Novosibirsk November 13, 2008
We did two class sessions today. Some of the students couldn't make the 12:30, so we did an other one at 2:15. Today's topic was criminal procedure, federal and state. Their system is so different than ours, it's like a foreign language. But these students are so adept at learning foreign languages that this is just like learning another. Like when we were talking about jury trials. I made the point that my view of jury selection is that it is more jury de-selection, weeding out the potential jurors you don't want. Even though they only have jury trials 5-10% of the time, and most of these students aren't in the law program, they made very astute observations. Such as when I asked them what they would do with a juror who answered questions that indicated she wanted to hear both sides of the story (we had already gone over burden of proof and presumption of innocence). They appropriately said "Doesn't the judge tell them they have to follow the law?" The answer is yes. I then said, "What if that juror says that if that's what the judge tells me I have to do, then that's what I'll do." I asked them whether they thought that a defense lawyer would want that juror. Most said no. I asked why. Their answer: because she is only telling the judge what he wants to hear. I like these kids!
All of the students showed up this class, even thought it is an optional class, and they won't be graded. They have a real hunger for learning that is contagious. I guess that's why I like doing this so much. It reinvigorates me (much like when I leave the building and walk outside and the 14 degree weather smacks me in the face).
I already have students who want to be lawyers in the mock trial. They are interested in how this is done, and agreed that learning by doing is invaluable. I intend next session to coach them through the phases of the trial, so that they have a framework. I've never done anything like this (putting on a mock trial, writing a set of facts and pulling together the appropriate jury instructions), so we're all learning.
After class, it was a visit to the friendly neighborhood bank to exchange dollars for rubles. I had $500 in hundreds and fifties. She puts them under a light and hands me back $400. "We only change new bills." New bills? Are you going to give ME new bills? What was wrong with the bills? An ink stain here, a slight bend there? Hell, back in the day they didn't care WHAT was on the bill. If it was a US dollar, it was like gold. I got $150 worth of rubles (I had some real clean $10's).
Everything is in walking distance here. There are cars, yes, but they don't always stop when they are supposed to. Don't even think about crossing the steet until the car that is 1,000 meters away passes you. If you slip on the ice in the middle of the street (which I didn't), you'll lay there as the cars whiz by (actually, slide by; they're on ice too). I went back to La Chocolat for an early dinner, and then "home."
Man, it's cold outside.