Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
PLS 430: Law, Lawyers & The System (Version: 2.2)
306 Millett Hall
---------------------------------------------------------- Office Hrs: M & W: 3:00 to 4:00
(and by appointment)
Course Webpage: http://ludwig.squarespace.com/pagelawlegal/
This course is intended to introduce students to the politics of law and its administration at the lower level of the
judiciary in state and federal systems. In particular, this class will focus upon the politics of the trial process by
examining the following: juries, the adversary system, the rules of procedure, discovery and evidence, the rules
governing lawyer-client relations, and decision mechanisms used by trial judges. Particular attention will be paid to
whether paradigm notions about the legal system are true, equivocally true or whether they are completely mythical.
For example, we will periodically ask ourselves throughout the course whether and to what extent "law" really
operates as a constraint upon system participants; whether and to what extent the system is actually designed to
uncover "the truth;" and whether and to what extent "laws" and "rules" really matter both within and outside the
system. Students will also learn the legal mechanisms used by trial court judges to decide issues and will consider
whether judges having such mechanisms really manage trials by simply “following law.”
In addition, the class will focus upon the politics of law as manifested in common legal transactions. Students will
learn how the definition of legality affects the filing and prosecuting of lawsuits in the areas of contract, tort and
family law. Students will be given an interesting examination of how these legal transactions are structured and
adjudicated from the perspective of a legal participant. Students will be exposed to the basic legal framework for
decision and will see the incentives that legality creates in these specific areas. Finally, students will be given a strong
introduction to the politics of crime and prosecution, paying particular attention to the law of sentencing and the
power that the police state has amassed to search, seize, arrest and extract criminal evidence from suspects.
At the very end of the course, students are given an introduction to the education of lawyers and what to anticipate
in a legal career. Students will also be asked at the end of the term to consider whether or to what extent the system
that they have learned is "political," and, if so, what that term might mean across different contexts and situations.
The purpose of the linguistic exercise to acquaint students with the grammar of the expression “law and politics.”
Any student who is interested in attending law school will find this class of immense value.
The Negative Agenda:
Students should be equally aware of what they will not be taught in this course. The philosophy in selecting
subject matter was to provide as thorough of an introduction as possible to American legality without excessive
duplication of subjects covered elsewhere. Hence, students will not receive significant instruction in Constitutional
Law, American Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Administrative Law, Business Law or International “Law” because the
University specifically offers courses which address these subjects. In addition, some topics had to be omitted merely
because not enough time exists in one semester to properly introduce every major aspect of the Legal Complex. For
this reason, substantive topics such as Property, Taxation, Corporate Law, Environmental Law and others are not
covered. Should students find these or other topics interesting, please consult the unassigned portions of the
Topics of Study:
Below is our plan of study. The correspondence of lessons and dates is approximate. Lecture topics can
change. Reading assignments will be given in class. It is the responsibility of the student to attend class and monitor
the progress of the course.
Date Topic PART I: COURT PROCEDURE AND THE TRIAL
Sept. 7 1 Course Introduction…………………………………………………....………….….. (syllabus, website)
Sept. 12 2 The Purpose of the Trial and the Role of Juries…....….. (T: 80-91 & 115-125; S, 1 and 3)
Trial of Jesus; Witch Trials & Jury Reform
Sept. 14 3 False Cases and the Attorney's Role in the System…....................…………….. (S, 4 & 2)
The Lawyer's Right to Present a False Case
Sept. 19 4 Court Organization, Culture & Function ……...……………………….....…..….. (T, Chapter 5)
Trial Courts, Culture and Norms
Sept. 21 5 Jurisdiction, Pleadings, Frivolity & Case Type...... (T: 226-232; 240-247 & 266-270; S, 6)
Forum Shopping, Case Object & Baseless Cases?
Discovery, Settlement, Picking Juries and Trial Procedure..…….. (T: 232-240; 247-249;
Sept. 26 6
270-274, 277-279; 91-109; 308-309.)
