Don't let the possession of your books become a substitute for the reading of them.

The more we know, the more willing we are to learn. The less we know,
the more positive we are that we know everything. *

I am still learning.

I don't read books, but I have friends who do.
George W. Bush **

If a teacher is indeed wise, he does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom,
but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.
"The Prophet"
Kahlil Gibran

Lawbooks can be invaluable to you. When you come home very tired,
pick one up, and before you know it, you'll be asleep.

No lawyer under thirty-five opens law books anymore. Everything is online.


Some friendly advice: Tab, underline, highlight, and write in the margins of your casebooks, hornbooks, codes, outlines, and other legal texts. With this personal touch, the publications become much more useful to you and more valuable to the student who may buy them from you. Also, when buying used law books, I would buy the ones that have legible notes written in the margins, rather than the clean ones that may never have been read by their previous owner. The person who owned the books with extensive notes is probably a much better student than the person who never made a mark in his/her casebook. Before you buy a book with notes in the margin, look at the notes to see if they appear clear and well-organized. Buy the used book for its aura.


In our three-semester-hour course, we will try to cover approximately thirty (30) pages of the casebook per session. Sometimes we will cover less, sometimes a bit more, but always read at least 30 pages ahead of where we stopped in the previous session.


Casebooks are still the required medium in most 1L law school courses. The casebook I have selected for my class, Weaver, Burkoff and Hancock, Criminal Law: A Contemporary Approach, Interactive Casebook, West (2nd Edition 2014), 777 pages + MPC, ISBN: 9780314289667, is available through various Internet bookstores and in the school bookstore. (See Internet bookseller sources at very bottom of this page.) It lists for around $200 -  exorbitant for its content. Don't pay that amount. Rent it for the semester for roughly half the list price or buy a used copy, e.g., (1). The on-site B&N Bookstore will not sell used copies. They tell me that they can't - strange since you can buy a used copy from B&N online (1). You will find less expensive used copies (1) online with a little effort.  The MBH casebook is labeled as an Interactive version. You will not need the interactive features in my class. Eventually there may be truly interactive law books.

You will find that casebooks are all grossly over-priced by publishers that have had students at their mercy for many decades. Why? Because traditional 1L curriculum mandates that your professors use casebooks. Casebook authors typically churn out slightly revised editions every three or four years. A hard copy of the 2014 edition won't be marketable as a used book if the authors churn out a 3rd edition in 2018. So there probably won't be much of a resale market should you want to sell the casebook at the conclusion of the course. All the more reason to buy a used copy or rent .  [Note also that you will find that the course syllabus contains free Google Scholar hyperlinks to the full text of most of the principal cases that we will discuss.]

Like all 1L criminal law casebooks, this one is a potpourri of interesting criminal law cases from a variety of jurisdictions covering a span of many years. The redeeming value of this casebook is that it is considerably shorter than most of its contemporaries that are simply too long for a three-hour course. [You may notice that many law schools relegate the fulsome subject of criminal law to three-hour status, the Japanese equivalent of "gomi" - trash or junk. Whereas, contracts, torts, property and even con/First Amendment law are often offered as two semester six-hour courses.] 

The WBH casebook contains 106 major (principal) cases. It also contains a condensed "Executive Summary" at the end of each chapter that summarizes criminal law doctrine; also, a plethora of unanswered "Hypos" are sprinkled throughout the chapters. The casebook provides some guidance in understanding the common law of crimes and the MPC, but does not in itself provide you with a comprehensive, integrated, and well-ordered doctrinal body of cohesive law. It's not an everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know about the law or crimes casebook. Instead, it focuses on the purposes of criminal law, the requirement of a voluntary act, mens rea, causation, complicity, attempt, conspiracy, homicide, assault & battery, rape & sexual assault, theft crimes, justification defenses, excuses, and sentencing. The cases provide you with factual stories (narratives) coupled with application of law to the elements of the crime and to legal issues raised by the defense. Reading cases helps you understand how real life crime stories present issues for resolution by resort to laws. But to get a comprehensive doctrinal toehold, you'll need to study a good hornbook. For that purpose, we will use the 2015 7th edition of Dressler's Understanding Criminal Law, (UCL) hornbook (see below). Along with common law, we will also study two codes (see History) - the Model Penal Code (contained in the appendix of the casebook) and the Texas Penal Code (available online).


