Charles Nesson

Are there no volunteers on the Columbia Law faculty?

Yesterday, we told you about a sticky situation at Columbia Law School. Professor Christina Duffy Ponsa, a constitutional law scholar, is going through divorce proceedings that have caused her to miss a number of classes. The school responded by dumping all of Professor Ponsa’s students into Professor Trevor Morrison’s Con Law class, creating a huge 200-person Con Law experience that bothered many students.

The Columbia Student Senate formally requested that Columbia replace Ponsa with another qualified professor instead of merging sections.

It seems that no Columbia Law professor was willing to step up and alleviate the overcrowded situation, but after our story went up, the administration did make some concessions to student concerns. And while it seems to me that the administration is fumbling the ball here by not finding one faculty member (or Justice Ginsburg) willing to step in and help out a colleague with some personal issues, students and tipsters have heaped a whole lot of blame on Professor Ponsa’s allegedly wild personal life for putting herself (and her students) in this situation in the first place….

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Last fall, we shared the evidence exam of Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson. His fall exam didn’t seem to require a lot of evidence knowledge.

This semester, Professor Nesson is teaching an “American Jury” class. We received a copy of the spring take-home exam.

How do you ace a class at Harvard? You better play a lot of attention to cases your professor is currently involved in, and you better not fall asleep during the screening of 12 Angry Men….

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Am I happy, or in misery? Whatever it is that exam, put a spell on me.

If this were any other school, if this were any other professor, I’d probably be screaming about this in my sleep. But I can’t get mad at Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School. He’s old. He’s kooky. He’s got a personality and tenure. What’s not to like?

A tipster forwarded a copy of the 2011 Evidence exam Professor Nesson just issued. I think it’s great. Some people are going to go all nuts about how their school is “just as good as HLS if this is the kind of crap exam they give to students.” Some Harvard students, especially the ones who spent all semester reading and making their own case briefs, are going to scream about how they’re paying nearly $50K a year “for this.”

But whatever. You’ve got all these people running around, mainly deans at lower-ranked law schools, screaming about how legal education confers some kind of intangible, experiential benefit that cannot be codified in simple job placement statistics. Well, Professor Nesson is all about the existential experience of thinking deeply (or casually) about law — and he’s doing it at a school that confers the very tangible benefit of high-paying, prestigious jobs to all who want them.

So, strap yourselves in: two questions, 500-word limit per answer. Have fun, kids….

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* “The road to this day has been long”… and hard. That’s what he said. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has finally been put to bed, and the next logical step would be to ditch DOMA. [PostPartisan / Washington Post]

* “Citizens United has been good for gay rights.” Well, at least it’s been good for something. Are we allowed to like the ruling in this case now? Bueller? Bueller? No? Okay, just checking. [New York Times]

* And another one gone, another judge bites the dust. $43K wasn’t enough to keep Justice Joseph Covello on the bench. How many more will it take to get a decent raise? [New York Law Journal]

* The First Circuit turned it around on Joel Tenenbaum, reinstating a $675K judgment against him. Charles Nesson couldn’t comment on the decision because he was crying. [Boston Globe]

* Ten-year sentence edition: Samuel Logan’s dad wishes he was still a judge on the Tenth Circuit so he could benchslap the sh*t out of his son for trying to seduce a 14-year-old. [Kansas City Star]

* John Banzhaf continues to fight for coeds’ right to party at Catholic University, but it’s not looking good because it’s hard to immaculately conceive when boys live in the same dorm. [WSJ Law Blog]

First of all, Happy Chanukah. May your candles burn bright.

It is certainly possible that some lowly internet hacker was trying to take advantage of some holiday compassion when he or she hacked the email of Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson. Nesson is a well-known figure in “internet and the law” circles — as well as to readers of A Civil Action, who know him as “Billion Dollar Charlie” — but today he’s just another victim of a phishing attack. An email went out to the HLS community this morning claiming that Nesson was stuck in the U.K. and in desperate need of money.

We can’t be sure if Nesson will be able to find and bring charges against the hacker, but let’s hope that if he does he isn’t forced to rely on HLS students for legal advice…

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Professor Charlie Nesson

Tomorrow, Jammie Thomas-Rasset goes to trial for a third time over her illegal downloads of 24 songs. As we’ve reported before, the music industry is determined to make an example of her, and tomorrow they’ll be fighting over damages the Thomas-Rasset should pay for stealing things valued at $1 on iTunes.

But what should and will happen to Jammie Thomas-Rasset is a substantive discussion for another day. Right now, I want somebody to tell me who holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for quickest benchslap. Because District Judge Michael Davis just knocked around Harvard Law professor Charlie Nesson so quickly you wonder if the clerk pulled a hamstring trying to get everything filed in the correct chronological order…

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