: 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

Gold-medal-crazy winner, Charlie Rose interview

I had missed this article when I posted on the death penalty and Dow’s book earlier – from the NY Times Judging Whether a Killer Is Sane Enough to Die:

David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who has met more than 75 death row inmates, visited Mr. Panetti at his lawyers’ request. “Of all the people I have met on death row, he’s the gold-medal-crazy winner,” Professor Dow said.

Gold-medal-crazy winner. That cracks me up. I wonder if that’s a term of art or an actual diagnosis? That’s the danger of interviews, you say a lot of things and the reporters just grab what suits their purposes; what’s used is seldom what you yourself would have chosen to go on record with in the grey lady.

In related news, Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker was warming Charlie’s chair on the Charlie Rose show on friday to interview three attorneys with extensive experience in death penalty cases – Bryan Stevenson, NYU professor and director of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, attorney Dennis Riordan, and Beth Wilkinson, a former assistant US attorney.

The video is viewable online on Google Video: Charlie Rose, Death Penalty Conversation, after the Noam Chomsky interview, which is interesting too if you’re into cantankerousness.

Hitting the books, sometimes literally

It’s always good to have a few lawyer friends to consult and on occasion retore sanity and/or perspective. Dan Droog helpfully explained his spartan ‘study every waking moment of the day’ strategy to me today. I guess you don’t graduate summa cum laude or become Editor in Chief of the law review for nothing though. Studying smart is always preferable to the alternative, but there simply is no substitute for hard work. It pays dividends.

This weekend has been a crash course in time management. Ragazzo assigned p. 69-114 out of Field’s text for monday. Bearing in mind Ragazzo’s 45 pages a night rule of thumb, this will put us at p. 249 by this thursday. This corresponds with the syllabus which has us covering the phases of a lawsuit (pretrial matters, trial, judgment, appellate review, authority to adjudicate, joinder) so it’s likely we’ll only get to 237, where the section on joinder ends. (Not likely enough for me to not read 237 to 249 though) I don’t mention this because I think it’s excessive – it’s just what the course requires. However, it’s also misleading. The pages in Field’s are the explicit assignment; implicit is briefing the cases, analyzing applicaple rules from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and in general, just trying to make sense of it all. I’m starting to make a table of contents for each day’s assignment such as the following, which is for tomorrow:

  • Read p. 69-114, Fields
  • Rule 26, Discovery
  • Rule 30, Oral Depositions
  • Rule 31, Written Depositions
  • Rule 32, using depositions
  • Rule 33, Interrogatories
  • Rule 34, Production of Documents
  • Rule 35, Physical & Mental exams
  • Rule 36, Requests for Admission
  • Rule 37, Sanctions for Failure
  • Brief: Umpres v. Shell Oil (1971)
  • Brief: Brandenberg v. El Al Israel Airlines (1978)
  • Brief: O’Brien v. International Brotherhood Electrical Workers (1977)
  • Brief: Schlagenhauf v. Holder (1964)
  • Brief: Freed v. Erie Lackawanna Railway (1971)
  • Brief: Identiseal Corp v. Positive Identification Systems (1977)
  • Brief: Shuber v. S.S. Kresge Co. (1970)
  • Brief: American Airlines v. Ulen (1949)
  • Form 25, Requests for Admission
  • Rule 16, Pretrial conferences, Scheduling, Management
  • Rule 72, Magistrate Judges, Pretrial Orders
  • Rule 73, Magistrate Judges, Trial by Consent and Appeal
  • 28 USC 636
  • Rule 53, Masters
  • Rule 56, Motion for Summary Judgment

I started out trying to get through the text in one fell swoop. Big mistake. I was reading all about rules I hadn’t read yet. My new process is to read and analyze the rules in their entirety as they come up in Field’s. This means I understand a lot more, but also makes it excruciatingly slow. I’m finding there is a three-read rule in effect for good comprehension. No matter how hard I stare at a passage it doesn’t ‘click’ until the third time I go through it. So this is what my time budgeting is looking like. I’m averaging 5 pages an hour when reading for comprehension, 2 pages an hour if they reference Rules (in FRCP) I haven’t come across previously. So the tally from above is 9 hours straight reading, 15 rules from FRCP and 8 cases to brief.

Of course, the main implication of this is that I’ve spent entirely too long on this blog post.

Observing the obvious: law books are heavy and well-bound. I theorize that they are heavy because they must withstand a lot of abuse; they are the handiest and most visible manifestation of the source of your present pain and suffering.

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