Friday, March 6, 2015

Law Schools Should go to Prison

Meet Jonathan Reynolds.  Reynolds was the special snowflake hippie weed dealer for his school, then was convicted as an adult for selling blow at the ripe old age of 19, which, as best I can tell, was eventually prosecuted because "[a] surprise visit from his probation officer in December 2011 revealed Reynolds in possession of drugs" - to be fair, it is totally unfair for a probation officer to just pop in without an invitation.

The timeline in the article is a bit murky, but the bottom line is this:  Reynolds is a 21-year old former user and convicted felon drug dealer who has, in a span of less than four years, totally redeemed himself.  And he's going to law school (South Carolina, for the lazy bastards who don't want to actually go to the article).
He tried college on a whim after getting an equivalency high school degree, and got "amped up" about politics and the law.  ["Command, this is Rocketship, we're at launch level one, interest in politics with rock music metaphors.  Repeat, launch level one."]
[A severe car] accident required brain surgery on Reynolds. Afterward he said it made him feel as if he was experiencing a permanent anxiety attack.  ["Command, we've got a physical injury causing an epiphany - we're at launch level two.  On standby"]
Then in the fall of 2012, Reynolds helped break up a robbery attempt while working as a bicycle taxi driver in Nashville. That earned him a Citizen Commendation award from the Metro Nashville Police Department.

"I grew up not liking police to getting an award by them," Reynolds said. "It just felt wonderful being appreciated, really euphoric. It was then my school and lifestyle turned around. It was definitely reaffirmation of what I was trying to do."  ["Command, we're at full power!  Full power!"]
"How many lawyers have been to jail?" Reynolds said. "Not many. There is a certain empathy you can't have if you haven't been to jail.  I feel I can represent those people better than third-generation lawyers."  [BLASTOFF!  Rocketship Law School is Racing to the Heavens and it's so Ethereal I have to use Capital Case!]
The issue here is not any of the following:
  • How he can bear the heavy burden of proof at a C&F hearing
  • How he thinks practicing law is a good idea with a past "permanent anxiety attack."
  • How I'm going to recover from the concussion I received after bashing my head into a brick wall upon reading yet another person who was partially motivated to attend law school because he or she gets "amped" about politics and law.
  • How he thinks empathy for accused criminals requires actually going to jail, or why it actually matters when negotiating a plea deal or opening a trial.
  • How - if he's the type to suddenly change his opinion of the entire justice system because of a  citizen commendation - he's going to react the first time he loses something he shouldn't, or when he realizes that the system is wholly anti-accused.
  • How arrogant an undergraduate student has to be to positively gauge his possible future representation of criminal defendants against established "third-generation lawyers."
  • How he's going to avoid the sitcom-setup temptation to hit up his connections when the student loan bill comes due.
among others.  Oh, no, the issues are clear:
  • Everyone, from convicted drug dealers barely back on the wagon to prestigious law schools, can reform in fairly short order.  This is America. You can be a total fuck-up from 11-21, dance with a little love, and - shazizm - you're good to fly the flag of justice.
  • More lawyers need to experience the criminal justice system first hand to better get a grip on their professional lives.
  • South Carolina is yet another law school open to embracing the diversity brought in by convicted felons.
I'm feeling inspired by Mr. Reynolds' story and South Carolina's willingness to accept him - baggage and all - to help kickstart amplified change in the world.  I think I'll rob a liquor store.  I can say it was for my raging alcoholism.  Five years from now, I'll be sober, out of jail for sho', and a better lawyer than ever!  Why?  Because I'll have empathy for my client by experiencing the terrible things they went.

Want to be a better family law attorney?  Get two unwanted kids and a loud mistress with bipolar disorder who likes crank-calling your wife.

Want to be a better animal law attorney?  Go spill some oil in Flipper's little habitat and clean it up.

Want to be a better oncologist?  Tan yourself black, smoke yourself coughy, shove your dick in a microwave, and get yourself da cancer.

God bless reform in the law school community.  Twenty years ago, I never would have heard of this story, because they all would have rejected this caterpillar Tony Montana, never letting him blossom into his Atticus Finch butterfly.

But instead of current lawyers - tainted by normally taking the straight and narrow path in life of not being convicted drug dealers - going to jail, why not seek candidates therein?

As everyone knows, law schools are having a hard time convincing crafty, skeptical, options-having millenials of the infallible truth that law school is a great three-year investment in oneself leading to models, bottles, and the upper middle class.

Why not look to prisons?

