• Law School

    Sleeping and So Busy

    I’m getting enough sleep at various hours of the day / night and I’m busy. That’s my summer. That’s my life. I think I’m so busy because of all the sleep, though. I’m not sure. But, I mean, still scheduling time for Play, Work, Facebook kind of busy. I have thought about waking up at 8a to see how that works out for me, but it’s so bright. And watching Weeds and Dexter at 2a via Netflix streaming always seems the better path.

    What I’m up to this summer:

    (1) Working with the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, mostly from home I hope. I was not going to work this summer. I was going to “clean my closet.” 2L summer is the last summer of my life to play. And then Coach (Trial Team) dropped this idea on me and I couldn’t let it go. This is the kind of thing that I am passionate about.

    The Slover case has been tried, appealed and is now in the post-conviction relief stage. The Slovers filed a petition for relief pro se. The petition survived the first stage of review, and counsel was appointed. I’m a part of the research / work to amend the Slovers’ petition. This is a huge file – 37,000 pages of documents. I spent over 20 hours the first week just trying to get a handle on the status of the case. I spent another three today on Wiki. I will be a lawyer someday. Speaking of, I’m waiting on my 711 license now. More on that when it arrives.

    (2) Grading Journal submissions from the 1Ls in the Note-writing competition. Each member of Journal will grade something less than 40 notes (20 pps. each, I think?), we hope. Oh yeah – also updating and re-writing the JLTP webpage as the Journal’s Internet Editor.

    (3) I’ve been asked to re-work my own note from 2L (that thing I kept ranting about on here) into a shorter submission, targeting a different audience for probable publication in our Journal.

    (4) Learning statistics. My class, The Use and Retention of Expert Witnesses, used a statistician on the last day of class. I had to direct and cross him on electoral voter fraud. Preparing for that and performing those examinations, I realized that statisticians and statistics can Mess You Up if you don’t know what you’re talking about and can’t handle the witness, explain numbers to the jury, or talk to the judge about the testimony. And I was correct – already I’m embroiled in statistics with the Slover case and canine DNA, etc. I’m taking Empirical Methods in Law this fall and am reading Statistics for People Who Think They Hate Statistics and Applying Statistics in the Courtroom this summer to prepare. Numbers and maps are not my strong suit.

    (5) Studying for the MPRE in August. Everyone has to take it; I thought taking it before school started would be wise. I think it is, but I still have to study.

    (6) Visiting family; sitting in the hot tub; seeing Bon Jovi in concert with the girls I graduated high school with; reading books recommended for the externship experience – Picking Cotton (see the website; take the eyewitness test); Actual Innocence, and Too Politically Sensitive: Since When Is Murder Too Politically Sensitive. And if you, personally, have not read The Innocent Man by John Grisham, I highly recommend it.

    (7) And dude. Speaking of statistics: for my fan base – in a completely unexpected and Costanzan move, I ranked in the top 10% of the class for the semester. Just the semester, I note. But you know my outlier has shocked and dropped some top 10 classmate somewhere. Sorry. I was all on top of P.R., Expert Witnesses, and Comparative Law. Better luck next time, gunn-ah.

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  • Law School


    How original. I leave for the competition in the morning. Be gone through Saturday. The second draft of the messy Note is in, final due in three weeks.

    Yeah. I got nothing. But, I did decide what I was going to wear at competition. Next was the hair but Brittanie tells me I’m more professional with the hair straight not curled although I want to wear it curled. When it’s really messed up, curled is better looking than straight. Enh. I’m just rambling. Must sleep but missed my Interwebs.

    (PS) Clearly I didn’t post this before the competition. We did nicely. The kind of thing I’d rather tell you about in person. But I did wear ← this. It was fun. I didn’t remember that I owned suit pants. Oh, and my hair did well. So proud of it.

    Later – full week ahead. Sort of. Now that Trial Team is over for my team, I am so happy. I still have Advanced Trial Ad which is the jury trial thing. Pre-trial conference is a week from tomorrow. Goes to trial Mar. 18. I can do this, I think. I should start writing the opening, I’m sure. After Trial Team, though, I’m just not worried. w00t.

    Oh and I did clean that mirror! It’s a sick, sick world we live in.

