Reason Not to Go to Law School #33

Professors give shit for legal advice.

Watch the awesomely bad video of Professor James Duane giving a lecture at Regent University School of Law.  Aside from talking so annoyingly fast that you’ll want to kill yourself before making it through the lecture, Professor Duane just gives some flat out bad advice.

While I agree that you won’t be able to “talk yourself out of an arrest” that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can say to a cop that will help you.  When a normal person says “talk yourself out of an arrest” they mean bullshitting your way out; playing on the cop’s emotions, looking for sympathy, or just making up a convoluted story.  But, that’s not the only type of talking you can do when you think you might be facing an arrest.

“It couldn’t have been me, I was across town at the time, have 10 eye witnesses, and a receipt with a time stamp, also the place has security cameras everywhere which will confirm this.  And by the way, I know someone people confuse me with all the time, and I recall one of my friends saying he said “hi” to him at the scene of the crime, thinking at first that it was me, so it’s probably that guy.  Let me give you his name and phone number.”

Technically, you probably just “talked” your way out of an arrest, but not the way Professor Duane means.  Unless you’re really ridiculously good looking, you can’t “sweet talk” your way out an arrest, but you can provide exculpatory evidence.  Your words are not admissible in trial, but most cops are honestly trying to do a good job and won’t arrest you if they believe you didn’t do anything.

Of course, impending arrest isn’t the only instance you might want to talk to a police officer.  Here are some examples straight from my fairly limited experience:

1.  Second night after having moved into my new apartment in undergrad someone tried to break in.  He pounded on the door for a while (which looked like it really might break) and then smashed my window with his hand.  We called 911.  He wandered off after breaking the window (having cut himself pretty badly).  When the cops showed up, you can bet we talked to them.  We didn’t know who the guy was or where he went, and wanted to make sure he wasn’t coming back.  The cops found him a few minutes later, took him down, and hauled him off.

If you’re the victim of a crime, it’s often a good idea to talk to the police.

2.  First summer of undergrad I was in a small car wreck.  My car was hit in a parking lot by a school van.  We reported it to the police who came out and took a statement and did whatever they do.

Need a police report to file an insurance claim?  You’re going to need to talk to the police.

3.  My senior year of undergrad a friend of mine accidentally hit the apartment’s panic button (located right next to the light switch).  A little while later the cops showed up.  I explained what happened, showed them my key and where the alarm button was.  They agreed it was in a bad spot and could be easily pressed by accident and left without further questioning.

Accidentally call the police?  Talk to the damn police!

I’m sure those of you with more colorful life stories have plenty of examples of your own of times when it was a really great idea to talk to the police, but even if you don’t, it shuold be clear that there are plenty of good times to talk to the police.  But yet, Professor Duane says he will “Never talk to any police officer under any circumstances.”

Of course, he then says “With all due respect, sir,” to the cop sitting in the room.  Isn’t that guy a cop?  Is this lecture a circumstance?  I guess Professor Duane suffers from either anterograde amnesia, or hypercredism.  Anterograde amnesia is the rare memory disorder in 50 First Dates, and it’s incredibly unlikely the professor has it.  Hypercredism is the phenomenon where someone states some unconditional hyperbole, such as “I will never talk to the police,” acknowledges that it’s hyperbole and not literally true (such as by immediately then talking to a police officer), and then insists that the unconditional nature of the hyperbole is accurate and factual.  Professor Duane really does believe, even after talking to a police officer, that he will never talk to a police officer.

And this is why he teaches at Regent, a school in a tier so low not even Dante Alighieri could fathom the horrors that take place there on a daily basis.

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6 Responses to “Reason Not to Go to Law School #33”

  1. Lawyer for Hire Says:

    I’ve advised clients not to talk to the police without talking to me first, but I’ve never doubted that they understood the concept of “situational judgment.” Also, I’m pretty sure Regent is in the third or fourth level, but off in the arc that no one really cares about.

  2. bl1y Says:

    Yeah, if you’re brought in for questioning, it definitely makes sense to wait until you’ve had a chance to talk to your lawyer. But Professor Duane doesn’t seem to understand situational judgment, which is why he says “under any circumstances.”

    And yeah, Regent is Tier 4, which is just a hilarious level of crapitude. TTT is generally regarded as the complete bottom of the barrel. How can you be a whole tier below that?

  3. david Says:

    Yes, law professors give horrible advice. Many law professors have never taken a bar, never practiced a single day in their life, and would be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law if they did. I wouldn’t take a law professors legal advice if they were giving it away for free, which they often try to do. But this is probably not bad advice. The examples given in the video generally describe situations where people (even those that are factually innocent) are contacted by police conducting an investigation. Every personal example you offer to refute are situations where YOU initiated contact with police, and not the other way around. The phrase “never talk to the police” is simply a hyperbolic theme used to make his premise memorable. He has to make it a simple memorable rule, bc many law students are incapable of anything that requires situational judgment. Obviously that can’t be true in “all” situations; many states have stop and identify laws that have been upheld by the Sup. Ct. and failing to talk to police to tell them your identity is a criminal act, as well as other examples that you related.

    As far as giving information to exculpate yourself to an officer, the whole point of not talking to police is to avoid giving information that could appear to be inculpatory under ambiguous circumstances. Any information that you say that they interpret as inculpatory is admissible at trial as admission by a party opponent. Anything you say that is exculpatory is not admissible as hearsay, so there is nothing you can say to help yourself. And the police are doing the interpretation, not you. Yes, there might be some cops that are just honestly doing there job and won’t arrest you if they believe you. But there are also a lot of cops that won’t believe you know matter what you say because investigation is a goal oriented process designed to gather evidence that supports their conclusions, not find out the “truth.” There are also police officers that are sociopaths. People that lack remorse, have authoritarian personalities, and enjoy inflicting pain and suffering do not dream about becoming accountants. They dream about the job that pays them to carry a gun, tase people for “disobeying a lawful order,” and only requires a high school diploma. There are also cops that are completely ambivalent about their jobs and will just arrest the first time when they have enough ambiguous, circumstantial evidence to support probable cause. If these cops didn’t exist, there would never be a false conviction, or a case dismissed because of incorrect or insufficient evidence, but both scenarios happen all the time. The problem is, when you talk to a cop, you don’t know what kind of officer you are dealing with. I have a lot more to write about this subject, but won’t clog up your blog with it so will go ahead and post it at my own blog here.

  4. bl1y Says:

    If the professor has to resort to hyperbole because his students are incapable of comprehending a nuanced rule, then Regent needs to burn itself down. The lecture shouldn’t be “Never talk to the police under any circumstance” but rather “Learn to not be such a fracking retard that you can’t understand a little bit of nuance.”

  5. Joe Says:

    I cannot believe I survived three years of that useless crap.

  6. JD Says:

    “If the professor has to resort to hyperbole because his students are incapable of comprehending a nuanced rule, then Regent needs to burn itself down. The lecture shouldn’t be “Never talk to the police under any circumstance” but rather “Learn to not be such a fracking retard that you can’t understand a little bit of nuance.”

    I see it differently – the professor is FREE to engage in hyperbole because he is confident that his students are NOT so dumb that they will take it literally. To take the point slightly farther, I would posit that any professor who feels he can’t engage in such liberties in his lectures for fear the students won’t be able to exercise common-sense…well, he’s either got a horrifically low-opinion of his students, or horrible students. I greatly pity the student who needs such elaboration on Prof. Duane’s lesson.

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