Race

Last Wednesday, we reported on Baylor Law School’s inadvertent release of personal academic information for its entire admitted class — names, addresses, GPAs, LSAT scores, and scholarship offers. Last Friday, my colleague Elie Mystal used this data to argue in defense of affirmative action.

We believe in offering a wide range of perspectives here at Above the Law. That’s one thing that’s nice about having four full-time writer/editors — myself, Elie, Staci Zaretsky, Chris Danzig — and about a dozen outside columnists.

Today we bring you a different viewpoint on the Baylor law admissions data. Prominent lawyer and blogger Ted Frank, previously profiled in these pages for his work in the class-action area, uses the same data to argue against affirmative action.

Let’s hear what he has to say, shall we?

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On Wednesday, we reported on Baylor Law School accidentally releasing personal academic information for its entire admitted class. It was a massive screw-up, and on Wednesday, we showed you the GPA and LSAT scores for Baylor’s admitted students (with the students’ names redacted, of course).

But there were other fields available in the accidentally released spreadsheet, including racial categorizations for each student and scholarship information. I didn’t include the race field earlier this week because, frankly, I didn’t want the entire news story (of the screw-up) to be overrun by a discussion about race and affirmative action.

But, look, I ain’t afraid of you people. Getting a complete racial breakdown of the class to go along with their grades and LSAT scores is a look inside the law school admissions process that we don’t often get to see.

So, let’s play our game. Looking at the Baylor numbers, you can see the affirmative action “bump” in LSAT scores, and to my eyes, it really shows how foolish the opponents of affirmative action really are….

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There are data breaches, and then there are data dummies. The people at Baylor Law seem to be in the latter category.

Nobody was trying to steal the personal information of the admitted students at Baylor Law. But a screw-up by someone at the school resulted in all of the personal information of the admitted class getting transmitted to everybody else in the admitted class.

All of it. Names, addresses, grades, and LSAT scores. Pretty much everything besides social security numbers.

And, we have it….

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* The definitive post on why we cannot sue Rush Limbaugh for exercising his right to have enough rope to hang himself with. [The Legal Satyricon]

* Bill Maher is also defending Limbaugh. Why can’t people understand that most acts of speech aren’t punishable offenses, even if that speech is very stupid. [Entertainment Weekly]

* Go to page three of this article. You’ll find a woman who did horribly on the LSAT, twice, and instead of going to some God-forsaken piece of crap law school, she found something else to do with her talents. And now she’s rich. Because processing new information about your own skills and limitations is what successful people do. [Forbes]

* Footballer blames Baptist Church for ruining his professional career. Similarly, I blame the Catholic Church for that one girl who nearly ruined me one night in college. [Lowering the Bar]

* Do black kids face harsher discipline in law school too? I don’t know, but I know in Soviet Russia, the blacks discipline you. [New York Times]

* The three basics of trial advocacy. Or six. Lawyers aren’t great with math. [Underdog]

* I’ve got twenty bucks for the next employed law school graduate who gets this kind of bitchy paragraph into their alumni newsletter. [Gawker]

* Holy s**t. A few hours ago, several people were wounded after being shot in front of the Tulsa County Courthouse in Oklahoma. We have video from the scene after the jump…

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Johnathan Perkins

When it comes to the protagonists of 2011′s biggest legal stories, our readers want to know: Where are they now? Last week, for example, we brought you an update on Casey Anthony, which generated keen interest (and traffic).

The recent alleged misadventures of certain UVA Law School students — students accused of breaking and entering, students accused of bothering bikers (to be fair, some bikers are obnoxious and deserve what they get) — have caused commentators to wonder: Whatever happened to Johnathan Perkins?

Johnathan Perkins was the then-3L at UVA Law who confessed to fabricating a tale of racial harassment by university police. As a result of his dishonesty, did he have to go before UVA’s famously strict Honor Committee? Did he end up getting his law degree? There was some ambiguity over whether he would graduate.

We have an update, based on a statement from the dean of the law school….

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In Grammer Pole of the Weak, we typically tackle issues of English grammar and usage, as well as questions of style (in terms of legal writing, not fashion). Last week, we delved into the fun topic of em-dash spacing, and learned that our readers are essentially deadlocked on whether to use a space before and after an em dash. In the end, using spaces prevailed by a margin as narrow as Mitt Romney’s Iowa caucus victory.

Our latest grammar poll pertains to usage, but it has a political component to it as well. It touches on hot-button issues like affirmative action and racial preferences, about which our readers have passionate opinions.

The question, in a nutshell: What does it mean to be a “diverse” individual?

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Two people from my high school got into the same college I did. We were all in the top 10 of our class, but none of us were in the top 5. One was a white guy who was a brilliant piano player. The other was a white girl who excelled at sports. Then there was me. I had the “does lots of activities” application. You know the type of d-bag kid I’m talking about: debate this, mock trial that, sports, school plays, bands.

Also, I’m black. Do you think that might have had something to do with it? I hope it did, since it seems to me that my race is at least as much of a factor in what I may add to an incoming college class as whether I could play the piano or dominate in field hockey.

Of course, saying race can be a factor in college admissions is controversial. A certain segment of the population gets all bent out of sorts when a “deserving” white student potentially gets “passed over” because a college official gave a person of color “extra points” when making up the entering class of students.

I find these arguments totally irrational. If the top five students from my high school were passed over — three Jews and two Asians (you know, the real victims of affirmative action, if there are any) — then who exactly “took” their spots? Me, or the sports chick? And if an Asian guy “takes” my spot, but I bump down the piano player who didn’t score as well as I did, and the piano player takes the spot of some poor Hispanic kid who has never seen a piano in real life, would everybody say that we all got what we deserved?

Coming up with an effective way to balance all of the relevant factors in college admissions is hard. But when race is involved, people don’t want to deal with “hard,” and they don’t want to hear “complicated.” They want simple rules and a few platitudes they can recite on television. After yesterday’s Fifth Circuit decision upholding affirmative action at the University of Texas, the only question is whether the Supreme Court has the will and intellectual rigor to think through something hard, or whether the majority will want to fall back on truisms and clichés…

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Don’t watch nothing say him white. Him blacker than me and you.

Buju Banton, the celebrated reggae musician, speaking about his lawyer, David Oscar Markus — whom he called up to the stage and hugged at a recent concert.

(Markus, who is also a legal blogger as well as a prominent criminal defense lawyer, is representing the Grammy-nominated Banton in an upcoming retrial on federal drug and firearms charges. Markus doesn’t look very black.)

The University of Texas Board of Regents has agreed to rename Simkins Hall. Simkins Hall was named for a former UT Law professor and Ku Klux Klan leader.

The Board of Regents voted unanimously to change the name. The Houston Chronicle reports:

“There has never been any doubt in my mind about what direction they were going to go,” said regent Printice L. Gary of Dallas, the only African-American to serve on the board.

The new names will be Creekside Residence Hall and Creekside Park.

The hero of this story is former UT law professor Thomas Russell. It was his paper that forced UT to confront its past….

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