: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

When Not to Blog (Prosecutors Edition)

The legal profession has more than its share of land mines for would-be bloggers. Houston Criminal Lawyer and Fearless Blogger Mark Bennett points out one of the many differences between himself and prosecutors – he can speak his mind with relative impunity; prosecutors are officers and representatives of the State. Even when they speak for themselves they implicate our collective coercive power over the person. So when someone pulls the veil back on the sausage factory, it’s well, unseemly. Consider a excerpt from “the Sassy Court”:

Today, [Chief Man] was laughing at me because I was livid that he wanted to give my pervert a deferred. I told him I didn’t care what he did as long as it counted toward the guy registering as a sex offender.

At one point he was sitting with his head on the desk. Then he tried to explain to me that they give deferreds to sex offenders all the time in felony. I don’t care what they do in felony!!! I want my guy to have to register as a sex offender!

It was not quite a surprise to find that the blog had gone dark today. In any other context – covering politics, business – those kinds of comments would be perfectly acceptable and purely entertaining. One of the issues of working for the government is that it’s not always easy to tell where ones own dominion ends and where the government’s begins. For a public employee I’m not sure a public, even presumptively anonymous blog, of the kind those of us in private practice take for granted, can ever be appropriate. There are consequences to blogging. Not all of them are good.

What did Texas Tech See in Alberto Gonzales?

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has ended his rather public spell of unemployment with a new gig on the faculty of Texas Tech University as a visiting professor this fall. A bold move on Tech’s part. A Houston native, one senses Gonzales had to look further afield that one might have initially expected for a receptive audience. Tech, no stranger to controversial hires, thought it was worth a shot. I think they’re right. I envy Tech students the opportunity.

To the extent that we’re old enough to make up our own judgments, a faculty hire need not be seen as an endorsement. Whatever I may think of his tenure in office, I also believe he has had the rare chance to grapple with the issues of governance in our day as few have had the opportunity to do. Gonzales has been on the giving and receiving end in an increasingly politicized justice department, had to navigate the murky waters of distinguishing ones own moral limits from ones duties as an advocate and representative, and observed the mechanisms of power in very close quarters. There’s a lot one could learn from him. I am somewhat disappointed that the law school hasn’t seen fit to take advantage of his availability, at least not from any of the published reports; Gonzalez strikes me as having the opportunity, much like Robert McNamara did for a previous administration, of discussing ethics outside of the laboratory, in the way such dilemmas are experienced, rather than with the false piety of the professionally ethical.

Do We Need the New Law School That’s Coming to Texas?


Gov. Perry recently signed University of North Texas College of Law into presumed existence. It’s got a website and everything. UNT Law plans to host its first classes in Fall 2011.

As Benson Varghese noted in Res Ipsa post last year, many contend we have too many law schools already. A murkier question is why we have too many lawyers; this is a question of perspective. If you’re a recent law grad looking for a job it’s easy to jump to that conclusion, especially in this economy. If you’re on the other side, a regular joe looking for legal assistance, those same lawyers may not seem all that abundant as you look for competent counsel willing to take your case. The problem is not just simple demand vs. supply but allocation. The question of whether or not we need another law school depends wholly, in my mind, on what we’re going to do with it.

Other posts:

Wendy Kopp on what makes a great teacher (perhaps a great lawyer as well?)

Caveat blog reader – this post is only tangentially related to the law. I’m perpetually fascinated with people who are able to do things are thought to be impossible. In Wendy Kopp’s case, I’m not sure which is more impressive: (a) generating measurable educational outcome improvements in schools populated in large part by students more likely to fail in more traditional environments or (b) turning teaching in the nation’s toughest schools into a prestigious and sought-after position.

I tend to think her thoughts, via a New York Times interview, on hiring people are transferable to other professions, perhaps ours:

We’ve done a lot of research on the characteristics of our teachers who are the most successful. The most predictive trait is still past demonstrated achievement, and all selection research basically points to that. But then there is a set of personal characteristics. And the No. 1 most predictive trait is perseverance, or what we would call internal locus of control. People who in the context of a challenge — you can’t see it unless you’re in the context of a challenge — have the instinct to figure out what they can control, and to own it, rather than to blame everyone else in the system.

Talent wins many battles; perserverance many wars.

South Texas Law Grad Sues to Collect Defense Attorney’s Million Dollar Challenge to Disprove Client’s Alibi

The current job market for lawyers calls for some ingenuity. Dustin Kolodziej didn’t stop at sending out resumes. In the course of defending Nelson Serrano criminal defense attorney Cheney Mason claimed it was impossible for his client to have committed the murders in Florida and be in Atlanta motel 28 minutes later where he was captured on a security camera. In an interview on national television, he stated “I challenge anybody to show me, I’ll pay them a million dollars if they can do it.” Kolodziej went to Florida with a video camera and retraced the alleged flight of the suspect and clocked himself in at under the 28 disputed minutes. Mason has refused to make good on the challenge, contending that it was obviously a joke and no reasonable person could believe the offer was seriously made.

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