It’s finals period at many law schools around the country. Here at Above the Law, that means we can expect our inbox to get very entertaining. Pressure + law students + internet = loads of fun.

Well, it’s not just “pressure” that makes some law students wilt during finals period. There is no accounting for plumb stupid.

But today, we’ve got a story that is both stupid and unethical. A student at a top 14 law school reportedly posted a question from his Constitutional Law exam on a message board. He apparently posted it during the take home.

Yes, Virginia, it’s still cheating even if you do it online.

Or should I say: “Yes, Durham”???

The original post has been deleted from Top Law Schools, but the thread remains. It appears that the original poster, “honestapplicant” (you can’t make this stuff up), posted the following question from his Con Law exam:

Subject: Con law help?

If the government tries to bar a woman from becoming president on textual grounds, what governmental purpose is being served?

The post went up at 2:19 on Thursday. By 2:27 he had a response:

the purpose being served would be the one that wouldn’t have you posting questions about our take home con law exam on top law schools trying to get the answer.

Boom goes the dynamite.

From there, the internet did its work. It wasn’t long before readers at Top Law Schools figured out that the kid goes to Duke Law School. After that, it was pretty easy to narrow down which section the kid was in. I’ll stop the speculation there, because I’m not able to confirm who the kid is, even if the people at Top Law Schools think they have their man.

Whoever did it, he seemed to quickly realize that posting the question was a colossally dumb mistake. First, he deleted his original post. Then, he deleted all the comments he’d ever made on TLS — he was obviously trying to conceal his identity. What’s funny is that it looks like he did this deleting during his exam. You know, instead of writing his exam. Also, the kid never got a substantive answer to his exam question.

What gets me is how dumb kids can be when they are dealing with the internet. If you asked “honestapplicant” if it was okay to get help from his fellow students on his exam, he would have said “no.” He wouldn’t have gone to his law library and asked people in the carrels for question help. But online… people think they’re anonymous, and so no rules apply.

We’ll keep our ear out to see if Duke has an official response to this. It might be hard for Duke to definitively figure out who “honestapplicant” is, especially if the kid denies his culpability.

But here’s a safety tip, folks: there is no special online caveat to cheating. Cheaters never win, at least not when they’re freaking idiots who do it in public.

Con law help? [Top Law Schools]


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