judicial opinions. I expected a professor who would smile as he saw his students pretend to be prosecutors and defense lawyers and argue points of law. I got nonce of that!

I really need to find a way to let this go. It's over. Time to focus on the exams from classes I enjoyed.