I'm about to start grading final examinations, but in a last act of procrastination, I decided to write a quick blog post on some random advocacy-related thoughts.
- Cameras and Advocacy in a Chinese Courtroom. I found this story on NPR about a Western reporter's visit to a Chinese courtroom. I enjoyed reading it and thought I'd share the link. I found it particularly interesting that courts in Shanghai actually stream cases over the internet for citizens to watch. The description of the informal advocacy style in the courtroom was also intriguing; it reminded me of administrative board hearings I've participated in or presided over.
- Cameras in Illinois Courtrooms. Although the People's Republic of China and the State of Illinois are not often compared to each other, it appears we may be a bit behind our brothers and sisters in China on the issue of cameras in the courtroom. Here in Illinois, we're just getting started. Here's a link to an Illinois State Bar Association story on the topic.
- Adding Voir Dire to Basic Advocacy Course. I'll be revamping my syllabus for my basic trial advocacy course in a week or so. I've decided to add a voir dire module to the course; in the past, I haven't done it because I thought there wasn't enough time. The jury trial competition that I hosted this past September featured jurors from the community, and we let the jury verdict determine the winner. The student advocates had to conduct voir dire before trial. This experience, about which both Rafe Foreman of UMKC and I have written in the blog (links here and here), convinced me I need to start teaching voir dire in the basic course. I'm interested in any thoughts or tips on the timing and structure of teaching voir dire in a basic advocacy course.
- Evidence Class. I had a fun semester in my evidence class this year. This was the first semester my recently-published textbook, Evidence and the Advocate: A Contextual Approach to Learning Evidence (LexisNexis 2012), was available for classroom use. I've been using draft versions of the book as I wrote it for the past couple of years, but having it in final form was a good experience for me, and, I hope, for the students. The approach I take combines cases and legal commentary, problems and courtroom exercises. For example, the last courtroom exercise we did this semester was the direct and cross examination of a forensic odontologist in a murder case. The students were responsible to conduct their own research on forensic odontology as part of their preparation for the exercise. They did a fantastic job presenting the expert, cross-examining the expert, and making, responding to and ruling on objections (I have a student play the role of judge in most exercises). I've been pleasantly surprised at how well they rise to the occasion, figure out what to do largely on their own, and stand and deliver in the courtroom during class. This teaching approach has worked well for me the past couple of years, and I'm already identifying areas for improvement and generating new ideas for the second edition.