Moot Court Highlights


Hey there, everyone!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update as to how things have been going over here! This past week, our entire class participated in a mandatory “moot court tournament.” I forget if I explained this in a previous post, so I’ll do it again briefly.

Over Christmas break, our professors released a case file containing depositions, exhibits, charts, a complaint, and an answer all in a nice package. Since the beginning of the semester, we’ve been working on putting together memorandums either in support or against the defendant’s “motion for summary judgment.” Complicated terms, I know. 

Essentially, the facts of the case was that a tavern owner served a patron several shorts of alcohol – this patron later became severely intoxicated as evidenced by his .20 BAC level taken at the scene of a car wreck that he later became involved in. There were two issues that were addressed in this tournament – actual knowledge and proximate cause.

The Indiana “Dram Shop Statute” essentially states that if a sever of alcohol has actual knowledge that a patron is visibly intoxicated at the time of service AND that patron’s intoxication is a proximate cause of the death or injury complained, then that server is liable. 

Really, it came down to two issues:

First, whether the server, John Daniels had actual knowledge of Ed Hard’s visible intoxication at the time he served him, as according to the record, Hard never showed the requisite visible signs of intoxication. However, actual knowledge, while it is judged by a subjective standard, can be proven by circumstantial evidence, (i.e. his BAC level, his “staggering,” etc.) 

Second, there was uncertainty as to whether Hard’s intoxication was the proximate cause (i.e. the natural and probable) result of Mr. White’s death and Mrs. White’s physical injuries or whether Hard’s act of colliding with their car was a criminal act, which would then be a superseding, intervening cause, breaking the “causal chain,” and ultimately removing the bartender’s liability. 

In a given round, there were four participants, each arguing a particular issue for a specific party – so, for instance, I would represent the plaintiff and argue the “actual knowledge” position, another classmate would represent the defendant and argue the “actual knowledge” position from their perspective … and the same thing for the “proximate cause” issue. 

Not only do you present your argument, but you must also respond to questions that the panel of judges (three in preliminary rounds) would ask you and still be able to smoothly continue your argument. Every round is different – sometimes you’ll get a “cold” bench (i.e. very few questions asked) as opposed to a “hot” bench (lots of questions) … while you do get to speak for 12 minutes, the goal is to have about 8-9 minutes of content, as you’re banking on the fact that you’ll be asked at least a few questions. In both of my preliminary rounds, I never got to get to my conclusion and parts of my points as there were just too many questions. 

Thursday evening rolled around and the top 32 competitors were announced as they would move onto the quarterfinal round. Well, my name was called! It was pretty exciting. The quarterfinal round was a lot of fun … it was with fellow classmates from my section, and while we all wanted to move on, we weren’t so competitive to the point where we would try to “win at all costs.” Once our quarterfinal round was over, we all gathered in the “Supreme Courtroom” to hear who would move onto the semifinal round … and to my surprise, my name was again called! 

This time, however, we literally only had 20 minutes to prep and unfortunately, the way things worked out, I had to argue an issue I hadn’t really worked on. When we wrote our brief, I wrote it in support of the defendant and during the tournament, I was assigned the issue of “actual knowledge,” meaning during the two preliminary rounds, I argued for the plaintiff and then for the defendant, each on the subject of actual knowledge. However, in the semifinal round, I had to argue plaintiff, proximate cause. Not only was it an issue that I hadn’t argued and prepared for doing the tournament, but I wrote my brief for the defendant … so, it was incredibly confusing – I had no clue what I was doing, haha. I got four outlines from my classmates, so I at least had something to talk about, but my mind was still kind of in a jumble when I walked up to the podium to speak in front of a panel of five judges … still, they were awfully nice to me, even though it was clearly my worst performance of the tournament. 

In the final round, they had a panel of nine judges, and each were “real” judges … quite the impressive lineup and each one of the competitors did a superb job. I know I definitely wasn’t at the caliber to compete in that round … I learned a lot and really had a lot of fun last week. I was grateful for all of my classmates who really pulled together and helped each other out, sharing outlines, spending time to do practice rounds and pepper each other with questions while the other was speaking, etc. I definitely don’t regret coming to Liberty!

