Move Over Moped – South Carolina Moped and Scooter Law

10609045206_9abcdf5188_zOne of the first things I noticed when I moved to Columbia was the overabundance of scooter traffic.  There are scooters parked in all the campus motorcycle spots.  There are scooters locked to bike locks.  There is even a scooter store a few blocks from my house.  Scooters seem to be everywhere.  I get it, they’re inexpensive and easy to drive.  The hills in Columbia make biking difficult and the USC campus is rather spread out.  Still,  the overall glut of scooters here seems odd.

As a good and devoted law librarian, I did a little research.  The mass of scooters and mopeds is due to some interesting loopholes in South Carolina law.

First, all operators much possess a valid driver’s license OR a moped license.  As we all know, you have to be 16 to obtain a regular driver’s license.  However, the same is not true of moped licenses. Moped licenses are granted without regard to eligibility, possession, or suspension of driver’s licenses.  Practically speaking, this means a few things; 1.  If your regular driver’s license is suspended, you can still obtain a moped license. 2. If you are under 16 and you want to drive, you can still get a moped license (the law currently says 14 and older).  S.C. Code Ann. § 56-1-1720 (2006).

Second, the State of South Carolina does not consider mopeds “motor vehicles.”  This means the laws regulating motor vehicles do not apply to mopeds.  This includes laws regulating registration, license plates, and even DUI.  While there is a bill in the Senate attempting to close this loophole, some judges have recently upheld that the South Carolina law prohibiting driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not apply to mopeds.  S.C. Code Ann. § 56-3-10 (2006).

Note: South Carolina law refers to mopeds only, but the law includes scooters as well as defined by S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-165 (2006).

This Week In Legal News

news icon for blogOn Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that extending a completed traffic stop to conduct a dog sniff constitutes an unreasonable seizure and is, therefore, unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on time limits for suing the federal government under the Federal Torts Claims Act.

Also on Wednesday, a South Carolina lawmaker introduced a bill that would add the firing squad as an option for the state’s executions.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Loretta Lynch as the U.S. Attorney General.

A Texas bankruptcy court has classified the social media accounts of a business as business assets, and has jailed a former business owner for contempt after he refused to turn over Facebook and Twitter passwords to the new owner.

An Indiana lawyer has been disbarred following an email and voice mail harassment campaign carried out against his daughter’s former college roommate.


Again With The Ninjas!

A mysterious vandal, dubbed the Tree Ninja for his habit of maliciously damaging newly-planted trees and shrubs, has been operating for years in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood and has finally been caught.  Brighton’s homeowners can sleep a little easier now, knowing that their new plantings aren’t being targeted.

“Guess What?” Department

Guess what?  If you dress up like a ninja and run around town in the middle of the night in the vicinity of a crime scene, you can expect to create reasonable suspicion in any law enforcement personneninjal who spot you.

Especially if you then start running. . .

Read all about it in People v. Jackson, 742 P.2d 929 (Colo. App. 1987).  [Research hint: plug the party names or citation information into your favorite search engine.]

Legal Podcasts

Image courtesy of

With the eruption of the “Serial” podcast on the national scene, I think many of us are excited for the next exciting, legally-related podcast.  I know I am.

First, there’s “Undisclosed,” the spin-off to “Serial”, that Prof. Colin Miller helped develop.  It focuses on legal aspects of the State v. Syed murder case and will look closely at the evidence in the case.  The first episode was released last week.

Another podcast worth checking out is “I Am the Law“.  It aims to help listeners understand what it’s really like to be a legal professional through interviews with both new attorneys and seasoned veterans.   “I Am the Law” has 12 episodes you can check out.

Check ‘em out if you need a mental break from exams!

Getting to Know Your Law Library: Patrick Parsons

Prof. Parsons with his awesome beagle, Lola

Professor Patrick Parsons is the newest Reference Librarian at the Coleman Karesh Law Library, starting with us in December.  He jumped right in to start teaching his first semester of LRAW the following month.  You might also have spotted him manning the Reference Desk.  We asked Professor Parsons a few questions to get to know him a little better.


1.  We’re librarians, so the obvious first question:  What’s your favorite book?  Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

2.  What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Musician or hiker.  Hiker isn’t really a profession, but I’ve always wanted to hike the Appalachian or Pacific Coast Trail.

3.  What profession would you not like to do?  Besides the obvious ones where I would have to deal with things that smell or bodily fluids or pests, I would say telemarketer.  I really hate trying to sell people things they don’t need.

4.  What’s your favorite form of exercise/outdoor activity?  Backpacking

View from the Pacific Coast Highway

5.  If you could go on a road trip with any person (living or dead), whom would you choose?  Probably Levon Helm, the drummer for The Band.  I want to say Hunter S. Thompson, but just reading Fear and Loathing is exhausting.

6.  If you could visit any place in the world for a two-week vacation for free, where would you go?  Brazil, maybe?  There or somewhere in the Alps.

7.  When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?  Pittsburgh Sports News



8.  When was the last time you had an amazing meal and where did you have it?  Truly amazing?  I’d have to say tacos at Tacqueria de Pico de Gallo before I left Tucson, Az.  There’s nothing like eating tacos in a divvy taco stand 60 miles from the Mexican border.  Plus, the closer you get to Mexico, the better the Mexican beer.

9.  If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?  Definitely a muppet.  Preferably Dr. Teeth, or any of the Electric Mayhem but Animal.

10.  What’s your best (legal) research tip?  Finding a place to start is half the battle.  If I’m looking for something that I’m uncertain about, I’ll often do a bunch of quick Google searches for background information.  Sometimes weird places, like lawyer web pages or newspaper articles, will provide you with a case or a statute that you can use as a starting point for the rest of your legal research.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information thrown at you in Westlaw or Lexis so I usually try to get preliminary information elsewhere.

