Monday, March 31, 2008

APALSA Slam Dunk "Horse"

It was cold in the hills when Ricky held his BBQ, so some of the APALSA Board decided to play "horse", with slam dunks!

Here, Ricky gets an assist from Terry.

Here, Charles goes for a quick dunk.

Here, the boys discuss Yao Ming while Terry stuffs one, Charles goes for a few alley oops, James does a reverse dunk, Ricky goes for a windmill (of sorts), and Charles does another alley oop.

Here, Ricky uses his arms in an unusual manner, James realizes he's a bit tall for the height setting, Terry raises the basketball so James can stuff it, but misses it himself, Charles stuffs it, and Ricky blames a "majestic bird" for a bad pass.

Here, James goes for a fly by, and Terry redeems himself.

Thanks for hosting, Ricky!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Commencement Speaker Contest

The Monday before Spring Break, five graduating students, including the Stud, presented their speeches in the Commencement Speaker Contest. The turnout was very low; there were perhaps five graduating students other than the candidates and, for two of them, their girlfriends. Due to miscommunication from the media department, however, the speeches were not recorded, so the five candidates returned on Wednesday to tape their presentations individually in dedicated taping rooms. The links were sent out the next evening, just as students embarked on Spring Break. The votes were tallied through Monday of Spring Break; the Stud was not selected.

For those who might have missed it, the following is what the Stud presented:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, administration and faculty, friends and family, and most importantly, the Class of 2008.

Well, this is it. This is the final stage of law school. You know, it seems like both yesterday and ages ago that Dean Yamamoto put on her smiley face dress and exhorted us with just one word: Mooch. And now, three years and many, many pizzas later, we have come to this, the penultimate pomp and circumstance. In their wisdom, the administration has chosen to hold this commencement just a little closer to the ocean. You know, before we lock ourselves up for two months to study for the bar. And it’s not even right on the ocean. It’s as if they’re preparing us for this feeling: “You’re getting close, but you’re not there just yet.”

Some of you may wonder what the heck I’m doing up here. I wasn’t in the top 10%. I didn’t make law review. Or the Byrne team. I didn’t even bother trying out for moot court. Perhaps the only achievement I can claim is, “that guy that kept sending out e-mails about Wit of Mandamus.” And like a true starving artist, I don’t even have a job lined up—which means that after today, not only do I have to look forward to two months of hard-core studying and three days of the bar, but after that, I’ll have to find a job.

In the days to come, when I’m in a suit under the hot August sun, pounding the pavement and knocking on doors, I’ll have plenty of time to think. I’ll have plenty of time to wonder.

  • I’ll wonder how my life would have been different if I had started outlining more than twelve hours before the first law school midterm. Maybe I would’ve gotten better than a B-.
  • I’ll wonder how my life would have been different if I had followed the formula in Legal Research and Writing, instead of the flourish of my own pen. Maybe I would’ve made law review.
  • I’ll wonder how my life would have been different if I had left myself open to opportunities in more fields than Intellectual Property. Maybe I would’ve found a job.

Maybe. Maybe.

But when such heavy thoughts weigh down on me, when my feet grow weary and I can’t knock on another door, when I’ve come home from another day of job-hunting, I will remember today, and I will look back on all my yesterdays. And I’ll be smiling.

I’ll be smiling because I’ll remember all the little things.

  • Little things like telling Professor Nockleby, at 8am, in the fourth week of law school, “You know, I just can’t do it; I was up until 4am reading for this class, and didn’t get to this last case.”
  • Little things like the first time my section went partying after the first midterm, and seeing the stress evaporate from my classmates.
  • Little things like seeing everyone again after a summer away.
  • Little things like dinner breaks with friends old and new during finals season.
  • Little things like free coffee—wonderful free coffee—during finals.
  • Little things like finding out that writing a decent paper for the upper division writing requirement was a lot less nerve-wracking, if not less stressful, than writing a decent memo for Legal Research and Writing.
  • Little things like getting enough Lexis points to get a new iPod nano.
  • Little things like standing up to speak for the first time during oral arguments at the end of first year and realizing that public speaking still makes my knees shake.

I’ll be smiling because I’ll remember all the big things.

  • Big things like the MPRE and wondering with friends right afterward if we’re going to have to do it again. Sounds like the future, doesn't it?
  • Big things like putting together a variety show chock full of people with a lot more talent than I can ever hope to possess.
  • Big things like my first call back, even if it was out-of-state, and even if the rejection letter was sent out the very next day.
  • Big things like studying abroad and getting to know people better in 2½ weeks than I ever thought possible.
  • Big things like trying out for commencement speaker.

And, most of all, I’ll be smiling because of all the people I’ve met.