Now that the moot court tournament is over, it’s time to buckle down and begin prepping for final exams. We’re less than two months away from completing our first year of law school. It’s crazy to think about – it’s gone by so quickly!

Have a wonderful Sunday, folks!

Another Year Goes By …


So yesterday, February 7th, was my 22nd birthday. It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since my 21st birthday. It’s a little sad not to be home, with my family to celebrate it. If you know our family, you know we all value traditions, especially my Dad. Out of the children, Bethany and I are probably the two that are the die-hard “traditionalists” in our family. 

As we’ve gotten older, we’ve celebrated birthdays differently throughout the years. When I was younger, we would go all-out, invite tons of friends, mountains of presents, and usually celebrate it at Chuck-E-Cheese’s (that was me). Over time, as our family has grown, our birthday celebrations have gotten progressively smaller. Usually, it’s just our family, sometimes another family comes over, but usually it’s just family and the birthday person gets to make two, key decisions: dinner and dessert and the activities of the day. 

Since I was about 6 or 7, I’ve had a “turtle cake” every year – lots of green frosting and even more candy, you know, butterfingers, Reese’s PB cups, sour worms, etc. all of my favorites. We rarely ever got candy while growing up, and because this was one of the few occasions that I could … I definitely wanted to make sure that I got the most out of it. 

This was the first year that I didn’t have a turtle cake. Last year, friends from Texas made me one, and usually, even though I missed my birthday (like the one year I was in Cambodia), I still was back home close enough to my birthday that I was still able to have the cake. Well, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to be back in the Washington-state area for awhile. I might even have to wait until this winter, I don’t know. So, that was one tradition that died this year. 

Still, it was a great birthday! My family had sent me a box filled with all sorts of presents that arrived the day before my birthday. I knew they’d be out most of the day picking up my Dad and Stefanie from the airport as they were flying in from Seoul on their return from Cambodia so we decided to open it the night before my birthday so I could open it over a FaceTime call. Lots of fun. It was great to see them all and do some catching up as well. Lots of snacks to eat, some new clothes, scented markers, cards and envelopes, a new plate, a wallet, lots of cards … so much other stuff! I was amazed at how many gifts they could stuff in one box!

I stayed up a little later than normal that night so I slept in till 5 AM on my birthday and got some good work done that morning. The weather was absolutely amazing yesterday and in fact, today is even nicer. We’re probably sitting in the mid-60’s right now. It’s quite a difference from the 9-degree weather we were experiencing Thursday! 

For dinner, Trotter and I went over to Buffalo Wild Wings about a mile away from the school. He treated me, which was much appreciated! We had fried pickles, french fries, and boneless wings – they have quite a broad variety of sauces, ranging from sweet to spicy … to super-spicy! I like spicy foods, but not anything so spicy where it’d make your mouth burn, so I picked honey mustard and sweet BBQ. It was quite filling. It’s awfully loud in there with all of these sports games going on at once – I guess there was a big basketball game that involved a Virginia college team so everyone around us would whoop and cheer every time they scored a point. 

I certainly missed not having my family around and friends, but I’m definitely settling in here in Virginia and am thankful for the chance to make new friends … 

This past year has been incredibly busy and there’s been so many things that I’ve done and that have happened in my 21st year of life. Even though this year has had its share of low moments, I’m thankful for all of God’s many mercies and blessings. There’s so many things that I take for granted that are things that many people don’t have – a great family, friends, a good church, an opportunity to study law, a working vehicle, the list goes on. I can’t complain! 

I’m very blessed to have lived for 21 years and I hope to be a wise steward of the remaining time that I have here. 

I guess it’s been awhile since my last post – I’ve been away from Lynchburg over the past two weekends. This upcoming Wednesday, we’ll be receiving our “file” for the negotiations tournament. Negotiations is essentially where there are two teams (comprised of two students) and each team represents a fictional company. Over a period of 45 minutes, each team negotiates with the other in attempt to get a good deal for their company without going below the minimum dollar amount. 

