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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This year's "Basketbrawl"?

Every once and a while, an event or image captures the attention of the American public. And many of these events, for better or for worse, find their way into law school exam hypotheticals. Sometimes, unfortunately, law professors teaching different classes at the same school latch on to the same event in drafting hypotheticals.

The poor members of the class of '07 at my law school were the among the victims of the infamous "Basketbrawl" between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons. You know, the one where Ron Artest took a nap on the scorer's table, got a beer he didn't order; Jermaine O'Neal duked it out with a slow-footed fan; and Stephen Jackson behaved like, well, Stephen Jackson. No, these then-1Ls from the class of '07 weren't at the game. But they were victims nevertheless.

You see, when they sat down for their exams in the December of 2004, they had essay questions based on that very same fight in three, yes, three, classes. In my torts class, there were of course the battery issues, negligence claims against the Palace of Auburn Hills and the NBA; in contracts, there was some dispute about psychiatric bills for a troubled NBA star; and in civil procedure there was some question about the brawl and summary judgment or something like that. Now, my school, being just an hour from the site of the brawl, may have had professors who paid more attention than elsewhere in the country, but based on talking to friends at other schools, I'm not so sure.

Was there any such event this year? That is, any event that found its way into a lot of law school exams? For what I hope would be obvious reasons, please don't comment if you haven't yet administered your exam.

I should add that when crafting an exam question based on real events, in my experience it's always best to (1) change the names of the players somewhat (e.g., "Ron Smartest"), and (2) specifically instruct students to respond to the facts presented rather than what they might have gleaned from the media and other sources.

Posted by Geoffrey Rapp on December 13, 2006 at 09:59 AM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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The frat boys' lawsuit against Borat has gotten some law school exam play, I hear.

Posted by: JG | Dec 16, 2006 11:30:17 AM

No one case appears to stand out, but I'm surprised the Duke Lacrosse players case hasn't found its way into a few exams.

Posted by: Mike Furdyna | Dec 14, 2006 6:10:51 AM

One prof. at your school used that incident as the basis not only for a long torts essay but also for a short essay in labor law (involving grieving and maybe arbitratring the penalty against an Artest-like character); I believe that brings the total to four exams referencing the subject in '04. Of course, our school is near Detroit, and I personally grew up in Michigan rooting for the Pistons.

I can't think of anything like that this year.

Posted by: Joseph Slater | Dec 13, 2006 10:14:45 AM

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