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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Numerical Distributions (LSAT)

There’s no math on the LSAT. 

Well, not exactly.

As you become more comfortable with the games and the foundations become more intuitive, you'll want to dig a little deeper and think about numerical distributions whenever they apply. 

For example, imagine a game with 3 tennis matches. 2 players per match, and we're given four players, W, X, Y, Z.

We’re further told that each player must play in at least one match but in no more than 2 matches.

Immediately, even before moving on to the rules of the game, you should consider that in this game, 2 of the players will appear once and 2 of the players will appear twice. Since with that distribution that will fill 6 slots which is exactly what you would want to fill with 3 games consisting of 2 players per game. 

The reason why all this is so important is that this idea will play in the background of the game throughout each of the questions. For example, imagine a question in which through the directive of the other rules if you try out a certain scenario you'll be forced into 3 of the players appearing twice. You'll know that that scenario doesn't work even though none of the rules tell you that that's not allowed. It's an inference you realized early on. 

As another example, imagine a game with 7 slots and 4 variables. We're told that each variable must appear at least once and at most twice. In this game only one variable will appear once and the remaining 3 variables will appear twice. That'll get you to the 7 slots: (3x2)+1 = 7. It does get a little trickier if the variables are not limited to appearing twice at most. Then, for example, maybe 3 variables appear once and one variable appears 4 times. But the point remains: consider the possible distributions, especially when there are a limited number of them.

Practice this and note these numerical distributions early on in a game. It'll make difficult games a lot easier! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Contrapositives (LSAT)

Ideally, contrapositives will come naturally. In other words when you see something such as:

x--> y 

you won't need to also write down the rule ~y --> ~x. Having to write down the contrapositives can quickly muddy up a logic game with a lot of conditional rules. So, this is an important skill to develop. 

In addition to recognizing contrapositives without having to notate them, it's essential not to assume contrapositives where they don't exist. As an example, 

x --> y 

never leads to the contrapositive of ~x --> ~ y. 

If I tell you that if it rains tomorrow, the game will be cancelled, and you learn tomorrow that it does not rain, you do not know whether or not the game is cancelled. But if I tell you that that game is not cancelled you know with certainty that it did not rain. 

Let's try a more difficult contrapositive now:

If the 7th instrument played is not the trumpet, then the guitar will play before the piano. We might symbolize this as follows, but there's certainly not only one way to symbolize conditional language:

t~7 --> g---p. 

Let's say we learn that the trumpet is 4th

_ _ _ t _ _ _ 

Do we know whether the guitar is before the piano? We don't. Maybe the guitar is before the piano, or maybe the piano is before the guitar. We can't know this. 

What if we're told that the piano is first?

p _ _ _ _ _ _ 

If the piano is first then certainly the piano is before the guitar. And the contrapositive of the above statement tells us that if the piano is before the guitar then the trumpet is not 7th. So here' I'd know the following:

p _ _ _ _ _ ~t

That may not seem terribly helpful, but imagine this:

"If the piano is first, which of the following must be true?"

Answer: The trumpet is not 7th

All said, learn those contrapositives, so that they are so natural that you don't need to think about them. That's a step in the right direction to improving at logic games. 


Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Confrontation Clause

The Confrontation Clause is a topic that might show up in Criminal Procedure questions. Under this clause, prior testimonial evidence may not be admitted unless the declarant is unavailable and the defendant had an opportunity to cross examine the declarant at the time that the statement was made. An important consideration in all of these questions is to determine what is meant by "testimonial."

At a minimum, statements from a preliminary hearing, a grand jury proceeding, a former trial, or a police interrogation, are testimonial. Importantly, statements from a police interrogation intended to aid the police in responding to an ongoing emergency (911 calls, for example) are not testimonial. Those are likely among the most common non-testimonial statements tested in this area. 

Worth noting that if results of forensic lab tests are offered for proof of the matter asserted, such results are testimonial and inadmissible unless the person who did the testing is available for cross examination. 

