Law: Ring Ring

November 29, 2007

Today while surfing CNN I came across this article about a judge gone bonkers.

When I first read it, I was thinking “there has to be more to this story” because no judge would actually outright send a whole room to jail over a cellphone.  Was I ever wrong.

When I looked around for more details, and the more I looked around, the worse the situation seemed.  First, this judge didn’t just send everybody in the room to jail.  The judged called everybody up, asked them about it, and proceeded to enter judgment.  The details I have read don’t even make it clear if they were sent to jail with a charge RELATED to the cell phone, or if he entered stricter punishment on their action domestic violence charges because of the phone going off. 

Here is a another take on the story coming from the NYT: 

After a brief recess, Judge Restaino returned to the bench and asked the defendant who had been standing before him when the phone rang — from the back of the room — and if he knew whose phone it was.

“No,” the defendant, Reginald Jones, said. “I was up here.”

Nonetheless, the judge scrapped plans to release Mr. Jones, set bail at $1,500 and sent him into custody. He was the first of 46 defendants to be sent into custody because of what could be called the case of the ringing cellphone.”

Even more peculiar about the case is the judges reaction to the complains of defendants.  When one defendant complained that what was happening wasn’t fair to the rest of the people sentenced, the just said “I know” and when somebody said “this ain’t right, this ain’t right at all” the judge said “you’re right, this ain’t right.”  WHAT THE HECK?  It almost sounds like the judge knows he was going crazy but continued to do it! 

Anyway, as you can see, sanctions were swift and harsh for this judge, and I have to say, I think he completely deserved it.   I hope, in the interest of justice, all of these people get the opportunity to b resentenced if they were actually punished on the merits.

Question for my torts professor Monday:  Are there any immunities provided for judges against tort suites for false imprisonment stemming from a gross abuse of discretion?  My guess is he is protected, but I am curious to find out.

Law: Everybody’s an Expert

November 29, 2007

Since we got back from Thanksgiving break, people have been starting to get geared up for finals season.  This mean not only study groups meeting more often and the word “outline” being uttered every few words, but many many review and exam strategy sessions. 

Yesterday Glannon, of the Glannon Guide to Civ Pro was on campus talking about test taking.  Today our professor did 20 minutes on exam taking skills.  This weekend there is a Barbri class to review part o civil procedure and talk about exam skills.  In between is a collection of other actors (2L’s, other faculty, and anybody else that has gone to law school) offering their opinion of how to take exams.

I did LEEWS before coming to law school and I think that helped me build up my confidence a lot.  For me, the biggest worry is actually learning the material, not figuring out how to take the test.

We have three more weeks of these types of “seminars”, “workshops”, and “sessions.”  While my classmates go to those, I’ll try to finish my memo, get a job (mabye a long shot), and perhaps actually read for class.


Some of my friends have been wondering what exactly a medical school anatomy exam entails, so I’d like to do a quick summary of it.

The exam consisted of two distinct components: a lab practical and a multiple-choice question (MCQ) test. We started in the morning with the lab exam. For this exam, there were a total of roughly 50 stations setup–each having a labeled structure and a question about it. We received 1.2 minutes per station, and rotated through the series over the course of the exam period–with rest stations as well. Some of the questions required simple identification (i.e., ‘What is this structure?’) while others were secondary questions requiring identification and additional knowledge (i.e., ‘This structure passes through what before it exits the body?’).

All in all, I did not do as well on this component as I was hoping. I spent a considerable amount of time studying up in the lab prior to the exam (including both Friday and Saturday nights) and legitimately thought that I was ready; however, I still found myself flustered due to the time constraints. I started off the exam pretty well, but soon ran into sections in which I would miss 3-4 in a row. I still passed and everything–just nothing special.

The MCQ was setup like all of the other exams we’ve taken this semester–same room, same proctors, same time limits. I found this part of the exam MUCH more enjoyable–mainly because of its clinical basis. The questions were quite different from the practical–as we obviously would not be asked to identify structures on a written exam. Instead, we were presented clinical situations (GSW/Gun Shot Wound, for example), and then needed to use our anatomical knowledge to discuss penetrated layers, location of fluid buildup, etc. I feel that I did better on this part than the practical, but I suppose I’ll find out for sure soon enough.

A blog entry about examination–how fun! I’ll be more exciting later, I promise.

Law: Can’t turn it off

November 26, 2007

I have noted a lot of changes in the things that pop into my head when talking with friends since I started attending law school.  In addition to seeing life as a walking tort and not being able to keep from hearing about peoples “Plans and schemes” and thinking “well I see problems with this and this” I also find myself wanting to ask questions that nobody knows or cares about.  Take for example this article which a friend sent my a few minutes ago.  I read the article and started to evaluate the claims based on what the article says (which seems reasonable given that it is about an intentional tort, something I actually have learned about).  But then, into my head jumped a stupid question:  I wonder what firm represented the school?  I dont know why this popped into my head, but whenever I hear about cases, this is always the first thing I think about.  Perhaps its an indication of my belief that lawyers have more impact on the outcome of litigation than they should, or perhaps its just a perverse part of applying for jobs, but either way, I do it all the time and it is just another example of how law school makes you think things you could never say without seeming like a wierdo to the general population.

Law: Jobs Jobs Jobs

November 22, 2007

Today started my attempt at getting somebody to pay me to do legal work this summer.  Ideally, I’ll find somebody to pay me well to put me through the summer associate dog and pony show.  In a perfect world, it would be a firm I wanted to start my career with.  But for a 1L with no major connections, that isn’t reality, no matter where you go to law school.

 With that in mind, I spent several hours the last few days proofreading my resume and writing cover letters.  I put together zillions and zillions of cover letters to send out, many customized, some not.  My plan is to mail them out on November 29th.  Hopefully I’ll land some interviews and with luck some of those interviews will magically turn into offers, but I’m not counting on it. 

Anyway, I have four cover letters left to write.  Unfortunately, I don’t have nearly the number of firms I want to mail, which means that in addition to writing more letters, I also need to find more firms to contact.  Joy.  Shouldn’t  be doing something more important right now?  Like, I don’t know… studying for finals? 

Anyway, if any readers out there have any connections to Chicago biglaw, please send them my way!

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving.

It’s not very often that you will hear me say that perhaps the actions of President Bush have led to a positive outcome; however, I must admit that the latest development regarding stem cell research may just fall into that category. Hear me out.

During the course of his administration, President Bush has repeatedly vetoed any funding that involved the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of extracting stem cells. Personally, I do not believe that a ball of cells falls into the category of “human life worth preserving,” as both sperm and eggs whilst separated are also essentially forms of life capable of becoming a human being eventually–and these are readily discarded every day. Nevertheless, I can at least understand the perspective of those speaking out against such procedures. Not AGREE with them, but understand where they’re coming from.

Cue the latest development in the area of stem-cell research: the ability to reprogram regular somatic cells–such as skin fibroblasts–into a totipent/pluripotent (I believe pluripotent) state. Concurrently this month two articles were released–one in Cell and one in Science–addressing this very topic. I’ve only perused the article from the Cell, and long-story short…the scientists have expanded their earlier research from mice to humans and shown that the expression of particular transcription factors can create a “stem-cell” from a regular cell. Beyond the avoidance of embryo destruction, a further benefit is postulated to be personalized stem cells–that is, way down the road when treatments are potentially available from this, a patient will receive the benefit from his or her very own cell. Seems like a great possibility.

This development may only have been possible because of President Bush’s repeated vetoes. After all, where is the incentive to create alternative methods of stem cells if the “easiest” is already allowed? And this could also work to ease the minds of the religious groups that generally protest stem-cell research. To quote a article:

” ‘By avoiding techniques that destroy life, while vigorously supporting alternative approaches, President Bush is encouraging scientific advancement within ethical boundaries,’ the White House said Tuesday in a written statement on the new research.”

As much as I relish opportunities to disagree with White House policy, I can’t really deny the validity of this claim. He’s vetoes may just have fueled this procedure that should be much more acceptable to an overwhelming majority of Americans.

(On a side note, this makes me think of an old political cartoon I saw during college with Brownbear. A husband and wife are each holding newspapers. One paper says “Bush vetoes stem cell research” while the other says “Iraq War Begins.” Then the spouse with the stem cell paper says, “Apparently President Bush is against ending life to save life,” to which the other replies, “Hmm.” But I digress.)

While we’re on the topic of stem cells, I’d like to make the point that they aren’t some panacea for all human afflictions. The point is that we need to DO THE RESEARCH before we even know what can be done. This is no quick-fix, this is actually quite long-term. But hopefully we’re on the right track.

Law: I know less…..

November 22, 2007

Kurzman’s post about feeling like he doesn’t know nearly enough definately struck a chord of agreement with me.  When we all showed up for a visit weekend last March, we heard a 3L tell us “Going to law school, and especially going to law school here means that people will think are qualified to do lots of things and realy qualify you to do not much.”  The same person also said “Going to school here makes people think you know lots of things when really, you know very little.”  I rolled my eyes and deposited this in the “random comment” box, but really, the speaker had a good point.

 It has now been two and a half months, and there are very few legal questions that I could answer with a certain “yes” or “no.”  This isn’t to say I haven’t learned things, I have learned plenty but what we have learned does not prepare me to be able to analyze a real life legal issue and know 1. if there is an answer and 2. what the answer is.  Then gain, th most important words for a lawyer are “I’m not sure, let me look into it and get back to you.”

 If I was going home, I would almost certainly have a half dozen relatives asking me about random legal issues.  I am however NOT going home, so I get a three week reprive. 

Anyway, to get back on point, I also don’t feel like I know even a third of what I should know.  Hopefully between now and two and a half years from now that will change, but it doesn’t feel nice to have an understanding of something that others interact with often an understand rarely. 

Hey everyone,

I’m not usually the type of person that invests too much time into the lives of celebrities; however, this latest example really caught my eye/ear. I was listening to the radio, and a brief mention was given to the fact that Dennis Quaid’s newborn twins were given a 1000x dosage of “some drug.”

