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Isn't it ironic that I want to kill my Crim Law professor? - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Isn't it ironic that I want to kill my Crim Law professor? [Aug. 28th, 2003|06:38 am]
[Current Mood |infuriatedinfuriated]




Inevitably in law school, there are some courses that are what is generously known as "self-taught" - in other words, you'd better pay attention to the materials because you aren't going to get much out of the lectures. The prof is mostly going to give you guidelines at to what his tests look like, and your class notes reflect that emphasis.

Criminal Law is going to be in a realm beyond the outer reaches of that. We are in the wilderness, kiddos, and you better have brought your own compass.

Last night's class was concerning actus reus, the need for an actual act before a crime can be charged. Intent is not enough, you must actually engage in some activity. Statutes that illegalize innocent actions in anticipation of a criminal intent are not constitutionally enforceable. You can't be tried for your thoughts, dreams, wishes or desires, only for putting them into action.

It took me two minutes to type that. It took you 15 seconds to read it at most.

He proceeded to perform an impromptu "variations on a theme" for a full forty minutes.

I'm not talking about adding more information, discussions of the finer points whereby people can be charged with intent for actions within a context that makes them not-so-innocent, which is where the more interesting aspects of actus reus lie. He skimmed past those riffs with a sentence here and a sentence there, but the vast majority of his babbling was repeating, with slight variation, "It's not enough to have an intent, there must be some action. You have to have an action to create a chargeable offense. Intent isn't enough, you can't be charged for your secret desires or everyone would be in jail."

40. Fucking. Minutes.

Omission was next - it was in the Monday reading assignment that none of us had done yet. Another 25 minutes of, "Parents have a duty to save their children. Do you think that siblings have a duty to each other? Firefighters?" We were all so miffed by now that no one was cooperating. We stared mutely at him while he enumerated the People in Your Neighborhood and muttered indecisively about their duties.

He then started discussing the next case. Finally someone asked him what he was doing, because he was way ahead of us, and he got a bit irked, dithered for 5 minutes about whether to discuss a case we hadn't read, and then, with 3 minutes left in the class period, decided he would tell us about "one of my most colorful clients I ever defended, Dr. Timothy Leary."

I'm sure it might be an amusing story over a beer (lots of beer), but it was 8:45 at night and we were ready to go. He's a dreadful storyteller, so there was no punchline, simply a rambling of his memories of defending Timothy Leary for trafficking charges.

And he wouldn't shut up. Everyone is looking at their watches as the end of the class period comes and goes by 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 8 minutes. We're all glancing around at each other. I turned to the guy behind me and said, I feel like a hostage. He nodded in agreement. Finally Sarah, who sits next to me, and I made eye contact and simultaneously said to each other, "Stand up!" We leaped to our feet and finished packing our bags. Still, he talked. Other people began standing. Sarah and I led the charge out of the room.

As I walked out the door, he was still talking.

I don't know how we're gonna do this for a whole semester. I was already fighting the urge to fling things at him, or just scream, "We get it! Shut UP!!!"

It's a good thing intent isn't enough for a criminal charge, because the whole class would be in jail now.

[User Picture]From: of_little_note
2003-08-28 06:25 am (UTC)


At least he got his point across...

School is tough enough without having to deal with poor teachers. I feel your pain.

Those were the classes that I used to bring newspapers to read. After a few crackling page turnings, most instructors got the hint. And, if you're as good a student as you sound, you can get away with it. At least I did..
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-08-28 08:44 am (UTC)

Re: Intent

He is deaf, and oblivious. We'll struggle through....
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[User Picture]From: mandy_gray
2003-08-28 06:36 am (UTC)

I feel your pain....

Which was not as bad, I'm sure, as the poor schmuck who politely stood there until he stopped speaking.

I was curious... Are you studying to be a laywer or legal assistant. I can follow some of this (kind of, almost) because my Aunt Kay is going to college with me in the LAP program and your classes sound similar to what she has taken.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-08-28 08:45 am (UTC)

Re: I feel your pain....

Law school, to be a lawyer. I am currently working as a paralegal.