This protection granted by the Confrontation Clause can be waived (or forfeited). A defendant is held to have forfeited a Confrontation Clause claim by wrongdoing. But not by all wrongdoing. Specifically, a Court will not find a forfeiture of the Confrontation Clause unless the wrongdoing was intended to keep the witness from testifying. So, for example, the fact alone that the defendant murdered a victim will not forfeit the defendant's right to not have a statement from the victim used against the defendant. But if the defendant murdered the victim with the intent that the victim would not then be able to testify against the defendant, forfeiture is proper. 


Thursday, June 16, 2022

New Free Sample Chapter Added

People struggle a lot with UCC 9 and I've added another free sample chapter available for download here on the blog covering that subject. It's listed under Florida Essentials Volume 1 & 2 but those taking the UBE will benefit from it as well since that subject frequently shows up on the essay portion of that exam. Hope it helps! 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Objections (Evidence)

MBE Tip:

You'll probably see a few Evidence questions about objections. Best to divide these into two categories

--Objectives to admitted evidence --Objections to excluded evidence
As for admitting evidence, the objection must be timely (while the witness is testifying). And the party objecting must state the specific ground, unless it was apparent from the context.
As for excluding evidence, a party must inform the court of the substance of the objection unless that substance was apparent from the context. Worth noting that for both admitting and excluding evidence, objections are only proper if the error objected to affects a substantial right of a party.
See more @ https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_103

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

"The Essentials" Books

For those ordering the books I offer on this blog, I hope they help!!

A couple things to note since I sometimes get emails about this. If you order UBE Essentials then there is no reason to also order MBE Essentials since everything in MBE Essentials is in UBE Essentials. The same holds for Florida Bar Exam Essentials: everything in MBE Essentials is in Florida Bar Exam Essentials. 

Said otherwise, MBE Essentials is best for those who don't need either UBE Essentials or Florida Bar Exam Essentials. If you get either UBE or Florida, you're all set with the MBE book as well. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Rule Substitution Questions (LSAT)

Rule substitution questions are among the trickiest and most time consuming questions on the Logic Games section of the LSAT. Some of them are just brutal. 

But, like so much on this test, there's a technique or a strategy when encountering them. Here is what a rule substitution question looks like: 

"Which of the following if substituted for [some rule that was presented in the game] would have the same effect in determining [something important about the particular game]."

When you come to a question like this, you've got to understand what it's asking. The question requires that you remove from the game some rule that was provided, and substitute that now-removed rule with a new rule only applicable to the particular question. And the new rule that effectively substitutes the old rule will be the correct answer to the question.

But, and this is the key, when substituting that rule (thereby choosing the answer), neither of the following two things can happen:

The rule can not make the game any more limited that it already was

and

The rule can not make the game any less limited than it already was. 

For example, let's say there's a sequencing game with five slots and we're told that R cannot go into slots 1 or 2. In other words, R can only go into slots 3, 4, or 5. 

_ _ R _ _ 

_ _ _ R _ 

_ _ _ _ R

If an answer choice in a rule substitution question provides for a new rule that would allow R to go into slots 1 or 2, it's incorrect since that would make the game less limited that it was prior to the substitution. And if an answer choice provides for a new rule that would not allow R to go into slots 3, 4, or 5, it's incorrect since that would make the game more limited than it was prior to the substitution. 

Let's say there was another rule in this game that said T must go into slot 2.

_ T R _ _ 

_ T _ R _ 

_ T _ _ R

Assume we're told in a rule substitution question that the rule eliminated is the rule that R must go into slots 3, 4, and 5. And one of the answer choices for substituting that rule is that R cannot go before T. That would be excellent here because by saying that R cannot go before T, it's effectively saying that R must go in 3, 4, or 5. It's not making the game any more or any less restrictive than it was when the rule was that R must go into slots 3, 4, or 5. Substituting that rule with the old rule does not change the game at all.

