Monday, July 9, 2018

Summer Reads: Part 2

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Genres: Horror fiction, Fantasy, Humorous Fiction

Rating/Success: 92%

Drama: check, apocalypse: check, angels and demons: check, hilarity: for sure.  The son of Satan has been born, and the end of the world is imminent.  Every single day that passes, the poor, defenseless humans have no idea what is coming their way.  However, this is not the case if the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have anything to say about it.  A little switch at the hospital, and the End of the World does not seem so inevitable... but there is a demon and an angel that both face a ton of trouble coming from their bosses.

I could not put this book down.  It had me laughing at the wry humor and amount of mishaps that happen.  How could God and Satan both lose tabs on a plan that they have been brewing since the dawn of time?  It has innumerable plot twists.  We are talking about the end of the world, people!

Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

Genres: Adventure fiction, Historical Fiction

Rating/Success: 88%

The Bone Wars in the American West during the 1870s.  There is intrigue, betrayal, and secrets that are worth keeping.  Everyone from old professors to adventurous students try to manipulate and scheme.  All of the fossil fanatics that travel out West are looking for the fame and recognition that comes with finding the biggest, baddest fossils.  With the exception of William Johnson--who heads out to the frontier on a bet.  Johnson never lost a bet, and he was not going down for this one.

Interesting characters always make for an excellent story.  The character development in this book is astonishing.  You watch Johnson change from a careless rich boy to a hardened, intelligent man.  He realizes that there is more to life than popularity and the simplest forms of the reputation.  Originally written as a precursor to Jurassic Park, it shows Crichton's penchant for dinosaurs and the history that they represent.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Supreme Court Snippets: Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Rights Comm’n


In 2012, a same-sex couple visited Masterpiece Cakeshop with the intention of ordering and purchasing a cake for their wedding.  The owner of the shop told the couple that he would not make the cake due to personal religious objections—he would not make a cake for a same-sex marriage.  A discrimination charge was filed based on sexual orientation in accordance with Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

Procedural History

The Colorado Rights Commission decided that Masterpiece Cakeshop did in fact violate the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, and it ruled in the couple’s favor.


KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and BREYER, ALITO, KAGAN, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined.

There are two main issues at the heart of the case: (1) the authority of a State and its governmental entities to protect the rights and dignity of gay persons who are, or wish to be, married but who face discrimination when they seek goods or services, and (2) the right of all persons to exercise fundamental freedoms under the First Amendment, as applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.

The reason and motive for the baker’s refusal were based on his sincere religious beliefs and convictions. The Court’s precedents make clear that the baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws. Still, the delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power needed to be determined in an adjudication in which religious hostility on the part of the State itself would not be a factor in the balance the State sought to reach. That requirement, however, was not met here. When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.

Given all these considerations, it is proper to hold that whatever the outcome of some future controversy involving facts similar to these, the Commission’s actions here violated the Free Exercise Clause; and its order must be set aside.

The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in manner that is neutral toward religion. Phillips was entitled to a neutral decision maker who would give full and fair consideration to his religious objection as he sought to assert it in all of the circumstances in which this case was presented, considered, and decided. In this case the adjudication concerned a context that may well be different going forward in the respects noted above. However later cases raising these or similar concerns are resolved in the future, for these reasons the rulings of the Commission and of the state court that enforced the Commission’s order must be invalidated.

The judgment of the Colorado Court of Appeals is re­versed.

It is so ordered.

GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined.

Statements made at the Commission’s public hearings on Phillips’ case provide no firmer support for the Court’s holding today. Whatever one may think of the statements in historical context, I see no reason why the comments of one or two Commissioners should be taken to overcome Phillips’ refusal to sell a wedding cake to Craig and Mullins. The proceedings involved several layers of independent decision-making, of which the Commission was but one. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 5a–6a. First, the Division had to find probable cause that Phillips violated CADA. Second, the ALJ entertained the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment. Third, the Commission heard Phillips’ appeal. Fourth, after the Commission’s ruling, the Colorado Court of Appeals considered the case de novo. What prejudice infected the determinations of the adjudicators in the case before and after the Commission? The Court does not say. Phillips’ case is thus far removed from the only precedent upon which the Court relies, Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. Hialeah, 508 U. S. 520 (1993),where the government action that violated a principle of religious neutrality implicated a sole decision making body, the city council, see id., at 526–528.

For the reasons stated, sensible application of CADA to a refusal to sell any wedding cake to a gay couple should occasion affirmance of the Colorado Court of Appeals’ judgment. I would so rule.

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Day in the Life: The State Attorney's Office

Working at the State Attorney’s Office this summer has been such a fantastic experience so far.  I have been fortunate enough to be placed in the White Collar Crime unit, and they have let me very hands on.  All of the people (paralegals, lawyers, secretaries, etc.) have been very friendly and helpful.  My favorite part of my internship so far has been reading official investigative documents and evidence.  One of the tasks that I do is synthesize large amounts of evidence to manageable chunks to help the state attorneys with their case load.  It is really interesting to listen to witness interviews, and I am quite the transcriber these days!

I am also fortunate enough to be able to attend court proceedings—sometimes invited by an attorney, and sometimes just for myself.  The attorneys encourage me to observe any cases that I am interested in, regardless of the department that has the case.  No, being in court is not as dramatic as Law & Order makes it seem, but it is very exciting nonetheless.  The judges have no tolerance for shenanigans in the courtroom, so if you rub them the wrong way, they will use their authority.  And, anything from negotiations to witness statements can have you on the edge of your seat.  There have even been some surprise reveals, but not as “plot-twisting” as the ones written into the script of a television show.

The most exciting accomplishment that I have had so far is a chart that I created for a bank statement has been given to a jury to illustrate the deposit and withdrawal of money.  A real jury is going to see my work!  I do not have a by-line or anything, but knowing that my work will make that much of a difference and an impact is gratifying.  That is not to say that everything I generate is perfect on the first try.  I am human, I make mistakes, but the attorneys here have taught me things that I do not think I could have ever learned in the classroom setting.  If you have an opportunity to get some real-world experience, I would definitely take it.  It does not matter who you work for or what you do.

My research skills have been put in use quite a bit in this position.  I have to look up statutes and previous case law all of the time in order to make sure that we have covered all of the elements of crimes and prepare before the cases go to trial.  You never want to be unprepared in court.  Sometimes that is easier said than done when investigators bring you six giant binders full of all of the evidence for a case and different documents that are necessary.  You never know what and how the different things you learn in school are going to come in handy.
Hope you are enjoying your summer!

Meet The Law Girls

Well, guys, it has been about three months since we started this endeavor with sharing our life and law school experiences with you. Today, we take a little bit of time to give a more in-depth introduction of ourselves to you! So you know exactly who The Law Girls are.

Law Girl with Pearls

I am a 2L at SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas.

I was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida.  I received my Bachelors in Business Administration in Accounting with a minor in International Studies from Southern Methodist University.

Originally, I thought that I was going to be a CPA and work as a tax accountant in one of the Big Four Accounting firms.  What changed my mind was my accounting internship during the second semester of my senior year of undergrad.  I had applied to law school with the intention of giving myself multiple options when I graduated, but it quickly became my first choice path.  I truly enjoyed the accounting work, but what I fell in love with was the puzzle of the law.

1L year was quite an adventure, that is for sure.  It was the first time that I wrote papers since my sophomore year of college.  The adjustment curve was definitely there for me.  The great part of it all was that my school had so many resources to accelerate my writing skills and help me get back in the rhythm of preparing research papers.  I cannot tell you how much time I spent with my TA going over techniques.  I still have such a passion for tax and international relations.  When I begin to practice, I want to work in the area of international tax law.  I want to work in an advisory corporate setting.

I am a new cat mom.  I just adopted two cats named Lucy and Ethel.  They are super cute and super talkative!

Blue Jay Law Girl

I am a 2L at Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska.

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. I have a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with emphasis in Professional Chemistry and a minor in Physics from the University of Nevada Reno.