There they are, tens of thousands of young people, all of whom have more courtroom experience than many law school graduates.  Why not tap that succulent resource, and tap it hard?  Let's put programs in place to help these young men reform in rapidly short order, secure early release, get their undergraduate degrees, and make them eligible for extra-spicy maximum student loan payouts?

We would produce an army of tuition-paying justice-seekers who have empathy for criminal clients and help law schools get through The Irrational Times by filling seats with people who would no doubt relish the opportunity.

Imagine the heart-warming stories that would develop in 1L classrooms!

Prof.:  Rasheed, what's the Rule Against Perpetuities?
Rasheed:  Shit, dawg, I don' know.  What is this bullshit?
~~~~~two weeks later, in office hours~~~~~~
Prof.:  Rasheed, I believe in you, son.  You got fight.  You got heart.  You got potential.
Rasheed:  I know, coac, I mean professor, but I just don't see how this property shit matters none.
Prof:  Let's take it one step at a time.  Let's say there's a prime growhouse for sale, and you buy it.  But then you find out the owner already sold it to another dealer...
Rasheed:  I bustin' a cap in his ass.
Prof:  No, no, Rasheed, listen!  If you record before him in a race jurisdiction, you don't have to.
Rasheed:  Damn straight.  Respectin' my turf.
Prof:  But what about in a notice or race-notice jurisdiction?
Rasheed:  I di'n't know he sold it.
Prof.:  There ya go!
 ~~~~~~grading final exam time~~~~~~~
Prof.:  My God, Rasheed's exam is flawless!
~~~~~~after graduation~~~~~~~
Rasheed:  Yo, Prof.!
Prof.:  Rasheed, how's it goin'?
Rasheed:  Prof., I used to hate the law.  Now I'm a lawyer rakin' in the benjamins and I love the law.
Prof.:  Well, I used to be a crusty white T-6 graduate.  Now I'm a crusty white T-6 graduate who "gets" the street reality, my brotha'.
Rasheed:  Wanna roll wit' us?
Prof. (winking):  Straight up, homie.

Credits roll as Prof. and Rasheed smoke blunts rollin' in a Cadillac listening to Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage."  Cuz, if you don't get it, that's what law school is.   

Can't have the hop if you don't have the hip.  

Enroll now.


  1. "Want to be a better family law attorney? Get two unwanted kids and a loud mistress with bipolar disorder who likes crank-calling your wife."

    Epic stuff. And Disney would buy the rights to the Rasheed story.

  2. Want to be a better banking and financial services lawyer? Run a successful Ponzi scheme for ten years based on fantasy-based market results and lose the life savings of thousands of families and charities.

    By the way, I was appointed junior fire marshal in third grade. I think that's why I went to law school.

    Law schools are fast becoming the ethical equivalent of leper colonies.

    1. "Law schools are fast becoming the ethical equivalent of leper colonies."

      Truer words were never spoken. To be a law school dean at this time in history you have to be the sort of person for whom personal gain is always a sufficient balm for criminality. If there were a law school dean with a conscience, he wouldn't be dean for long because good conscience would require him to unwind his enterprise. Shit floats, right to the top.

  3. Brilliant and hilarious as usual, Mr. Center.

    The linked article lauds this kid’s “transformation.” Whereas only a few years ago he stumbled along the path to teen drug addiction, now he is striding confidently down the road to law school. However, I am seeing certain common markers in these respective journeys.

    1. Intoxicating new experience/ Mood elevation ("It just felt wonderful being appreciated, really euphoric.”)

    2. Alteration in dress and deportment. ("He grew from a hippie young teenager with long hair, tie-dye shirts (and) piercings to a conservative young man.")

    3. Change in commitments and lifestyle (“It was then my school and lifestyle turned around.”)

    4. Delusions/ Addled judgment (“Reynolds believes his past will help him as a future attorney and politician.”)

    5. Legal trouble/ Three years of confinement. (“Reynolds got a three-year sentence. . . . “)

    6. A lifetime of diminished possibilities. (“I just didn’t want to be a helpless leech on society.”)

  4. Obviously, Mr. Reynolds understands neither man nor nature. I laughed when I read his poor attempt at constructing a metaphor. The leech is not regarded as "helpless". I would recommend that he invest in a dictionary, or, certainly quicker, look into a mirror for the definition of a leech!

  5. Mr. Blogger - you might be interested in following up on this blog from 2015. It's not a pretty picture, I can assure you. If you want details, I'm happy to provide them.

  6. Dude is on Dr. Phil right now. His live in girlfriend committed suicide in October 2016 and her parents blame him. He now spells his name with an o, like Jonathon.