Granted, that's a very simple example, but start with the simple. Understand the logic first and then move on to applying that logic to more complicated scenarios. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Learn to Think Abstractly (LSAT)

I commented on a post over at Reddit about learning to think abstractly, and how developing that skill can help you to excel at the LSAT.  Thought it might help some reading here who are preparing for the LSAT. 


It's @ https://www.reddit.com/r/LSAT/comments/v25663/comment/iat57ul/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Statute of Frauds under the Common Law of Contracts

There's a lot to know about the Statute of Frauds for the MBE. For the relevant info on how it applies to the UCC see the post @ http://mbetutorial.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-statute-of-frauds-under-ucc.html. This post will focus on how this defense applies to the common law.

Certain agreements must be evidenced by a writing, but that writing need not be a formal contract. The writing can be a receipt, a letter, a check, etc. In general, under certain circumstances, a writing is required  that reasonably identifies the subject matter of the contract, indicates that a contract has been made, and states with reasonable certainty the essential terms of the contract. 

It's important to understand what is meant by "essential terms." It's flexible, but there must be enough in the writing to enable the court to enforce the contract. For example, in a land sale contract, a description of the land is essential, and in an employment contract the length of employment is essential. In other words, context matters. 

In addition to essential terms, a signature is required. A signature is any mark or symbol made with the intention to authenticate the writing as that of the signer. An electronic signature is sufficient.

It's worth remembering that in most instances, an oral contract is valid. But not all. The following are the agreements for which the Statute of Frauds requires a writing:

Executor or Administrator Promises to Pay Debts of the Estate: A promise by an executor or administrator to pay the estate's debts out of his/her own funds requires a writing.

Promises to Pay the Debt of Another: Careful with this one as there are a lot of angles that can get tested. A promise to answer for the debt of another requires a writing. If the main purpose, though, is to serve the interest of the promisor (as opposed to the interest of another) then the contract is not within the statute and a writing is not required. 

Promises in Consideration of Marriage: A promise the consideration of which is marriage must be in writing.

Interest in Land: This is probably the most important in the group since these contracts show up constantly in Property questions. A promise creating an interest in land requires a writing. This includes the sale of real property but also includes leases of real property for more than one year, easements involving real property of more than one year, and mortgages/other liens. Also included are fixtures and minerals or structures if they are to be severed by the buyer. 

Performance Not Within One Year from the Date of Contract: A promise that by its terms cannot be performed within one year requires a writing. Importantly, the date runs from the date of the agreement and not from the date of performance. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Focus on the Conclusions (LSAT)

On the LR section of the LSAT, there are a variety of types of questions that you'll be asked. Assumption questions, strengthen questions, conclusion questions, weaken questions, parallel reasoning questions, etc.  I teach my students that there is one commonality among all of these questions types, and that commonality is the importance of targeting the conclusion in each LR question. 

This, like most things after adequate time and practice, will become natural, and it'll be more difficult not to do it than to do it. And once you start doing it, you'll find this section of the exam will be easier and your score will increase. Conclusion questions will become quite easy because you'll know the conclusion and will need to just pick it from the answer choices. But many other question types also become easier. By knowing the conclusion, it'll be easier to pick the answer choice that strengthens the argument because strengthening the argument is directly related to either strengthening the conclusion or indirectly strengthening it by eliminating something that might weaken the conclusion. Very similar analysis for weakening questions. 

With assumption questions, there is often a gap between the premises and the conclusion of the argument. By knowing well the conclusion, it becomes easier to spot that gap (the assumption). 

Give it a try! Make your primary focus when reading LR questions to understand well the conclusions. I think you'll see steady improvement and that steady improvement provides the motivation to want to get even better. Dramatic increases are then possible. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The 6th Amendment's Right to Counsel

Most of the Crim Pro questions on the MBE come from the 4th, the 5th, and the 6th Amendment. This post will focus on the applicable areas of the 6th Amendment's right to counsel.

The 6th Amendment guarantees the right to the assistance of counsel in all criminal proceedings. This right is guaranteed throughout all critical stages of a prosecution once formal charges have been filed. That's not an insignificant point to note for the MBE: only once formal charges have been filed do those 6th Amendment rights kick in (as opposed to the 5th Amendment as it relates to Miranda which applies even prior to the filing of formal charges.) The police must not elicit incriminating statements from a defendant outside the presence of counsel after the defendant has been charged unless the defendant has waived the right to counsel. 

Specifically, a defendant has the right to counsel at the following stages of a prosecution: post-indictment interrogation; preliminary hearings to determine probable cause to prosecute; arraignment; post-charge lineups; guilty pleas and sentencing; felony trials; misdemeanor trials when imprisonment is imposed or when a suspended jail sentence is imposed; certain recesses during trial; appeals as a matter of right; and appeals of guilty pleas. 

Just as important is to know when the right to counsel does not apply. It does not apply at the following stages: blood sampling; taking of handwriting samples; pre-charge lineups; photo identifications; preliminary hearings to determine probable cause to detain; brief recesses during the defendant's testimony at trial; discretionary appeals; parole and probation revocation proceedings (this has been tested); and post-conviction proceedings. 

Because the 6th Amendment is offense-specific, it's possible that the 6th Amendment will attach regarding a specific charge, and yet not attach on unrelated uncharged offenses. Importantly, the 6th Amendment may be waived. Like all waivers, it must be be knowing and voluntary. If the 6th Amendment has not been waived and has been violated, then the failure to provide counsel in certain circumstances will require an automatic reversal of the conviction. Other violations of the 6th Amendment outside of trial (such as at a post-indictment interrogation) may be deemed harmless error which will not require reversal. 

As is true with the 5th Amendment under Miranda, a statement obtained in violation of defendant's 6th Amendment right to counsel may be used to impeach the defendant's contrary trial testimony. In other words, even a violation of the 6th Amendment does not preclude using the statement for that specific purpose. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Florida Bar Exam Essentials (Florida Civil Procedure)

The Florida Bar Exam is divided into Part A and Part B.  Part A is further divided into essays and Florida multiple choice subjects. Florida Civil Procedure is a Florida multiple choice subject and the following is a sample (click for a larger view) from the chapter on that subject. This chapter is in both Florida Bar Exam Essentials Volume 1 and the combined book of Florida Bar Exam Essentials Volumes 1 & 2. 

























Florida Bar Exam Essentials Volume 1 contains 418 questions and answers just like those in the sample here and is available for immediate download here on the blog. Florida Bar Exam Essentials Volume 1 & 2 contains 1.147 questions and answers as is also available to download immediately here. 














Thursday, April 28, 2022

UBE Essentials (Wills)

When writing each of the books that I offer on this blog, there were two goals in mind. The first was to strip the complexity as much as possible from the content. I've long felt that law is presented in a way that's more complex that it has to be. The 2nd was to cover the material that I see students struggle with on the exam. That's why I call the books "The Essentials." Not everything on the bar exam should be given equal time when studying, and the attempt was to include the most important concepts in each subjects. 

The following is a sample from UBE Essentials covering the subject of Wills (click for a larger view). 


UBE Essentials contains 793 questions and answers just like those presented here in the sample. The book is available for immediate download here on the blog. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

In/Out Games (LSAT)

When posting about LSAT logic games on this blog, I'd like to focus on certain aspects of different types of games that I often see students overlook. There's a type of game on the LSAT often referred to as an in/out game. It's a grouping game, but unlike other grouping games, there are only 2 groups, an in group and an out group.

Let's assume that 8 friends (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H) are trying out for the school basketball team but only 5 of those 8 friends will be chosen for the team. In addition, they'll be chosen in a specific order based on how they perform at the tryouts. 

These rules indicate an in/out game since the in group will be the friends chosen for the team and the out group will be the friends who are not chosen.  There's also a sequencing element to this game because the friends in the in group are going to be ordered. There is no sequencing element to the out group, however. There will be 5 friends in the in group, and 3 in the out group. A good board for this game could be the following: 

_ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ 

You really don't need to order the out group in a line the way I've done here, but it's essential (for the reasons that follow) that you note somehow that there are 3 elements in the out group. 