  • People that studied with me.
  • People that drank with me. (You know who you are.)
  • People that lived with me.
  • People that performed with me.
  • People that laughed with me.
  • People that lifted me up by smiling at me at the end of a long day.
  • People that made me feel needed by leaning on my shoulder.
  • People that taught me that, no matter how crazy life here was, there was always room for the outside world, for work, for love, for friendship, for meaning.
  • In short, people that changed my life.

And so when I rest after a long day, no matter the heavy thoughts, I will reflect, and I will remember, that it is not so important, what could have been. What is important, what will carry me forward, what will make me smile, is all that has been.

At the end of this day is a line marked simply, “J.D.” As we close today and cross that line, let us look to our left, and look to our right. You are my brother. You are my sister. We have bunked down in the trenches together. We have shared joys and sorrows. And we have experienced together what few other human beings will ever have a chance to do. Let us look on each other then, smile, and remember, that come what may, our lives have been changed over the last three years. Remember the little things, remember the big things, but most of all, remember those that have shaped our lives.

To the administration and faculty, to our dear friends and family, from all of us to all of you, thank you for being there for us.

And to the Class of 2008, from me to all of you, thank you for these last three years, and I’ll see you on the other side!

I'm sorry I won't be able to share these sentiments from behind the podium on graduation day; but they are here now, and to all those that changed my life these three years, thank you, and I hope you'll continue to shape my life after graduation.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Revenge of the Nerds?

I've met people at law school that conform to this type--the "no action guy":

While these types of guys exist, however, there seems to be a lack of desperate girls at LLS. At least, girls who are desperate in the same way depicted in the video.

Monday, March 17, 2008

There's a Grain of Truth to That

It's Spring Break now, but I saw this online and I thought it was a great summary of the conundrum of law school ...

Happy Spring Break!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Prelims: Laying the Foundation; Bickering Defense Counsel

As I mentioned in a previous post, the elements are the most important thing. One thing that may be easy to overlook, particularly if you've become comfortable with preliminary hearings on the prosecution side, is that you must still establish that a police witness is, in fact, a police officer. Furthermore, in California, you should also establish the the officer has been a peace officer for more than 5 years, or has been POST-certified, so that he may, under Prop. 115, testify as to what others have said to him without such testimony being inadmissible hearsay.

The Stud took on a two-defendant narcotics sales case. The defendants were, essentially, the supplier and the hook, and the police witness was an undercover buyer. The Stud had laid out the basic facts of the case in his notes, but forgot at the beginning of direct examination to ask the officer what his occupation and assignment were, and the length of time for which he has been a peace officer. However, the Stud did recover and laid the foundation a little bit later on, and the defense attorneys were very nice about not giving him crap about it.

The case really became interesting later on, as the defense attorneys tried to shift the blame away from their respective clients to the other's client. In doing so, both attorneys failed to object when the officer, in answering their question, stated a pertinent piece of testimony that established who the supplier was. As for the hook, there was little his attorney could do, because the fact was that drugs and money (a pre-recorded $10 bill) had exchanged hands. The Stud and his supervising DDA were smiling at each other as the defense attorneys did what they had to do.

So, the morals of today are: (1) Always have a list of questions or a checklist of elements, even if you think you won't forget, especially when your experience is limited to one or two prelims a week; and (2) enjoy when defense attorneys try to blame each other's clients.

The result: The defendants were held to answer.

Track record: 4-0.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Barristers Ball 2008

The final Barristers Ball of Law Law Stud's student years has come and gone. The Stud went stag again, but joined up with a group. However, he was also a member of the Student Bar Association (SBA), so he did pitch in a little bit of time to help out. This year, the Stud will jump right into the pictures.

The pre-party.

Some members of the SBA board making sure the party went off without a hitch:

Pictures of the party proper.

Thanks to Gracey Facey for helping out with pictures while the Stud was off, apparently dancing or boogeying.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Prelims: Disruptive Behavior

The court the Stud was in today held three preliminary hearings, on three separate cases involving the same person for the same type of offense. Before the judge could even call the first of the cases, the defendant began yelling, being disruptive, demanding to be let go, and then letting loose a volley of obscenities aimed at the court, startling the court somewhat.

The defendant was remanded to lock-up, and there followed much discussion as to what to do next. The prosecution and defense had different ideas, but all agreed that the defendant's conduct was most improper. Upon further review of the histories of the cases, it was found that the defendant had previously been sent to a special court to determine his competence to stand trial; and that court had ruled that he was competent. Then, off the record, the prosecutor revealed that a sheriff's deputy who was also a witness in one of the cases had commented to him about "playing the game", about his desire to delay the court because the system was never going to be fair to him to begin with.

