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How to Prepare for the Bar Exam

How to study for the bar exam

Here are some tricks to hack your brain to get it to help you pass the bar exam. This same technique works on other types of tests too, but this is how I studied for the bar exam several years ago and it worked very well for me. I wish I knew about these studying and test-taking techniques. before starting law school.

  1. Buy outlines and practice tests for the bar exam in your jurisdiction, usually available on Craigslist.
  2. Enter the outlines into Anki – powerful, intelligent flashcards.
  3. Study the black-letter law using Anki. It will make sure you spend your time studying what you need to study.
  4. Take practice tests.

How to take practice tests

  1. Calculate how long you can spend on each question to finish the exam in 1/4 of the allotted time. For example, if you have 50 questions to complete in one hour, then you have 15 min/50 questions or .3 minutes (about 20 seconds) to complete each question.
  2. Take the exam using only the allotted time you calculated on each question by skimming the questions first, then reading the prompt, then picking the best answer (MBE) or writing down a brief summary of the issues and law (essay).
  3. Repeat step 2 but at a comfortable pace. If multiple choice, make a note of each question where you are still not sure of the answer and leave a little time at the end to go back a third time.
  4. Repeat step 2 a third time if necessary, but only for those questions you made a note of as unsure.
  5. Repeat 1–4 but slow down your first pass a little to see if that works better for you. In general, you should not spend more than half of your time on the first pass – understanding that the purpose of the first pass is not to get all the questions right, but to make the second pass easier.

How to take the real test

Take the real exam the way you learned works the best for you when taking the practice exams.

Why this works

  1. Your brain will keep processing questions in the background while you are working on the following questions. You want to give your brain the best chance to find the answer while you are still in the exam room instead of giving it to you after you get outside.
  2. It ensures that you have something down for each question. Every blank answer is an unnecessary lost opportunity for points.

Good luck!

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Texas Sanctuary City Law Changes

Texas New Sanctuary City Law.

Unfortunatly, there is a lot of bad information floating around about the new Texas sanctuary city law. It is unfortunate because when politicians and advocacy groups dispense misinformation about immigration law to scare people, they actually empower abusers who commit family and sexual violence. That is because abusers can control their victims by giving them false information about what will happen to them if they report.

This post tries to dispell some of the worst of the fake news.

Does the new law grant police officers the right to stop and ask for “papers”?

No. The new law does not grant police officers any new powers to ask for identification. The law prohibits officers from asking victims or witnesses of crimes about their immigration status with a few exceptions.

  1. The law does not prohibit police officers from asking about your immigration status if it is relevant to the crime. For example, an officer may ask the nationality of a victim of human trafficking.
  2. The law does not prohibit police officers from talking to you about your immigration status if cooperating with the police could help you. For example, cooperation could make you eligible to obtain certain federal visas.
  3. The law does not prohibit officers from asking about your immigration status if he has probable cause that you also committed a criminal offense.

If any other law or local policy prohibits officers from talking to you about your immigration status, that will not change. In other words, the law adds prohibitions, it does not take any away or grant police officers any new rights.

The law prohibits officers from asking victims or witnesses of crimes about their immigration status with a few exceptions.

Does the new law make government officers comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

Yes. The new law requires government officers to comply with Immigratios and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This includes prohibiting agencies from enacting policies designed to thwart ICE officers from performing their duties. For example, an agency cannot have a policy to deny entry of immigration officers into jails. The new law also requires government officers to honor detainer requests unless the person detained has proof of citizenship – such as a Texas driver’s license.

Does the new law allow local governments to inform me of my rights as an immigrant?

Yes. The new law specifically authorizes agencies to have written community outreach policies. These policies can, among other things, inform immigrants that a police officer is not allowed to ask them about their immigration status when they are victims or witnesses of crimes. Specifically, the statute requires community outreach policies to include outreach to domestic violence and sexual violence victims. This is important because victims of domestic and sexual violence are often misled by perpetrators into believing they will be deported if they report their abusers.

What should I do?

You should contact an immigration attorney to determine whether you are eligible to change your status. Otherwise, just don’t break the law. The current government’s main priority for immigration enforcement is still against those who have committed crimes.

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Why We Need Federal Expunctions

Why We Need Federal Expunctions

Do #BlackLivesMatter or do #BlueLivesMatter? They should be on the same side. Black Americans want safe neighborhoods, and they need the police for that. The police need to solve crimes, and they need cooperation for that. What is the solution? Expunctions.