Now let's come up with a few rules:

~If A makes the team then B doesn't make the team

~If E makes the team, then E is chosen 3rd.

~ C only makes the team if D makes the team and if D makes the team then D is chosen first. 

~ G and H can't both make the team.

On an in/out game, it's important to note carefully how many elements comprise the out group. Because once that out group fills up, lots of rules trigger and the questions can become quite easy to solve. 

Let's look at the rules.

We know that both A and B can't make the team. It's possible that they both don't make the team but it's not possible that they both make the team. Therefore, at least one of the slots in the out group is always filled with A or B or both.

The same can be said for G and H. Maybe they both are out but they can't both be in. Either G or H is out or both G and H are out. So at least 2 of the 3 out slots are already filled just from these rules. 

You might notice that if D doesn't make the team, then C doesn't make the team. That's the contrapositive of rule #3. But that would be impossible here. We know that at least 2 of the 3 out slots are already filled and if both D and C don't make the team that would be at least 4 players not making the team which is impossible. So a subtle inference to make in this game would be that D has to make the team and that D will be placed in slot 1.

Let's assume that all three slots in the out group fill up. Something like this:

_ _ _ _ _ | B H F

This would be a very favorable thing in terms of ordering. Now, rules that were previously conditional no longer are. 

We know the following:

D _ E _ _ | B H F

As for A, C, and G, they'd get to flip around among those 3 open slots. 

Keep these points in mind for any in/out group you might encounter on the test!





Thursday, April 21, 2022

Implied Warranties and Disclaimers

Questions on implied warranties and how each type of implied warranty may be disclaimed show up often on the MBE. As such, it's good to understand this topic well.

The first of the implied warranties is the warranty of merchantability. Implied in every contract for a sale by a merchant who deals in goods of the kind sold is a warranty that the goods are merchantable. And to be merchantable, the goods must be fit for the ordinary purpose for which the goods are used. 

Also important is the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. This warranty will be be implied whenever any seller (merchant or non-merchant) has reason to know of the particular purpose for which the goods are to be used and that the buyer is relying on the seller's skill and judgment to select suitable goods. 

Importantly, it makes no difference that the seller did not know of the defect that breaches either of these implied warranties, nor does it matter that the seller could not have discovered it. Implied warranties do not look towards fault; they are an absolute liability imposed on sellers!

Both the implied warranty of merchantability and the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose may be disclaimed. These warranties are disclaimed by either specific disclaimers or general disclaimers.  To disclaim the warranty of merchantability with a specific disclaimer, the word "merchantability" must be mentioned within the disclaimer. And if this disclaimer is in writing, the disclaimer must be conspicuous such that a reasonable person against whom it is to operate ought to have noticed it. 

Unlike the optional writing to specifically disclaim a warranty of merchantability, to specifically disclaim the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose requires a conspicuous writing.

More general disclaimers are allowable for both the warranty of merchantability and the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. One such disclaimer is an "as is" clause. These clauses are valid if they call to the buyer's attention that there are no implied warranties. The words "as is" need not appear; "with all fault" or other common expressions will suffice. Although these need not be conspicuous, they shouldn't be hidden in the fine print. 

Another general disclaimer to consider involves the ability of the buyer to examine the goods. If the buyer before entering into the contract has examined the goods or a sample of the goods as fully as the buyer has desired to do so or if the buyer has been given the option to examine and has refused to do so, then there is no implied warranty as to any defect that a reasonable examination would have revealed. In other words, the buyer won't benefit from his own mistake.

Lastly, implied warranties may be disclaimed by the course of dealing, course of performance between the parties, and by usage of trade. Look towards the past to determine whether the parties (or the trade in which the parties are dealing) have chosen to ignore these warranties consistently. If so, they may forever lose the ability to rely on them.