Closing out the Semester with Pre-Law

By McKenna Nonnenmann

For the last meeting of the 22-23 school year, the Pre-Law Society members had a lot of fun in-store. We put our knowledge and luck to the test and showed our true competitive sides. This week we held a crossword competition regarding our law history and vocabulary. Whoever won would receive $250 scholarships!

The air was tense as we rushed to see who would complete the puzzle first. Questions included: Who is the current Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court? What is a first-year law student called? Which test is required to get into law school?

We all laughed as we guessed on how to spell certain words, and picked our brains for answers. Caleb Carrig, Rylee Smith, Jessica Hernandez, and Natalie Bradford prevailed and each won a scholarship. The puzzle was fun, but showed that we all have a lot left to learn! We should also probably practice our spelling. We even held a drawing for the members for another chance to win another scholarship. Chistina Biello and Cinthia Villarreal won, how lucky! 

As it was the last meeting of the 22-23 year, we had to bid our seniors goodbye. Five of our members, Jacelin Daniel, Jessica Hernandez, Daniela Hernandez and Jesus Ayala received their chords to wear with pride as they walk the stage to graduation. We wish them all well as they move forward on their law school path.

As a final note, we also created a planning committee for the fall, when we hope to have a major speaker come in, as well as an attorney, law-school deans, and an activity of our own!

Pre-Law Society Meeting: Voir Dire

Last month’s Pre-Law Society meeting was a natural segue to the topic for this month’s Pre-Law Society meeting. Last month’s discussion featured three attorneys in a question-and-answer format focused on what to expect in law school and what life is like as an attorney.

This month’s meeting had multiple foci. First, the officers provided updates:

In the second part of the meeting, Jade Miller, Pre-Law Society President, Professor Mike Yawn, and Jean Loveall discussed a timeline to go to law school from freshman year to senior year of college.

Since Jade just completed her LSAT Prep, took the LSAT, and applied to her chosen law schools, she shared a wealth of information gleaned from her path to law school. With her personal story of LSAT Prep, Jade inspired the Pre-Law students with three strategies that worked for her: (1) take the Critical Thinking philosophy class (PHIL 2303); (2) budget your LSAT Prep time wisely; and (3) focus on developing and writing a strong argument when completing the Writing Sample part of the LSAT.

After hearing such encouraging words and valuable advice from the three presenters, the Pre-Law Society members were energized to engage in a voir dire activity. Voir dire is the process in which trial attorneys examine potential jurors before the jurors are selected to serve on the trial.

Amari Gallien presided over the voir dire as the Judge, Sephora Pham and Matthew May were the defense attorneys, and Professor Yawn was the prosecutor. As the potential jurors, each of the remaining Pre-Law Society members received a vignette of the character they would portray as a potential juror. These vignette characters ranged from a male country music singer/songwriter with a high school degree to a female accountant pregnant with her second child to a 72-year-old retired art history teacher. This activity introduced future attorneys to the nuanced questioning and strategies involved in selecting jurors for a criminal trial.

Thank you to all the Pre-Law Society members who participated in this interactive meeting. As president, Jade Miller has some exciting topics planned for next month’s meeting. One activity to look forward to is the cording of all Pre-Law Society members who are graduating in spring 2023. We hope to see all Pre-Law Society members on April 19th!

Pre-Law Elections: Charting the Spring

McKenna Nonnenmann

May I be the first to welcome all new and old Pre-Law society members back from winter break!?

We welcomed three guests, each with varying degrees of familiarity. Victoria McClendon recently graduated from law school at Duquesne, and she just passed the bar this summer! She, interestingly, is a former Pre-Law Society President and, of course, a Sam Houston State University alum.

We were also introduced to Dr. Gene Roberts, who graduated with a law degree from SMU. He works here as the Director of Student Legal and Mediation Services and as Associate Dean.

He even has an EdD and a JD! We also heard from Ms. Jean Loveall, a mainstay as a pre-law advisor here at SHSU and the LEAP Center.

Together, they did a great job of explain what to expect from law school, attorney life, and our future years here at Sam. 

As it is a new semester, we also needed to fill some officer positions. Jasmine Crooks was re-elected as the Society’s secretary, as well as McKenna Nonnemann (that’s me!) remaining as the historian. With the president position open we had three society members run for the position: Jacelin Daniels, Jessica Hernandez, and Jade Miller.

We also had two members challenge each other for the Vice President of Membership: Christion Chancellor, and Jesus Ayala.

Each member brought wonderful ideas and gave heartfelt speeches, with Jade Miller and Jesus Ayala being awarded the officer positions!

We’d like to thank all Pre-Law members for joining us at this meeting. As well as all members who ran for officer positions along with the officers themselves. We hope to see you next meeting, on March 22!

Wrapping Up the Fall with the Pre-Law Society

PLS Meeting: Cross Examination Exercise

November 16, 2022

McKenna Nonnenmann

For our last Pre-Law Society meeting, all the members engaged in a cross and direct examination exercise! Following our previous meeting with an attorney, Mr. Chris Thompson, who spoke on tips and tricks to successfully cross-examine a witness in the courtroom, we dove into an immersive experience to apply what we learned from him.

As an interactive exercise, all members were given roles and could ask unique questions to either reinforce the case’s witness or discredit them. To start us off a model group came up to present how the exercise should be done with the roles being played by Yvette Mendoza (police officer), Ashley Kinyon (prosecutor’s witness), Anthony Roughton (prosecutor), and Jocelyn Vazquez (defense attorney).

They each presented a crime scene from the famous movie Taxi Driver. In this case, a man is being convicted of second-degree murder but was pleading for self-defense. This was presented in great detail through excellent opening statements that Jocelyn and Anthony gave. The cross and direct examination the model group gave was a great way to see how to either discredit the witness or make your witness look good!

Turning it over to the members, they each got into their groups with the crime scene they had to examine from the movie Dirty Harry. The members were heavily dedicated to their roles! The officers gathered the witness statement from the witnesses, and the attorneys went to watch the crime scene, which was considered “camera footage,” and used the witness statements to articulate their direct and cross-examination questions.

This experience allowed us, as future attorneys, a piece of the pie of what life could be like as an attorney. There was so much excitement and curiosity about this exercise. It was a great way to learn how a trial may work when the attorneys need to examine the witnesses, and we all hope to do it again soon, possibly in a mock trial!

As we close the fall 2022 semester, we would like to congratulate any seniors graduating this semester and wish them a safe journey. We will see the rest of you next semester, and happy holidays!