A Second Zimmerman Juror Speaks Out

So there was news today that another juror from the George Zimmerman trial spoke about her experience. For those of you who do not know about the Zimmerman trial, George Zimmerman was acquitted of criminal charges in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin. I am not going to get into the nitty-gritty of the trial there are plenty of links, tweets, and blog posts by others for that.

I am writing to speak more specifically about the comments from the second juror. She basically stated that Zimmerman got away with murder. She thought he was guilty of second-degree murder, but the evidence did not show it. I think that others often forget the position jurors are put in. Jurors are human, yet they are charged with the duty of putting aside their emotions and ruling solely as to the law. I know some people are going to say she should have hung out and voted with her gut, but if we start that trend then we start down a slippery slope. I am sure there have been defendants who jurors felt were guilty, but the evidence did not show it (and it turns out were not actually guilty). But for the jurors voting according to the law, instead of how they felt, an innocent person could have been sent to jail.

There is the saying that it is better for guilty men to go free, than for one innocent man to go to jail. In part, I think that is what our legal system is based on. That is why we have such a high standard for the prosecution to prove. When someone’s life or liberty is at risk, we want to make sure that that person truly deserves to have those rights taken from him or her. 

Logically speaking, the juror voted as she should have and the legal system worked as it was supposed to work. According to her, and the other five jurors, there was not enough evidence to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder or manslaughter. That means that the prosecution did not meet the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so the jury should not have convicted him. For those unhappy with the outcome, I do not think it was the system that did not work, but rather the law. It has been argued that the issue with this case arose from Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. If you really want to change the legal system, I think one major step is changing the laws. Involve yourself in local politics and stay abreast of what is really going on in your community. Make your voices heard.

At the end of the day, the truth is maybe Zimmerman did get away with murder or maybe he actually did fear for his life and thought deadly force was the only way to survive. At this point, we may never know the full truth of what happened that night except that Zimmerman and Martin got into some type altercation, Zimmerman walked away, and Martin ended up dead. I realize there are those that do not see how justice has been served by a grown man basically having no legal repercussions for killing an unarmed teenage boy. The sad truth is, maybe justice has not been served. That is one of the downfalls of any human legal system, it does not always lead to outcomes that seem just. But it is the system that we have, so we can either complain and do nothing or decide to take action and see what we can do to make it better.


Maybe There Is Some Method To This Madness Known As Bar Prep

So it’s about mid-way through the second week and I am finally starting to see a glimmer of light through the darkness known as Bar Prep. I have been doing a better job of completing my MBE questions and I can see positive progress…at least in the areas of Torts and Evidence. (The beast known as Contracts is still giving me a bit of a problem.) I can now understand the importance of doing so many MBE questions. While you learn, or I guess I should say refresh, the various MBE topics with the classes, the actual questions allow you to see some of intricacies that you may not learn or understand in class. It also allows you to see the different types of questions that can be asked on the MBE. That way, hopefully, none of the types of questions will blindside you when you finally get to the test. Is anyone else seeing some light?

Week 1 of Bar Prep Complete…Ugh

So I finished up my first week of Bar prep…and I feel like I’m already behind lol. More specifically, I feel like doing the MBE questions now is pointless because I do not remember a lot of the material well enough to properly answer the questions. I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels. Like what is the point of doing the questions if I don’t know most of the information? I guess the point is to learn by doing. As long as I take the time to review the questions and understand why I missed the correct answer, then I’m learning the subject. But it’s only the first week, so I suppose things will get better.

On another note, I modified my study schedule. Instead of doing MBEs right after class, I will review and make note cards right after class. I better retain the information if I do it that way. Making the note cards takes F O R E V E R. But I learn best through note cards, so it is a necessary evil. I know I will definitely have to do a better job of doing the MBE questions. I have not been doing my scheduled 50 MBEs a day so I will need to step it up. Plus, I haven’t even begun to touch the essays. I hope this Bar prep thing gets easier…and more productive.

Barbri Interactive Paced Program

So I finally have access to Barbri’s Bar study schedule and I am not 100% sure how I feel about it. For one thing, from what I have heard from others about the importance of completing MBE (MPQ according to Barbri) questions, the beginning of the study schedule does not account for enough of those types of questions. Looking at the schedule, it only has you doing about 18 questions a day. I will eventually need to be able to do 100 in one sitting. Plus it has been advised to me that you should do between 5000 and 6000 practice questions. Now this is not to say that Barbri will not increase the number of questions  required each day, but if I need to hit at least 5000, it does not look like Barbri is off to a great start. Also, from what I have heard, people feel like they can never complete the Barbri schedule day by day…like it is too much to do in one day. I really do not want to start a schedule that basically sets me up for failure lol. I think that I am going to stick with the schedule that my professor gave me and maybe incorporate some of the Barbri schedule into that schedule.

For instance, Barbri has a “Before Class” section which tells you what you should do be attending that day’s class. Since I already do not sleep that late, I think I will incorporate the “Before Class” information into my schedule from say 7:45am-8:45am, but only for subjects that I have not taken a class for. That way it will allow me to at least have an idea about that “new” subject.

For those of you who have tried to follow the Barbri schedule, did you find it doable? Did you always feel like you were trying to play catchup?

Being Deployed Doesn’t Make Me A Bad Parent

Service members face many challenges, especially service members that are also parents. One issue in particular arises when the parents are separate…the issue of custody. There have been several news articles about service members that initially had custody of their child(ren), but after they were deployed, have lost custody or must now fight to maintain custody.

It blows my mind that you can do the honorable thing of serving your country, but then you may have to worry about whether or not you will lose your child(ren). I feel like if you are willing to make that sacrifice, the then non-custodial parent should not be able to unilaterally (so it seems) be able to take custody from you. And it appears I am not the only one. Co-sponsors Republican Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio and Democratic Rep. Robert Andrews of New Jersey introduced H.R. 1898 to provide some protection to deployed service members.

If the bill is made a law, if a court temporarily changes custody from the service member parent, to the then non-custodial parent based solely on deployment or anticipated deployment, once that service member returns from deployment, the custody order that was in place before should be reinstated. The only reason that the previous custody order should not be reinstated is if it would not be in the best interest of the child (which is generally the standard courts use to determine custody issues). In regards to the best interests of the child, the court will be able to use the service member’s deployment or potential deployment as one factor to permanently modify custody, but that cannot be the sole determining factor.

The bill goes on to speak on federal jurisdiction issues, preemption issues, definition of deployment, and the clerical amendment for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Now, being a future attorney, I must play devil’s advocate lol. I can understand why a deployed service member having custody may not be in the child’s best interest; especially, if that service member is deployed repeatedly. With the custodial parent being deployed repeatedly, that child might have to be uprooted and go to another home, another school, and potentially have to make all new friends. Now I know you may be thinking any military brat will have to face these issues, but when a parent is deployed, the child could face these issues several times within one year. 

All that being said, I still think this bill is a great idea. I really hope this becomes a law. I do not think any person should have to choose between serving his/her country or keeping custody of his/her child(ren).

What do y’all think? Should deployment be a sole factor in permanently modifying a custody order?

The Bar is Coming…the Bar is Coming

It’s that time…Bar prep will officially start for me on Tuesday. I am doing my best not to dread this because I know it is in inevitable, but I can’t help it. This one test will determine whether or not I will be able to practice law. (Disclaimer, I can retake the test…but no one wants to retake this test.)

Luckily I have an awesome mentor who has provided me with a Bar prep study schedule. I think my biggest challenge will be sticking with the schedule. I am a procrastinator to the nth degree and I can usually do pretty well with cramming. However, the Bar is not really something you can, or should, cram for. I know that I’m going to basically have to shut off my phone during study sessions so I won’t get distracted by texts, Facebook, Twitter, Google+…you get the picture. I can always find something else to do instead of study when I have my phone lol.

I have two basic study schedules: one for Kaplan and one for Barbri. My Kaplan study schedule starts on Tuesday and will consist of three separate lessons each day for six days on six separate subjects: (a) Torts; (b) Constitutional Law; and (c) Criminal Law and Procedure; (d) Evidence; (e) Contracts; and (f) Real Property. Each lesson is only about an hour and a half so it won’t be too taxing. This will be my last week of work so it will be nice to ease into Bar prep instead of jumping in full force while still at work. My Barbri study schedule is a little more time intensive. I will end up studying about 10 hours a day starting out and it will likely increase to 11 or 12 once I start doing more MBE questions. My Barbri schedule is basically this Monday through Friday: 9:00am-1:00pm – Barbri Class; 1:00pm-2:00pm – Lunch; 2:00pm-4:00pm – Do Practice MBE Questions; 4:00pm-6:00pm – Review All MBE Answers; 6:00pm-8:00pm – Review Class Notes, Do Old Essays, and Do Old MEE Essays. I will also do about three or four hours of studying on Saturdays and take Sundays off. I still need to find sometime to work out. I will likely end up going back to early morning work outs. Not looking forward to waking up early…ugh.

I may need to play around with my schedule after the first week of Barbri if I find I am having trouble keeping with the one I already have. For all my fellow Bar preppers, what does your study schedule look like? For those that have taken the Bar, any study tips?

Chapter 1: Law School is Now Complete

As of 11:45am yesterday morning, I am the proud owner of my Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. I have done my time and can now proudly call myself a law school graduate. It seems like just yesterday, or at least last week, that I was sitting in orientation and trying to understand just what I had gotten myself into. I had moved two states away to attend law school in a place where I knew no one.

Law school was like nothing I have ever experienced. It was different from college in that you could not just sit in class and become invisible. Professors made an effort, especially during your first year, to call on every student and subject him/her to the infamous Socratic Method. For those who fear public speaking (like break out in a cold sweat if they have to speak in public), the Socratic Method is a horrid dreadful thing. I am one of the fearful. But you know, I survived it. I even managed to say a few intelligent things and not come off as a totally dummy. I have met some great friends and have had the opportunity to do things that I never would have imagined myself doing.

All in all, I have enjoyed my journey through law school…both the ups and the downs. As this one chapter closes, I move on to the next…the monster known as the Bar Exam. It is basically a two day test that I will be studying for for about two months. While I am not looking forward to taking the test, I am looking forward to what comes after I pass. I will finally be able to do what I have been studying the past three years…help others through the practice of law.