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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mock Me

Early in the semester, I volunteered to be a jury member for the law school's mock trial competition. I thought it would be a fun experience, and give me a little insight into what mock trial might be like, in case I decide to take the class in the future. Today was the competition, and it was fun, and it did give me insight, and I think I might take the class since I think it would give me valuable skills if I want to become a litigator. But I had to be at the courthouse downtown at 9:AM today, which means I had to board the bus at 8:40, and wake up at 8:00, and snooze my alarm since 7:30. On a Saturday, no less. That may not sound like a big deal to some of you morning dove types, but as a night owl, I struggle with any sort of consciousness before 10:AM, and even then it's not a happy consciousness.

I thought the case I heard today was the best example of an open and shut case I've seen in law school so far, which I think is exactly what you wouldn't want for a mock trial competition. You would think you would want each team to have a fair shake at getting a jury verdict in their favor, but this scenario seemed heavily weighted in favor of the defense from the get-go.

It was a criminal case for murder. The standard for rendering a guilty verdict in a criminal case is, as you probably know, "beyond a reasonable doubt." (If you were curious, the standard for finding liability in civil cases is "preponderance of the evidence.") So our case was one in which, not only was the cause of death uncertain -- either blunt force trauma to the back of the head by way of bludgeoning with a trophy, or sudden drop in blood pressure due to overdose of Viagra -- but the evidence proving the murder suspect's involvement was by no means certain -- his fingerprint appeared on the trophy, along with a fingerprint of another person who was not conclusively ruled out as a suspect. That's a scenario chalk full of reasonable doubt, if you ask me.

Well, it was still fun getting a chance to sit in the jury box of an actual courtroom. Now that I'm going to become an attorney myself, the likelihood that I will ever be selected to sit on an actual jury is not particularly good.



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8 comments:

Claire said...

So will you be available for criminal defense once you're an attorney?

Because my road to super-villainy will no doubt generate at least one trial, and I want to get far enough that I can shield myself behind walls of lawyers while building my evil empire. You can be chief counsel, and drive a gleaming black hovercraft to all your court appointments.

Also, you will have a bumbling henchman who is nonetheless skilled with hand-to-hand combat and the deadly belt of razor-sharp bottle caps he wears in memory of the childhood backstory we will give him.

So, you know, send me your rate card or whatever.

Sra said...

I have absolutely no desire to practice in the criminal realm. But I may end up being a litigator in the civil area, possibly patent or more general IP. So when someone infringes your patent, copyright, trademark, or misappropriates your trade secrets, I'll be available for that.

B.R. said...

I'm commenting by way of a question informed by self-interest, Sra. An academic journal (refereed, of course) out in England (Uni of London) would like to publish my piece on 'queering the iPod' which I originally had remixed for public radio. I am now having to go through the 'clearance getting' process. I am trying to get some help with the copyright/bilbio credit as I have no idea what the actual IP guidelines are like. When I quote/remix 'Madonna' and 'The Killers' by way of their music it's not the same as quoting Dante.
Are they are sources out there for academics to consult so that due bibliographic credit can be given to the featured artists? I will also write a post about this.
Thanks much.

Sra said...

I'm not able to give advice as to getting permission from artists to use a quote or soundbite (though my feeling is that what you've done with those bits is fair use, so you wouldn't need permission, but don't take my word for it).

As for putting a reference in a bibliography, I think most journals use either The Bluebook or ALWD for citations. I'm using ALWD in law school, but you might ask the journal what standard for citation formats they are using.

The ALWD format for referencing a full CD:

Name of artist or composer, Title of record (Record Label Date) (Type of Recording, e.g. CD).

To reference just a song:

Name of artist or composer, Title of song, in Title of record (Record Label Date) (Type of Recording, e.g. CD).

I hope that is helpful.

Sra said...

Oh, and congratulations on the publication. That's a good piece.

Now that I'm thinking about it more, I'm pretty sure there are resources out there that help you determine whether your usage is fair use or not. But I'm not sure what they are. I think a journalist would know.

B.R. said...

Thanks, Sra. According to the journal, in order to quote other artists' work, you need permission for it. Just quoting their work on a biblio is not enough. Plus, I thought it especially apropos to remix the piece again. This time around I relied on the art produced by artists I personally know and have collaborated with on one capacity of another.

B.R. said...

I'm commenting by way of a question informed by self-interest, Sra. An academic journal (refereed, of course) out in England (Uni of London) would like to publish my piece on 'queering the iPod' which I originally had remixed for public radio. I am now having to go through the 'clearance getting' process. I am trying to get some help with the copyright/bilbio credit as I have no idea what the actual IP guidelines are like. When I quote/remix 'Madonna' and 'The Killers' by way of their music it's not the same as quoting Dante.
Are they are sources out there for academics to consult so that due bibliographic credit can be given to the featured artists? I will also write a post about this.
Thanks much.

Sra said...

I have absolutely no desire to practice in the criminal realm. But I may end up being a litigator in the civil area, possibly patent or more general IP. So when someone infringes your patent, copyright, trademark, or misappropriates your trade secrets, I'll be available for that.

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