Law blog roundup

Jacques Vergès

Jacques Vergès

Welcome to Monday, the 20th anniversary of the Mattel/Fisher-Price merger. Here are some news items to get your week started.

– Should old age be taken into consideration by governors and parole boards?

– Defense attorney for Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie and Carlos the Jackal dies in Paris.

– Flurry of settlements may be imminent in Sandusky case, lawyer says.

– Law school fights disclosure of its students’ poor record on the bar exam.

Law blog roundup

whitey_bulger_12Welcome to Monday, the day before the bar exam begins. For those who are cramming, please remember one thing: It is a test of minimum competence. For those who wish to read on, here are some news items to get the week started.

– Is this where hope goes to die for defense attorneys?

– A whistleblower wins battle but must still wage war.

– Would you represent a juvenile criminal defendant for $350?

– Will reputed mob boss “Whitey” Bulger testify in his own defense?


Law blog roundup

Welcome to Tuesday and game two of the Battle of the Beltways. Here are some pregame news items.

– A man who helped give rise to many a Constitutional Law and bar exam question has died.

– President Obama will play Pick Three.

– Millions may have overstayed their welcome.

– Roger Clemens may have cheated off the diamond.

Bar exam results posted

Rocky BalboaIf this blog post is the first time you learned that the results from February’s bar exam have been posted, I’m guessing you probably didn’t take the bar exam in February. Either way, here they are.

(This also gives me a chance to link to one of my favorite videos, “Law students reflect on the bar exam.”)

Congratulations to all who passed!

From behind bars to the bar exam

A former Nebraska prison inmate is finding himself on the right side of the law these days.

While behind bars, bank robber Shon Hopwood filed petitions for certiorari on behalf of other inmates, one of which was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

After getting out of prison, Hopwood is now attending law school courtesy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has just published a book about his life, called “Law Man.”

Hopwood discovered his penchant for the law while working in the prison law library, where he transferred to get away from work in the cafeteria.

One of his fellow law library coworkers, serving 12 years on drug charges, asked him to write a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court. Hopwood’s petition argued the inmate’s right to an attorney had been violated when police talked to him after he was indicted.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case (ultimately knocking four years off of the inmate’s sentence) and Hopwood even worked with the attorney who took over the case from prison. After Hopwood got out of prison, the inmate, now a car dealer, gave him a new Mercedes Benz as thanks.

Hopwood is now married with kids and attending the University of Washington School of Law on a full scholarship.

Judge dismisses employment numbers lawsuit

It’s not looking good for law school students suing their alma maters for misrepresenting post-graduation employment numbers.

Since employment for law school graduates started to slide with the downturn of the economy, a number of class-action suits have popped up around the country as students claim schools skewed graduates’ employment numbers to attract new students.

The latest setback for these kinds of cases came last week when a federal judge in Michigan dismissed a case brought against the Thomas M. Cooley Law School by 12 graduates. The judge rejected claims of fraud, saying the employment numbers were confusing and unclear but not fraudulent. The judge also said the school did not violate the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, since the act doesn’t protect the purchase of an education.

A similar case was dismissed in New York in March, but there are 12 other fraud class-action suits against law schools pending across the country.

The news comes in the wake of new employment numbers for law schools released last month. The statistics were divided by the type of employment for the first time this year. Nationwide, 83 percent found employment, but only 55 percent were permanent jobs that required bar admission. (At both Maryland law schools, around 47 percent found permanent jobs with bar admission required.)

You never forget your first bar (exam)

Tuesday marks the start of the two-day Maryland bar exam — and the 20th anniversary of when I took the test of minimum legal competence.

I remember a two-part essay question from that July 1992 exam:

The fact pattern involved “a warrantless search of a mobile home.”

The examiners instructed me to make my best prosecution argument as to why the search should be deemed constitutional and the evidence seized admitted at trial.

They then told me to play defense counsel and argue that the search should be deemed invalid and the evidence suppressed.

I remember thinking to myself “mobile home, mobile home” when the answers hit me:

As the prosecutor, I argued that the search site was “mobile” (no reasonable expectation of privacy in a car).

As the defense attorney, I argued that the site was a “home” (must have a warrant in the absence of an exigent circumstance).

Are there any Maryland attorneys out there who remember (and care to share) a question from their bar exam? Please comment below.

Peanuts, Cracker Jack and torts

I’d bet my law license that everyone studying for this month’s bar exam has received unsolicited advice on how best to prepare for the test: Make sure to take a bar review class, pace yourself, get plenty of sleep, don’t over-think the multiple choice, multi-state section, etc.

But here’s some advice you haven’t heard: Take your law materials, head to Camden Yards (or any other major league ballpark of your choice), purchase bleacher tickets and study away from the first pitch to the last.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “What are you [present participle] crazy? This is perhaps the most important test of my professional life and you want me to study among an inebriated multitude? What fool would take that advice?”

The answers to your questions, in order, are “Perhaps,” “Yes” and “Carter G.  Phillips, co-chair of Sidley Austin LLP’s executive committee and possessor of an impressive winning percentage before the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Phillips prepared for the Illinois bar exam, which he passed, from the bleachers at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Luck of the law

After graduating law school, some people spend their summer studying for the bar exam and some people win hundreds of thousands of dollars playing poker.

Vanessa Selbst graduated from Yale Law School in January. Now, she is $244,259 richer having won an event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Selbst has won a total of $5.3 million total in her poker career.

When she started law school, Selbst picked up the books and put down the cards for a few years, she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Her last year, though, she upped the ante and balanced poker with law school, winning a total of $1.1 million at events at the Mohegan Sun casino near New Haven.

After she is done winning at the World Series, Selbst wants to get a position volunteering at a law firm in Los Angeles. She plans to take the bar exam next year, likely in California and hopes to eventually practice public interest law.

But, law career or not, don’t expect to fold her poker career anytime soon.

Lapses in the legal system

Being a 9-year-old can be tough. Sometimes you have to pick up the toys in your room. Sometimes you have to solve multiplication tables for homework. And sometimes you have to go in for jury duty.

Well, that’s the way it was for Cape Cod third-grader Jacob Clark, who got a summons for jury duty in the mail, even though you are only eligible for jury duty after turning 18.

His first reaction?

“I was like, ‘What’s a jury duty?’” Clark, who lives in Yarmouth, Mass., told the Cape Cod Times.

His second reaction, according to his grandmother, Deborah Clark?

“He said, ‘I don’t want to go! I don’t want to go!’” she said.

And who could blame him? So, Clark’s dad called over to the jury commission office to get to the bottom of it. Apparently the state had his birth date wrong. Someone had typed in 1982 instead of 2002.

Speaking of slips in recordkeeping . . .

A Nebraska lawyer practiced law without a license for 12 years before anyone noticed.

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