Looks Like I was Wrong about Tweeting Jurors.

I didn’t think we’d see them anytime soon.  I was very, very wrong.

UPDATE:  So I got to thinking . .  . I’ve got 20 or 30 years left in my legal career.  Will I see a juror’s mental telepathy about a case raised as a ground for appeal?  I don’t know, but if mental telepathy is possible, it will sure change oral argument, especially how an advocate handles questions from the court.

Trial by Tweet

More accurately, I guess, trial coverage by tweet.  A reporter as been given permission by a federal judge in Kansas to pubish updates from the courtroom via Twitter.  A few of his dispatches by tweet:

— “Judge Marten is talking to reluctant witness in chambers with a court reporter transcribing the conversation.”

— “The witness who was yelling in the hallway earlier has not returned to the courthouse.”

— “Defendants are chatting and laughing among themselves.”

— “Exhibits are shown electronically. Every juror has a monitor in the box. There is a monitor at each lawyer’s table and one for the gallery.”

It won’t be long before journalism schools offer a course in “journalism in 140 characters or less.”

We’ve already seen a blogging juror become a potential issue on appeal.  But it seems unlikely we’ll see tweeting jurors any time soon.  It would be awfully hard to tweet from the jury box without being noticed.

UPDATE: I was wrong.

Law School Rankings Under Scrutiny Again

When I last wrote about law school rankings (in the summer of 2007), it was in response to a post at the Law School Innovation blog rounding up some reporting and commentary on law school rankings, including an article in National Law Journal about a potential boycott of magazine rankings surveys used by the magazines to rank the schools. I don’t know whether any schools actually protested through a boycott, but yesterday’s Wall Street Journal gives the schools more food for thought.

Their front-page article, Law School Rankings Reviewed to Deter ‘Gaming,’ discusses the practice of some schools to admit lower-qualified candidates only to their part-time programs, where the qualifications of the students do not figure into the rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The potential impact on rankings resulting from fixing the loophole might create an incentive for schools to change their practices, with negative effects for students:

Counting part-timers would roil the law-school rankings, which have a big impact on where students apply and from where law firms hire. A number of law-school administrators interviewed about the potential change contend it could have another effect: narrowing a traditional pathway to law school for minorities and working professionals. Those groups often perform worse on the important Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, and schools could feel pressure to raise their admission thresholds.

A change in criteria would “catch the outliers but punish part-time programs that have existed forever and aren’t doing it to game the system,” says Ellen Rutt, an associate law-school dean at the University of Connecticut. If U.S. News makes the move, many schools with part-time programs would have a tough choice: Leave their admission standards for part-timers unchanged, which could hurt their rank, or raise the standards, likely shrinking the programs and cutting revenue.

My own school (University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law) had a robust evening program. Even though I was a full-time student, I grew familiar with the quality of the part-time students because many of my elective classes were taught in the evening (in order to make them available to the part-time students). If there was a significant difference in the amount or quality of classroom participation by students, I sure don’t remember it. (Of course, I have no idea if the part-time students at McGeorge were any “less-qualified” on paper than my full-time classmates.)

While I don’t think rankings are meaningless, I hardly think they are as important as many employers and applicants seem to think they are. It is distressing to me to see so much emphasis on a school’s ranking, especially when I read in the article about measures schools take specifically to improve their ranking.

If you’d like more detail about the article before you read it, read this post at WSJ Law Blog. Some of the commenters have very strong feelings about the magazine’s ranking system.

For an alternative ranking, see Brian Leiter’s Law School Rankings.

Boston Legal and the Supremes

The US Supreme Court building in Washington.Image via Wikipedia

From Harmful Error:

[Tuesday] night’s episode of Boston Legal included a fairly amazing, even if a tad bit on the fantasy end of the spectrum, speech to the US Supreme Court, before actors who look very much like the real justices.

For more details and alink to the 10-minute clip on Youtube, see the post. If I run across any more blogs posting about the episode, I will link to them from this post.

A while back, I told you about a lawyer who blogs about episodes of The Office, tallying up the liability incurred in each episode. Maybe someone — someone with a lot of time on their hands, that is — ought to do that for Boston Legal.

UPDATE (4/25/08): Legal Profession Blog compares and contrasts Boston Legal with The Office.