Some people did stay. [shudder]
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[User Picture]From: blazepoet
2003-08-28 06:36 am (UTC)

It happens everywhere

Sadly enough it is not just law school. Those teacher's abound and always teach the late in the afternoon or night classes.

One of my engineering professors kept us almost half an hour late at 8:30 at night because we had to get to the end of his notes for that day's session. The reason we were so far behind is he arrived fifteen minutes late.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-08-28 08:50 am (UTC)

Re: It happens everywhere

Keeping us over is cause for mutiny with this bunch - all working people with tight schedules. And not many who are shy about their feelings.
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From: fmh
2003-08-28 06:53 am (UTC)
Reminds me of a math professor I had in college, he was a raging alcoholic.
You may have to hook up with some other students in the class and resolve to plod through the material on your own. Heres to hoping you pass in spite of the instruction your receiving.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-08-28 08:49 am (UTC)
We'll probably arrange a study group soon. We could hold it during class time - gods know we wouldn't be missing anything.
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[User Picture]From: dreagoddess
2003-08-28 08:12 am (UTC)
CrimLaw seems to be one of those subjects that you either hate or adore, and it always comes down to the prof. I learned more in one day of CrimLaw lectures of BarBri than I did in an entire semester of class. My prof loved talking about the theory of everything, so we spent weeks on the damned canibalistic sailors and I learned what mens rea meant by watching "Legally Blonde". *hugs* You'll get through it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-08-28 08:46 am (UTC)
BarBri is my only hope of getting past this on the bar. I relly wanted to like it, too.
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[User Picture]From: dreagoddess
2003-08-28 09:06 am (UTC)
It's a really neat subject, but I only learned that on the bar. :\ Silly profs.
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[User Picture]From: law_witch
2003-08-28 08:28 am (UTC)
"It's a good thing intent isn't enough for a criminal charge, because the whole class would be in jail now."

The old coot is asking to get lynched at this rate!!!

Any chance of finding any of his students from last and getting an idea of what his exams are like??

He sounds like the walking definition of "those who can't do teach!"
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-08-28 08:48 am (UTC)
Fortunately, the school makes a policy of making old exams available for review, so I will be able to get ahold of his and get an idea of what he's looking for.

I think you used to "do" quite well. But now he can neither do nor teach. Law school shouldn't be the repository of retirees.
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[User Picture]From: correspondguy
2003-08-28 05:27 pm (UTC)

I feel your pain

My personal frustrations are usually with my fellow students - there's one in particular who manages to ask a "look how smart I am" question at least once a week - but there have been lectures where I desperately wanted a fast-forward button.

I will say that my Crim Law Prof (who was my Constution & Criminal Investigation prof) was the kind of guy who knew where we would be at 8 PM on the sixteenth class meeting, and he spent a lot of time on actus reus. Some people cannot grasp it.

Still, I bet it truly sucked.

Stay strong, sister.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-08-29 08:11 pm (UTC)

Re: I feel your pain

I wouldn't have minded a long time on reus actus if he had been explaining inchoate action and the subtlties of attempted crime.

He just kept repeating himself, with slight variations on the theme.

Last night in Property we spent better than half an hour getting it through people's heads that even if the oil is under your land it doesn't belong to you unless you capture it and someone else can come along and take it all, and that's perfectly all right. But it was a lively dicussion, various aspects discussed, and I didn't mind at all.

Hammering something home only works if you're bringing substance to it. All I know from him is that I don't know enough about actus reus.
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[User Picture]From: correspondguy
2003-08-30 03:02 am (UTC)

Re: I feel your pain

Oh, you started with the fox. I love the fox.

Your textbook wouldn't happen to be "Property Law and the Public Interest" with one of the authors being Hylton, would it?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2003-08-30 05:58 am (UTC)

Re: I feel your pain

Yes, we started with the fox, but the book is by Singer. Pierson v. Post, however, appears to be a classic place to start. My prof said that one time she was going through stuff in her mother's basement and came across her grandfather's Proprty Law notes from 1924 and they started out with Pierson v. Post.

And I love the fox, too.
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[User Picture]From: juleske
2003-08-31 03:08 am (UTC)
Jay, I love 'beginning of term' stories! Gimme more!
I'm starting to look forward to it myself :)

*feeling decidedly 'Willow-ish'*
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