Managing Finals

Image credit: topgold via Flickr, Creative Commons

Image credit: topgold via Flickr, Creative Commons

“Finals are here! Hooray!” said absolutely no one.  Exams stand as one of the defining moments in every law student’s academic career.  Everyone remembers them.  Nobody likes them.  I mean, what’s to like?  Three hours of cumulative hypothetical essay can shake even the strongest constitution.  Many students ride a two-week merry-go-round of stress, unhealthy eating, and sleeplessness that can negatively affect them for a considerable amount of time.

However, these mal-affects are not inevitable.  Here are a few things I believe every student should do, or at least keep in mind, to help manage exams.

  1.  Don’t tie your self-worth to grades.  Yes, grades are important, but they are not everything.  Some people are good exam takers and some are not. At the end of the summer, look at your finals grades along with what skills you learned at your job.  Use this cumulative information, instead of just your grades, to self-evaluate.  If you focus on what you’re learning and make conscious attempts to gradually become a well-prepared lawyer, you’ll leave law school better off than your counterparts who crammed their way to a B+ instead of your B.
  2.  Don’t overdo it.  Law school is a self-perpetuating circle of misinformation.  People who pull all-nighters love to talk about how much time they spent in the library, or how much sleep they lost.  This is completely unnecessary.  Study the way that works for you.  Just because someone else is being ridiculous, and loud about it, doesn’t mean it’s the normal or most effective way.
  3.  Learn from your mistakes.  Next semester, figure out what went poorly for you last time. If you were still compiling information at the last minute, next semester start outlining earlier.  If you knew all the relevant law in your exam but faltered in your exam writing, make sure to do more practice exams.  The bottom line is that law professors don’t care if you can regurgitate everything they said in class.  Unlike undergrad recall exams, your grades will depend more on your analysis and not your memorization.
  4.  Finally, keep things in perspective.  In the law school bubble, everything seems like a huge deal.  In five years, you’ll look back on all the self-inflicted stress and punishment and chuckle at your younger self.

Good Luck!

Getting to Know Your Law Library: Megan Brown

Megan and her awesome feline friend, Ziggy

Megan and her awesome feline friend, Ziggy


One of the most public faces in the law library is Megan Brown’s.  Not only does she help fulfill all of your ILL requests, but she (wo)mans the Circulation Desk to help you with anything you need from!  We asked Megan a few questions to get to know her a little better.


1.  We’re librarians, so the obvious first question:  demonsWhat’s your mobydickfavorite book?
Just one?  How about two because they’re so different and I’m indecisive.  Demons, by Dostoevsky & Moby-Dick, by Melville.

2.  What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  Astronomer

3.  What profession would you not like to do?  Eh, corporate banking?


4.  What’s your favorite form of exercise/outdoor activity?  Commuting by bicycle and running.

5.  If you could go on a road trip with any person (living or dead), whom would you choose?  Josh Smith

6.  If you could visit any place in the world for a two-week vacation for free, where would you go?  Algiers… Or maybe a secluded oceanfront spot on Nantucket.


7.  When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?  Detach from technology.

Charleston_Peninsular_Charleston_Edmunds_Oast_Andy_Henderson_Jayce_McConnell_The_Red_Wedding_American_Brewery_Inline_Overlay8.  When was the last time you had an amazing meal and where did you have it?  Last month in Charleston–Edmund’s Oast.

9.  If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?  Cthulhu.  Ph’nglui mglw’nafh. R’lyeh wgah’nagi fhtagn….

10.  What’s your best (legal) research tip?  Google…Just kidding!  Ask one of our lovely law reference librarians for help!

This Week In Legal News

news icon for blogOn Tuesday, a Texas county court judge was indicted on charges of illegal gun sales.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration spoke out in support of banning sexual orientation conversion therapy.

Also on Wednesday, a committee of the California Senate approved a bill that would ban the parents’ personal belief exemption to immunizing school children.




a3ff3fa8fc90bb71272c73e6ba88396b53684b68621418aacbd35707c702f1c7A few years ago, Chief Justice John Roberts threw some unsolicited vitriol towards academia and law professors.  At the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, Chief Justice Roberts stated  “Pick up a copy of any law review that you see, and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th Century Bulgaria, or something, which I’m sure was of great interest to the academic that wrote it, but isn’t of much help to the bar.”

Regardless of your opinion of this statement (I think it unfairly stereotypes academic writing just a little), you might be interested to know that at the time of the comment no such article existed.  No article, let alone the first in every issue, was written about Kant and Bulgarian evidence.   That, of course, is no longer true.  In response to Justice Roberts’ comments, Orin S. Kerr from the George Washington University Law School recently completed an article titled The Influence of Immanuel Kant on Evidentiary Approaches in Eighteenth Century Bulgaria.  And how exactly did Kant influence evidentiary approaches in eighteenth century Bulgaria?  In short, he didn’t.

Emmanuel Kant was born in 1724 and died in 1804.  He lived in Prussia, over 1000 miles north of Bulgaria.  Kant didn’t even become influential in Bulgarian philosophical circles until the second half of the 19th century.  Even then, Kerr writes, there is little to no evidence that Kant influenced evidentiary standards.  Kant’s legal writings focus mostly on legal philosophy, and never even broach the topic of trial procedure.

So, I think there are a few things to learn from this exchange.  1. Chief justice Roberts does not think highly of philosophical legal writings.  2.  Emmanuel Kant did not think highly, or even possibly at all, of trial evidentiary standards.  3. If you are the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, people are going to listen and quite possibly take offense to everything you say. 4. It is probably wise to avoid picking historic, academic, or philosophical fights with people who research and write articles for a living.

In case you are interested in reading the article in question: