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December 18, 2013

Congrats, Crim Law extra credit, and (paid) research break opportunities and topics

Kudos to putting the final exam of the first semester of law school in your rear-view mirror.  Now do whatever you can to forget about exams and enjoy the holiday season with family and friends.

If you have done some of the extra credit tasks (and/or hope to get one last one in), I have two pieces of advice: (1) make sure you send me any not-yet-submitted work ASAP and not later than 5pm on Dec 19, AND (2) before the end of the year, send me an e-mail "reminder" of how many EC documents you completed.  (I think I have good records on who submitted what, but it is valuable to confirm matters, especially if there is some chance a submission ended up in my spam filter.)

Last but not least, I think you are now officially permitted to do paid research for me from now until Jan. 8 when classes start again.  If you are interested in such an opportunity, here are a few tasks that I am eager to have explored over the next few weeks:

1.  Significant lower-court state or federal rulings in the last 3 years in which adult offenders sought a ruling that the Eighth Amendment precluded an extreme prison sentence.

2.  Detailed analysis/summary of the nature and background of the offenders and offenses that have resulted in the 3000+ LWOP sentences discussed in this recent ACLU report.

3.  Significant recent lower-court state or federal rulings in which non-prison sentences imposed on sex offenders were found unconstitutional or unlawful (which special attention to cases in which female sex offenders were bringing the legal challenge).

4.  Any and all lower-court state or federal rulings in which a court justified a lesser or reduced prison sentence at least in part based on the imposition of a significant fine or economic sentence.

If any of these topics interest you, please (a) send me an e-mail indicating your interest in doing research on this topic, and (b) figure out what you need to do to get on my "research payroll," which involves filling out a form with the right person(s) in the Deans' suite of offices.

December 18, 2013 in Starting a career as a lawyer | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 13, 2013

Relaxation, celebration and reasons to feel lucky Berman Crim Law 2013 is over

If memory serves, I believe 1Ls finish up their second exam today, and I want to encourage everyone to take a deep breath after the exam and enjoy a well-deserved afternoon of relaxation.  No matter how much you feel you need to do to study for your final exam next week, taking at least a few well-earned hours off to recharge your batteries is always a wise and sensible exam-time strategy.

I will be in my office at Moritz after about 3pm this afternoon, and I would be happy and eager to celebrate (and toast) your achievements so far.  In fact, because I have lots of (non-pressing) work to do, I could be readily lured away from my office to cover a round of celebratory drinks just about anytime late Friday afternoon.

Last but not least, and to have a little fun with a Daft Punk lyric, even if you have been up all night 'til the sun, and up all night to study some, you should feel you've gotten lucky that my exam is already over.  That is because, if my exam was still on tap, I would have a really hard time resisting adding a question concerning some of the amazing real-world crim law stories from this week covered on my other blog in these posts:

Especially because I hear some students are eager to pursue the idea of a Cordle-inspired e-book, the first story linked above provides a sad and useful reminder that issues relating to the the appropriate prosecution and punishment for deadly drunk drivers are sure to be timely for many years to come.

December 13, 2013 in Class reflections, Course materials and schedule, Preparing for the final | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2013

Congrats again on finishing Crim Law version 2013 and keep watching this space...

for announcements about my willingness to continue to accept extra credit submissions (which extends at least until Dec. 18 and maybe longer), and for announcements about possible (poorly paid) research opportunities during the break (which will not start until Dec. 18, at the earliest), and for discussion of whatever other topics might still float my boat.

Thanks again for a wonderful semester (and good luck grabbing all the As in the other exams with the rest of your large section)!

December 10, 2013 in Class reflections, Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 7, 2013

Final review session at 12 noon on Sunday ... UPDATE: I will now be in closer to 12:30pm or later...

By popular demand, I will come in to Moritz and be in our usual room at noon to go over whatever students want help going over.

UPDATE:  A wife with a bad cold is slowing me down this Sunday morning... I am sick from the OSU game last night, but she is truly sick.  As a result, I probably will not make it in to our usual locale until around 12:30pm or maybe even a bit later.  

Sorry for the slight delay....

December 7, 2013 in Course materials and schedule, Preparing for the final | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 4, 2013

My 2010 Crim law exam and links to some of those which came before

As promised, I am now posting here a copy of the last Crim Law exam I gave (from 2010). 

Download 2010 Crim Law final

And you can get all my other old exam via these prior posts:

If you all get through all (lucky?) seven of these prior exams, I can post a few more.  But remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!

December 4, 2013 in Preparing for the final | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hypo for wrapping up attempt/conspiracy/complicity discussions

Students interested in thinking  more about attempt liability and related issues should be sure to check out this post (and the toughtful student comments) from the last time I taught the class.  The post lists 20 actions as part of an attempted act of domestic terrorism that I set up this way:

Here 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.  The your man in question is Joe McAngryTechieNerd of Columbus, Ohio, who 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 ....

Especially given more recent events, and also in an effort to bring in some complicity and conspiracy concepts, I thought this simplified ten-step hypo could also provide you with a sense of the modern challenges modern attempt and conspiracy liability seeks to mediate:

Jerry McJihadi and Johnny McJihadi, bothers who both truly believe and has long blogged about the US people being responsible for more many deaths than all terrorists combined, have told all their friends that they are really proud of and impressed by the courage of the Boston bombers and that they wish they could someday have the courage to act so boldly based on their beliefs and convictions. And then they:

1.  E-mail family members saying they plans to go to Boston in early 2014 and does not ever expect to see again

2.  Do internet research on date of Boston Marathon and on homemade explosives

3.  Purchase legally all the supplies needed for making backpack explosives

4.  Rent van, drive to Boston in early March 2014 with supplies, rent room.

5.  Weeks before the 2014 Boston marathon, they take turns canvassing the marathon route using tablet computers to take note and to look at YouTube videos showing where and when the largest crowds are assembled.

6.  In week before marathon, they buy fertilizer/gas/timer and other ingredients for making car bomb to go along with the backpack bombs they are planning to build

7.  Day before marathon, start building homemade backpack bombs inside their rented room and the car bomb inside the rented truck

8.  Early morning of marathon, drive around Boston looking for idea parking spot

9.  Parks van, jump out with backpack bombs and car bomb trigger in hand

10.  Drop backpacks and hide in strategic location to watch timed/triggered explosions



When do you think, under common law or the MPC, the brothers are guilty of attempted murder?

When do you think the brothers are involved in a conspiracy to commit murder?



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 4, 2013 in Course materials and schedule | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 1, 2013

Yet another sad case of a (reasonable? unreasonable?) use of deadly force in self defense

With the Michigan case involving Renisha McBride's death now the basis for homicde charges, there is now yet another similarly sad case, now from Georgia, involving a lost person getting shot for showing up on the wrong doorstep.  This local story, headlined "Wandering man with Alzheimer's shot, killed in Walker County," provides these details:

An Ooltewah man who shot and killed what he thought was a middle-of-the-night prowler -- actually a 72-year-old man with advanced Alzheimer's disease -- Wednesday in Walker County, Ga., hasn't been charged but he might be later, authorities said.

The slain man, Ronald Westbrook, had walked about 3 miles to the shooting scene from his home on Carlock Circle, Sheriff Steve Wilson said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference. When Westbrook was shot, he was clutching letters he had taken from a mailbox on Marbletop Road, where he had lived previously, the sheriff said. A deputy had stopped and questioned Westbrook at about 2:30 a.m. at the mailbox, Wilson said, but Westbrook said he was getting his mail and lived up the hill.

Westbrook then rang the doorbell and turned the doorknob of a home at 188 Cottage Crest Court at 3:54 a.m., awakening Joe Hendrix, 34, of Ooltewah, and his fiancee. They had rented the home in the new subdivision about two weeks ago, next-door neighbor Brandi Wallace said.

Wilson said Westbrook was lost, confused and possibly exhausted. He had wandered for about four hours in the night with his two dogs, wearing a light jacket and straw hat as the wind-chill temperature hovered around 20 degrees. "This one house at the end of the cul-de-sac had a porch light on," Wilson said. "I tend to think [Westbrook] was drawn to that light."

Hendrix's fiancee, whose name Wilson declined to give, called 911 and stayed on the phone with an emergency dispatcher who sent two sheriff's office patrol cars en route. After a nine- to 10-minute wait -- and before deputies arrived -- Hendrix went outside armed with a .40-caliber handgun and saw the elderly man in silhouette behind the house, the sheriff said....

"[Hendrix] gave several what he described as verbal commands," Wilson said. "[Westbrook] continued walking toward him after he told him to stop." Westbrook was slow to talk, Wilson said, because of his advanced Alzheimer's disease. Fearing for his safety, Hendrix fired four shots, the sheriff said. One bullet hit Westbrook in the chest, killing him....

No charges were filed Wednesday against Hendrix, who drove himself away from the shooting scene around 10:30 a.m. as investigators were wrapping up their evidence gathering. Hendrix and his fiancee were fully cooperative, Wilson said. "Both [their] stories matched completely," the sheriff said.

However, Wilson said that Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin, whom Wilson called to the shooting scene, might bring charges after reviewing all the evidence. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation helped the sheriff's department on-scene with its investigation. "We reserve our options and rights to file charges once the investigation is complete, if we feel like Georgia law warrants charges being filed," Wilson said.

Georgia's 2006 "stand-your-ground" law that allows people to use deadly force to protect themselves "may apply to this case," Wilson said.

The dispatcher who stayed on the phone with Hendrix's fiancee wasn't aware Hendrix went outside the house with a handgun, the sheriff said. "In my personal opinion, I believe that he should have stayed inside the house," Wilson said. "Did he violate any laws by exiting the house? No."

December 1, 2013 in Notable real cases | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack