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September 18, 2016

Making sure you fully understand what the US Constitution, the MPC and the ORC have to say about "strict criminal liability"

As I mentioned in class on Friday, your understanding of lots of future discussions over all sorts of mens rea issues the rest of the semester will be greatly enhanced if you appreciate all the theoretical and practical nuances of the the debate we had over my idea of using strict criminal liability to deal with the serious harms of car accidents on wet roads.  I will review those nuances briefly on Monday, and you should already have a feel for how these nuances found expression in the Dillard case and how they inform the classic old case of Faulkner.  

Of greatest importance as we move this week from Berman hypotheticals to real laws, you should appreciate that our debate over my "crashing in the rain" proposal was fundamentally a debate about why, when, whether and how a legislature might be eager to impose "strict criminal liability" -- that is, why and when lawmakers might what to subject some persons to criminal liability for certain risky conduct or harmful results regardless of whether they meant to (or knew or even could reasonably foresee) that they were involved in risky conduct or might cause harmful results.  But as Dillard highlighted, the issues of strict criminal liability arise in court only after a legislature has passed a statute and then a case arises in which the facts make it important to figure out if and how a legislature actually intended to write a statute that does in fact impose "strict criminal liability."

As the title of this post indicates, the Supreme Court cases mentioned in the text, as well as key provisions of the Model Penal Code and the Ohio Revised Code, provided some critical "rules of interpretation" for helping to resolve if/when a statute should be understood to impose "strict criminal liability."  I hope you have already figured this out, and this is what I will try to make sure everyone understands before we get into Faulkner and Handout #2 (which we will certainly get to no later than Wednesday).

September 18, 2016 in Advice, Class reflections, Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 14, 2014

While I am away, on Monday go lunch event in Saxbe at 12noon

Especially since I know you have finished all your Crim Law reading for the coming week, you should make sure to go to this big event on Monday in Saxbe Auditorium (even if you have not registered!):

Fifty years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law, the topic of race relations remains at the forefront of our cultural conversation. From debates over affirmative action to the recent events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, it’s as crucial as ever to discuss what the Civil Rights Act meant in 1964 — and what it means today.

On September 15, from 12-1:30 p.m., a panel of experts will address the history, legacy, and future of the Civil Rights Act — including the challenges that lie ahead in achieving its promise of racial equality. Panelists include:

Martha Chamallas, Robert J. Lynn Chair in Law at Moritz. Chamallas is a leading scholar in employment discrimination law and legal issues affecting women.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries, an Associate Professor of History at Ohio State. Jeffries specializes in 20th century African American history and has an expertise in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.

Molly J. Moran, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (invited). Moran is leading the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division on an acting basis, and recently traveled to Ferguson, MO with Attorney General Eric Holder.

Carter Stewart, the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Ohio. Stewart was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio in 2009.

Lunch will be provided to those who register.  A reception will be held in Lou's Cafe following the event.

September 14, 2014 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2014

Basketball, baseball, brews and professional bonding in the weeks ahead....

Now that March Madness and baseball's spring training are finally in full swing (and golf season and The Masters are on the horizon), I am likely to be grumpy any and every Thursday and Friday afternoons for the next month if/whenever I am in my Moritz office working rather than over at Eddie's watching sports of some sort.  But I always feel guilty (and lame/lonely) if I go over to EG's alone, and thus I mean through this post to encourage/bribe students to rescue me so I can rationalize a trip out of my office as a form of work/professional bonding with whomever comes and gets me.

As some of you know, I always buy the first round for any/everyone who pulls me out of my Moritz office at a convenient/appropriate time on a Thursday or Friday.  Today, for example, in addition to being Pi Day (3.14), I am especially eager to watch the Big Ten tournament (at least when the Buckeyes are playing; tip at 2:30pm).  

In subsequent weeks, there will be the NCAA Tourney, the official start of baseball season, and then The Masters to distract me from other (more productive?) endeavors.  If (when?) I start feeling guilty about too much afternoon time watching sports, I may have to take back this open invitation for professional bonding; until that time; PLEASE feel free to take advantage of my open-door EGs migration policies.

March 14, 2014 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2013

Schedule clarification (and a great new example of a retributivist argument with a constitutional kicker)

A student reasonably asked for more clarity as to our schedule over the next few days, so I figured I would provide a clarification here (with some substantive links):

Friday (8/23): We will wrap up formal discussion of theories of punishment, with a focus on how traditional theories (and other considerations) find expression in some Eighth Amendment rulings the Supreme Court and in the Attorney General's big speech to the American Bar Association last week.  (In this old post from this blog , I asked students "Does the text or spirit of the US Constitution favor any particular theory of punishment?" and quoted lots of potentially relevant passages for considering this question.  And in this new post from one of my other blogs, another law professor makes a forceful theory-based argument in support of administering the death penalty in a particular way.)

Monday (8/26):  We will conduct our sentencing role-play -- for which I will need 8 student lawyer/volunteers.  (For a little more background on this fun opportunity, check out this old post from this blog.)

Wednesday (8/28): We will start discussion of the act requirement, with the Proctor and Jones cases getting lots of attention.

In addition, everyone should remember the special (optional) events after we wrap up class at 2:30pm for the next two fridays: 15 minutes of casual talk, followed by a (partial) showing of the PBS documentary Prohibition, followed by happy-hour activities around 5pm.

August 22, 2013 in Advice, Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 07, 2011

Welcome back (and feel free to come by)

Hey folks.  Long time no see.  I have been thinking of you all not only as I try to wrap up my grading, but also as I worry if you are in the "right" frame of mind for returning to law school.  I am not really sure what the "right" frame of mind is, but I am sure that the Spring Semester of the 1L year can be even tougher socially and emotionally than the Fall Semester (in part because the "newness" factors and virtues are gone and the stress realities and annoying factors remain).

If you want or need a pep talk, feel free to stop by for a chat in the days and weeks ahead.  Indeed, feel free to vent on this blog, as you no longer need to try to impress me and can thus be even more candid about how Moritz and your professors are treating you.  In addition, I remain willing/eager to provide feedback on any writing samples or job hunts or any other professional (or personal) concerns you have these days.

January 7, 2011 in Advice, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 21, 2010

Congrats on finishing the semester...

and feel free to use the comments to this post as a place to reflect (and/or bitch and moan) about the experience of your first semester at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

I urge you to take some time to relax, and to completely put out of you mind your exam performance and the classes you face in the spring.  But I also urge you to use this "down time" to start thinking seriously and dynamically about just what kind of lawyer you might want to be and how you would like to make the best use of the rest of your time at Moritz.

December 21, 2010 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 13, 2010

Another law student essay competition to consider (for bigger bucks but no extra credit )

Via this post last month, I strongly urged all students to consider submitting an essay (after exams!) on an important topic selected by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for a law student writing competition.  As exam season winds down, I continue to encourage students to consider submitting an essay for this NACDL before the Dec. 31 deadline and I continue to be willing to give students extra class participation credit if/when they send me a copy of the essay they submit.

Excitingly, if writing an essay on a topic chosen by others during the cold winter days after exam does not thrill you, I have another law student essay competition for your consideration.  Specifically, as detailed at this link, the William W. Greenhalgh Student Writing Competition sponsored by the ABA's Criminal Justice Section is seeking essays on "any timely and important issue of American criminal constitutional procedure of interest to practitioners of criminal law."  The entry cannot be more than 4000 words and is not due until April.

I think that any topic that piqued your interest from the research assignment (or from some of our blog discussions) would be a great fit for this competition.  Also, the broad topic and the strict word limit for this competition ensures that any essay produced for it could serve as a useful writing sample for all sorts of purposes.  And here is the best part: "The winner will receive a $2,000 cash prize and free airfare and accommodations to attend a Section meeting at which the award will be presented. In addition, the winner’s law school will receive a plaque from the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section."

I really want one of my students to win a cool plaque for the law school, which I can then use to make all future 1L Crim Law classes feel inferior if they do not win anything for the College.  Also, if we get a winner, I will be expecting to be treated to a drink from the winnings.

Prior posts with links to writing competitions:

December 13, 2010 in Advice, Writing competitions for law students | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2010

Movie recommendations and reviews for the long holiday weekend

Partially to provide a reminder that you should be doing a lot more than just studying over the long holiday weekend, I though it might be fun to have this post to provide a forum for movie recommendation and reviews.  I urge every student to see at least two movies while on break (with the help of a DVD player or DVR if not via the local theater. 

Having already seen the Harry Potter movie this past weekend (which I would give 3 out of 4 stars), I hope to get a chance to take the whole family to see Megamind and/or Tangled sometime over the weekend.  In addition, I hope before too long to get to rent/see The Kids Are Alright, though family travel and other plans might make that hard.

For anyone looking to combine law and entertainment, here are a few suggestions for a Netflix cue:

November 23, 2010 in Advice, Film | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 08, 2010

Some surprising study tips via the New York Times

Especially as classes begin to speed up, all 1L students ought to be trying to figure out how develop efficient and effective law school study habits.  Helpfully, this recent article in the New York Times, which is headlined "Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits," reports on on what works well (and what may not work well) in study settings.  Here is an excerpt:

[T]here are effective approaches to learning, at least for those who are motivated.  In recent years, cognitive scientists have shown that a few simple techniques can reliably improve what matters most: how much a student learns from studying.

The findings can help anyone, from a fourth grader doing long division to a retiree taking on a new language.  But they directly contradict much of the common wisdom about good study habits, and they have not caught on.

For instance, instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention.  So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing....

[P]sychologists have discovered that some of the most hallowed advice on study habits is flat wrong. For instance, many study skills courses insist that students find a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library, to take their work.  The research finds just the opposite.  In one classic 1978 experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms — one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard — did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room.  Later studies have confirmed the finding, for a variety of topics.

Varying the type of material studied in a single sitting — alternating, for example, among vocabulary, reading and speaking in a new language — seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain than does concentrating on just one skill at a time....

Cognitive scientists do not deny that honest-to-goodness cramming can lead to a better grade on a given exam.  But hurriedly jam-packing a brain is akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase, as most students quickly learn — it holds its new load for a while, then most everything falls out....

When the neural suitcase is packed carefully and gradually, it holds its contents for far, far longer.  An hour of study tonight, an hour on the weekend, another session a week from now: such so-called spacing improves later recall, without requiring students to put in more overall study effort or pay more attention, dozens of studies have found.

No one knows for sure why.  It may be that the brain, when it revisits material at a later time, has to relearn some of what it has absorbed before adding new stuff — and that that process is itself self-reinforcing.  “The idea is that forgetting is the friend of learning,” said Dr. Kornell. “When you forget something, it allows you to relearn, and do so effectively, the next time you see it.”

So, it appears that there is some cognitive science to back up my advice that you re-read and re-read (and re-read some more) the cases and other materials we cover in class.  But now we all know that you ought to do your re-reading in a different room each time.  (I am now wondering if, in order to improve learning, we ought to meet in different classrooms on a regular basis.  At the very least, we definitely ought to start getting drinks at different watering holes on casual Fridays!)

September 8, 2010 in Advice, Reading about law and law school | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack