Zoom Mentoring Session with Nasheia Conway, Lawyer & Legal Writing Launch Student

Improve Your Writing


The following is a Zoom Mentoring Session with Bev Meyers (Bev), Founder, Legal Writing Launch (LWL) and Nasheia Conway (Nasheia), Lawyer and LWL Student, on June 11, 2021, regarding Nasheia’s completed motion to suppress evidence and progress in LWL.

BEV: . . . We’re almost at the end here.  We’re getting pretty close.  . . . I think we have just one more assignment left. . . . Yeah, yeah. . . . I thought you did a great job on this motion to suppress evidence [and specifically] . . . [on] the two issues there . . . —the protective sweep doctrine and the plain view doctrine.  And the critical thing again [in] this . . . problem [is that the] police [were] called out at a domestic violence call and . . . [they see] marijuana paraphernalia, and then [they] . . . search the [couple’s] apartment without . . . a warrant. . . . [The] . . . defense argument [is] that this . . . didn’t fall within any viable exception to the warrant requirement, [including the two doctrines, which would be exceptions to the warrant requirement].   [The] two doctrines [or exceptions to the search warrant requirement] are: . . .  the protective sweep doctrine [that permits] . . . officers . . . [to] do a protective sweep for their own safety when they’re arresting someone, and [the plain view doctrine] . . . [that allows] . . . officers, if they’re in a place where they have a right, . . .  [to] seize what they observe in plain view.  But here we had marijuana that was in a freezer and that certainly didn’t appear to be in plain view.   And there was a case . . .  that you used just beautifully . . . [under the] protective [sweep doctrine].  . . .

Sometimes, . . . [you have a] series of small paragraphs; use bigger ones.  Now you may go to work somewhere and you’ll get an employer that does the opposite . . . What I’m trying to build for you is this confidence in knowing that you have used CRAC fully and completely, and specifically on an issue in a tight paragraph. . . . I thought you did a great job . . . using CRAC really well in the order that it’s supposed to be in.  . . . [E]ven without my comments . . . this . . .  can be a writing sample for you . . . .  It’s a dilemma . . .  making the paragraph too large because you are using CRAC on a single issue.   That’s where you, as the writer, has to use your judgment to break a paragraph on an issue into even several paragraphs.  The key point . . . is to make sure that your topic sentence for each paragraph captures that paragraph. . . . I’ve told you about busy readers—lawyers judges and . . .  even bar examiners. . . . [Sometimes, busy readers] . . . might just read your topic sentences . . . and your headings. . . .  That’s why it’s so important that your topic sentences . . . capture the essence of what that paragraph’s about. . .

You’re doing the plain view doctrine first and then you’re doing protective sweep doctrine second. That’s fine. You already put the Fourth Amendment in your Introduction which is fine but once you’ve done that and even then, you can think about summarizing it in a practical way. . . . To the extent that you’re using it again . . . there’s no reason for us to have five lines of something that you’ve said already. . . .  I think . . .  new lawyers . . . [or] law students—people new to law are really afraid to summarize. . . .  They think oh I’ve got to quote everything right because otherwise I’ll be in trouble.  Well, you’re not in trouble if you give the summary in [a] common-sense way, and then give the [citation].  As long as you give the citation, you’re fine. . . .  [You used CRAC well] where you’re talking about the protective sweep doctrine. . . .  Now you’re moving into your actual analysis . . . of what happened here and you’re providing some law [about the] Zamora case, which is just fine. . . . [W]hat happened in our case . . . [is] just like Zamora and it exceeded the protective sweep doctrine like it did there. . . .  [Y]our conclusion, [at the end of the motion] was short and punchy and that’s fine. [S]ometimes, I put a little more than that just at least to talk about the two doctrines. . . . But otherwise, I thought that [your motion] was great. . . .  

[Are you] feeling confident [and] . . . feeling like . . . [you] got what [you] came for from this course?

NASHEIA: Yes, I definitely feel more confident. . . . Like you said, the more that I . . . do it, and I guess with each assignment, I feel more and more confident.  So, . . . from this assignment, I  now know the three main things I need to make sure that I put into practice (in addition to making sure that I don’t use . . . passive voice and . . . colloquial [expressions] or slang in verbs) . . . I [have] . . . a  checklist. . . I [need to] make sure that my paragraphs are tight. . . . I’m not having [too many small] separate paragraphs. . . . I [need to] make sure that I’m analyzing each issue separately and not combining them.  [And, that I am] using CRAC.

BEV: [Your success in this course] . . . is a real credit to your determination and your . . . commitment to yourself . . . , and to make your life better by . . . doing all this hard work . . . regularly, in a dedicated way. . . . You’re just getting better and better, and I really commend you for that.

NASHEIA: Thank you so much.

BEV: [It is] my pleasure.

(If you would like to see the actual Zoom mentoring session, including the motion to suppress evidence, please use this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvM5oQkw2QU&t=1s)

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