–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.