We’re now in year two of the Michigan “let’s make the bar exam more difficult” plan. In 2012, the Michigan Board of Law Examiners changed the weight it gives to the essay questions, with the goal of producing lawyers with a better understanding of state law. I don’t know, there are probably all sorts of things that don’t apply to automakers in Michigan that you’d never see on the Multistate section.
This makes the bar more difficult and more stupid at the same time. It’s harder to answer an essay question than a multiple choice event where you can make an educated guess, but it’s also dumber to administer a “standardized” test that relies heavily on the individual tastes of essay graders.
In any event, the results from the July 2012 bar exam were predictably horrific. Only 55% of test takers passed the July 2012 test. Cooley totally embarrassed itself, even by Cooley standards, with only 42% of test takers from that school passing.
This year, 60% of test takers passed the July 2013 Michigan Bar. So that’s better, though still pretty rough. Cooley, again, covered itself in glory by posting a 43% pass rate. But all the law schools have complained about Michigan’s new, harder exam.
And the Michigan BOLE doesn’t care. Law schools in Michigan better raise their game, because the game ain’t changing….
A tried and true trope of conservatives faced with the grim outcomes of their cockamamie schemes is to attempt to shame everyone into ignoring the human cost of their policies — ironically — out of respect for the people hurt. Something horrible happened, but it’s unseemly to try to explore why it happened, just sit back and let the moment pass and enjoy some bread and circuses until you forget.
We’ve seen it countless times before. It’s rhetorical standard operating procedure. After Sandy Hook, the usual suspects from Senator Rand Paul to the Washington Times decried the “cruel” and “shameful” “exploitation” involved in pointing out that putting military assault rifles on the street makes it easy for someone to kill a lot of kids very quickly. The tactic worked as it always does and time passed, people forgot, and nothing happened. It was only a week ago that Senator Ted Cruz suggested it was disrespectful of Trayvon Martin’s mother to lobby for changes based on her son’s death. I guess it was disrespectful to… Cruz? One would have thought his mom would be the right barometer of how to honor her son.
Now this trope is the subject of Tamara Tabo’s criticism of my article yesterday regarding the recent shooting of Renisha McBride because I noted the uptick in the “shoot first” culture brought on by Stand Your Ground laws (regardless of the fact that the law isn’t technically at play here).
Let’s unpack this and also look at some other misdirection being flung my way, shall we?
As Joe wrote yesterday, a 19-year-old Detroit woman named Renisha McBride was fatally shot last weekend on the porch of a Dearborn Heights home. Her death has received national media attention because of the speculation that, as Joe put it, it follows “the same basic pattern of an African-American in a predominantly white neighborhood at night running afoul of a gun-toting homeowner.”
The family members of Renisha McBride issued a press statement last night asking for peace while they mourn and promising to meet with activist groups after Renisha’s funeral. The funeral is scheduled for today at 10 a.m.
Authorities have slowly released details related to the young woman’s death. Some of these details match the statements made by Renisha’s family. Some do not.
Before leapfrogging over the specifics of Renisha’s case and launching a politically motivated rant, let’s look at what we do and don’t know about the tragedy that occurred on that Dearborn Heights porch. If Renisha McBride is more than a political prop, she deserves at least that much . . . .
So it’s happened again. Another state, another neighborhood, another young black person shot to death by someone based on a loose, subjective “fear.” This time it’s Michigan, and it’s a young woman instead of a teenage boy, but otherwise it’s the same basic pattern of an African-American in a predominately white neighborhood at night running afoul of a gun-toting homeowner.
There will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the prevalence of “Stand Your Ground” laws (which Michigan boasts), followed by the equal and opposite reaction loudly pointing out that Stand Your Ground doesn’t apply to this particular case (which it doesn’t).