Black Americans are forever locked out of the workforce because they got caught with weed, got into a fight once, or committed some minor offense and could not afford high-priced attorneys to fight for their rights. How do you persuade someone without a law degree that this is fair?

The problem

Police Officers and poor – often Black – Americans are treated massively differently by the government. As an attorney, I understand and agree that government employees need certain protections from arbitrary actions by their government employers. Arbitrary or political punishment of police officers is both unfair and bad for democracy. Unions and union lawyers work on the side of (often wrongfully) accused police officers to help ensure that discipline is fair and just. Sometimes police officers are cleared of wrongdoing or face only a reprimand following a “paid vacation” after using what the public sees as unnecessary violence against unarmed Black Americans.

Meanwhile, many Black Americans are forever locked out of the workforce because they got caught with weed, got into a fight once, or committed some minor offense and could not afford high-priced attorneys to fight for their rights. How do you persuade someone without a law degree that this is fair? Maybe you could convince one after a few hours but never thousands or millions of people who are already angry at you.

The solution

Be Public Servants

First of all, one side needs to start listening to the other, and I am sorry to say that it is the Blue side that needs to do the listening. A little while ago a police officer was refused service at a restaurant. What followed was the most massively tone-deaf reaction possible involving the Police Chief, the union, a boycott, national news, and a campaign to fire two low income restaurant employees who were trying (in an inappropriate way) to make a statement. It doesn’t matter if they used poor judgment and were wrong, the perception is that of a massive jack-booted campaign against two weak and voiceless members of a community for not knowing their place and getting uppity with a cop. Imagine the difference if instead the Police Chief said, “We understand that you hate us; tell us how we can be better,” and then listened. You will never persuade a man that killing his unarmed brother was fair because you followed policies and procedures, but by listening you can persuade him that he matters.

Remove Unequal Barriers to Employment through Expunctions

You will never persuade a man that killing his unarmed brother was fair because you followed policies and procedures, but by listening you can persuade him that he matters.

Second, something needs to be done to address the inequalities arguably created by our government and blamed on everyone else. To find the answer to that, we need to look no further than to the protections that the police enjoy for themselves. We cannot provide a high-priced lawyer to everyone accused of a crime, but we can give people their lives back after they have done their time. A program to remove criminal records from public view should be done now but temporarily at the Federal level under the Fourteenth Amendment. After a short time, the decision to continue the program and how to manage it should be left to the states.

Advantages

Of course there are both advantages and disadvantages to a federal expunction program. The main advantage is that thousands of people in crumbling Black communities could suddenly find themselves employable, reducing their burden on limited government resources and even adding their income to the tax base. In addition, more defendants would be willing to plea bargain since a criminal conviction would no longer be a death sentence for their careers and job prospects – potentially reducing both prosecution costs and incarceration costs. Finally, it will help to heal the Black Lives/Blue Lives divide because it returns some of the dignity the government has taken away from defendants for their crimes and returns it to the people, giving them hope and prospects they did not have before.

Disadvantages

The biggest disadvantage is the costs of implementing and managing of a federal expunction program. Participants would need to participate in services and petition the courts for admission into the programs, both of which will cost money. The costs could not be placed solely on the defendants because that would exclude the poorest defendants whom we most want involved. It is possible that the benefits will exceed the costs in the long run, but someone will have to figure out how to pay for it in the short term. The other problem is the loss of deterrence. One would expect to see a spike in expungable crimes, but that may also result in a reduction in non-expungable crimes which are presumably worse, and district attorneys can adjust for this with tougher plea-bargaining. At any rate, the program should be transferred to the states as soon as practicable so they can experiment and adjust for their own particular needs.

Obstacles

Absurdity does not mean the policy is not complicated enough, it means it is a bad policy.

The biggest obstacle is special interests which are likely to fight for exclusion of the people the expunction program is meant to help. There seems to be a special interest group for every crime – MADD and the various domestic violence organizations to name a few. A woman should not have her life and career ruined by the scarlet letter “A” for Assault Family Violence because she threw a remote control at her husband, and a kid’s life should not be ruined by a DWI because he took the wrong cold medication. Absurdity does not mean the policy is not complicated enough, it means it is a bad policy. Non-expungable crimes need to determined rationally by how much good they can do to communities – especially poor communities, and not by special interests pushing their agendas.

Conclusion

Make #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter, rebuild Black communities, and bring prosperity and safety back by giving people a second chance.

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