My plan was to go into Forensic Science but after the State of Nevada announced that they were trying to implement a law that would change the way the state operated their sex offender registry, I changed my plans and decided on law school. I took the LSAT on three months of preparation. I went from the decision to go to law school to my first acceptance in just about 8 months.

I have two cats, Mommas and Mooch! I am also a die-hard fan of the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians and the Vegas Golden Knights.

My 1L year wasn't exactly ideal. As most of you know, I've mentioned quite a few times about this injury I suffered. Well, six days before 1L Orientation, I was packing the rest of my belongings to move from Reno, Nevada to Omaha and, when attempting to lift a desk, my knee buckled - and popped - and down I went. Turns out, I had a trimalleolar fracture of my ankle (basically, broken in three places, one of the worst you could do) as well as a dislocated and broken kneecap, a torn medial patellofemoral ligament, and I tore all the cartilage out from underneath my kneecap. I had surgery for two plates and nine screws in the ankle, moved to Omaha, and had open knee surgery the Friday before Labor Day - right after Torts lecture - and was back in class for my 8a Property lecture the Tuesday after Labor Day. I spent 16 weeks not being able to drive - and in a walking boot - and 8 weeks not being able to put weight on my leg. I survived 1L with a 2.16 GPA after both fall and spring semesters. When we tell you that you can do anything, we mean it! You can do anything and you will make it through, no matter how bad it seems.

After law school, I plan on going into criminal defense even though I'm not sure 1) where I'm taking the Bar or 2) if I'm going to go into solo practice or be a public defender.

Now you know a bit more about us than what you see when you click our bios! Never forget, we are here for you and if there's ever anything you have questions on, just ask!! We're all in this together!

In the words of Tigger, ta ta for now!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Journaling: Putting Your Thoughts on Paper

Coming from my peers, I found that a lot of people are actually afraid to start journaling.  Some people did not want to put another "commitment" on their plate, some did not want to do it incorrectly, and some just couldn't  imagine putting their thoughts into words.

I personally find journaling very therapeutic.  If I am having an internal debate, sometimes I will write down the pros and cons circling around in my head and the visual aid will help me in making my decision.

No Right or Wrong

Journaling is one of the few places where there are no right or wrong answers.  I’ve come to enjoy this—there are not many places where this is the case.  In all parts of school, you are expected to produce a certain work product.  That isn’t the case here, your journal is for you and you alone.  Do what makes YOU happy.

I love letting my thoughts race freely from my head to the paper.  If a song is stuck in my head, that goes in my journal.  It’s freeing and fun, especially with all of the regulations in legal writing.  Let your journal reflect you.


I’m not one for sharing my journal, so I can put anything and everything down on paper.  Yes, I guard my journal with a fervor.  But, it’s like protecting my inner-most thoughts.  There is nothing with having some personal boundaries.  You need a space of your own, and it’s okay if your journal is yours.  And, there is no need for a fancy, leather-bound book.  You can have a small notepad with paper covers.  It’s all you.

Feel happy and free. Enjoy your paper adventure!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Advice from the Nebraska Supreme Court

I will be the first to tell you, spring semester was intense. Especially during the last month prior to finals. However, in the middle of everything - way back in the first week of April -  I was lucky to have one of the coolest experiences of my young law school career. The Nebraska Supreme Court held a session of oral arguments in our Gross Appellate Courtroom at Creighton University School of Law. Granted, as a 1L my attendance was required by our Legal Research & Writing professors, it was something I was certainly glad to have been a part of.

Luckily, the court allowed us to have pen and paper available in the courtroom and I was going to write this whole long post about every case that was argued before I don't want to hear all that.

But, what I do bring to the advice of the Justices that I gathered from the after argument Q&A session.

The Nebraska Supreme Court

The Court is made up of seven justices. However, due to the death of one justice - and the unexpected resignation of another - the Court only had five sitting justices, a district court judge and judge from the Court of Appeals.

The Court was composed of the following justices during the arguments I saw:

They were joined by district court judge Stefanie Martinez, from the 2nd Judicial District and judge Francie Riedmann from the Court of Appeals, 3rd Judicial District.