I immediately thought back to the AMSA conference and one of the issues brought up by Dr. Tim MacDonald–the Associate Chief Medical Officer of Safety and Risk Management at UIH. He mentioned a potential problem in the labeling/packaging of the drug Heparin. Heparin is a blood thinner used in adults; however, there is a 1000x smaller dose version called Heplock used to simply keep IVs/ports open in newborns. The bottles look VERY similar, and one can be easily confused with the other.Looking into the Quaid issue, it appears something like this happened. The article that I link below doesn’t specifically mention Heplock (only Heparin), but given the circumstances it seems very likely that this is the case.

I bring this up to make a few points. First, the fact that the bottles for 1000x different doses of the same drug are made to look similar is complete idiocy. But I also want to make the point that medical errors are not always the result of negligence on the part of a doctor.

For example–regarding Heplock–Dr. MacDonald presented this scenario (which is what I believe occurred here in Chicago a few years ago):The problem begins with the person stocking the shelves of the medical supply room. This isn’t the doctor and may not even be a registered nurse–it could just be a random hospital employee. Envision an overworked/unpaid supply room person that takes these similar bottles and accidentally puts them on the same shelf thinking that they’re the same. Then when a doctor writes an order for Heplock, the nurse runs into the room and pulls one quickly down from the shelf–forgetting to check it. And then a doctor–also overworked/tired/stressed, happens to not check the medicine before it’s administered.

Being early in my medical career, I’m not sure if a doctor is “supposed” to check it or if the trust is simply placed on the nursing staff to deliver it correctly. In my mind, a doctor that prescribes a med should see it before it’s given.

So where do you place the blame is this situation? Perhaps the doctor should have performed a final check. And surely the nurse should have actually made sure that she/he grabbed the correct med. And of course hospitals depend on the supply room staff to get the job done quickly and correctly.

This isn’t on one person–it’s a systemic breakdown.And it highlights the need to move everything into the electronic realm. It goes something like this:

a) Doctor puts order for Heplock into the computer.

b) Nurse sees the order, and goes to the supply room to get it (Also, there could could an electronic aspect to the supply room).

c) When the nurse reenters the patient’s room, she must scan in–think barcodes–all meds that she is now carrying. If she has Heparin instead of Heplock, the computer goes crazy, alarms sound, and that medicine never even makes it close to being administered.

How hard could a system like this actually be to set up?

A conversation that I had with BrownBear tonight elicited a sentiment that we both have: After 3 months of med school,

We know so much, yet so little…

Since arriving home last night for Thanksgiving Break with the family, I have been talking their ears off with all of my newly-learned medical knowledge. Obviously, the point of school is to learn things that you didn’t know before; yet, it’s still a wonderful feeling to be understanding things about the body that you never understood. For example…why do you stop breathing when you break your neck? Anyone could postulate that neurons are involved, but we now know that its because neurons from CV3/4/5 in the neck let you control your diaphragm, which ultimately allows air into your lungs. Or…why do people get shoulder and arm pain when their gallbladder is inflamed? This explanation is a bit more complicated–and I don’t care to bore you all with it–but rest assure I know. With all of the biochem, anatomy, physiology, and more that we’ve done…I feel like i’ve done a complete crashcourse in a foreign language.

But then we talked about how in 3.5 years we’re gonna be “Dr. Kurz and Dr. Brownbear,” and realize that we are NOWHERE near where we’d need to be to feel comfortable with that. I have my first clinic experience looming next week, and there are going to be patients that will expect me to be able to help them. And I’m not going to know jack-shit. Granted, i AM a student and am NOT required to provide medical services to them, but their expectations might be different.

There’s no “eureka” moment in which I’m suddenly going to realize that I have the ability to be a doctor–it’s just a process. Over time I’m going to be learning more and more until one day I’m responsible for the care of others. For their sakes–and mine–I have a whole lot to learn until then…

Med: Nicknames

November 21, 2007

Since we’re keeping this blog pseudo-anonymous (ok really, everyone that looks at this blog knows who me and Clegal really are…), we generally don’t use real names on this site. But–at least for me–I mention a lot of other people on this site, so I’m gonna do a quick sum-up of the other characters w/ their nicknames:

Brownbear was my roommate for the last two years of college and one of my best friends. He’s a fellow first-year medical student and goes to the University of Cincinnati.

Frosty is another one of my best friends (another dukie) and is currently applying to medical school–and kicking some ass I might add. One particular contribution to this site was a quote “What the hell is a Netter’s?” in reply to one of my posts. She’ll know soon enough….

Cow is my roommate here in Chicago–this year at least–and my best friend here at home. He’s been my “brah” (bro) since 5th grade or so, and we tend to share the same bad habits: spending money we don’t have, eating food we don’t need/makes us fat, and playing videogames when we should be productive human beings. These are amplified when we’re around one another.

I may also make mention to my brothers…and will call them middle brother and youngest brother. Middle brother is 19 and goes to the American Academy of Art downtown, and youngest brother is in high school.I think that just about covers it for now. Maybe my next post will actually be about med school….