Wednesday, September 17, 2008

AS ADAM SAYS, 'THE BAR-BRI NATION MOURNS': If you're going to be stuck in a room all summer listening to lowest-common-denominator lectures to prepare for a mostly multiple-choice licensure test that has not very much to do with your abilities in the trade for which you're being licensed, the difference between "excruciating" and "tolerable" is the quality of the lecturer.

Charles Whitebread, the George Pflieger Professor of Law at USC's Gould School of Law was the best that Bar-Bri had to offer, which really is praise far too faint. Whitebread died yesterday. Many of us sat through those lectures (either in person or on tape), and while Chemerinski's "consti-TOOOOO-tion" and Epstein's "Sharon Stone is not in my shower" may have been more memorable, Whitebread's clear and funny criminal law lecture, delivered with the crisp rasp of a drill sergeant gone soft and capped with some appreciated practical test-taking advice, was the most helpful and least painful.

It would be wrong to reduce a distinguished career to "delivered Bar-Bri lectures," so I'll also mention that while Whitebread taught at Virginia and USC, he also taught FBI agents for 20 years on the faculty at Quantico, where he published the greatest piece ever to be adapted for MCLE drug credit -- a history of the regulation of nonmedical uses of drugs (fun fact: most early marijuana regulation, other than in Utah, was motivated not by drug concerns but rather by prejudice against Mexican immigrants).

Whitebread, per ATL, "is survived by his life partner, John Golden, and his devoted friend Michael Kelly." I don't know exactly how to read that sentence, but I guess I hope it means he was twice as lucky as most of us.

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