A copy of the Model Penal Code (MPC) can be found on pp. 779-855 of the casebook. Directions for accessing the MPC online through the school's library page are also at the bottom on this page. The MPC reflects the collective best-mind effort of a group of law professors, judges, practicing lawyers, psychiatrists, and correctional administrators to write a model. A model code, unlike a uniform code, can be adopted in part; a uniform code is designed to be adopted en toto in order to create uniformity among the adopters. The MPC was assembled by the American Law Institute (ALI) in the middle of the last century. In 1962, the ALI published the MPC in an approved official draft. It has been described as the most ambitious, and most influential, attempt to work out the principles of American criminal law in a systematic way. The MPC has been the starting point for many states, about 40, that have revised their penal codes over the past several decades. In 1973, Texas completely revised and drastically improved its Penal Code, relying greatly on the MPC. The result was the Texas Penal Code of 1974.  Extensive revisions to the TPC  were also made in 1993. Despite persistent patchwork tinkering by the politicians (primarily Texas legislators with little or no knowledge of criminal law) in Austin, our capital city, Texas still has one of the best penal codes in the United States. This is due primarily to the influence of the MPC and the intelligence of the group of lawyers and judges (not legislators) who drafted a Proposed Texas Penal Code in 1973. [Note: Thus far, California and the federal law have resisted the MPC influence.] During the crimes and defenses course, we'll be referencing certain key portions of the MPC, e.g., actus reus, mens rea, intoxication, mistake, causation, inchoate offenses, liability for conduct (complicity) of another, necessity, self-defense, force in law enforcement, consent to force, duress, entrapment, insanity, diminished capacity, and provocation. All of these MPC concepts are covered by the UCL hornbook.[Here's a paper on whether it's time for a Model Penal Code redux (1). It may give you some useful insight.]


We will use the online version of the Texas Penal Code (TPC). During the course, we'll look at key portions of the Texas Penal Code on many occasions. The TPC is important to us because it contains the substantive law of crimes and defenses for our State and, also, because if we didn't, we would leave you mistakenly believing that the answers to most basic definitional issues in criminal law are to be found in the myriad of appellate cases and the common law of crimes.  If you go down to the local criminal courthouse and start citing the common law, you'll be laughed out of court. The truth is that the state Penal Code is the fountainhead of the Texas law of crimes and defenses. The bird's eye picture of crimes in any state always begins with that state's Penal Code. The appellate court opinions in casebooks typically attempt to make sense of the code when disputes, e.g., the scope of the merger limitation on the FM rule, as to its meaning and application occur. In most criminal cases, there won't be any significant question concerning the validity and application of the substantive law defining crimes and defenses, the subject of our study.This code, like most of the others in Texas, changes every two years when the Texas Legislature meets. The 85th Legislature passed the 2017-2019 Texas Penal Code, effective September of 2017. (TPC) We will use the online  84th session version of the TPC posted by our state government. Some Texas law enforcement organizations and defense lawyers post penal statutes on their web sites. When consulting these unofficial web sites, be cautious that the statutes they present aren't out of date. For more about the TPC see the History page.  [Note: The Texas Penal Code has been adjudged by several premier criminal law scholars as one of the five best in the country. See Robinson et al., The Five Worst (and Five Best) American Criminal Codes, 95 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1 (2000)]


There are a number of hornbooks and outlines that are helpful in understanding the law of crimes and defenses. [By way of explanation, a hornbook was used by children several hundred years ago to learn their alphabet. The hornbook of that era was a paddle-shaped board to which was attached one sheet of paper containing the alphabet and the Lord's Prayer. The board was called a hornbook because a thin sheet of transparent cow's horn covered the paper to protect it.] During the course of a semester, you will have time to read only one of them.The hornbook you need to read for this class is Dressler's softback Understanding Criminal Law (UCL) 7th Edition. For those who plan to make criminal law a career, here's a list of several good criminal law hornbooks and other references:

