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August 26, 2008

"Teen gets exceptional sentence in overdose death"

The headline of this post is the headline of this local article reporting on a real case that touches on a lot of issues that we are discussing this week in class.  Here is how the article starts:

A crying teenager convicted in the overdose death of her friend was given a sentence almost no one expected.  Donalydia Huertas of Puyallup was convicted of providing drugs to a younger friend, 16-year-old Danielle McCarthy, at a New Year's Eve party in 2007. When McCarthy later became ill from Ecstasy to the point of having seizures, Huertas never called for help and never dialed 911.

August 26, 2008 in Notable real cases | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 25, 2008

Sentencing form for role-play (and post-role-play reactions)

Below for downloading is the form all judges are to use when sentencing Rachel Foster and Dan Schayes (whose PSRs are linked here).  There is no need (or place) to put a name on the form, but I will collect them after our sentencing hearings in class on Monday.

Download 2008_sentencing_verdict_form.rtf

UPDATE:  Now that we have had our sentencing fun, folks should free free to use the comments to this post to discuss the exercise and/or any ways in which the exercise gave you a new perspective on the theory talk of last week.

August 25, 2008 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 21, 2008

Thoughts on a lower drinking age?

DdThe new debate over lowering the drinking age provides a great setting for identifying (and questioning) different kinds of arguments for and against certain criminal laws.  Moreover, it also raises a lot of interesting practical issues about the enforcement of certain types of criminal laws, especially those we really do not think folks are very blameworthy for violating.

Here is an AP article from Monday about the new debate, which starts this way: "College presidents from about 100 of the nation's best-known universities, including Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State, are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, saying current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus."  I found it notable that Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State are the schools mentioned in this article's first paragraph.

The group driving the debate forward on a lower drinking age appears to be Amethyst Initiative.  As of this writing, that group asserts that 119 school leaders have signed this short statement titled "It's time to rethink the drinking age."

For a critical assessment of the new pitch for a lower drinking age, here is a commentary from this morning's Chicago Tribune, headlined "The perils of a lower drinking age: Changing the drinking age from 21 to 18 would be impractical, dangerous."  Notably, this commentary does not say a lower drinking age would be "unjust" or "unfair," though it does discuss some retributivist-type claims made to support a lower drinking age.

August 21, 2008 in Class reflections | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 20, 2008

PSRs for our Monday fun

I have provided a link below to the presentence reports (PSRs) for the (mythical) defendants Rachel Foster and Dan Schayes, who are to be the subjects of our role-play exercise on Monday.  (These are the exact same materials that I handed out in class on Wednesday.)

I will be looking for volunteers to serve as prosecutors and defense attorneys for these defendants, and will fill these roles on a first-come, first-serve basis on Thursday.

Download 2008_psrs_for_role_play.rtf

August 20, 2008 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Some data on drunk driving fatalities

This website has a lot of interesting statistics about driving fatalities and drunk-driving deaths in the United States over the past 25 years, including this helpful chart:

Total fatalities
Alcohol related fatalities
Year
Number
Number
Percent
1982
43,945
26,173
60
1983
42,589
24,635
58
1984
44,257
24,762
56
1985
43,825
23,167
53
1986
46,087
25,017
54
1987
46,390
24,094
52
1988
47,087
23,833
51
1989
45,582
22,424
49
1990
44,599
22,587
51
1991
41,508
20,159
49
1992
39,250
18,290
47
1993
40,150
17,908
45
1994
40,716
17,308
43
1995
41,817
17,732
42
1996
42,065
17,749
42
1997
42,013
16,711
40
1998
41,501
16,673
40
1999
41,717
16,572
40
2000
41,945
17,380
41
2001
42,196
17,400
41
2002
43,005
17,524
41
2003
42,643
17,013
40
2004
42,518
16,919
39
2005
43,443
16,885
39
2006
42,532
15,829
37

August 20, 2008 in Crime data | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 18, 2008

Any problems/issues with book, schedule, etc?

I hope that everyone has now been able to secure a copy of our text and comments to this post are a good way to spotlight any enduring problems with materials.  Similarly, I hope everyone is okay with my tweaking of the schedule so that we meet Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and some Thursdays at 9:50am in Room 245.  Again, comments to this post are a good way voice concerns or problems.

Finally, if you are looking for still more advice about the life as a 1L, you can surf over to some of my favorite law professor blogs to check out these posts (and their notable comments):

August 18, 2008 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 17, 2008

Any pre-class thoughts on Dudley and Stephens?

180pxmignonette I typically won't solicit pre-class discussion of our reading assignments in this space.  But because Dudley and Stephens is such a renown case and because we really will not have time to cover it completely during our first class, I cannot resist providing a forum here for any student who wants to express outrage or sympathy or anything else after reading one of the most famous cases in the history of criminal law. 

Also, I am often going to try to use this forum to provide some visuals to accompany all the text in our casebook. In this post, for example, I have provided above a drawing of the English yacht Mignonette, the small ship on which a crew of four set sail on May 19, 1884.  And I have provided below a photograph of the 13-foot lifeboat onto which the entire crew of the Mignonette escaped when their ship seemed doomed. 290pxmignonette_lifeboat

I am not sure if each of these pictures are worth 1000 words of a judicial ruling, but they do provide some useful imagery as you consider and contemplate the ruling in the case.  In addition, go to this link and search for Dudley if you would like a somewhat lighter perspective on the case.

August 17, 2008 in Reflections on class readings | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 14, 2008

Phrase of the day: "Productive aimlessness"

Gee_g2544 I attended much of Thursday morning's orientation lectures, and one phrase used by the very first speaker, OSU President E. Gordon Gee, provides a useful mantra for some of my goals for the class blog: "productive aimlessness."  Arguably, the phrase is an oxymoron, but in my mind it nicely captures my hope that engaging with this blog should be a productive enterprise and experience for everyone (including its creator), but also the idea that there is not one obvious goal or set of goals that I will seek to achieve through this medium.

Indeed, I think "enjoyable productive aimlessness" provides a good mantra for how you should try to spend some of your free time as a 1L.  You will burn-out quickly if all of your activities are very goal-orietned throughout law school.  But, because most attorneys have many personal and professional goals and lots to do to achieve those goals, time-management is a very important skill for all successful lawyers.  Consider exploring and embracing activities that you find enjoyable and that might seem aimless at first, but may also prove to be productive in some way personal or professional way.

August 14, 2008 in Starting a career as a lawyer | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

What did incoming 1Ls read this summer?

9780226238357Last month when guest-blogging at Prawfsblawg, I pondered here about recommendations that might be made to incoming 1Ls about what to read the summer before starting law school.  I subsequently discovered that OSU has a very dated (and lengthy) suggested reading list, but I would be shocked (and a bit scared) if anyone read everything or even a lot of what appears on this list. 

To get a blog discussion going through some comments, I hope that any starting 1Ls coming to this blog will report (and perhaps review) whatever they read this summer in anticipation of law school.  (Importantly, "nothing" is an appropriate answer.)  To get us started, I'll report on two law-related books I read this summer:

I also read lots and lots of newspaper articles, cases, briefs, blogs and law review articles this summer, but that's really my standard reading list for all seasons.

August 13, 2008 in Reading about law and law school | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack