The Prof Always Gets the Last Laugh

–From R. Kelly Jordan, Florida International University Colleg of Law, Date of event: Fall 2004

First year Con Law at the Florida International University College of Law introduced us to Professor Thomas Baker, a serious and studious man who once served as chief administrative assistant to former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, is author of the West Nutshell book on constitutional analysis, and knows more about the U.S. Constitution than anyone I have ever met or known.

Everyone had tremendous respect for Professor Baker, and most lived in fear of being called on by him. I was no exception. However, I also have a background in theater and enjoy doing impressions of people.

The next case up to bat was U.S. v. Causby, which I had agreed beforehand to present to Professor Baker and the class. The case, which I affectionately termed “The Angry Chicken Case,” involved some military planes flying over a farm and panicking the chickens. It was a “takings” case.

I told Professor Baker that I had prepared some visual aides to help the class understand the case, and asked if I could stand at the podium. He agreed, and once up, I proceeded to present the case as Professor Baker.

For about ten minutes, I held his trademark coffee cup, scratched an invisible beard, and asked skewering questions of students who were “in on it.” Meanwhile, I flashed slides of an angry chicken, the type of military aircraft that made the chickens angry, and a geometric representation showing flight altitudes, etc., mimicking Professor Baker’s use of diagrams on the board to highlight his points.

Professor Baker was sitting in my seat the whole time, watching with quiet bemusement. When I finished, I thanked Professor Baker for the time “in his place,” and proceeded to make my way to my chair with the class roaring and clapping (I’m sure more for the distraction for than my performance).

Professor Baker said, “Not so fast Mr. Jordan. It’s my turn. Now, for my impersonation of you.” With that he leaned back in my chair, stretched his legs, tilted his head back, and pretended to go to sleep.

The class loved it.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
Learn more...

Funny Law School Stories
For all its terror and tedium, law school can be a hilarious place. Everyone has a funny law school story. What’s your story?

Strange Judicial Opinions
Large collection of oddball and off-the-wall judicial opinions and orders.

Product Warning Labels
A variety of warning labels, some good, some silly and some just really odd. If you come encounter a funny or interesting product warning label, please send it along.

Tortman! Andrew J McClurg
Tortland collects interesting tort cases, warning labels, and photos of potential torts. Raise risk awareness. Play "Spot the Tort."

Weird Patents
Think it’s really hard to get a patent? Think again.

Legal Oddities
From the simply curious to the downright bizarre, a collection of amusing law-related artifacts.

Spot the Tort
Have fun and make the world a safer place. Send in pictures of dangerous conditions you stumble upon (figuratively only, we hope) out there in Tortland.

Legal Education
Collecting any and all amusing tidbits related to legal education.

Harmless Error
McClurg's twisted legal humor column ran for more than four years in the American Bar Association Journal.