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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

Congrats and some advice for moving on...

Congratulations on formally finishing the exam for this course AND don't give another thought to the substance of the exam or your substantive performance for (at least) the next few days.  After ALL your exams are complete, I will have an open thread for comments on the whole exam season, but right now you should keep in mind the reality that your most important exam is your next one. 

Given that your next exam is not until Friday, I also have a few recommendations for moving on:

1.  Catch up on sleep and/or time with family ASAP before going back into deep exam mode

2.  Go out to see or rent a movie that is either a good comedy that helps you forget serious stuff or a moving drama that helps you remember your current worries are pretty minor.   Since I mentioned the The Blues Brothers in one review session, that's a good possibility for the comedy.  The last few winners of the Oscar for best picture, The Hurt Locker and Slumdog Millionaire, should fit the bill on the drama front.  And, if you want a great movie that will make you think really hard about something other that law, I always love to recommend Momento.

3.  Please let me know either through comments here or via e-mail or in person whether and how you would like me to keep this blog going in the weeks and months ahead.  I would be happy to keep providing snippets of interesting real substantive criminal law cases, though I would also be happy and eager to use this space for student support as well (e.g., posting notices/links about job opportunities and advice columns like this one).

Congrats again and good luck finishing your last two exams (which I hope will both seem easy after you have no survived mine)!

December 13, 2010 in About this blog, Class reflections | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 11, 2010

"Pa. couple who only prayed for dying tot convicted"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable local article about a real case that reminds me a bit of the Williams case from our casebook.  Here is how the article starts:

A fundamentalist Christian couple who relied on prayer, not medicine, to cure their dying toddler son was convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. Herbert and Catherine Schaible of Philadelphia face more than a decade in prison for the January 2009 pneumonia death of 2-year-old Kent.

"We were careful to make sure we didn't have their religion on trial but were holding them responsible for their conduct," jury foreman Vince Bertolini, 49, told The Associated Press. "At the least, they were guilty of gross negligence, and (therefore) of involuntary manslaughter."

The Schaibles, who have six other children, declined to comment as they left the courthouse to await sentencing Feb. 2.

Experts say about a dozen U.S. children die in faith-healing cases each year.  An Oregon couple were sentenced this year to 16 months in prison for negligent homicide in the death of their teenage son, who had an undiagnosed urinary blockage.

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore will ask the judge at sentencing to put the couple's other children under a doctor's care.  She was not yet sure if she would seek prison terms for the two felonies.

Kent Schaible's symptoms had included coughing, congestion, crankiness and a loss of appetite, although his parents said he was eating and drinking until the last day, and they had thought he was getting better.  The lone defense witness, high-profile coroner Cyril Wecht, testified that a deadly bacterium could have killed him in hours.

Herbert Schaible, 42, teaches at a school affiliated with their church, First Century Gospel Church.  His wife, 41, previously taught there, but now stays at home with the couple's children, from an infant to teenagers.

The Schaibles grew up in the church and have never received medical care themselves, not counting the help of the 84-year-old lay midwife who attends home births, according to pastor Nelson A. Clark.

December 11, 2010 in Notable real cases | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Open thread concerning research assignment, memo comments and grading concerns

As I promised in class this past week, I am creating this post in order to enable and encourage everyone to share comments on the research assignment.  I would be especially eager to hear:

(1) if you learned useful stuff (and liked learning useful stuff) from doing the assignment,

(2) if you liked (and learned useful stuff from) getting a chance to see how your classmates completed the assignment,

(3) if you are especially grumpy that I have not (yet) given any set of memos a check-minus or a check-plus,

(4) if you genuinely believe that any set of memos should have been given a check-minus or a check-plus.

As a matter of improving your educational experience, I care most about your response to matters (1) and (2).  But if the whole grading thing really drives you crazy, please feel free to tell me this via comments to matters (3) and (4).

December 11, 2010 in Class reflections, Research assignment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2010

Electronic versions of the two key Ohio revised code handouts...

can be downloaded here:

Download 2010 Ohio liability-MR statutes

Download 2010 version of Ohio homicide statutes

Please use the comments to this post to report any problems accessing these documents or indicating if you want/need me to post any other materials.

December 10, 2010 in Course materials and schedule, Preparing for the final | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 6, 2010

"Trial to begin in boy's death at Mass. gun expo"

The title of this post is the headline of this AP article reporting on a sad case about to become a headline-making criminal trial in Boston.  Here are the basics:

Eight-year-old Christopher Bizilj -- 4-foot-3 and 66 pounds -- stepped up to the firing range to shoot an Uzi as his father and 11-year-old brother watched from a few feet away. As Christopher fired the 9mm micro submachine gun at a pumpkin, the weapon flipped backward and shot him in the head.  He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Prosecutors brought manslaughter charges against the gun club where the machine gun shoot took place, two men who supplied the weapons and a small-town police chief who owns a company that sponsored the gun fair.  On Monday, the first trial begins in what is expected to be a heart-wrenching recounting of Christopher's death on Oct. 26, 2008.

Edward Fleury, the former police chief in the tiny western Massachusetts town of Pelham, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter as well as four counts of furnishing a machine gun to a minor.  Fleury was charged because he owned COPS Firearms & Training, which co-sponsored the gun fair at the Westfield Sportsman's Club.  He also hired the two men who supplied the guns and ran the shooting range portion of the event.

Fleury's lawyer, Rosemary Curran Scapicchio, says there is no way Fleury could have anticipated that a child would die when he co-sponsored the event.  The two men who supplied the guns -- Carl Giuffre and Domenico Spano -- had conducted the same gun shoot at the Westfield club for seven years without incident.

Fleury's lawyer also argues that prosecutors should have called Christopher's father, Dr. Charles Bizilj, to testify before the grand jury that indicted Fleury.  Charles Bizilj brought his two sons to the machine gun shoot and gave them permission to fire the Uzi.

"The prosecutor urged the grand jury to find that Chief Fleury disregarded a probable risk of death of a child.  However, the child's father did not believe that allowing his son to fire the machine gun would create a probable risk of death," Scapicchio wrote.  "The truth is that death was not a probable consequence. Instead, it was a tragic pure accident."

Hampden District Attorney William Bennett did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Bennett has said Charles Bizilj chose the compact Uzi for his son after he was assured it was safer than a larger weapon.  He said the small size of the gun, along with its rapid rate of fire, actually made it more likely that the third-grader from Ashford, Conn., would lose control of the weapon and the muzzle would come close to his face.

Bennett said Charles Bizilj was not charged because he was a layman and based his decision to allow his sons to fire the gun on information from others who should have known it was too dangerous....

Charles Bizilj said Christopher had fired handguns and rifles previously but had never shot an automatic weapon such as an Uzi.  "I watched several other children and adults use it. It's a small weapon, and Christopher was comfortable with guns.  There were larger machine guns with much more recoil, and we avoided those," he told The Boston Globe the day after his son's death.

Bennett said Christopher was one of at least four children who fired automatic weapons at the fair.  He said Fleury had wrongly assured Giuffre and Spano that it was legal for children to use the Uzi.

Charles Bizilj was filming his son and captured the shooting on video.  Fleury's lawyer has asked the judge to exclude the graphic video from the trial.

The Bizilj family has been devastated by Christopher's death, said Bruce Melikian, an attorney who represents the family in a wrongful death lawsuit against Fleury, Spano and Giuffre. "I'm not sure what this trial will accomplish," Melikian said.  "I think their main concern is that no one else ever has to go through this again."

Fleury faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted on the manslaughter charge.  He faces a maximum of 10 years if convicted of furnishing the weapon to a minor.

This sad real case almost sounds like a hypo from a criminal law exam, and thus it might present a good opportunity to test your knowledge of various doctrines.

December 6, 2010 in Notable real cases, Preparing for the final | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

December 1, 2010

Attempt actus reus hypo for consideration and reflection

To facilitate our discussion of the actus reus of attempt liability, below is a list of actions by a (troubled?) young man to get you thinking about where a line should be drawn between "mere preparation" and attempt liability:

Joe McAngryTechieNerd of Columbus truly believes Microsoft (MS) is the root of all evil and he often tells his techie friends that computers and the whole world would be better off with MS and Bill Gates.  After watching a documentary about Oklahoma City Bombing, Joe McAngryTechieNerd does the following:

1. E-mails techie friend saying he wished Bill Gates was dead and MS was bankrupt

2. Posts blog comment that he would love to see MS headquarters blown up

3. Does internet research on location of MS headquarters in Redmond, Washington

4. Does internet research about how often and when Gates still goes to his MS office

5. Does internet research on homemade explosives

6. Rents hotel room for two nights in Seattle

7. Rents Ryder truck for driving to Seattle

8. Drives rented truck to Seattle, checks into hotel, sleeps

9. Drives in morning to Redmond and drives around the MS headquarters repeatedly

10. Parks at MS headquarters, walks around asking employees when Gates is there

11. Returns to hotel room in Seattle, does more internet research on bomb-making, sleeps

12. In morning, buys fertilizer/gas/timer and other ingredients for making bomb at hardware store

13.  Drives again to Redmond, now with bomb ingredients in truck

14. Parks in strategic location on MS headquarters

15. Starts building homemade bomb insider rental truck

16. Waits, watches for Gates to arrive at work

17. Drives past security guard following Gates' car

18. Parks truck right next to Gates car as he pulls into spot

19. Jumps out of truck with remote bomb trigger in hand

20. Runs away planning to push trigger after hiding behind stone wall

 

LIABILITY QUESTIONS

When SHOULD Joe McAngryTechieNerd be deemed guilty of attempted murder?

        -- When could he be deemed guilty at common law?

        -- When could he be deemed guilty under the MPC?

 

POLICING QUESTIONS

When do you want police to intervene?

When do you think the police legally can intervene?

When do you think the police will intervene?

December 1, 2010 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack