Statistics in Civil Procedure

Tomorrow is the civil procedure exam, so today I’m going through my notes one last time to make sure I’ve got everything I need in my outline (I can use my outline during the exam).  Flipping back through my notes, I saw that September 2 I was called on to discuss Shaffer v. Heitner in class. 

The case basically did away with the idea that jurisdiction could be acquired over someone in a forum because they happened to own something there.  After the case, the thing that was owned had to be related to what the case was over.  Before Shaffer v. Heitner, if I had a cow in Missouri, or owned anything there, you could sue me in Missouri, no questions asked.  After Shaffer v. Heitner, not so much.  The cow would have to be related to why you were suing me, or I’d have to have some other, more substantial, connection to Missouri.

Going through my notes, what struck me wasn’t so much the substance of the case (although, with the exam tomorrow, maybe it should have), but the date we discussed it: September 2.  At that point, it was the last day of the second week of the semester; there were fourteen weeks left.  I was never called on again.  The professor cycles through the entire class once before calling on anyone again.  There were thirty eight of us in the class.  Meeting four days a week, that would carry us through nine and a half weeks.  But there were holidays and the contracts exam disrupting class.  A quick check find two weeks worth of class that we did not meet.  So the nine and a half weeks are really eleven and a half.

My point?  There’s two.  First, when I was called on at the end of the second week, I knew I would not be called on again for nine and a half weeks.  Second, once we were doing a second round through the class, there was roughly a fifty percent chance I wouldn’t be called on again.  (Thinking about it, that seems too high.  I think the professor only go through about a quarter of us the second time.)  So, way back on September 2, the end of the second week of class, I could predict fairly reliably that I wouldn’t be called on again.  And I wasn’t.

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