**Dressler, Understanding Criminal Law (UCL), Publisher: LexisNexis, Distributor: Carolina Academic Press (7th edition, 2015) ISBN: 9781632838643, softbound, approximately $49 (Mini-Hornbook, Handbook.) (Required and highly recommended for those who want to understand criminal law doctrine, particularly common law, that may appear on the bar examination - again, you can save money by buying a used copy online.) While I may not agree with everything UCL says, this is the written hornbook that I use as a primary reference on the common law and Model Penal Code in presenting the course and testing on the law of crimes and defenses. This workmanlike effort of Ohio State's Professor Joshua Dressler offers a good comparison of the common law of crimes and defenses with the Model Penal Code. It contains many useful hypothetical examples and explanations. I suggest UCL as the essential foundation for your doctrinal reading and outlining for this course. See the reading assignments and the syllabus for directions as to the portions of UCL that correspond to the class' case assignments. I rely heavily on this book in constructing the final exam objective questions that relate to the common law of crimes and the MPC. If you want condensed black letter law, Dressler's Lexis UCL book has also morphed into a couple of other West publications Dressler's Black Letter Outline on Criminal Law, 3rd edition, West Publishing (2015), softcover, approximately $40, and Dressler's Sum and Substance Audio on Criminal Law, West Publishing (6th edition Copyright: 2015) approximately $82. Students who want to avoid reading the hornbook sometimes buy the outline as a shortcut. In my opinion, relying on the Dressler outline as a shortcut is a mistake if your teacher, like moi, is using the hornbook as the ultimate course resource re the Model Penal Code and common law of crimes and defenses. Exam questions and their answers will come from the UCL book, not the outline. What about the CD? Some students (and maybe a few teachers) really warm up to the idea of being able to listen to a criminal law outline or hornbook. It's an easy way out. The audio is relatively painless, you can listen in the car or while jogging, but in my opinion, the oral version doesn't stick to the gray matter in the cortex of your brain like reading the UCL book. It's also hard to underline, highlight, refer to, and/or makes notes on a commercial CD. One doesn't have to be Sherlock Holmes to conclude that if you happen to have an open book exam, your teacher and the exam proctor may frown on you bringing ear plugs and a CD player into the exam room to source your CD. [Did you ever hear the old bromide: "Why Johnny Can't Read?, now available on CD."? - If you don't get that one, you probably should go with the CD. Otherwise, read the softbound UCL.]

LaFave, Hornbook on Criminal Law, West  Hornbook Series (5th Edition, 2010), 1,103 pages, ISBN 978-0-314-91268-8, approximately $80. This is the mother of all criminal law hornbooks. It is an encyclopedic compilation by the renown scholar Professor Emeritus Wayne LaFave of the University of Illinois. Some (including moi) consider LaFave the most brilliant living criminal law scholar on the planet. Much of what you see in the modern black letter and how-to-do-it books has its genesis in the earlier LaFave and Scott's Criminal Law hornbook. If you have time to read and are going to be a criminal lawyer, reading this hornbook can be of enormous help in getting a grip on the subject. If you plan to practice criminal law, it is must reading. Because of its depth and breadth, it's over the heads, and probably shoulders, of the average 1L student. A reserved hard copy of this book is probably available from the reference desk of your school's law library. As far as I know, it's not available for free on the web.

LaFave, Principles of Criminal Law: The Concise Hornbook Series, West (3rd edition 2017), +-735 pages, ISBN 9781683285335, approximately $50. (Mini-Hornbook, Softcover Handbook) Professor LaFave, the sage of criminal law, has written this paperback, scaled-down version of his famous hornbook. It is more scholarly and exhaustive on the common law than Dressler, but is not as easily readable and does not contain the myriad of hypotheticals and the separate sections on the Model Penal Code that makes the Dressler book so useful to the 1L student who is beginning the study of criminal law; another big drawback is the omission of all footnotes and case citations (All you get is the name and date.); for depth, the reader is referred to Westlaw, available for free to most law students, but a very costly service for practitioners. This volume is also avaiable in ebook form.

Low's Black Letter Outline on Criminal Law 3d West (2007) ISBN 0314180575, Softbound, approximately $31. Professor Peter Low put this one together. It's fine for a bird's-eye view of common law crimes and defenses, but don't buy it for our course.

Singer and LaFond, Criminal Law: Examples and Explanations, Wolters Kluwer (6th Edition - 2013) ISBN 978-1-4548-1553-2, Softbound, approximately $40. This one is definitely worth reading if you are really trying to bone up on crimes and defenses for thr bar, but you probably won't have time to read it during the semester.

Loewy, Criminal Law in a Nutshell, West (5th Edition - 2009), +-335 pages, softcover ISBN 9780-314-19496-1. This is a handy little summary that gives you a superficial taste of what the law of crimes and defenses is about. I don't agree with everything it says, but it provides you with a quick study. You can finish this one during a weekend trip to the beach or hill country. Buy it only if you are on an unlimited book budget.

Marcus, Questions and Answers: Criminal Law, LexisNexis, (2nd Edition -2007)  ISBN: 9781422411650 Paperback, approximately $14. This study guide contains 150 multiple-choice and short answer questions to test your knowledge of criminal law. It's worth a scan in the bookstore. The questions are far too simplistic, but perhaps some might find it a helpful exercise in studying for a criminal law exam that contains multiple-choice questions. Practice doesn't make perfect, but it usually makes you better. As you recall, the crimes and defenses portion of the bar exam (multistate) is in the form of multiple-choice questions.  However, I'd pass on this one as a study guide for my course, even though the exam customarily does contain m/c questions.

Friedman's Practice Series: Criminal Law, Aspen Publishers (2nd edition - 2011), +-368 pages, softcover, ISBN: 9781454827641, approximately $31.

Burkoff & Weaver, Inside Criminal Law, Aspen Publishers (2nd ed -2008), 238 pages, softcover, ISBN 978-0-7355-6410-7, approximately $39 This too slim tome tracks their casebook, but doesn't stand up in comparison to the much richer contents of Dressler's hornbook. Don't buy it.

Levenson, The Glannon Guide to Criminal Law, Wolters Kluwer, (2nd Edition - 2015), +-520 pages, softcover, ISBN-9781454850137, approximately, $35. To the many students having difficulty in sorting out the correct answer to multiple choice questions, this guide may be a useful alternative or supplement to the free CALI criminal law online multiple choice exercises.

Dubber, Criminal Law: The Model Penal Code, (Turning Point Series) West, (2002), 502 pages, softcover, ISBN-13:9781587781780, approximately $22. This handy "who's liable for what" paperback by Professor Dubber, a chap with encyclopedic knowledge of the MPC, contains a good summary discussion of the MPC (what he calls the "common denominator in contemporary American criminal law") and a complete copy of the text. In light of all the other assigned reading, most law students won't have time to read this one cover-to-cover and and won't need it for this course, but it's certainly well-written and illuminative of the basic meanings of MPC crimes and defenses.

There are more, too numerous to mention, e.g., You can check these major publishers for yourself: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business - Aspen Law & Business; Carolina Academic Press; Foundation Press; LexisNexis Matthew Bender; and West Law School Publishing.

[Note: Students on a limited budget might find it useful to consult your law library for text of hornbooks and other study guides in the library database. You will no doubt need a user ID and password.]

Other books or articles of interest to criminal law scholars You probably won't have time to read any of the following books during the semester, but, if you have an ongoing interest in the teaching and/or practice of criminal law, you will find that each provides good historical insight into the law of crimes and defenses.
  • Fletcher, Rethinking Criminal Law, Aspen (1978).
  • Hall, General Principles of Criminal Law, Michie (1961).
  • Hart, The Morality of the Criminal Law (1964)
  • Hart, Punishment and Responsibility, Oxford Press (1968).
  • Katz, Moore & Morse, Foundations of Criminal Law, Thomson West (1999).
  • Packer, The Limits of the Criminal Sanction, Stanford Univ. Press (1967).
  • Weaver, Burkoff, Hancock, Reed, Seago, Readings in Criminal Law, Lexis Nexis (1998). Several thought provoking articles concerning legal principles, but too esoteric for our basic criminal law  course.
  • Williams, Criminal Law: The General Part, Stevens (2nd edition, 1961).
  • A law review article of enduring philosophical interest: Professor Lon Fuller, The Case of the Speluncean Explorers , 62 Harv. L. Rev. 616 (1949). See also The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: A Fiftieth Anniversary Symposium, 112 Harv. L. Rev. 1834 (1999).

Bonus: You'll find some wonderful free on-line books about law, e.g., Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Common Law, noted above, and many other publications on legal and non-legal subjects at on-line or digital libraries like Project Gutenberg, an Internet site that publishes books in the public domain (1923 and earlier). For example,  you might be interested in downloading works such as Arthur Train's "Courts and Criminals." A savvy friend recommends this 147-page collection of essays written between 1905 -1910 when Train labored as a prosecutor in NY.  You'll also find many links to a world of words at library links and a bunch of free downloadable books for leisure reading.  If you like free e-books, you'll love these sites (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6) (7) (8 - best books list). If your want to immerse yourself in learning, read the Harvard Classics. If there are worse crimes than burning books - one of them is not reading them.

Double Bonus: Start learning to access information about criminal justice from the web. You'll find some stepping stone resources on the LINKS page of this crimes and defenses web site. Take an hour of two to explore them, stopping off for one or two fun karaoke songs. Remember, knowledge is of two types: we know a subject ourselves or we know where we can get information upon it.


It's hard to get along in law school without a good legal dictionary. I like Black's Law Dictionary, now in its Ninth Edition and selling online for around $70. You'll have free online access to it through the Interactive version of the casebook. I also like Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage for help with grammar and spelling, a bargain online at $28.


