What you read and link to below is from the wiki for my class about Evidence, from a student in my class, Scooby, still just a name to me. As i read it here on this blog-edit page meta to what you see i see a flowering of links that could be there, grounding each reference to the foundation of our class. How do we make the wiki live?
Since the first Jah Cure discussion, and particularly since the first Wendy Murphy visit, I’ve been contributing rather long-winded discourse to the Wiki in the following sections: Nuremberg, Wendy Murphy, the Confrontation Clause, etc. Typically these contributions occured at 12-2 am, whenever I had finished my reading for the next day. They contain my thoughts outside of class and not while my nose was in a book. Short of discussing a few telephone conversations or bills, that was my day, each day, during the weeks of Evidence: shower, class, retype notes, read, write the Wiki, watch 30 minutes of TV, sleep, rinse and repeat.
Weekends were somewhat different. The first weekend back, I had about 10 people over for a huge prime rib and premium wine. I really miss having gatherings like that from my previous life. I also miss having 10 funny but mature drunk people in my house. I batted about 50% that night: five HLS’ers, my closest friends, were awesome guests. Five decided to wrestle, break glasses, have newspaper fights, and generally act like 5-year olds. I thought it was the wine.
It wasn’t the wine. Speaking of whine…the first day of class, I walked in and there, under a calm, low light, with soft reggae playing, was Professor Nesson. As the class filled, he led us in stretching exercises which about half the class joined. The first week of class was incredible. Big picture stuff. Why we have a jury. And then…”why aren’t we learning “Evidence?” (Evidence without a jury isn’t Evidence)…turn up the lights, speak louder/softer/sing/dance…what about the exam…the Exam…the EXAM!” I suppose I could have gotten a few better grades had I focused on exam banks and mastering how others have issue spotted in concise prose. Having focused on the class at hand and actually enjoying myself, however, I couldn’t believe how anxiety tore this class to shreds. Within one week, the smiles and relaxation were turned to nervousness and bickering. I contributed, don’t get me wrong: part of growing up in this course was to try (and per this paragraph, not completely succeed) to stop bitching about people bitching. But come on! Maybe it’s my previous career, or maybe it’s the way I was raised, but the insulting tone of the class toward Professor Nesson was embarassing.
[nesson here: no insult seen intended, no insult taken. Anxiety is real, so deal with it.]
* I know I should…deal with it that is. I spent many years in an alternative universe that frowned upon revealing weakness or questioning the system. The last hurdle for me has been this “why isn’t everyone else where i am” arrogance. It occurs to me more and more that it’s not “them” but me that needs to adapt.
But back to the weekends, which, as I have said, were my “free time.” The rest of weekend one was spent nursing a hangover and watching movies. But as always, reading kicked in on Sunday afternoon, and we were off to the races again.
The second weekend was our three-day MLK weekend. I was getting excited. Finish notes and stuff Friday afternoon and then smooth sailing…four days to go re: reading. This class went too fast. Then, our Fearless Reader announced on that Friday, The Takehome….now, I know that he is a good hearted man. He was only trying to make things less stressful. A complete non-takehome would be: 1) focused question(s) and 2) discuss a dispute real to you and whether you think the law’s architecture can handle it…you have 3 hours. But no, Nesson’s being nice and letting us peck at question 2 in advance. But announcing it on a Friday before a long weekend? I mean, I’m not that mellow. I knew what was in store from the class with this one. The Wiki proved it: worry, worry, read into the question, negotiate…whine. I approached the question like it was on an exam with a three-hour limit. But the Friday announcement ruined the weekend for me. Sort of a guilt reaction, I suppose. As in, others are going to work on papers and I know I’m not, and thus…emotional meltdown. I finished my notes on Friday afternoon after eating a long lunch with Phil and his girlfriend, and then watched TV. On Saturday, I didn’t get out of bed until 2pm. What was I to do? Too early to start a paper, and the Little Bitter Boy remnant in me was thinking, “my classmates are going to hone their papers to a fine edge, and I miss my secretary.” So moping set in; all of Saturday was wasted. Sunday I caught up on some reading and football. Monday was a blur.
Thursday night I attended the event featuring Courtney, Kevin and Hurricane. I have a picture of Hurrincane and me…I think of Solomon and the quarter in which hand: did he murder people or is he really innocent? The best way to look at it is does it really matter what the truth is, as long as his dispute has been resolved? I spoke with Kevin for 20 minutes after most had left. I wish I could work with him in Jamaica, or somewhere similar. These stories go beyond redemption but toward a deeper understanding and societal healing, and frankly, I’m tired of picking a side and fighting and insulting the other. Let’s try to figure all of this out, shall we?
I can’t help but wonder what I can do to change or redefine the law. It’s pretty clear that the Law Lord must fashion more of a friendship with the Media Lord. Right now, the two seem to be acquaintences but not friends. Law lets Media in, he trashes the joint, but he’s invited again and again because Law believes that turning on Media may destroy him. Maybe if Media could be convinced to help educate society about the resolution phase of disputes…what the final narrative is…rather than inflame things by taking sides. I think of Nancy Grace and how pissed off she looks, how sure she is of guilt, on Court TV. Nevermind the story, “those children are dead…D-E-A-D…dead!” Criminal cases would go much faster if Ms. Grace were allowed to roam the courthouses of America with her executioner’s axe. Who needs a trial when Ms. Grace has society pissed off and unable to see, unemotionally, both sides? I wonder if any of her audience regulars will serve on juries: God help that defendant.
The last week of class was sad. We finished Expertize and moved past the last reading hump: Privilege. It was downhill from there. This class was amazing. We were educated in history, policy, trial law, evidence rules, and strategy in three weeks. The only strain was reading (and I was going outside the box on that anyway). I looked forward to class every day. I will miss this class every day.
Yesterday I read through my notes. The course fits like a glove. I feel like Nesson has taken me behind the scenes and let me see why the law runs the way it does. From a traditional standpoint, the rules makes sense. Principled sense. Except for hearsay, which makes sense if you realize the principles are inconsistent and don’t always make sense(!). Oh, and except for 412, which should be relabeled 512…that’s where it belongs. And all hail Crawford and Blakely…say what you want about Scalia, but don’t knock my libertarian hero when it comes to the criminal justice system. I’ve watched two movies today: some ridiculous werewolf movie with Christina Ricci and Snow Falling on Cedars. I highly recommend the latter. I found myself thinking of Evidence while I watched the trial and presentation of evidence and testimony. I thought of Archie Cox and integrating narratives. It was painless, and it was beautiful. I’m not only ready for the exam, I’m ready to be a lawyer.