Eventually, it was decided that the defense attorney would be permitted to admonish the defendant once more, including giving a warning that any further disruption would result in a limitation of his statutory right to be present at his own preliminary hearing. Although California law does provide defendants in felony cases the right to be present at their own preliminary hearings, it is statutory law, and under California Penal Code § 1043.5:

(b) The absence of the defendant in a preliminary hearing after the hearing has commenced in his presence shall not prevent continuing the hearing to, and including, holding to answer, filing an information, or discharging the defendant in any of the following cases: (1) Any case in which the defendant, after he has been warned by the judge that he will be removed if he continued his disruptive behavior, nevertheless insists on conducting himself in a manner so disorderly, disruptive, and disrespectful of the court that the hearing cannot be carried on with him in the courtroom.

It is apparent this sort of behavior is not so uncommon after all. It certainly made for an interesting--and long!--Friday afternoon!

Evidence: You've Gotta Be Kidding Me!

While observing prelims today, the Stud came across an interesting objection by the defense attorney. The victim-witness was testifying to the underlying facts, including how the defendant had struck her with a vehicle and kept driving on.

Witness: Then she hit her gas and her car hit me--

Defense: Objection! Speculation! Lacks foundation! Witness is not qualified to give her opinion!

The judge gave the defense attorney an incredulous look, and the witness had this terrific look on her face as if to say, "You've got to be kidding me!"

For those who are taking evidence, the reason for this is that, while normally opinion testimony is reserved for experts, there are various things for which a lay witness can form an opinion. For example, if someone appeared drunk, it is within the ambit of lay experience. The examining attorney may have to rephrase the question so that the witness can testify that the person "appeared drunk" rather than "was drunk", but most judges are not going to insist on meticulous form, especially where the objection does nothing but slow down the proceeding, particularly on a Friday afternoon.

In this case, because the witness had already testified that the defendant drove her car into her, and because cars tend not to move except by someone stepping on the gas pedal, and because this is obviously within the everyday experience of a lay witness, particularly one in Southern California, it was clearly permissible lay opinion.

The objection was overruled.

Prelims: Lining Up Elements

As you begin to do more prelims, you will discover that the elements are the most important thing, especially if you're on the prosecution. The Stud has not spoken at length to defense attorneys, but has noticed that they frequently go to the most insignificant details of the facts that would make more sense in a full trial. The Stud's best guess is that what the attorneys are doing is preserving issues in the record. You will find that defense attorneys, after putting on such a rigorous cross-examination, will then answer that there is no affirmative defense, but simply a motion to dismiss for lack of sufficiency of the evidence.

In a prelim that the Stud conducted today, the issue was possession for sale of marijuana. What complicated the case included the following facts: (1) there was no transaction observed involving the defendant; (2) there was another person in the residence (who is a co-defendant); and (3) the residence belonged to a third party, who has not yet been apprehended. However, the Stud focused on the establishment of probable cause through surveillance two weeks prior to the warranted search, and on the fact that the defendant was observed with what appeared to be a green leafy substance resembling marijuana (which the defendant threw upon the knock and announce by the police, and which was later recovered and confirmed to be marijuana) as well as a large amount of US currency consistent, in the opinion of the testifying officer based on his background, training and expertise, with possession for sale.

The rest, including where the other marijuana and other paraphernalia were discovered, were interesting and will probably be used at trial to establish a totality of the circumstances, but were not significant for the purposes of a preliminary hearing.

The result: The defendant was held to answer.

Track record: 3-0.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Biting Off More Than One Can Chew

This past week, the Stud has been extremely exhausted. On Friday, I skipped work so as to be able to study for the Patent Registration Exam (also known as the Patent Bar), and to be able to participate in Wit of Mandamus IV. (Unfortunately, the Stud did not pass ... again.) Then, this week, the Stud was up until about 4am for the first few nights just to process video from Wit of Mandamus IV. On Wednesday morning, the Stud woke up with a bloody nose at the time he was supposed to be in the Criminal Courts Building. Needless to say, the Stud called in sick.

This weekend, the Stud has to attend Barristers Ball, the "law school prom", as well as memorize his submission for the competition to become the Student Commencement Speaker. Further, the Stud has both an opening statement and a closing argument to prepare and memorize for next Thursday's Advanced Trial Advocacy class.

In fact, the Stud has been so exhausted, he forgot tonight's bar review.

When they say that in third year, they "bore you to death", they failed to disclose that they never stop with the first year ("scare you to death") and second year ("work you to death") treatments. A third year student simply stops noticing those two treatments because the boredom is so intense.