However, while what happened in Michigan may not invoke the state’s Stand Your Ground law, the existence and high-profile nature of laws that lower the standard for legally forgivable gunplay has everything to do with what happened in Michigan…
* Law firm Halloween party advice. I disagree with some of this — my “Sexy John Marshall” costume was always a hit. [Greedy Associates / FindLaw]
* The Supreme Court is expected to review a 10th Circuit decision holding that corporations are people and can exercise religious rights. Hopefully the Supreme Court stops this madness before my cable company has the right to bear arms. [Constitutional Accountability Center]
* Governor Chris Christie has dropped his appeal of the New Jersey court decision authorizing same-sex marriage. He finally worked out that his own homophobia wasn’t worth being on the wrong side of 61 percent of Jersey voters. [Politico]
* California is tightening up its Workers’ Comp rules for former professional athletes. From now on, injured ex-jocks need to prove a more significant tie to the state to collect compensation. This presents a problem for a lot of former football players who now have to admit they played for the Raiders. [The Legal Blitz]
* Judge Smith of the New York Court of Appeals gets a scathing open letter. It’s fun when lawyers go “Flame On!” toward judges they might eventually be in front of. [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]
* Governor Rick Snyder is asking a judge to drop her request to see unredacted copies of internal emails about the search for the Detroit emergency manager. Because nothing seemed sketchy about employing a law that had been specifically repealed by Michigan voters to overturn the democratically elected leadership of a major metropolis to install a partner from a firm that just so happens to get chosen as bankruptcy counsel, earning a ton of fees from the whole affair. Nothing at all. [Detroit News]
* Guy sues Apple because he hates iOS 7. Not the dumbest suit ever brought against Apple. [BGR]
* Entertainment lawyer Harry M. Brittenham moonlights as the author of graphic novels. A lawyer writing comic books may sound like a guy living in his mom’s basement, but he’s actually married to Heather Thomas from The Fall Guy. [New York Times]
* Affirmative action is again being put to the test before the Supreme Court, but this time, we’re not so sure the justices will punt the ball like last time. The countdown to one of Elie’s epic rants on race in America starts in 3, 2, 1… [National Law Journal]
* The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is open for business, but the government shutdown has pretty much brought work at both the International Trade Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to a complete standstill. May they live to fight patent trolls another day. [Corporate Counsel]
* Good news, everyone! Many Biglaw firms have changed the way they make their real estate and office space decisions, primarily because “maintaining profitability has become very challenging.” [GlobeSt.com]
* Here’s another list of the law schools where you can get the most bang for your buck — except it neglects to mention what percentage of the class responded to these salary questions. Oops! [PolicyMic]
Not that Roberts cares about pesky things like facts, but the facts on the ground in Michigan since the state’s ballot initiative show that without affirmative action, minority enrollment has plummeted. At the University of Michigan, minority enrollment at the college and the law school is down 30 percent.
Now, I know a lot of conservatives will respond to that number with “so?” I get that there are entire swaths of America that could give a crap if minorities are going to public universities or not. I’m sure the hatred for “undeserving” minorities will be well expressed in the comments.
Those people aren’t running the University of Michigan, however. The people running Michigan would like to admit a diverse group of students, and the state’s ballot initiative has clearly hampered that effort. For that law school, it’s a very complicated problem, because as we’ve been reporting, law school applications are down across the board, and that includes minority applicants….
[She] surprised me and thrilled me…. I lusted after that woman. I’m in my middle 50s and she’s a double dozen years my junior.
– Judge Wade McCree, demonstrating that there is “no shame in his game,” in his testimony this week before the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. Judge McCree testified about his affair with a woman who appeared as a party in his courtroom and allegations that he asked her to get an abortion when she ended up preggers.
* GW Law professor John Banzhaf is calling upon the D.C. City Council to bar local broadcasters from using the term “Redskins.” Two decades after the real emergence of “political correctness,” the “Redskins” name has held out against that all-out assault almost as long as the actual Native American society did against Phil Sheridan. [Huffington Post]
* People are still talking about the Yahoo!/Tumblr deal, but the most important deal for the legal profession has slid under the radar. Seamless and GrubHub are merging to make all your “3 a.m. and still haven’t had dinner at the office” dreams come true. [Wall Street Journal]
* Vivia Chen of The Careerist got some flack for suggesting that women taking their husbands’ names was a regressive trend. In (tongue-in-cheek) fairness, here are the good reasons to take your husband’s name. Example: “When you’ve been indicted or convicted.” [The Careerist]
* U. Chicago Law scheduled finals during Memorial Day weekend… while Chicago is closing Lake Shore Drive and cutting back on public transit. UChiLawGo responds. [UChiLawGo]
* A gospel singer is suing McDonald’s because she lost her voice. Normally I’d make fun of this, but she sounds like she has a good argument. [The Inquisitr]
* Elie explains why the racist, nasty comments we receive don’t faze us at all. [Paidcontent.org]
* Well this is a novel use of fundraising: Speculation that Tim Lambesis (who we covered yesterday) used crowdfunding for a new Austrian Death Machine Schwarzenegger tribute album as the down payment on a hitman to murder his wife. Maybe this new album was going to have a Total Recall theme? [Metal Sucks]
* Stephen Colbert sits down with Caplin & Drysdale’s Trevor Potter to discuss the fact that Colbert’s SuperPAC has never been approved by the IRS. Video after the jump…
After the July 2012 Michigan state bar exam, we noted that Michigan seemed to be tightening the screws on the people taking its bar exam. The overall pass rate for the exam was 55%, and it was only 62% for first-time test takers.
As people gear up for the July 2013 Michigan bar exam, it looks like the degree of difficulty on the test isn’t a blip, it’s a trend. The February 2013 numbers suggest that Michigan wants to keep its test hard and its test takers nervous….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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