Sept. 28 7 The Evidence Game: Witnesses ……................................……………………… (T: 109-115;)
Witness Types, Interrogation Rules & Techniques, & Privileges
Oct. 3 8 The Evidence Game: Hearsay and Relevance…………......…....………..……... (T: 109-115;)
Rules That Grant Discretion
Oct. 5 9 Trial Judging ……………………………………………………..................…………………. (T: 175-183)
Standards of Review and Their Incentives
Date Topic PART II: COMMON LEGAL TRANSACTIONS
Oct. 10 Midterm
Oct. 12 10 Contracts…………………………………….…………………................………….…….. (T: Chapter 10)
Elements and Defenses
Oct. 17 10 Contracts………………………………..........................................……...……..…. (T: Chapter 10)
Damages and Their Significance
Oct. 19 11 Torts……………………………….…………………………………………….…………..…….. (T: Chapter 11)
Damages and Their Significance; and Intentional Torts
Oct. 24 11 Torts…………………………………………………………………………….………………….. (T: Chapter 11)
Elements and Defenses of Negligence
Oct. 26 11 Torts………………………………………………………......................……………….….. (T: Chapter 11)
Simulation and the Tort Culture
Oct. 31 12 Family Law………………………………….……….......................…………………….. (T: Chapter 13)
The Science of Specie Attraction, Marriage Elements and Grounds for Divorce
Nov. 2 12 Family Law………………………………………………………….…....…………………….. (T: Chapter 13)
The Politics of Children: Support and "Custody"
Nov. 7 13 Criminal Law and Procedure…………………………………......………….........…….. (T, 274-277)
Elements, Defenses and Search & Seizure
Nov. 9 13 Criminal Sentencing……………………………………………………..........…….. (T, 279-302; S, 10.)
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
* Final Exam.
Below is information about course reading. Cases listed below are linked to online sources. Please click them
(point with mouse, then press ctrl-click).
Textbook Midterm Reading Final Reading
(See above) Chapters 10-11, 13,
William Burnham, Introduction to Law and
and pp. 274-277; 279-
the Legal System of the United States, 302.
Internet Materials, located here [abbreviated: i]. Materials 1-4; & 6. Materials 5 & 10.
Grades are based upon the below criteria. Please note: students have one of two grading plans that they
can elect to follow.
Scale Important Information:
Midterm ………………………..…. 25% *Notes must be hand-written. Students
A = 90% & above;
Final ……………………………..…. 25% wanting to type notes must seek approval
B = 80% - 89.9%;
Paper …………………………..….. 20% from the professor at the beginning of the
C = 70% - 79.9%; Attendance …………………...… 14% course. The request must be sent by email.
D = 60% - 69.9%; Notes* …………………………..... 13% Only those receiving emailed permission are
F = 59.9% & below Quality Points ……………….... 3% exempt from having hand-written notes.
Graded Assignments: Assignments are returned two weeks after completion. Students should take note of this rule when
the drop deadline approaches. If an exam is administered within two weeks of the drop deadline, it will not be returned
prior to the deadline.
Grade Posting: Grades will never be individually emailed to students by the instructor. Grades are communicated to the
class as a group.
Grade “Favors:” If a student is close to a grade, but misses it, do not ask at the end of the semester to receive the higher
mark. Grades are like points on a football scoreboard. Whenever the game ends, your score is what is on the board. Plenty
of games are played where a team should have had more points. The remedy here is to fire the coach (your approach) or to
prepare better for the next set of games. Grades are not a fiefdom, and the professor does not adjust scores for reasons of
humanity, friendship, dislike or pleasantry. When the game ends, your score is your score.
I think I deserve a better grade: Students should keep in mind that they are graded according to syllabus criteria, not
according to their own assessment of fairness. It doesn’t matter what expectation you have for “just passing.” Follow the
I’m just trying to graduate and get a C. Students should keep in mind that there is no special standard for students who are
“just wanting a C” and “just trying to graduate.” Grades of F are given to everyone who earns them. This is so even if it stops
your graduation or otherwise hurts.
Scale Adjustment: As a general rule, there is no right to have grades rounded. The grading scale is firm. Scales are only
adjusted if the professor believes at the end of the term that the class performance in light of the difficulty of assignments
warrants some correction. Recourse may take the form of rounding or dropping down a percent. With respect to these
judgments, three rules apply: (1) any adjustment applies to all grade levels (if As are rounded, so are Fs); (2) if made,
adjustments occur at the time the professor is calculating final grades, and hence are not a matter for student input or
“lobbying;” and (3) adjustments are rare and only made if circumstances require. Once again, scales are firm. Students
should not expect any rounding or drops, and should not ask for any such thing. This is especially so given that the university
does not use plus or minus.
Zero Percent Fs: The grade of F on course assignments can fall below 50% if the work deserves an especially low mark.
Students should be aware, however, that failure to complete an assignment is a 0%, not a 50%.
Late Assignments: Late assignments are penalized half a grade (5 percentage points) per day, unless a different penalty
policy is announced.
Students are required to undertake a “field research project.” It is due on March 13th. The project will ask you to
either interview two members of the legal profession who have opposing occupational experiences, or to observe
two different kinds of court proceedings in your home town. After you collect the interview or observation data, you
must then write a ten (10) to fifteen (15) page paper about your experiences, and complete a paper cover form You
should spend a portion of the paper describing your experience and a portion relating it to course material. You
should also offer your own insights about what you observed or discovered versus what you were taught in class.
The paper will be graded upon: (1) proper completion of the cover sheet; (2) page length; (3) the number of citations
to course material; (4) the quality of your original thought; (5) how well your experiences are organized and
described; and (6) how thorough or impressive your interview or observation was. Students must have their paper
subjects lined up by February 4th or face a grade penalty.
Please note that each absence is not counted equally. The scale is structured so that missing one week of class is
93%, missing two weeks 83%, and so on. Failure to sign the attendance sheet will result in no attendance credit. The
attendance grade is calculated as follows:
Misses Grade Misses Grade Never Sign Someone Else’s Name: Student attendance is taken in
0 100% 11 48% class. Signing a name other than you own on the daily attendance
1 96% 12 43% sheet is considered academic dishonesty and subject to discipline.
2 93% 13 38% Excused Absences: An excused absence does not count as a miss.
3 88% 14 33% However, they are factored in to the total number of sessions
4 83% 15 28% available. For example, if 2 unexcused absences = 93% for all
5 78% 16 23% possible lectures, two out of a reduced number of possible lectures
6 73% 17 18% will be worth an amount lower than 93%. Note: Please see below for
7 68% 18 13% the policy on excused absences.
8 63% 19 5%
9 58% 20 0% Leaving Early: Please be aware that leaving class early may not get
10 53% you full credit for attending
Quality Points are earned for the following activies: (a) good class participation; (b) donating good, typed notes to the
online reservoir being assembled for the class (see below under “DocStoc”); and/or (c) making good contributions to
the class Wiki. At the end of the year, your professor will grade how well you performed these activities. Students can
receive points doing all three of the activities or concentrating on just one. If a student has only an average level of
performance for any one activity (e.g., class participation), it is advisable to undertake one of the other activities..
Class Participation -- clickers: This is recorded by “clickers.” If you don’t have your clicker and don’t sign the attendance
sheet at the start of class, your class participation does not count. Make sure you are signed in and have your clicker.
Class Participation – bad faith: Class participation that isn’t helpful or is in bad faith does not receive any value. “Bad
faith” means that the student is just trying to talk to get points. Students should only participate in class discussion on
the merits and in good faith.
Course Wiki. The course wiki for this class is “in development.” Your professor will forward the url when the
course begins. This is an excellent opportunity to begin filling it with notes. Students who don’t like talking in
class are especially encouraged to look at this option.
DocStoc Policy: Students wanting year-end bonus for notes are to keep excellent, typed notes of a reasonable number
of lectures and/or segments (consult professor). The notes cannot be a sparse outline; they must be “notes.” Of course,
they can be in outline form if they are detailed enough. Once complete, the student should open a free account at
DocStoc and publish the notes online (consult professor for help). Once published, send the link to the professor. All
students who do this understand that they are donating the notes to the public so future students can use them at
their leisure and discretion.
Adjustment (aptitude-centric awards)
It is unfair for the attendance/notes grades to hurt a student who achieves better marks on exams and (if applicable)
papers. Therefore, any student whose year-end course grade is lowered because of attendance/notes will have the
right to have the grade calculated without regard to notes/attendance. The grades of notes/attendance are only
supposed to help student grades. If notes/attendance is thrown out, the remaining grades will increase their weight
to fill the void, but will remain in the same proportion to other items. If this occurs, each exam becomes worth
34.25%, the paper becomes 27.4% and quality points become 4.1% of the grade.
Students can earn 1 to 3 year-end bonus percentage points if they are within 3 points of the next highest grade. The
percentage points are awarded for the following activities: (a) good quality points; (b) having a grade on exams at
least one letter higher than the year-end percentage; and/or (c) having a grade on reading questions at least one
letter higher than the year-end percentage. This is an excellent way for borderline students to achieve the higher
grade. There is no rounding in the course. You have to earn your bump. No year-end award can exceed 3 course
percentage points. Awards are based upon how well the student completed (a) through (c).
Students who miss an exam will receive a grade of “F” unless the absence is “excused.” Students who fail to
hand in papers or other assignments on the due date will receive a grade penalty of one grade per day unless the
delay is “excused.” No absence can be excused unless: (1) permission is sought before the miss occurs; and (2) the
occasion is (a) a university function or (b) a health emergency. Sufficient documentation is always required. If the
health emergency makes it physically impossible to seek pre-approval, contact the instructor as soon as the
impossibility abates (documentation required). Note the following applications of this rule:
Health Emergencies: As a general rule, these should concern your own health, not others. However, if a student
experiences a death or serious illness within his or her family or friends, please note that advance permission is still
required, as is documentation.
Colds and flues: Students who claim illness must still seek advance permission to miss so long as they are not
hospitalized. An email will suffice. Students are not permitted to miss and say, “oh hey, I was sick last week – when
is the makeup?”
“I’m depressed:” Students who desire to miss examinations or extend due dates because of depression should
have clinical documentation of the problem and a note from the treating physician. In short, students who
experience clinical depression during the semester should seek help from their doctor(s) prior to asking the course
instructor to accommodate the problem.
“I have to work.” It is not a valid excuse to miss lectures or exams because of a work schedule.
“I registered late.” This is not a valid excuse for missing.
Personal issues – Absences cannot be excused because of car trouble, snow, girlfriends, uncles and the like.
Funerals – Students seeking permission to miss because of a funeral must hand in copies of the obituary.
If a student qualifies for an excused absence, make-ups must be administered as quickly as possible. For
example, if a student suffers an illness one day before an exam, he or she is expected to take the test one day after
recovery. The student can obtain no time advantage beyond the day(s) that he or she lost.
All students must complete the on-line class-data registration form during the first week of class. You must have your
clicker serial number in hand (see below). Please visit the course webpage after the first day of class to register your
Students are required to obtain Turning Technologies RF Response-Card “clickers” for this course. They are available
for purchase at the bookstores or online. Students can purchase new or used clickers and can receive a substantial
discount for selling their undamaged clicker back to the bookstore at the end of the quarter. Failure to obtain a
clicker will result in a serious class penalty.