  • Kids,  Law School,  Life

    What Rocks My (Consumer) World: the one that overuses the word “amazing”

    Joan JettI want to complain out loud, right now, but I’m not. Because I’m going to read at least three articles for my Note and organize my iCal and my Google calendar. I do not have time to complain. About the kid who “has style, it’s just not yours” which is said while she’s dressed head-to-toe in an outfit I put together for her, half of which is mine. Or should be. Lately I’ve been channeling Joan Jett, which goes very well with this child’s style. Sure, she doesn’t like or wear everything I do, but I know her style. She robs my closet.

    I let her try on my Victoria’s Secret Blue London pencil jeans (because if I see one more American Eagle swoosh-like thing on a back pocket I will burn my own), and I proceeded to put together her current outfit: the great Miss Sixty faux-leather motorcycle jacket (that I can borrow and I thought would look amazing on her and it does), her long sleeved black tee (I have my own already, thanks), and new (Thanks to who? Me. Yes, me.) short-sleeved Brad Butter tee to go over that. I suggested the black knee-high boots with tucked-in jeans and my burgundy multi-strand necklace. I would wear this outfit – and might I say that we both look good in it.

    I similarly brought this child home a white long-sleeved tee with a black “I’m in love with a fictional vampire” short-sleeved tee to go over it (I’m totally borrowing this, I don’t care how ubiquitous it is) and a Tryst brown and aqua long-sleeved tie-dyed tee . . . mmm, no. That is now mine. I look good in that shirt. With my brown scrunch knee-high boots? Give me back the Blue Londons.

    Clearly, my point is that I have great style I am the definition of über-hip she’s just unthinkingly reactionary as are all 14-year-olds you don’t define your style as Anti-Mom while you are dressed in your mom’s stuff. Moron. But I’m not complaining. It gives her something to say and sometimes (read: never) she’s just too quiet. I just hope she looks good today and tomorrow. (And I know she will, because I freaking dressed her.)

    However, what rocks my Consumer World today is the point of this post:

    (1) Sherlock Holmes. This is an enjoyable movie. Do it again, Guy. Do it again.

    (2) My new coat. I can’t stop touching it. It is in charcoal and It. Is. To. Die. For. The Coat

    Aside, from Dinner at Eight, Frasier:

    Niles Crane: Oh, oh-oh-oh, the food is to die for!

    Martin Crane: Niles, your country and your family are to die for; food is to eat.

    And then, like Oprah, I have a few favorite things:

    (3) My B. Makowsky Rebel bag. I can’t stop touching it. It’s amazing. The leather. The hardware. I’m bringin’ back big bags. (To my gay friend: “Look, look: I look like Nicole Richie in pencil jeans with a bag two sizes larger than I am!” Gay friend scrunches nose. “This is not a good thing.”) This bag, though? Good thing. He’s an idiot. Beloved, but even so.

    Bayamo Drs Bag(4) My Samsonite Black label Bayamo Doctor’s Bag. You shouldn’t stop touching it. (I did not, however, pay an exorbitant amount for it. But I might have. It’s that amazing.)

    (5) Mittens and gloves, fingerless (warm and you can still do things with your phone – what is not to love?) and standard: long winter white fingerless mittens (like these), short black fingerless gloves, sorta long black leather gloves and I’m still looking for the right pair of opera length black leather gloves.

    For the love of … It’s about information and affirmation of existing standards. Comforting noises, even.

    Oy! Like all Law-Students-Writing-A-Note, I have Law-Student-Writing-A-Note Tourette’s. Halfway through writing this entry, that sentence – the idea really – begs me to write it down and translate it to a page and a half, if I’m good, of quasi-indecipherable language and like every Law Student who is only 17 pages into the 30 quasi-indecipherable ones required, I wrote it down right where I stood, which is here on this very page, lest I lose it. Or right where I reclined. Which is in bed. In pajamas. It’s very, very snowy out.

    Oh look. It’s the genesis of Law-Student-Writing-A-Note ADD: something shiny! (Psst – it’s the hardware on my B. Makowsky. Yeah, baby.)

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  • Law School

    Once Again

    Facebook explodes. No one is drinking. I don’t think anyone is g-chatting, even. Law students everywhere frantically study for finals and review their class notes (the night before their Trial Ad final) hoping to find something within that illuminates the whole semester.

    The last three Trial Ad class sessions in which I took notes:
    (You know, this was a demonstration class, rather than lecture and that means something for our purposes, here.)


    IL Rules of Professional Conduct 2010

    3.6 and 3.8

    Instructions are an adversary proceeding. Look in pattern jury instruction books. IL: if there is a pattern jury instruction, judge must give that instruction. If not one, judge must be convinced instruction accurately states the law.
    Beckett wrote his own jury and trial limiting instruction.

    Must have an original instruction and THREE copies. You’ll waive jury error instruction on appeal if you don’t have that “preserve the record” thing at the bottom. God, I hope this is boilerplate somewhere.

    Jury gets the packet without the “record” thing. The judge gets the record one.

    10/23/09 Free Press stuff:

    10/30/09: Tell him who your partner is for Spring, whether you want civil, crim. P/Fail not graded. Jury trial.


    I hope we’ve learned our lesson, boys and girls.

  • Law School

    I Want A Lawyer

    Sick I have the flu and this is my bed, right now. What is missing from this photo is me, pretty freaking sick, with four-hour-old Pibb Extra and 40-minute-old Shiner Bock to my right. In this photo, I’m partial to the boxes of Benadryl and Actifed, Hint of Lime Tostitos, Kleenex and iPod.

    I’d give details on the competition (we won; we lost) but as you can see, I’m supposed to be reading. Apparently Trial Techniques, Criminal Procedure, poetry, a Lexis outline of Crim Pro, and my notes from my first and for my second meeting with a real doctor for my fake Counseling, Fact Investigation, and Interviewing class. Well, the class isn’t fake. The meeting we’re both attending is fake. I keep using that word.

    Aside: The best thing I learned all semester1 was that “You have the right to remain silent” is not the Right You Want. What you really, really want to say is “I want a lawyer.” No “maybe.” No “I should talk to a lawyer.” No. Get serious with this. Feel it: “I want a lawyer.” This is when better protections attach. ← You want better protections to attach. And go ahead and repeat it. Anything special happens, like the police move you to a new room, it cannot hurt to say it aloud for kicks.2 Do not mess this up and then come crying to me.3

    More later. Srsly. But I have to get better and have so much to do before my first final next Friday.

    1Okay, in the last week, and far beneath “Sit down and shut up,” of course.

    2I’m kidding. It could hurt. And how embarrassing to be known as The One Who Repeats Himself Needlessly. Say it aloud anyway.

    3This just makes me homesick for Arkansas. I remember the day my brothers very seriously told me to always ask, “Am I being detained?” If not, then shut up and leave. (The trick you go to law school for is knowing what it means when the cop says, “Why, yes. You are.”)

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  • Law School,  Life

    Trial Team Practice II

    Alright, we have sound. But we were dead Friday night. Utterly lame, tired, pained, not in a courtroom. However, this is Conor’s cross of his actual co-counsel playing a hostile witness and she is good at what she does to both Conor and Eric. Conor says, “This is horrible.” Eric: “I feel your pain, man.” Naoshi can destroy either of them with a few sentences.

    To explain just a bit – Eric and I are the Defense team for competition. Conor and Naoshi are the Plaintiff’s team. During competition, we four will not face each other, but the Defense team will serve as favorable Plaintiff’s witnesses, and the plaintiff team will serve as our favorable witnesses. The non-favorable witnesses will be played, at competition, by other teams therefore we four give each other a hard time on cross so nothing will surprise us. This leads to the most amusing moments we have, actually.

    A few moments from this incredibly poor round:

    (1) My response to the judge, which is really in response to Conor: 0:11-0:13. “Any objection, counsel?” “None, Your Honor.” “Except it’s a waste of time.”

    (2) 2:19-ish I cannot begin my re-direct. Just blanked. I walk over to Eric and say, “Gimme a sentence.” “A sentence?” “Yes. How does this start?”

    (3) 3:29 Naoshi (the witness) lists off a litany of facts favorable to my side, ending with “…scaring employees.” Eric begins clapping. It was a really brilliant moment, there, N.


  • Law School

    Trial Team Practices

    What we have here is the gold standard in stressed-out procrastination. I won’t fit in a skirt tomorrow after this – I’m moving on to tortilla chips with lime. I wonder if we have beer…

    So Magnolia has me thinking I want to intimidate people. If at all possible.

    Ha ha*. I kid. Mostly. There are a couple of other Southerns in my sphere right now and it appears that one advantage of the southern charm is that the other side just likes us and begins to spill in deposition, expert interviews, etc., and then we can go for the jugular in the nicest possible way in the courtroom. The two times I’ve needed this advantage thus far this semester, I’ve had it.

    At any rate, I was able to edit my trial team videos. (It only required $29.99. Not that I assume anyone other than fam wants to watch videos of me or Trial Team practice, but I’m a gawker by nature, so maybe you are too – my aunts definitely are), and I think two things:

    (1) I am more commanding without the voice. And when not pumping up the hair.

    (2) I am more commanding when I know the case. In theory. One takes Trial Team more seriously. Apparently not seriously enough to record /sound/, the whole point of the exercise, but whatevs. Watching action and movement in the well of the courtrooom is good too.

    What I love about this video is Conor just about to object and then not, me grabbing things from and off of opposing counsel/’s desk (because that is so real), and Eric and Conor’s “Is she still going” poker faces. This was a thirty minute vid.


    The next video is Eric cross-examining a witness. We cross up close and personal to both witness and jury. We direct from behind the jury. This video is short and just shows standard practice, really.


    This one is really just for us and is therefore not cut down to a reasonable length. Cross-exam / objection mannerisms / laughter. 2:02-3:45 Extended objection by Conor.


    You know, I think the whole Nancy Grace thing is coming. Watch for it.

    *If, in reading this, you are uncertain as to whether a specific statement is meant seriously or not, simply apply this rule of thumb: If the statement makes you consider filing a lawsuit, I was kidding. Ha ha! – Dave Barry

  • Law School

    Four Letters: Pibb, Cute, and Then Some

    I’m busy. And apparently competent. To stand for sandbagging, as my fabulous professor put it.

    2L Bites. Hard. I didn’t know this. So I’ll tell you something you don’t want to hear: I don’t think in sentences that don’t include four-letter-words any more. Sometimes that’s the only part of the sentence I get out. I believe how I put it was: Law school has simultaneously expanded my vocabulary and reduced it to a series of four letter words.

    I go days without doing anything but sitting in front of a computer. I go weekends without responding to emails and saying anything more than “Go. away.” to people. I want to see “Paranormal Activity,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” and I can not miss whatever the second “Twilight” movie is, but until they start playing these movies at 1:00 A.M. downtown, I’m out. I no longer want to read. I never thought this possible. (I also never thought I’d fondly remember 1L and long for the good old days.) I am interested in books the way I’m interested in art and music that I no longer get to look at or listen to. What a lovely idea. I do get out, though. Because I now understand why we drink.

    Because, not unlike right now, my head’s gonna explode. Because I should not be doing this, but should be writing a direct exam, two closing arguments, and the rough draft of a note. However, if you’d seen the various other ways I’ve blown a perfectly good “working” morning, you’d wonder why I wasn’t updating the blog on 2L. So, a few notes for the memories –

    My videos are getting better for whatever _that’s_ worth…

    I taught myself a while back to forego “ums” when speaking professionally by popping my wrist with a rubber band. Low-rent but effective. I’m going to have to start doing that and like, now, to stop the “Shellie Stephen-zzzz, for the Defen-zzzz.”

    (This particular video is an opening statement. The class is pass/fail and I finally realized I was spending too much time on this class. I want the skillz, but I must prioritize. Fifteen people in this class. A bazillion at Trial Team competition in a few weeks. (That just made me physically ill.))

    Speaking of “like, now,” my latest review from the head coach on Trial Team practice: “You said “totally not troubling” – my goodness! You might as well have said ‘like totally not troubling’”. I laughed out loud.

    And speaking of laughing out loud, at a recent Trial Team practice (10-25-09), I videoed my partner, Eric, and myself but they are thirty minutes long (no sound) and these .movs will not import into iMovie so I can cut them and make a perfectly hilarious montage with music or sound effects. The first few minutes of “Mime Trial Team” has me in highly animated form, talking to the team about something very important, I’ve no doubt, then flipping my head over and pumping my hair for my performance. It’s all about what matters. (Edited: this is now edited and on youtube; url edited above. Still sans sound.)

    I’ve got thoughts on Learning Sneaky Lawyer Tricks and How I Now Love Them and Use Them Mercilessly, How I Talk to Everyone in Cross-Examination Form, and Becoming So Liberal You Should Put Me On House Arrest Now Because For the Love of Cthulhu We Do Not Kill People On My Watch.

    It’s only by the grace of Pibb Extra and the woman who assures me my paranoid ideation is cute that I’m getting by these days. Srsly.

  • Law School

    So How Many Cameras Are Actually On You?

    For the love of all that’s holy, have you ever had to watch three videos of yourself a week? Don’t. Or, only if you must. My classes are tailored to trial law this semester. I have CFI: Counseling, Fact Investigation, and Interviewing (dealing with clients); Trial Advocacy: study of trial practice and one night per week simulations at the county courthouse; and Trial Team, that competitive team thing. Each of these classes record me. Practical Shelle is enthused at the prospect of getting better and having the tape to prove it by semester’s end. Shallow Shelle is practically in pain watching the videos.

    Perfectly frank: people tell me I’m good at this. My classmates have said I’m “great,” “totally believable,” and “You handled that rape victim so well – you were so soothing, credible – it sounded like ‘Honey, you’re just mistaken. It wasn’t my client, but some other monster.'” I sincerely appreciate it. What they mean though, I think, is that I will be good at this. Because right now, watching my past three video assignments hurts.

    What am I doing with my hands? Did I just nod in response to that witness’s BS answer?!? Whatever I’m doing with my head looks like a tic. I’m rushing my questions. Me in a suit – The Ghost and the Darkness. Am I wearing make-up? I’m washed-out. I’m not convinced I have a chin anymore. I think of Friends, The One with the Prom Video: Monica: “The camera adds ten pounds!” Joey: “So, how many cameras were actually on you?” Ally McBeal was invisible. The cameras created all thirty pounds of her.

    My videos, thus far:

    (1) New client intake: you think the fact that my client was naked with her paramour on the living room couch while the welfare worker walked in and her two and four year old daughters played on the floor might come out at the custody hearing? Yeah, me too. That would have been a handy bit of information to elicit. But, Ms. Jones said she really trusted and liked me. w00t.

    (2) First closing argument: “You don’t have to believe the veterinarian’s testimony that the dogs were not abused and in fights. It’s not reasonable to believe Micah Victor didn’t know about the dog fighting operation. You don’t have to believe her testimony because she stands to lose 75% of her business, her pro-bowler boyfriend, and her professional license. She has a stake in the outcome of this trial.”

    We’re going kind of strong here for a first argument, yeah? That can be remedied.

    “You don’t have to believe her. You aren’t going to lose your license. At the end of the day, you’ll get to keep your license to be a . . . juror.” We have minor internal WTF? moment. I’d like to tell you I stopped there.

    I’m not going to be entirely too hard on myself – this closing argument was eight minutes long, had to be given without notes, and was on a case I’d looked at for a couple of days. Hard to do. I did manage to work in a Cat Woman analogy which Coach liked: “Your neighbor has six cats? You think she likes cats more than you. Your neighbor has 16 cats? You wonder where she keeps them. Your neighbor has 26 cats? Does she moonlight? How does she pay for the kitty litter? Your neighbor has 66 cats – you call someone and complain. And that’s exactly what happened. Sixty-six dogs on the Micah Victor compound – the neighbors complained.” Emphasizing “it’s not reasonable” was also effective.

    (3) Cross-examination of rape victim: The One Question Too Many. My theory? She’s mistaken. The victim only “named” him after being attacked and given drugs at the hospital to help her relax. She says it was the man who made an improper advance on her the night before in a bar. I theorize he may be inappropriate, but he’s not her rapist. She only identified him when she was asked to come to court to identify a potential suspect and saw him standing next to the bailiff and sheriff. Bias confirmation. I get going on the identification only coming hours after the attack and after the administration of drugs. I add (which was particularly effective, the attorney tells me, or was, until I refused to stop):

    Me: You’re a student at NITA University? Do you have student privileges? Library? Cafe?”

    Witness: “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.”

    This is good.

    Me: Are you aware that my client is a student at NITA University?”

    Witness: “No.”

    This is bad.

    Later, our Trial Advocacy class watched the Irving Younger classic on cross-examination. Brilliant.

    Favorite take-away: “Sit down; shut up. Why? Because every minute you’re standing up, you’re f—ing up.”