Thursday, August 23, 2007


A Brief History of Practice Court

For those about to start PC, all you care about is the guy who is teaching it now (and who has built up his own legend, of course). However, Prof. Powell has an impressive set of predecessors you may not be aware of. From most recent to the depths of known Baylor history:

Bill Underwood

Prof. Powell's predecessor, of course, was Bill Underwood, who is now President of Mercer University in Georgia. As PC professor, Underwood was well known for "the look." Which was followed, on occasion, by "the hook."

Lewis Muldrow

Prior to Underwood, Prof. Muldrow held court. He is well-remembered by his students, and many legends regarding his tenure still circulate. He has perhaps the most impressive of all portraits among those on display in the courtrooms.

Matt Dawson

Scores of Texas lawyers attribute their success to the ministrations of Prof. Dawson, who is still active in the legal community.

Frank Newton

Prof. Newton played a significant role in developing the practice court program he led for decades.

James P. Alexander

Judge Alexander was the first to develop the PC technique of assigning memos, according to Baylor historians.

Dick Cheney

Prof. Cheney was known for his goofy grin and his familiar catchphrase "Gimme that! Jeez."

Francois ("Papa Doc") Duvalier

The only black professor to have taught PC, Prof. Duvalier developed many of the modern aspects of the PC experience.

Prof. Hugo Strange

Little is know about the short period in which Prof. Strange taught. He is the last PC professor to have maintained a "laboratory" on the grounds of the school.

Tom Riddle

Sadistic and egomaniacal, the young Prof. Riddle left under mysterious circumstances.

Boris Badenov

Prof Badenov, though handicapped by a thick Russian accent, was a great innovator in developing the exercises now used. He also developed the use of henchmen as a pedagogical method.

Emperor Palpatine

Popular with students, Prof. Palpatine favored a "realistic" approach to legal studies, which featured experiential understandings of the negative outcomes from certain mistakes. It is from the Palpatine era that the tradition began that there shall be two PC professors, a master and a student.


Perhaps the most memorable response to students who failed to comprehend the reading came from Prof. Tron, who would scream "Aaaargggg!" before destroying the offending student and several sitting nearby. It is from this era that the PC term "shrapnel" came about.

I had Prof. Badenov, and even though he was tough, he did a great job of preparing us for the real world. I hated it at the time, but now I really appreciate the fact that I started out being ready to try cases as soon as I started work.
We had Prof. Palpatine, and he was one of the most outstanding professors I have ever had. Though at times he seemed arbitrary and even cruel, it was for our own good and we came out ready to rule the litigation universe.
Wikipedia used to list Joseph Stalin among former PC professors.

(I can't imagine who may have edited that entry.)

Incidently, I had an ancestor who took PC under Stalin... HAD.
I thought Profs. Steinem, Friedan, Quindlan and Dukakis taught PC....
Oh, man, you do not want Betty Friedan grading your work. She's a tough cookie.
I was there during the Underwood regime, and my dad had Megatron. When we compare notes, it is surprising how similar our experiences were.
After 15 years as a student and teacher in higher education (undergrad, MA, PhD, law school) I can say unequivocally that Bill Underwood was by far the finest and hardest working instructor I have ever met.

I took both Civ Pro and PC from him and have never seen anybody actually use the Socratic method better than Bill--even people who who made their life's work studying Socrates (I was a rhetoric student for over a decade).

When the law school lost Underwoood it was a sad day.
Prof. Megatron's use of the Socratic method was nearly overshadowed by his constant use of the phrase "You're not prepared? Go get yourself some coffee, and get me some energon cubes!"

Then he would blast the offending student in the rear as they exited the building.

the subsequent structural damage to "the old" law school was what ultimately led to the Tobacco Towers, also known as "the new" law school.
Thank you, Megatron, thank you!
During the megatron era, I heard there was almost a hostile takeover of the PC program by the Evidence professor, Prof. Starscream. I also heard that Prof. Scream continually failed to assign his students enough memos, thus eliciting Prof. Tron's wrath. Is any of that true?



Why no photo of Megatron?
Lots of people took pictures of Prof. Tron, he just never appeared in the developed photos. Similarly, Prof. Powell never has a reflection in mirrors, which is why he wears a beard. Allegedly, he once told his unruly locks, "you will never be a lawyer's coiffure" and they all immediately fell out, relieving him of the burden of combing what cannot be seen. Underwood didn't cast a shadow. Apparently, he threw it out of class one day and it never returned, proving only that Underwood's shadow was smarter than many PC students.
My most embarrasing moment in PC occurred before I was in PC. I was a witness giving a demostration for the jury. Some jackass placed a permanent marker on the dry-erase board. None of the regular markers worked, so I picked up the permanent one and proceeded to outline the incident. After Wood eviserated me on cross-examination (the student wasn't doing it right), he tried to erase what I wrote. All I remember is markers flying across the room.

It would have been way worse with Megatron.
I have always enjoyed learning the younglings.
The Emperor of the Galaxy
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