Think of the Law as Reality TV, Ace Your Exams

Having trouble memorizing lawsuits, famous cases, names and facts integral to your law school exam? Most cases are as dramatic and thrilling as the latest episode of "Real Housewives" — if you teach your brain to focus on the histrionics, you might find that the details are easier to remember under pressure. Some high stakes, high action examples:

In Turpin v. Sortini, parents of a deaf child sued a doctor for damages for failing to recognize the deafness' hereditary origin. After their second child was also born deaf, they claimed in a wrongful birth action that they would not have conceived her if they had known the risks. The court awarded damages.

Sailors were adrift at sea without adequate provisions. After an extended period of time, two sailors killed another and ate the victim’s body and drank his blood. These sailors were eventually rescued, found guilty of murder, and sentenced to death in Regina v. Dudley and Stephens. On appeal, the sentence was eventually commuted to six months’ imprisonment.

Sitting in judgment of a situation rivaling the best of a Maury Povich paternity show, Justice Scalia opined in Michael H. and Victoria D. v. Gerald D., “The facts of this case are, we must hope, extraordinary.”

A married woman had an affair with a neighbor and became pregnant. Even though her husband was listed as father on the birth certificate, the wife told neighbor that he could be the father. A pre-DNA blood test revealed that neighbor was 98% likely the father. For the next three years, the mother ping-ponged between the husband, neighbor, and a third man who each acted as the child’s father.

The neighbor sued to legally establish his paternity, but halted court proceedings whenever it was his turn. When the wife ultimately reconciled with her husband, the neighbor sued again. The husband argued that since the child was born during the marriage, he was the presumptive father. This case had sufficient constitutional issues that it was heard in the Supreme Court. Alas, the neighbor was out of luck.

While paternity questions go back to time immemorial, maternity questions have arisen with technological advances. In Johnson v. Calvert, a court had to decide if the natural mother of a baby was the woman whose egg was fertilized or the surrogate with no genetic link. Since the egg donor's intent had always been to raise the child, the court ruled in her favor.

Who needs Bravo's manufactured drama when the law provides the real deal?

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