: 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

Gerry Spence Blogs

Gerry Spence is an icon of modern criminal defense lawyers, the author of numerous books, and now, apparently, a blogger. I thoroughly enjoyed the reports on Spence’s defense of Geoffrey Feiger and reading Spence’s unique and by most accounts extremely effective approach to trials in books such as How to Argue & Win Every Time and Win Your Case. I was initially skeptical that this was indeed Spence behind the curtain, but the first post is so unmistakably Spencian that I’ve decided to suspend my disbelief.

These are my first words on a blog. It is a frightening experiment—that I should enter your world, without invitation, without yet knowing you as friends, or clients, or those whose shadows and mine have merged, or who have been readers of my books and who have therefore shared with me my thoughts and experiences and have made them their own. That has been a great gift to me.

But you of this other world, this internet world—I have not reached out to you except through my web site which, I am told, is miserably inadequate considering today’s more experienced ways.

What can I offer you? I am sitting by a stream in the country as I write—in Wyoming where I was born and where I have practiced law for many years, yes, for 55 years. I am truly a country lawyer. Yet I have spent much of my life trying cases in the great cities of this country.

I have learned things about our broken judicial system I want to expose to you.

I have ideas about our condition in this slave-hold under which many decent Americans suffer.

I have published sixteen books, and have tried many cases for people–some cases you may know about, like the Karen Silkwood case, the murder defense of Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, recently the defense of Geoffrey Fieger, the great trial lawyer who defended Dr. Kevorkian, and many others.

In 1994, I established the Trial Lawyers College at our ranch near Dubois, Wyoming, a non-profit institution to reeducate trial lawyers for the people.

My greatest fear is that I will die before my life’s work is complete. That unfinished business includes joining you in this internet world and sharing with you what I have learned. I hope you will hear my timid knocking at your door and let me in.

Is Slate Magazine America’s Leading Law Review?

David Schleicher says yes and I tend to agree with him. Here’s his case –

I think it’s safe to say that [Slate] has become America’s leading law review. In the past year, Slate has run stories by Bruce Ackerman, Ahkil Amar, Frank Bowman, Bill Eskridge, David Fontana, Richard Thompson Ford, Bennett Gershman, Jack Goldsmith, Rick Hasen Orin Kerr, Neal Katyal, Marty Lederman, Eric Posner, Jamin Raskin, Jim Ryan and Kenji Yoshino (and I’m sure I missed a few too). And that doesn’t count the extensive writing by Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick on the Supreme Court and other legal issues, or the Convictions blog, where a large number of law professors (including Jack Balkin, David Baron and Doug Kmiec among many others). In total, Slate has published more articles by legal academics than any law review, and because of the blog, probably more total words (I haven’t counted or anything – I’m just eyeballing) by law professors in the past year than any other publication.

Slate is a daily must-read for me. Convictions for one and my personal favorite, the Supreme Court Breakfast Table. Check it out if you haven’t already.

The comments supply some compelling answers for why this is so, mainly founding editor Michael Kinsley (Harvard Law) and publisher Cliff Sloan (Harvard Law, Stevens clerk).

A Tag Cloud of this Blog

Created with Wordle, not all too surprising I suppose.

Noted Harris County Prosecutor Kelly Siegler Blogs

Harris County Criminal Justice Blog notes that Kelly Siegler Takes a Shot at Bloggingwith There’s No Such Thing as “Closure” on the Women in Crime Ink Blog

Can you imagine the bottomless pain that a parent endures when they have learned that their child has been murdered? As many times as I have met with and counseled with parents suffering through that agony–and told them that we are there to do all that we can to make sure that the defendant is convicted and punished justly–I have also had that “other” conversation with them.

You see, in our world, the world of a prosecutor who handles such cases (as I have, far too many times), we also talk about the fact that as parents, they shouldn’t put their lives on hold waiting for a defendant to be charged or arrested . . . or waiting for a trial to commence . . . or waiting for an appeal to be exhausted or even waiting for an execution to happen. I tell them that too many other parents, who have walked in their steps and truly do know their pain, have told me the truth.

The truth. The truth is that there is no such thing as “closure.”

Sure, you hear it all of the time. You hear that closure is what we should be seeking on behalf of victims everywhere. You hear experts and psychologists and even law enforcement officials all over the country talking about closure as if it is some “state of mind” that we can help a mommy and a daddy, who have learned they will never see their baby again, obtain.

But when you ask those same victims if any of that–the arrest, the conviction, the sentencing, the execution–ever truly helped them gain “closure,” you know what they all say? They all say no. They all say there is no such thing. They all say they are glad that phase of the process of the criminal justice system is complete. They all say thank you, and then they go back to having to figure out how to get up again the next morning and live another day in a world that no longer has the same color and light and joy in it that it did “before.”

Great stuff. Hopefully she keeps it up.

The Waiting Game…

All over America law students are wait for grades to come in. As 1Ls these seemingly have apocalyptic consequences – these are the grades you interview with, get on to law review or another journal with, that decide if you spent part of your summer writing a 30-page note, etc. These grades can take forever and for good reason – I had approximately 60 classmates in my section 1L year, over a 3-hour exam, it’s not at all uncommon to churn out 15 or more pages. That’s 900 less-than-scintillating reading for professors to look forward to. I for example, took my last exam on May 2nd and just today received the grade on tuesday (June 10th I believe).

The way of the law school world being what it is, there’s not a whole lot an impatient student could or would want to do to hurry a professor along. I couldn’t help but laugh at this plaintive comment on the Volokh conspiracy, for a post by George Washington Law Professor Orin Kerr -

A comment to this

I will no longer read any Orin Kerr blog until he finishes his grading for last semester.

We love you Professor Kerr, but we need our grades.

-G-Dub Student

Ah, anonymous threats of blog-boycotting, I doubt this would inspire the good professor to grade any more quickly than he already planned, but it did at least inspire a response -

[Deleted by OK: Check the Portal, Blog strike, as all my grades have been submitted. And good luck at the firm this summer!]

It makes me wonder what it would look like if David Lat sat down and wrote his version of the Paper Chase for today’s law school. ;-)

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