Use only your own clickers: If you use someone else’s clicker in class, it is considered “cheating.” You can face
substantial penalties and be referred for “academic discipline.” You may receive an F for the entire course or for a
syllabus item (e.g., attendance). You may also be removed from the roll.
The information given by your instructor is academic in nature and does not constitute specific legal advice. You
should never ask your instructor for legal advice about any personal situation whatsoever. You should also not rely
upon classroom instruction as though it were the equivalent of information obtained after receiving a professional
consultation. Classroom concepts are often simplified and discussion kept at a general level so that your lectures will
never be the equivalent of actual, specific legal advice.
Social Justice, Openness and Disability
This class is expected to provide a positive learning environment based upon open communication, mutual respect
and nondiscrimination. Also, if you are a person with a disability and anticipate needing any type of accommodation
for this class, please advise the instructor and make appropriate arrangements with the Office for Disability Services.
Notice of Lecture “Webcasting”
The professor’s work product in this course may be “webcast.” This does not mean that a camera will be in the
classroom. Rather, it means that the audio of the professor’s voice and his PowerPoint slide show will be published
online at seanwilson.org. With respect to this, students should take note of two things. First, their voices may
become audible on the web if one sits close to the front. Students not wanting their voice published on the web
should either move back a few rows or notify the professor, who will edit the voice from the audio. Requests should
be made promptly. Secondly, students are charged with all course knowledge that is published on the web. If a
student misses class, he or she has no excuse for not obtaining the knowledge online. In essence, the content of this
class runs 24 hours a day on the internet.
Students must at all times have an activated, working Wright State email account during the course. It is the student’s
responsibility to regularly check mail for course messages and to make sure that email accounts are properly
working. Students who know or should know that a course communication is expected via email, but who do not
receive the message because of some technical problem, have the responsibility to contact the professor
immediately to check the status of the matter. It will not be considered excusable for students to miss vital
communications because they simply don’t check mail regularly, have allowed messages to “bounce” for lack of
storage space, or who simply allow too much time to elapse before checking on pending matters.
Honesty and Plagiarism:
Students who cheat on examinations, plagiarize papers or other class assignments or commit other serious academic
dishonesty will receive a semester grade of "F." In addition, students are warned that copying information from the
web (or elsewhere) and passing it off as your own work, or buying fake papers from online sources, will result in a
grade of F and a referral for academic discipline.
Notice of Performance Standards:
Attention Students: (1) This professor gives grades of F and D are given to students who earn them. Students who are
“just trying just for a C” or “just trying to graduate” are warned that this expectation may result in a failing marks. (2)
You must be prepared for, and attend, every class that you are physically able. (3) Expect exams to be rigorous and
require substantial effort and preparation.
Other Helpful Information
Emailing the Professor: When you email the professor, indicate what class you are from. Your professor is a complete
nincompoop when it comes to remembering names and where people come from. Do not take the failure of him to know of
your name as anything other than the enduring challenges he faces in life. Honestly, no one is more ridiculous in this
respect. Do a favor and help him out: when mailing, say what class you are from.
“Curt Mails:” Often, your professor receives “tons” of emails a day. It is not uncommon to answer them quickly so that they
do not “pile up” or take away from other work. It is very possible that you may receive a one-line or one-word response to
an email. This does not suggest impersonality or dislike for you. It simply means that, many times, emails are caught “on the
fly.” A “curt” reply, therefore, only means your professor is multi-tasking or working when throwing the answer back at you.
Emails tend to be short and without formality.
Printed Papers: Unfortunately, your professor does not accept material where he has to print the document. Any and all
material that gets handed in (papers, documents) must be printed by the student and physically handed in. There are no
exceptions to this ever in the history of the world under pain of death.
Muggings Before Class: When your professor enters the classroom, he has to set up several pieces of technology. For
example, he needs to get his slide show and audio going, and needs to get his recording equipment working properly. This
can take several minutes. Do not attempt to talk with him about course or personal matters at this time period. He’s not
able to speak to you about such things then. Instead, wait until after class or come by the office. Once again, do not mug the
professor while he is setting up shop.
Charged with Knowledge of Record: Students are officially charged with all course knowledge that is “of record.” This
means that if something is announced in class, through email or on the course website, students are expected to know of it.
The student is considered “charged” with the information, meaning that it is no excuse to say that you didn’t know.
This syllabus should not be read as a communication which would cause the student to believe that he or she has
the power to accept as an offer anything contained herein. The syllabus is not a contract; it is only a good faith
estimation of what may or may not occur in the class. Similarly, students are now warned that they should not
reasonably rely to their detriment on anything contained in the syllabus, as the instructor explicitly reserves the right
and discretion to modify lawfully anything contained herein by his own unilateral act without regard to the
expectations students may have formed by reading this document. ... ah, in other words: what the creator giveth, he
APPENDIX: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
§ 1. Socialization
-- What made you want to become a lawyer?
-- How long have you been a lawyer?
-- How long have you been practicing this type of law?
-- How did you get this job?
-- Where did you go to law school?
-- Did law school prepare you for this job or did you have to receive a significant amount of on-the-job training?
-- If you had to receive a significant amount of job training, what sorts of things did you have to learn that law school
neglected to teach you?
§ 2. Daily Tasks
-- What tasks do you do most often, on an every-day basis?
-- What kinds of persons or entities do you interact with most on a daily basis (e.g., other kinds of professionals, policing
agencies, judges, social workers, journalists, etc.)?
-- What is the most common type of document that you draft, if any?
-- What is the most common kind of case that you handle, if any?
-- What is the most common problem you face on a daily basis, if any?
-- How often do you go to court?
-- How many actual jury trials (not bench trials) do you have per year, if any?
-- On average, how much time does it take you to prepare for a case?
§ 3. Attitudes
A. About Law School & Lawyers
-- Was law school difficult?
-- Would you recommend it to people as a good career option?
-- Do you think we have too many lawyers?
-- What is wrong, if anything, with the legal profession?
-- What, if anything, is wrong with the way law school educates people?
Law, Lawyers & The System 2
-- Do you think that lawyers should have to go through a "residency" program similar to the way that doctors do before
they are allowed to render services to the people?
B. About the System
-- What is wrong with the legal system, if anything?
-- Is the trial process designed to get at the truth, or is some value other than truth-finding more predominate?
-- Do you think the system is slanted in favor of people or interests with significant wealth or assets?
-- Can a poor person get the same justice as a rich person?
-- Is the system too expensive, and if so, what causes it to be that way?
-- Are tort victims, on the whole, over-compensated? Why or why not?
-- Do you think lawyer services are expensive?. If so, what causes this, and if not, why not?
-- Do experts charge too much money to be experts in court? If so, why does this occur?
-- Do you think that mediation or arbitration are superior alternatives to litigation?
-- Do you think juries make good decision makers in a case?
-- Do you think the judge could do just as good a job deciding a case rather than the jury?
-- If juries are so important, why are they rarely used?
-- If you could change one aspect of the court system, what would it be?
C. About Judges
-- Are Judges properly trained, or should they be required to have more training before they become a jurist?
-- Should judges run for election or should they be appointed?
-- Do you think judges have too much discretion?
-- Do judges decide issues or cases based upon their opinion, or based upon adherence to "law."
-- In your opinion, what would be the most common thing that a judge does "wrong"?
-- If you could change one thing about the way judges behave or the way they "do things," what would it be?
-- do you think judges favor prosecutors over defense lawyers?
-- do you think judges favor lawyers representing personal injury claimants over insurance defense lawyers?
-- what kind of person makes the best kind of judge?
