The Bar Exam by Will Bullas

Bar Exam Day Is Here!

Today marks the first day of the South Carolina Bar Exam. A large number of our recently graduated University of South Carolina Law students, along with students from other institutions as well as a few re-takers, will be attempting the test. For those of unfamiliar with the process, recently graduated students go straight from their last semester final exams into bar studying. They continue studying throughout the summer, many taking bar prep courses and spending 40 plus hours a week refreshing all the knowledge they learned in law school. Then, in late July (TODAY!) they begin the three-day examination in hopes of passing and receiving a license to practice law.
Almost every lawyer remembers this summer. I remember waking up early every morning, the bar exam classes, the afternoons studying in the local library, and even the magical moment I walked out of the exam. This is my actual to do list from the summer of 2009 (I just found this to doto do list extension hidden away in some remote corner of Gmail.) My Facebook posts from that time period focus only on the bar exam, with themes ranging from self-deprecating defeatism to unabashed confidence in my test taking abilities. Meals were eaten, work arranged, and vacations planned all around bar exam preparation. All I can truly say for sure about the process is that it was hard, stressful, and ultimately rewarding when I finished and subsequently passed the exam.
So, in light of this momentous occasion, here are 29 facts about the best movie ever inspired by someone taking the bar exam; my professional and personal favorite, My Cousin Vinny.


Check Out Our New Home!

As you may or may not know, The University of South Carolina School of Law is getting a new home.  We will be moving from our current location on Main St. to a brand spankin’ new building on Gervais St sometime next year.  We’re all terribly excited for a new place to stash all of our books (We’re librarians, It’s what we do.)

Moreover, you don’t just have to take my word for it.  The Law School has created a Tumblr page to track the progress of the new building.  Check it out here! It even has a webcam so you can watch the construction in real time.  Believe me, there’s nothing more fun than watching someone build you a new house.

What Not To Do Department

There are many things that one can do to invite trouble in any profession, and the legal profession is no different.  Here are some tips for avoiding various sorts of difficulties:

1.  Don’t alter court records.

2.  Don’t ask your paralegal to “friend” a party in a case with which you’re involved.

3.  Don’t let your donkey (or zebra) attack a judge.

4.  Don’t forget to clean out your pockets before going to court.

This Week In Legal News

The Governor of Kansas has signed a bill that would de-fund state courts if they overturn a 2014 law that governs selection of chief district judges.

A Michigan lawyer has called off his campaign to get his pet pig elected as mayor of the city of Flint.

On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court recognized the right to be drunk on your own front porch.


Just How Famously Hot? – Columbia Heat and the National Climate Data Center

6950906628_b115517ac9_zSince I moved to Columbia, SC, six months ago, people have been warning me about the heat.   I’ve gotten advice about how to move in the heat, what to wear, and what kinds of food are best in hot temperatures.  I have even been alerted (so many times) that the city’s official slogan is “Famously Hot.”  The people here warn you about the heat the same way the Japanese warn about the approach of Godzilla or the Spartans about the approach of the Persians (in their respective movies of course.) So, I decided to do a little investigating to see what the big deal was and to try to find out; “How hot is famously hot?”

One of my new favorite resources (thanks RIPS-SIS Blog!) is the National Climactic Data Center (NCDC). As the name suggests, the Center provides a wide range of climate information. The NCDC  collects and compiles information from all their weather stations across the country. They provide the data both in raw downloadable form as well as in through some really neat search tools. One of the most interesting features allows you to examine temperature trends for individual cities by year and year segment.

So what did I find?  Mainly that “Famously Hot” is no joke.  The average temperature for June, July, and August in Columbia, SC is a cool 91 degrees.  As recently as 2011, the average high was above 95.  For comparison, and maybe a little deserved sympathy, the average in my hometown in Pennsylvania for the same time period is 80.1.



This Week in Legal News

The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear a case from a law school applicant asking that his undergraduate grades from the 1970s be adjusted to offset subsequent grade icon for blog

A Minnesota man has been found not liable for sawing his neighbor’s garage in half, and gets attorney’s fees.

Four people in Mississippi are being charged with disturbing the peace after they ignored a request not to yell during a high-school graduation.

Lawyer-Inventor sues after blogger dubs his patent the “stupid patent of the month.”

The Law of Squirrels and Vampires

Of all the entities you’d expect to gelittle justicet airtime in a courtroom, squirrels and vampires are probably low on your list.  And yet.

Squirrels frequently show up in court (contextually, if not literally) in cases involving utility companies.  A power company was held not negligent in failing to foresee injuries sustained by a man who chased a squirrel up a utility pole (Keller v. Ohio Public Service Co. , 73 Ohio App. 530, 57 N.E.2d 176 (Ohio App. 1943), and another power company was found not negligent for injuries alleged by a cordless phone user when a squirrel got into a transformer and caused a power outage (Pardue v. AT&T Telephone Co., 799 So.2d 710 (La. App. 2001).

    From the Undead angle, not only is there a Vampire Nation (which appears to contain no actual vampires), but it’s been taken to court for a variety of white-collar crimes (U.S. v. Vampire Nation, 451 F.3d 189 (3rd Cir. 2006)). A Michigan carjacker explained his car theft spree as an attempt to “escape from flesh-eating bats and vampires” (People v. Morgan, No. 284986, 2009 WL 1397132, (Mich. App., May 19, 2009)).  A Massachusetts defendant testified to believing that he had been a vampire for years (Com. v. Riva, 469 N.E.2d 1307 (Mass. App. Div. 1984)). An Arizona defendant testified to stealing an ambulance and running it into a building in order to break a vampire curse (State v. Ward, 2015 WL 1516506, (Ariz. App., April 2, 2015)).  And that’s not nearly all, folks.  Numerous defendants have attempted to justify their misdeeds by invoking the Undead.  For an entertaining research romp, go to your favorite research service and run this search query:  vampire! /s crime




      A Short History of Memorial Day

      Throughout the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.  While many see the holiday as convenient day off work or the first day of summer, its real purpose is to serve as a day or remembrance for those who have died in combat.

      A number of cities and towns claim to have coined the term “memorial day.”  No one has been able to pin down or substantiate most of these claims.  However, we do know that memorial day as we know it started soon after the civil war.  In May of 1968 General John Logan declared the upcoming May 30th would be a “decoration day.”  In his General Order No. 11, he proclaimed 

      The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

      We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

      By 1890 all northern states officially recognized Memorial Day.  However, it wasn’t until after World War I that the southern states, who previously observed a similar holiday on a different date, began to celebrate Memorial Day as well.  At this point the holiday expanded to include all those who died in any combat as well as the Civil War. May 10 is still celebrated here in South Carolina as a separate Confederate Memorial Day.


      Summer in the (Soda) City


      A college campus during summer break is a thing to see.  Droves of students head home (or wherever students go when they are not studying) leaving the campus feeling a whole lot roomier.  Even the water in the Thomas Cooper reflecting pool has mysteriously taken off.
      IMG_20150512_082038400_HDRBUT, we don’t need to have college kids to have fun!  Plenty of activities exist to fill your entire summer, and thankfully, the Free Times has assembled most of them in its Summer Guide 2015.  Some of the highlights are

      So, don’t let the oppressive heat, flocks of mosquitos, and general ghosttownliness of the USC campus get you down!  Pick up your copy of the free times, or visit their website and join your summer Columbian compatriots for an exciting, albeit sweaty, good time.