Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pulled in many directions

Single parents wear a ton of different hats. We are the chauffer, the parent, the counselor, the cheerleader, the cook, the dry cleaner, the nurse, the teddy bear, the safety blanket--and many others.

I feel pulled in so many directions sometimes. Between student, employee, and mother--I start wondering what about me? I am finding it very difficult to continue to balance all the hats on the rack without something falling off. I am starting to fear that that "something" is going to be a little bit of myself.

I carve out time for me, I do. I try to take care of the body, mind, and soul. But these days I can feel the stress just building, and building.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I recently went to a social function with attorney's and judges present. When I got there, I realized I knew of, or had met quite a few of these people through my job, or just living in this town for so long. I sat at a table with defense attorney's and judges that I have worked with this past year.

Somehow, the conversation turned to the topic of my boss. Some nasty things were said about her, in front of me. Now, I don't know if this was deliberate, or they forgot I was sitting there. But I was so very uncomfortable. I sat starring down at my salad, wishing I was anywhere but there.

Most disappointing was hearing what the judge had to say about her. This is the person who is supposed to be unbias!!! Which made me wonder if perhaps, there is some favoritism being spread around. I don't know if this is the case, but it was disappointing to hear people that you respect, behave in such ways.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Paper Topics

This semester, it is all about writing papers. I have to come up with four different topics for four different classes.

I am still trying to decide what I will write about in each of the classes, but I have nailed one down. I am going to write for my Comparative Constitutionalism class a paper about equal rights for women in Iran.

A curious thing about the Iranian constitution is that it guarentees equal rights to both men and women, with a caveat. That caveat is "according to Islamic law." Iran is a nation which has a state religion, but goes one step further. In Iran, the citizens are bound by Islamic law, which acts as legislation in itself. So that poses the question of whether there could ever be equality under the law afforded to women?

As I delve into the topic more, I will post updates.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

American Inn of Courts

I recently was accepted to be sponsered by the law school to join the Willamette Chapter of the American Inn of Courts. This is an organization comprised of judges, attorney's, law professors, and sometimes law students. The focus is on practice and ethics. The point is to work on being a better advocate.

What drew me to this organization was the focus in it's mission statement to provide new lawyers with a mentor who can help them as they begin their practice. As I continue to focus on life out of law school, and the beginning of my professional career, thinking about building professional contacts becomes more important.

I would hope that when I enter the legal field as an attorney, not just a student, that my name would be associated with ethics and integrity. I have the opportunity to interact with judges and defense attorney's as well as attorney's in my office. This organization will continue to build my contacts and reputation within the community.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thoughts on the death penalty

I have always been pro-death penalty. For my civil rights class yesterday, we were required to listen to a man named Bill Long talked about the Death Penalty. Now, to understand, he is anti-death penalty. For awhile, I listened to him and was like, okay nothing new there. Not to say he was not impressive, he was. Former Presbytirian pastor, former law professor, and current author, those credentials are good ones. But what really got me thinking was when he read the jury instructions from statute to sentence someone to death in the state of Oregon.

ORS 163.150 states: At the conclusion of the presentation of the evidence, the court shall submit the following issues to the jury:

(A) Whether the conduct of the defendant that caused the death of the deceased was committed deliberately and with the reasonable expectation that death of the deceased or another would result;

(B) Whether there is a probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society;

(C) If raised by the evidence, whether the conduct of the defendant in killing the deceased was unreasonable in response to the provocation, if any, by the deceased; and

(D) Whether the defendant should receive a death sentence.

I want to focus on (B) as he did. Immediately when he read it I thought, probable that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence........Probably is 51% or better. So in law terms, the burden to sentence a man to death is less than to convict him of murder. And (2), it is based on speculation.

No one thinks that this person would be released to society. So where is the danger to society? Where is his threat? To prison society? Why would we be concerned with that?

What about the speculative nature of the question? How can anyone predict future wrongs or crimes? We can't. As a prosecutor it is very, very hard to get prior bad acts admitted in a trial---often times they are barred from the jury. But when a life is on the line, the jury can speculate what a caged human will do to society that could be harmful. Not beyond a reasonable doubt.......but more probable than not.

I have issues with this instruction. I don't like the underlying inference, that a person's life, or death, can be decided on speculative issues that may never arise. That a person's life can be based on a probablity, rather than a certainty.

I am not excusing what the person did, ie murdered someone, but rather, I am wondering where the dignity and fairness is.

I will never forget....thoughts on 9/11

I still remember that day as if it just happened. I can tell you where I was standing [in front of my mirror blowing drying my hair, watching the news in the reflection of the mirror].

I remember hearing Charlie Gibson saying that a plane had hit the tower.

I remember seeing the second one hit and I remember dropping on the side of my bed in disbelief.

I remember heading to work, not knowing how many other attacks would happen that day. I remember fear for those that I loved who lived in NYC and DC areas. I remember sitting on pins and needles for word of their safety.

I remember when news hit about the Pentagon, and then the plane crashing in PA.

I remember the phone did not ring at work all day. I remember we watched Peter Jennings, as we searched for reasons or explanations why someone would do such a thing.

I remember the cloud, the smoke, the visions of confusion. I remember grown newscasters crying. Shock.

I remember the look on the President's face as he was notified in front of school children he was reading to.

I remember wishing that there was something I could do to help. I remember feeling helpless.

I remember praying.

I remember the days that followed. The lines of family looking for their lost family members. I remember the President addressing the nation, Congress singing God Bless American on the steps of the Congressional Building, and the sense that what was meant for evil would bond the country together.

I remember the strength of our leaders, the grief and loss on the face of Mayor Guiliani, and the loss of NYC's first responders and the funeral's that followed. I remember the courage of those responders, and the courage of those on the plane who attempted to take it back with the infamous words, "let's roll."

I remember clutching my daughter a bit tighter, hugging my family, and being grateful for what I had and thinking that it could all be lost in a blink of an eye, for no apparent reason.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

One step closer to graduation

Yesterday, I had a degree audit with the registrar. Basically it is a time to sit down and figure out how many credit hours I have, and how many I need to graduate. This appointment seemed like a monumental step to me for some reason. Certainly, I feel as if I am close and it is real---that is graduation day.

She even talked to me about how to petition for the bar, what graduation day will be like, what to expect and so on. This journey has seemed to take so long, yet fly by. Everything feels surreal.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Hidden Truth: Brutalness and Hidden Signs

Law school breeds competitiveness. This is a simple fact. There are hidden clues to how the institution encourages this all around a law school. To the outside observer that does not know the inner workings, one might not notice the subtlety employed. But in my final year, this point is being driven home to me.

Willamette imposes a mandatory curve. This in the bottom percentage of the class are dropped. Actually, I believe the term is that the administration tells them, "they are not invited back." This happens after the first semester grades are released.

Of course, the first day back, the student is curious of who went. Everyone is buzzing around asking, "Did so and so return?" You hear some, "I knew he/she was stupid. Did you hear the comments he/she made in crim?"

For me I learned early on that the surest way to find out who was no longer with us was by the mailboxes. We are all issued a box, it is basically wooden slats that resemble inboxes. All classes are grouped together. And then next to the boxes is a list with everyones name and box number. If a white card went in the box, you knew that person was no longer with us.

This year it was driven home when about 20% of the third year class boxes are whited out. For some reason I find irony in this. White out is used to erase mistakes. I don't necessarily feel that someone dropped from law school was a "mistake" in admission or that the person did not have what it takes. I have found law school to be arbitrary and class based.