Law, Lawyers & The System 3
-- is it good or bad if a judge runs for election on campaign issues such as: (1) "I'm going to put criminals in jail"; (2) "I'm
going to send dead-beat dad's to jail" or (3) "I'm going to lower insurance premiums by not allowing huge dollar
-- Do judges tend to protect the wealthy interests over the poor?
D. About Your Job
-- What is the hardest aspect of your job?
-- If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
-- What is the most important thing you had to learn in order to do a good job at what you do?
§ 4. Specific Areas
A. Prosecutors/Defense Lawyers?
-- do you think that police officers should approve plea agreements?
-- is the relationship between defense lawyers and prosecutors good or bad in this county?
-- Who does a better job at defending a client -- a public defender or a privately-retained lawyer? Why?
-- Does this system protect criminal defendants too much?
B. Real Estate
-- Do you search real estate titles? If so,
(a) what does this cost?
(b) how many times do you ever find a "defect" in the title?
(c) do you think this is an efficient way to protect real estate titles or just "busy work" that keeps real estate fees
-- Do you think that women, on average, get treated unfairly by the divorce courts?
-- Do you think that men, on average, get treated unfairly today in divorce courts?
-- Do you think that alimony is a good idea, or maybe a relic of the past whose time it has come to abolish?
-- Do women have an unfair advantage in custody cases -- if so, how come. If no, why not?
-- Why should one spouse receive 50 percent of the value of a marital estate if it was the other spouse who created all of
-- Is there a 50-50 split on dividing up marital debt too, or is it based on a notion of "ability to pay."
Law, Lawyers & The System 4
-- If you could reform one thing in domestic relations law, what would it be?
D. Personal Injury
-- Do you favor tort reform? If so, why? If not, why not?
-- Do you think the media unfairly covers the "tort controversy?"
-- Are medical malpractice cases hard to prosecute (meaning hard to obtain successful results)? Why/Why not?
-- Is the cost of obtaining experts in medical malpractice cases difficult for the plaintiff?
-- What would have to be the potential dollar amount of an injury from medical malpractice for you to take the case? For
example, if you had a clear case of negligence, but only a $25,000.00 expected verdict -- would you take the case?
-- Are lawyers overcompensated in tort cases. Why/why not?
-- If someone committed negligence, but did not have insurance, would you sue them to get a recovery for a client?
-- Do judges give probation too often or not often enough?
-- Are judges in this geographic area scholarly enough to be good judges -- or is it a mistake to think that judges have to
be "scholarly" to be good judges?
-- Do you think that judges have to be as passive as possible in a case, or that they should be more active and insert
themselves in the controversy?
-- Do you conduct settlement conferences? If so, do you try to twist arms to make the parties behave reasonably and
make realistic offers to one another? Or do you just not concern yourself with that type of thing?
-- Is it hard to follow the rules of evidence when you hear an objection in court?
-- Are the rules of evidence sort of useless in that the judge will generally ignore the urge to make a "mechanical" ruling
in favor of making a ruling on what he thinks is "fair?"
-- What kinds of attributes are need to be a good supreme court judge and what kind of attributes are needed to be a
good trial court judge? Are they different?
-- Do you need more personal clerks to do your job more effectively?
-- Do you think that what the legislature is doing with the Family Law system is good or bad?
-- Do you think West Virginia will ever get an intermediate appellate court? Do you think we need one?
-- Why does the West Virginia Supreme Court produce so many "per curium" opinions. Is this the way that a Supreme
tribunal is supposed to behave?
Law, Lawyers & The System 5
-- Do you think that the clearly-erroneous standard of review and the abuse-of-discretion standard of review have any
real teeth to them? I mean, isn't that just another way of saying that trial judges can do whatever they like?
Why does the West Virginia Supreme Court produce so many "per curium" opinions. Is this the way that a Supreme tribunal is
supposed to behave?
-- Do you think that the clearly-erroneous standard of review and the abuse-of-discretion standard of review have any real teeth
to them? I mean, isn't that just another way of saying that trial judges can do whatever they like?