Q&A Session

Questions were asked of the justices by the Creighton School of Law, Class of 2020. The questions, and their answers - to the best of my note taking ability - are here below.

Q: Is more weight given to the written briefs that are submitted, or to the oral argument?
A: Justice Miller-Lerman: "Everything.
A: Justice Cassel: "You can't have an oral argument bring new matters that aren't mentioned in the brief."
A: Justice Funke: "Briefs are important as they are always reviews, but oral argument expands on that."
A: Justice Stacy: "We do re-listen to arguments [arguments are recorded] to confirm our approach to the case."

Q: What are the next steps for the Court after oral argument?
A: Justice Cassel: "We talk about the case. The judge who will author the opinion, the author judge, is assigned by the court clerk and the writing imposes a discipline that is integral to the decision process. It requires careful thought."
A: Justice Funke: "I need to see the opinion written. I may or may not be on board."

Q: Does Nebraska exercise de novo review?
A: Justice Funke: "We do for juvenile cases, domestic cases and for abuse of discretion."
A: Justice Cassel: "Everyone on the court uses heading for standards of review and the standard is usually controlling."

Q: Is it a pet peeve when someone does not give a direct answer to a question?
A: Justice Miller-Lerman: "It is never a trivial question and the judge is confused."
A: Justice Cassel: "There was a lawyer yesterday where I asked, 'So the answer is yes?'"
A: Justice Stacy: "Just answer the question!"

Q: Do you have a preference in regards to the presentation?
A: Justice Stacy: "Sometimes lawyers tell too much, thinking we haven't read the brief. But, persuasion starts with high points. A roadmap helps for the queue of questions; what is most persuasive?"
A: Chief Justice Heavican: "It is important when arguing that you know it is your opportunity to discuss what is most important in your case."

Q: How do you prepare for oral arguments? If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you do with it?
A: Justice Miller-Lerman: " Go to bed earlier. Read briefs for strength and give the research to the law clerks."
A: Chief Justice Heavican: "Key cases that are cited will be reviewed."
A: Justice Cassel: "Read as much of the record as is appropriate."
A: Justice Funke: "I read the record, pleadings by attorneys and transcripts. Were the questions and affirmative defenses framed correctly. There are two types of law clerks: career clerks and term clerks. Career clerks stay with a particular judge for a long period of time while term clerks are usually fresh out of law school, they just passed the bar. For Nebraska, term clerks for the Supreme Court clerk for two years"
A: Justice Stacy: "Author judge prepares the bench brief to help the other justices be well informed."

Overall, it was a very interesting perspective to have. I encourage all of our readers to check your local court calendars - Supreme Court or Court of Appeals - and see when they hold oral arguments and check them out if you can! It is definitely an experience in and of itself that is completely different from being in trial courts or even in school competitions.

Hopefully, these answers help you see how the Justices on one state Supreme Court see their job.

Stay classy everyone!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Summer Reads: Part 1

As we all somehow find some more free time during the summer, I will share some of the books that I am able to read for fun over the summer.  It will come in installments as I finish books and am able to post.  Welcome to part one.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Romantic Suspense

Rating/Success: 89%

Joe Goldberg, a small bookstore employee meets Beck.  He is instantly enchanted by her and finds her on Twitter--intrigued by her every move.  After orchestrating a "chance" meeting again at a subway stop, they start a whirlwind romance with more ups and downs than the world's most intense rollercoaster.  As time passes, Joe's oddities come to light, and Beck's friends begin to warn her against Joe.  He can't have that.  He must have Beck, and he won't stop at anything to keep her in his grasp.

I could not put this book down.  It wasn't like a traditional cheesy romance novel.  Yes, there was the appropriate amount of mushy stuff, but the plot twists and the scary moments kept me glued to the pages.  This book shows that there is more to every person than meets the eye--and first impressions do not reveal everything you need to know about a person.  Those who seem the most harmless can actually be the most dangerous.  If you like a bit of a mystery, but you are not a fan of anything too frightening, I really recommend this book.  Grab it for your next long flight or car ride!

ISBN: 978-1-4767-8560-8

Happy summer!