Wednesday, October 04, 2006


When I was an undergrad at UT, the biggest issue of debate was U.S. divestiture from South Africa because of apartheid. We would stand in the West Mall, fists raised, shouting, "Amandla awethu!" The phrase means, "The power is ours!"

I drifted among the sometimes enlightening, always entertaining, debates of various student organizations, including the zealous Steve Biko committee, the bright-eyed Republican Student Association, the Harambee Christian Bible Study, and the school's gospel choir.

My initial lessons in the area of student debate were about the importance of boycotting Coke because they wouldn't divest from South Africa. During my freshman year, I also learned about the National Security Council and other government agencies with agendas that included taking out any African American leader who could garner popularity like the late Dr. King. (Is that why Colin Powell wouldn't run for President?)

A year or so later, I observed some lines drawn in the sand between Christian students who believed that you had to be saved to be in the gospel choir and those who thought you just had to want to sing to be in the gospel choir. That debate caused something akin to an old-fashioned church split!

Now, I think debate on college campuses is gentler and kinder. One of the students organizations sponsored a debate about gay marriage at the law school today. I was only able to make the last part of the debate because we had a make-up class in Oil & Gas. When I entered the room, I felt that familiar tension as students shot their statement-questions at the speakers and the speakers answered with sound-bite quips full of information from their talking points.

I was kind of reminded of my undergraduate years when students were not afraid to stand up for what they believed and challenged others to defend their positions. However, today people are sensitive to being politically correct and so they save their most honest opinions for meetings where they don't think they have a mixed audience.

Back in the day, one of my Christian friends would probably have explained marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman ordained by God and recognized by the state. In response, one of my SGL (same gender loving)/GLBT friends may have said that marriage should be a covenant between any two consenting adults, recognized by the state and ordained by God if the two people chose to have their union in a church.

My impression was that the speakers wanted to avoid the whole "spiritual" or "religious" aspect of the debate for whatever reasons. One speaker went so far as to say that the United States was founded by people fleeing a place where "religion was being shoved down their throats." She wanted to take religion out of the debate. In this instance, I don't know if you really can or should.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hornbuckle Trial Watch

I am just amazed at the defense's strategy in the local Hornbuckle trial. A local pastor has been accused of sexual assault, accused of using his influence as a spiritual leader to have sex with women. After looking at the relevant part of the statute*, I think the defense strategy is interesting. Their theme is cash, consent and credibility. They say the women just want money from a civil suit that two of them have filed; they consented to sex with the pastor; and they lack credibility.

The defense says there's a difference between Bishop Terry Hornbuckle and Terry Lee Hornbuckle, the man. Apparently, their strategy is to get the jury to see two different men and excuse his behavior as spiritual sin with no legal consequences.

As a former long-time member of a church similar to Agape, I'm a witness that the leadership structure in such a church may cause the people to have unrealistic views concerning the pastor. He is seen as the ultimate authority, the voice of God for the lives of the congregants. Most of the time, the leadership is not really accountable to anyone, so if the pastor goes astray, there is no one with enough authority to get him to step down or go on a sabbitical. If a congregant points out harmful behavior by the pastor, the person is seen as rebellious and unable to submit to authority. I point all this out to show why someone like Hornbuckle would be able to continue in his destructive behavior, leaving too many hurt people in his wake.

Perhaps a better strategy would have been for the defense to negotiate with the prosecutors and cut some deal. The last case I followed, which was very similar to this one, ended with the pastor losing his national office, his church, his wife, his prestige, and his freedom.


*Texas Penal Code
(b) A sexual assault under Subsection (a)(1) is without the consent of the other person if:
(10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person's emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman's professional character as spiritual adviser; or

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Summer Work and Fun

For the past few weeks I've been working at Catholic Charities in immigration services helping with family-based immigration applications. This area of law is in high demand and is ever changing. Being at Catholic Charities has reminded me of the passion of social service workers. You don't take a job in social service to make a lot of money. You must believe in the mission of the organization and have a real desire to help people and provide hope. I don't know what kind of law I'll end up practicing, but I know that I'll never lose my connection with non-profit organizations.

I've had a great summer. It's hard to believe that I have a little over a month and I'll be back to the grind. I attended my 20th high school reunion and had a blast with all my old friends. I have some really hip friends who are all approaching 40. They reminded me that 40 will be sexy, fun and fabulous. I so look forward to 40 because it will also mean that I'm finished with law school!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Grades et al

I finally got all my grades. I did better the second semester so I'm glad about that.

During the year, we often heard about someone's grandmother or grandfather dying, and then our friend, Matt died. Well, my grandmother (my dad's mom) died on Thursday. She had been declining during the last part of the school year, and we thought she might have passed away during finals. She was 90 years old.

In the first semester I read somewhere that when people have deaths in their families during the school year, they may feel guilty because they seem to be worried more about keeping up with their classes than they do about losing a loved one. This tells you how much law school infiltrates every area of your life and could even usurp the grieving process.

I guess the lesson is that the practice of law can be all encompassing. You could work so much that you don't have a life. We should learn the lesson of balance now so that we actually enjoy a career in law.

Monday, May 08, 2006

One More Test

Wow! I just finished my Civil Procedure II Exam. It was open book, but as you can expect is was still hard. The question everyone was asking coming out of the test was, "What did you put for the affirmative defense?" The answers were quite varied, but we think there was really only one right answer. We'll see what our professor has to say about that when we get the grades back!

I'm trying to come down off the test-taking adrenaline rush to study for Contracts. I feel like just goofing off, but that'll have to wait until after Thursday.

Monday, May 01, 2006

First Spring Final Tonight

Well, it's almost over. In another two weeks, I'll no longer be a One L, but a rising 2L. I like the way they put it with the "rising" thing. I guess we'll be rising from blind confusion into some sort of clarity. Actually, the fog has lifted quite a bit. I'm sure I'll be able to write coherent essays, and I did pretty well on multiple choice last semester.

The first exam is criminal law this evening at 6:30. This topic can be pretty tricky because there are so many exceptions and approaches to criminal activity. I found myself being too hard on the criminals in my multiple choice practice questions, so I lightened up a bit. I think I'm a prosecutor at heart. I tend to convict if a person simply looks like a criminal. Creepy Cal wouldn't have a chance if I were a cop. Ol' boy would be picked up for loitering if I saw him standing on the corner by that bank. Yeah, I've probably done too many hypos.

Anyway, I'm trying to stay calm and look at the big picture. This is just a small part of a much larger journey.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It's Almost Over

I received some great news last week. I was awarded a fellowship from the Law School to work at in a public service organization this summer!

I was so glad to turn in the trial brief. It was a tedious process, and I'm glad it's over. I have a really good writing professor and I love to write. But I cannot explain the level of stress that goes into every sentence. If you have trouble writing, I don't want to scare you. Just know you may spend more time than you plan on your writing assignments.

Right now I'm trying to settle down enough to do the last few reading assignments. I also try to work on my outlines each day. After this week, we only have two more days of classes and then preparation for finals starts in earnest. Actually preparation for finals has already started, but we still have to go to class and be prepared each day to recite cases.

I don't know if the next two years will be any easier, but at least I'm almost finished with the first year's initiation.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I never thought I’d have to say good-bye to a classmate so soon. My friend, Matthew Dunn, passed the Bar before any of us. He passed from time into eternity to stand before the only Judge who really matters. As the angels sing to welcome him, we grieve our loss and stand in support of his family. He was such an easy-going guy who loved to laugh and entertain us with great stories.

Since I always like to talk about controversial issues like racism, classicism and sexism, last semester Matt engaged me in an interesting conversation about how he came to an understanding of racial issues. I had made certain assumptions about him because he grew up in Georgia. My opinion got even more skeptical when he told me he had a nanny who was a black woman. But the cool thing was that he told me he didn’t see his nanny as different. He said he knew her skin was darker than his, but it never occurred to him that the difference in their skin color meant anything.

In school, he made friends with everyone regardless of color. I asked him about the school cafeteria thing where you have the white table, the black table and the Hispanic table. He said that he sat at every table because he had friends at every table. He found out in subtle ways that everyone didn’t agree with how he embraced all people. He began reading history books about racism in America and only then did he realize why his outlook was unconventional.
Nevertheless, he continued the trend when he went into the military, and he said he was always the only one who sat at every table. I told him how great it was that he was a person who could remind us that our differences should not separate us. Matt’s wonderful spirit transcended the differences. Now he can sit at one Table where everyone is united.

I’ll always remember Matt.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Trial Brief

We're in the midst of researching our trial briefs which are due April 12. I think I have a framework, but I try to stay open to what my classmates think about the issues raised. It's kind of wild. Our writing sections are small, and the instructors work together to come up with the main project. But some of them shape the focus of the brief differently. It's fun to watch the reactions of everyone as we get further instructions on the assignment. Some people had actually written their briefs over Spring Break, so they may be doing a lot of editing.

I've decided to stop researching and just focus on my argument for the brief. It would be too easy if there were some perfect cast out there that would slam dunk all the issues. The point of this assignment is for us to make a persuasive argument when the weight of authority is against us. At least that's what I've come up with.

We only have four weeks of classes before finals. I've excited and apprehensive at the same time.

Schedules for the next terms have come out. I'm having a hard time coming up with a schedule for the Fall. We all have to take Constitutional Law and another semester of Analysis, Research and Writing (the class for which I'm writing the trial brief). I haven't decided what else I'm going to take, but I'll have a final answer by next Friday.

Pretty soon, I won't be a One-L anymore. It's been fun, but I'll be glad to move to the next level!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Spring Break

That was a much-needed break! I spent most of the week at my best friend's house in Houston. She has what Maya Angelou calls "a healing home." Whatever ailments I'd gotten from constant study were definitely healed.

Things are going to wind down very quickly now. My goal is to keep up with the pace so I don't become overwhelmed when it's time to study for finals. I did a little work in Houston and I'm finding it difficult to get back into my routine. Technically this is still Spring Break (Friday), but I want to be prepared for next week and I need to complete my research for the trial brief.

I really appreciate the feed back and questions I get from so many of you. My whole purpose in creating this blog was to encourage others to pursue their dreams. My basic message is that you can live your dreams and accomplish more than you can even think about!

Monday, February 27, 2006


I don't know why I was afraid to mention the most poignant thing about the San Antonio trip. I guess I forgot that this is my own blog and not the official one for Texas Wesleyan. In any event, the thing that struck me most in San Antonio was the diversity. I don't want to discourage anyone from coming to Texas Wesleyan's law school, but it is not the most diverse school in Texas. I haven't been here long enough to figure out why, but there are only two black full time students in my entering class. We are both female. The official word would probably be something like, "There are just not enough qualified 'minority' candidates." But I never buy that argument.

This is the very reason this blog is so important to me. It's not that I don't like white people. (Some of my best friends, etc. . .) It's just that the world is made up of a whole heck of a lot of different folk than white folk. You wouldn't really know that from sitting in any of my classes.

You know all those jokes about there being too many lawyers? Well, there are not enough black, brown or Asian (etc.) lawyers. Don't believe the hype. Take the LSAT, apply to all the schools you want to go to. You will get in somewhere, maybe even at Texas Wesleyan if this is your school of choice.

And for my white sisters and brothers, don't believe the Hopwood hype about "minority" students taking your spot. If a person really wants to go to law school, he or she will get in somewhere eventually.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

San Antonio et al

The symposium at St. Mary's was great. One of the sessions was a mock law school class. I'm in law school and I was impressed. Professor Valencia and his "planted" students were great.

There were so many students interested in going to law school, and they all seemed to have at least 10 questions each. I had a wonderful time and I hope I was helpful.

I'm working on my outlines and filling in the gaps in understanding in my classes. I just solidified the concept of privity in property. I don't even think it's required anymore, but I still wanted to understand it.

In criminal law we're studying property crimes right now. Apparently it's highly tested on the bar. Contracts is still as straightforward and enjoyable as always. Civil procedure is going smoothly and the pieces are fitting together to form a big picture. Writing and research? Well, I'm glad the memo is over. We have a few interim assignments before the next big project. Life will be somewhat normal until we get that assignment. Then the pressure will be on again. It's amazing how the writing assignments just throw people for a loop.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Post Memo Euphoria

We turned in our Memo assignments today. I spent a lot of time reading cases, rereading cases, writing and rewriting. I hope my hard work pays off. However, if I don't get the grade I think I deserve at the least, I know I learned a thing or two about ambiguity in statutes and case law.

I'm going to San Antonio on Saturday to be on a student panel. St. Mary's Law School is having an event for students interested in law school and they selected students from across the state to be on the panel. This should be fun.

I need to come up with something to say. I think my message will be about the importance of counting the costs before taking on something like law school. If a person is not sure this is something they really want to do, the work involved would be discouraging and seemingly worthless.

I think it's important for people to be confident in themselves, too. Law school can blow your self confidence and make you feel like crap. But it's actually a good thing to be in a position where you feel like you don't know things so you can be open to learning new things. So you have to find a balance between self confidence and being open to a whole new way of thinking and learning.

I love the emails and questions I get. Keep it coming, and remember, you can always live your dreams.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I'll be completely honest. I am not pleased with my grades. However, I'm not seriously bothered by them either. I know many lawyers and a few judges. I've never even considered what kind of grades they made in law school. That said, I'm not changing my methods much because I already study a lot, and I know I'm learning the material. The main thing I'll do differently is practice writing essay questions more (and whatever else the profs suggest after I meet with each of them).

Everyone seemed so subdued after we got our grades. I never joined a sorority, but I look at this first year as some kind of initiation. (We're on line or in some long rush week? It's Greek to me.) The keepers of the law want to make us cross the burning sands to see if we have what it takes to join their ranks. They have methods potentially more terrorizing than hazing. They can cut you to the quick with their mastery of the law. (If you've ever been subject to the Socratic method or a first year law exam, you know the terror these things can evoke.) This process is essential to see if we are really willing to do the work necessary to gain the acceptable level of mastery.

I cherish these times because I know that when I get out in the real world of law practice, I'll appreciate all my professors. Sure, I wish my grades were better, but the more important thing is that I'm learning and growing in my understanding of life and law.