The consolation is, this will all be over in about five months.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Wit of Mandamus IV

On Friday 29 February 2008, at 8pm in the Student Lounge at Loyola Law School, the latest installment of a tradition at the school took place: Wit of Mandamus IV. Law Law Stud proudly reported from both Wit of Mandamus III (which he also produced and performed in) and Wit of Mandamus II (which he assisted in producing and performed in), and now, with the aid of a Canon Elura 85 DV camcorder, as well as the trusty but soon-to-be-retired Canon PowerShot S70, the Stud brings you reportage from the leading edge of LLS social life.

The show began with an introduction from Professor John Nockleby, the inspiration for the first show. This was followed by the introduction of the Master of Ceremonies, SBA Vice President Mike Hanna, and then the House Band, who played a cover for D.R. Harris' "You Will Always Get Your Way".

Next up was Sri Panchalam and Cameron Fredman. First, Cameron, one of the founders of Wit of Mandamus, paid homage to Professor Nockleby:

Cameron has a transcript of the dedication on his blog.

Sri and Cameron then brought a musical conversation to the evening with Frank Loesser's "Baby, It's Cold Outside":

For Cameron's take, and a video from a different angle, see Cameron's blog.

Next was Sheri Guerami with a flute solo, playing a piece from Handel. Well, it started as a solo anyway. Check it out:

The House Band, joined by Eric Newman on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, then performed a cover of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want:

For another angle, see here.

Taking a pause from all the music, Seth Weiner performed spoken word in an act that had the audience hollering in support. When Seth began, many thought it nice; but about half a minute into the act, Seth's skills really began to show:

Seth's act led to an opening for more spoken word, including a performance from first-year student Daniel Ediger (shown here rehearsing before the show) ...

... to an enactment of an avant garde poem performed by Todd Feldman:

Returning to a musical milieu, Andrew Walsh, accompanied by Music Director Zack Domb, performed on his piccolo bass:

Returning from his performance in Wit of Mandamus III was Dennis Martin, who performed a piece.

The top half of the program was rounded out by Professor Stan Goldman, who related the circumstances of "a tragic indiscretion in [his] youth" which led him to pursue a career as a law professor.

Opening the bottom half was Jonathan Stout, who appeared "live via satellite" playing a duet with Producer John Given.

Following the duet, for something very different, was a "secret act" by a first-year student, who will remain anonymous, with an audacious act:

After the thrills, Meryl Chambers brought some of that Southern charm by channeling Bonnie Raitt's "Angel from Montgomery:

Zack has a different video with a closeup of Meryl here.

Following Meryl's angelic offering was Greg Strausberg, Vice President of the Entertainment and Sports Law Society, performing "Wild Deed" (to the tune of "Wild Thing"):

Bridging heaven and hell was Adrian Rodriguez, performing "Samba Pa Ti", with all of Carlos Santana's mannerisms:

Following that brilliant performance, Professor Jay Dougherty reminded the audience of the importance of maintaining interests and hobbies outside the field of law, then proceeded to wow them with a blues number:

Zack Domb and the House Band, joined again by Eric Newman, then performed the Domb hit "Melanie".

In a semi-musical exposition of great skill, Mike Hanna then performed an extended encore to the amazing beatbox of Wit of Mandamus III.

Following Mike Hanna was the incomparable Craig Kirkwood, who performed an original piece, "Every Day":

That was one tough act to follow! Fortunately, the Stud had in reserve a song that neatly closed out the night, with a reminder to the audience of where they were and why they were taking a break, in "Law School Musical".

The piece was originally written by Owen Jarvis, whose original YouTube video can be found here. The piece has become a popular law school anthem since its release in September 2007; indeed, a large portion of the audience applauded upon recognition of the song after the first line, and even sang along happily to the chorus of "one-L life is hell".

Finally, Mike Hanna closed out the night with thank yous.

This has truly been the most wonderful Wit of Mandamus the Stud has had the opportunity to participate in, and amazing props go to John Given and Zack Domb for pulling it together, and to Mike Hanna for being Master of Ceremonies. Thanks to Zack's friends Terry Miller on drums and Eric Newman on sound and on acoustic guitar, and to Cameron Fredman for coming back to contribute. The turnout was between 120-140 people, almost or about twice last year's turnout, and was facilitated in great part by the popularity of the principal members of the production and performance teams, as well as to Facebook, which made promotion much easier. Thanks also to the members of the audience who came to watch and gave the show that unique vibe it needed to roll the way it did.

The Stud hopes to continue attending these shows, and invites all readers in the Los Angeles area next year about this time to look into attending!

Note: Not all acts described herein were accompanied by images, still or moving, out of respect to requests by particular performers.