JIM ‘PAPPY’ MOORE: Stanford Law Students FAIL
By Jim “Pappy” Moore
When I started University of Texas Law School in 1974 students there were abuzz from the award-winning 1973 film “Paper Chase.” It was seen as a template for attending a top law school such as UT Law, which was rated as a Top Ten Law School in the nation. Study Groups were formed as shown in the film. The atmosphere in the classroom was much like that seen in the film.
Venerable Texas trial lawyer Gus Hodges would teach us Civil Procedure old school style. If you were called upon to present a case assigned for the day’s work and you were unprepared, he excused you. That meant he told you to pick up your books and leave that day’s class. Be prepared to talk or prepared to walk and be given a one-day expulsion in front of 114 other students.
Former FBI agent Corwin “Corky” Johnson would teach us Property, providing us with the excitement of watching paint dry. Corky could be wry, however. He was an acquired taste.
The fiery and unabashed Lino Graglia – a well-dressed transplant from Brooklyn – taught us Constitutional Law. He was an unforgiving but entertaining conservative who took on racial quotas under Affirmative Action as being antithecal to equal admission policies for all. He would publish his book “Disaster By Degree” while we were attending law school, his creed excoriating the practice of busing students to achieve racial quotas in schools.
A very young and recent graduate of Harvard named Guy Wellborn III taught us about torts. He was younger than those of us who were veterans of the military. Five of our 115 students in our section were veterans. Three were Air Force and two were Army West Point graduates. My study group had five members. John Lucas was a West Point graduate and Captain who had tours of duty leading troops in battle in Vietnam. Ken Beat was a former officer in the Air Force. I was a former Staff Sergeant in the Air Force, having worked at NORAD headquarters inside Cheyenne Mountain, and a tour of duty in Taiwan. Martin Griffin was an accountant from East Texas who would go on to become a professor at Sam Houston State University, and Tom Strickland was a former football player for LSU who hailed from Houston’s Memorial area. He would go on to clerk for a federal judge and become a political figure in Colorado.
Bullet Bob Hamilton would round out our first-year group of professors, teaching us Contract Law. He would pace like a caged lion in front of our class, firing questions to students and expecting something accurate in response.
Our study group was strong. We met regularly. We tore apart every case in every subject. We spanned the spectrum from conservative to liberal, although most of us leaned conservative. Our group did exceptional work and professors respected our members as hard-working and on point. We made high grades and garnered the praise of deans at the law school.
The 1970s were a time when law students were politically active and generally very left-leaning, but they would never have engaged in the kind of heckling seen recently at Stanford University Law School.
The judge attacked by law students at Stanford Law School recently sits on a federal circuit – the level of appellate court just below the U.S. Supreme Court. He was invited to attend and discuss his opinions with students. A group of activists supported by one of the school’s administrative staff decided to attack the judge for his legal holdings. If they had been mature, they would have taken the occasion to pose meaningful queries to the judge, parsing his opinions and asking how they did or did not meet existing standards of law. They would have used intelligence, knowledge, and legal thinking to demonstrate their point of view might have merit. Instead, they came off as punks, as jackals howling, as pouting pubescents who could not stand to hear words with which they disagreed.
They failed their law school. They failed adulthood. They failed to take advantage of the benefits of attending a top law school. Their action will hurt Stanford Law School. Firms will pass up interviews with them. Judges will pass up interviews for clerks from them. The stench from this debacle will long linger in the air of legal forums.
Copyright 2023, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.