The nice thing is that outside research is prohibited, so we’re dealing with a closed universe. All you have to work off of is the facts that they’ll be providing us on Wednesday. We had a coaching session last week and got to see a small version of what we’ll be doing once the tournament rolls around in about two weeks. It’s a required activity during your 2L year – this tournament was voluntary, but I figured that I might as well get my feet wet in an ungraded exercise that is only against fellow 1L students and upperclassmen. 

We’re also progressing with our summary judgment brief for our moot court tournament coming up next month. That’s where we’ll be defending either the plaintiff (wife whose husband was killed by a drunk driver) or the defendant (tavern who provided alcoholic beverages to the drunk driver) in front of a panel of judges. Not only will the opposing team be trying to poke holes in your argument but the judges are free to interrupt at any time and ask questions or attempt to find holes in your reasoning. It’s also a team competition, but because you’re each arguing separate issues (that the tavern had actual knowledge that the drunk driver was intoxicated when they served him alcoholic beverages and whether there is a causal connection between the serving of alcohol and the death of the plaintiff’s husband), you don’t exactly do a whole lot of cooperation in-round. In fact, one they move onto quarterfinals, semifinals, and the final round, I think only one person from each round (so out of four individuals) advances. I’m not sure how it all works quite yet. 

Well, the sunshine is absolutely amazing right now. I might try and go for a run. My Mom got me some new insoles for my shoes – you actually can put them in the oven, heat them up, and then mold them to fit the contours of your foot. 

Have a great week, everyone!

Now the Real Work Begins …


Classes just ended Friday and Thanksgiving break officially began that afternoon … for the undergrad students at least. Technically, we have about a week and a half off, but considering that it’s our first semester and our first final exams, the majority of us are skipping the typical Thanksgiving festivities and are hunkering down to polish up our outlines and attempt to file everything we’ve learned into our brains …

Speaking of which, aren’t brains amazing? There’s not really a “cap” to how much information you can store in it. It’s not limited by a certain amount of terabytes … we have the responsibility to ensure that what we put inside that unlimited data bank is … “true … noble … just … pure … lovely … of good report … [virtuous], and praiseworthy. (Phil. 4:8, NKJV). 

Regarding Thanksgiving, I’m not exactly sure what my plans are. I’ve already received a few invites from a family at church, an upperclassman, and my roommate for dinner, but depending on how my studying is going, I may just go out to eat at a restaurant with a friend, perhaps.

It definitely hurts to not be back home with my family, taking the ferry over on a chilly morning, talking, laughing, strategizing for Black Friday (but never doing anything), playing music, eating all of the Japanese food along with the traditional American food, seeing relatives … or, as has been the case for the past two years, getting together with friends from Texas, getting in a game of volleyball, playing music … I’ve thought about all of the things I’ll be missing out on a few times this past week, and if you know me, you know how hard it is for me when I have to break a tradition. It sure is tough! 

But … this is where God has me at this season of life. He made it possible for me to get here, do “ok” in a full semester of classes, and already knows how I’ll do on my final exams. Does it mean that it’s all happy and cheerful over here in Lynchburg? No, not necessarily. Like I said, sometimes I feel miserable and want to quit because I can’t stand missing out on everything. But, there is contentment in knowing that I know that this is exactly where God wants me … how can I be so depressed when He’s blessed me and given me so much? I have: an awesome family, friends (and new friends), a good church, good health, a battered (but working) car, a great living arrangement, fantastic professors and classmates …

I think those two things, (1) knowing that God is sovereign and that I’m here at the law school for a reason, and (2) He’s blessed me with so much definitely make the sadness definitely more manageable.

This verse sums up everything that was said above very succinctly – couldn’t have said it better: 

 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “Give thanks in all circumstances (yep, even when you miss out on Thanksgiving festivities – why?) for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (exactly – ties in the sovereignty aspect.)

Well, I’m about ready to head over to church. The skies here are grey, it’s 48 degrees over here, but it looks like they’re snow clouds. 

Have a terrific Thanksgiving day wherever and whoever you may be celebrating it with, folks!

Last Week of Classes – Here We Go!


Tomorrow begins my last week of classes! Once over, I have roughly one-and-a-half weeks of Thanksgiving break to study for my five final exams stretched out over a nine-day period. I’m definitely going to need all of that time as there’s always more you can do. Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve revised, revised, and revised my outlines (essentially the course condensed into the “bare essentials”). Each of the outlines are roughly 20-25 pages right now but need to be further condensed into probably about 10 pages by exam week. 

As you might expect, it’s quite impossible to expect anyone to be able to memorize over 100 pages of content. For me, memorization will pose the biggest problem. All of the revising and reviewing helps to memorize without even thinking, but I definitely need to start ramping up as far as memorization goes. 

Temperatures have dropped dramatically this past week – I’ve had to scrape frost off my car nearly every day this week. The first time it frosted, I couldn’t find my ice scraper so I was using my fingernails and a rag … it didn’t work too well. Thankfully, Mr. Lovell (our “land-dad”) came out and gave me one of theirs. Since we’re inside all day, I don’t mind the cold temperatures. 

So, I have definitely become a big advocate of the “early to bed, early to rise” schedule. Getting three, solid hours of studying before my first class has allowed me to play to my strengths (I’m a morning person) and generally, get more accomplished in the day. Sure, I go to bed at 9:30 usually, but having clear roads in both the morning and evening and getting the best parking spot are always positives. 

I know I’m jumping around a lot in this post, but I’m quite happy that my sister Amy is the proud owner of a Macbook Air! We FaceTimed for a bit yesterday, which was a first for the Tanaka family.

You know, (yep, jumping around yet again), it’s so critical that you be intentional about spending time with family. You’re always going to have your family – you can’t ever run away from them! Chances are, they’ve done much for you that you can’t help but reciprocate the favor.

Yesterday was a full study day. I arrived at Starbucks at 6:40 am, stayed there until a little past noon and spent the rest of the day at the school. Jon (a fellow classmate) and I worked on diagramming some of the concepts from contracts and managed to make it down to the final Liberty football tailgate party. I guess we were one of the first ones to arrive because we each got a free bubblehead of their mascot. You can’t beat free burgers, chips, and soda! We managed to get some good work done and then went out to dinner with Tate to Ruby Tuesday. I’ve never been there. It was kinda pricey, so Jon and I split a pasta dish and I got an unlimited salad bar for $3. I got my money’s worth, that’s for sure! Our original plan was to go to Buffalo Wild Wings, but Saturday nights there are ridiculously busy. The wait time alone last night was 45 minutes … anyway, it was a full but good day yesterday.

Church today was good – we covered most of the only chapter in Jude, discussing apostasy/”imposters” within the church. Like it or not, there’s people who are there to lead people away from the faith, to introduce unbiblical doctrine, and to stir up dissent. May we be people who strive for unity with others and defend the sufficiency and infallibility of Scripture. I invited Jon to come today, which he did. He seemed to enjoy it …  

To the pictures!

It’s Been Two Weeks …


Well folks, I’m sorry for the sizable gap between posts. A week ago, I was in Asheville, North Carolina, for the annual NCFIC Conference. It was wonderful to see a lot of friends from all over the US – it’s interesting, two years ago, I really had never ventured outside of Washington State and didn’t know anyone outside of the Pacific Northwest. Last week, I reconnected with friends from Texas, Alabama, North Carolina … all over. I have made many friends while at law school here in Virginia, but it was so good to see many familiar faces. 

I ended up leaving at 12:30 p.m. that evening, which was honestly the latest I could have left. I had classes at 8 a.m. the next morning and it was a four-and-a-half hour drive. Well, it ended up taking longer than anticipated to get back. I was going about 70 miles-an-hour on the highway heading back – obviously, there was a total lack of light. It seemed somewhat cloudy at the time. Abruptly, on the left side of the highway, I saw a deer half-standing in my lane, half on the shoulder. His face was turned towards the grassy patch separating the oncoming cars. I don’t know if he even saw me or if he was simply “frozen in the headlights,” as the saying goes. Anyhow, everything happened so quickly. I saw it, realized it was a deer and that it was in my lane, that I was going to hit it if I didn’t do something quick … and then I hit it. I don’t know if I even reacted – it all happened so quickly. I remember hearing a thud and seeing fur slide up against my driver’s side window and then it was gone …

I didn’t think that anything happened, but wanted to pull off and double check that everything was fine with my car. Physically, I was fine – it seemed as though I had light swiped the deer. I pulled off to the shoulder and attempted to step out … when I realized my door was jammed shut. So, I climbed over into the passenger’s seat and walked out in front of the car to survey the “damage.” Well, my left headlight was smashed to pieces. I actually cut myself on my hand several times … my hood was dented and pressed over the headlight, and the “plating” (not sure what the technical term is here) above my front left wheel was dented and was shoved underneath my door, thus preventing it from opening. I attempted to tug at the metal with a rope but it didn’t seem to be working. I was still at least a good hour from home, so I picked up the pieces from the broken headlight and completed the journey, making it back home in one piece, but incredibly tired. 

I ended up only getting about 50 minutes of sleep that night before classes, and, as you might expect, had trouble staying awake through those classes (I fell asleep for brief periods in each class). However, I was very thankful that other than my door being jammed and damage to the hood on my car, I was physically fine. If the deer had been any closer to my car, I would’ve felt the full impact of the deer, my windshield would’ve have been shattered, there would have been greater hood damage (and probably serious “internal” damage as well). However, there was none of that. Other than a broken headlight, dinged hood, and a jammed door, my car was fine and I was spared from death or serious injury. Life truly can be over in a second. I literally had no time to react. I don’t know if I swerved or not. It was a matter of inches, literally. 

Timothy 4:13-14 says: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

No kidding, folks. You don’t know when you’ll die. But, it’s coming, whether you’re ready or not. Live intentionally. Don’t wait to repent  of sin, to confess sin to others, to share the Gospel, to be a good steward of your time and abilities.

It was certainly a good reminder of that fact.

Well, I’m gearing up for our first final exam, which will take place in just over three weeks … it should be good. My parents bought me tickets so I can be home for Christmas, so I’m definitely excited about that!

Alrighty, well, I know this post is short and there aren’t any pictures today, but I have to write a few emails before I call my family later this afternoon, so perhaps there will be more in next week’s post.

It’s a beautiful day here in Lynchburg! The fall colors are still here, but they’re definitely muted and the leaves are steadily continuing to fall off. 

Have a blessed week, everyone!  

Even More Pictures …


I promised my family I’d post these multiple times this past week – here you go!

These are from hiking Sharp Top Mountain, a quick excursion today, and just random pictures from the past week … 


Four Weeks Left


Well, we’re only four weeks away from the end of the semester and finals! 

I feel like I’ve been doing “well,” but there’s so much more that needs to be done … I think a new goal for this week is to get up at 3:50 AM and aim to arrive at the law school at 5 AM. I know I work best when I break up my day into manageable chunks. For instance, instead of studying for 10 hours straight, I would prefer to do two, separate 5-hour chunks. The same applies with how I study. I do enjoy listening to instrumental music while I study, but I can only handle it for about an hour before I can’t focus anymore and the music hurts more than it helps. I feel like I’m definitely a morning person, so I’m going to give this a shot. This past week, I’ve gotten up at 4:50 and arrived at the school at 6 AM. It’s worked out really well, so I’m excited to push it back an additional hour this week. Of course, there’s also ways I can be more efficient in studying and completing my homework quicker than what I am now. 

Every day is so important. In the academic environment, missing a day of class, falling behind in homework, even if it’s only a day, can really wreck the rest of your week. It’s truly important to make every day matter and be diligent to complete the objectives of the day. Law school is a marathon. Just this past week, we discussed in one of our classes how slacking off now and just doing the “bare minimum” could really hurt you down the line when it comes time to take the bar exam. Having that long-term perspective is important when your focus gets stuck on the ground in the daily grind of homework and classes instead of the on the horizon, where it should be. 

Writing this makes me remember one of my Dad’s favorite verses which I believe is quite relevant:  Continue reading