Capsule summaries of the Emanuel Law Outline Series, including criminal law, are available online using your Lexis password. I am not sure if first year student's passwords will provide access to this service. Give it a try by hitting this hyperlink: Free Emanuel Outline Capsule Summaries. I don't make any recommendation re purchase of this material, but if you can get it for free, why not download it. For a resource containing good articles by professors on the subjects of note-taking, briefing cases, electronic research, outlining, legal writing, time management, etc., take at look at this Jurist page.

Make your own outline. You can learn more from making your own outline than from relying solely on someone else's. Start your outline at the beginning of the semester. You may want to look at outlines created by other criminal law students: (1), (2 - list of outlines for all subjects), (3 - with a grain of salt), (4a and  4b), (5), (6 - list of top web sites with law school outlines), (7), (8 - Findlaw's list of online criminal law outlines and exams), (9), (10), (11), (12 - list of outlines for all subjects; 3 crim law outlines from 1 UD professor and an outline from a 2004 West video lecture), (13 - UMich), (14 - Harvard), (15 - Harvard-2007),  (16 - Boalt Hall), (17 - American), (18 - OhioSt- Dressler student), (18 - old outline of my TX. course), (19 - STCL), (20 - GoldenGate), (21- CA), (21 - USanFr), (22), (23 - ilrg). These links come and go. Be cautious about opening closed files and a bit wary about the quality of the information and advice you get from 2L and 3L colleagues, particularly if they are trying to sell you books (1).  Some know just enough to be dangerous. Every (as opposed to "ever") so often, you'll find an online outline prepared by a professor. (1- Cal Western; 25 pp.) For obvious reasons, you should trust a teacher prepared outline more than one prepared by a student.The LexisNexis Capsule Summary of Criminal Law (1 - 73 pages)  is a reliable resource. This criminal justice course (1) has as outline. Findlaw provides some brief summaries. And there are always the commercial outlines, hawked by folks like Gilbert's Legal Line, West, etc., that make the 1L think s/he is really putting one over on the professor. Of course,  when you stand and try to read from a commercial outline, you paint a big sign on your chest that reads: "I know next to nothing about this case. Please, ask me to set aside my outline and tell you what I know about he case." [Note: I applaud the folks at Lexis for providing you with free outlines. The criminal law outline is a stripped-down version of Dressler's UCL.]

To help organize the topics of your outline, I suggest that you use the table of contents from your assigned resources, typically your casebook. Your outline will be much more useful than your class notes, unless your teacher is simply reading an outline to you in class. You learn a lot about the course by making an outline. The study and practice of law requires a lot of self-study. Your teacher is a guide and a facilitator; s/he cannot learn it for you. If you know someone who has taken the course, borrow his/her outline and use it as a starting point for your own outline. The doctrine that you need to know will make sense and stick to your mind if you expend the effort to make your own map of the material. You should begin to become familiar with your outline from the day you start writing it. There's always a danger or overdoing an outline to the extent that you wind up with an outline as thick as your casebook. To make study manageable, you should pare your study outline down to 25 or 30 pages.  I suggest that you start studying your outline seriously no later than five or six weeks before the exam, even though the outline is obviously not complete. If you get a jump on the exam, the information can become organic to you.


As I indicate on the Exam Taking Tips page, there is a burgeoning body of literature that caters to the apprehensions of the 1L law student who is trying to survive and/or excel in law school. I have listed ten of these self-help publications. Each contains some useful information. I would be reluctant to fork over dinero for any one of them and the cost for the group would be prohibitive. What I suggest is that you find out if any of the bunch is in your law school's library. If so, scan what's available and decide if any merits a more serious read. [If these self-help books aren't in your library, get a few students to ask the reference librarian to order them. That's what your part of outrageous tuition is supposed to buy. If the librarian balks, show him/her this page (1) from Arizona's law library collection of materials designed to aid first-year law students in adapting to law school.] Here's the list that illustrates the sort of books-of-advice that should be available in your school's library:
  • Calleros, Law School Exams: Preparing and Writing to Win, Aspen (2007)
  • Darrow, Mastering the Law School Exam: A Practical Blueprint for Preparing and Taking Law School Exams, Thomson/West (2007)
  • Dernbach, Writing Essay Exams to Succeed (Not Just Survive). Aspen, 2nd ed (2007)
  • Ramy, Succeeding in Law School, Carolina Academic Press (2006); Burnham, Introduction to the Law and Legal System of the United States, West, 4th ed. (2006)
  • Molitero, An Introduction to Law, Law Study and the Lawyer's Role, Carolina Academic Press, 2nd ed (2004)
  • Shapo, Law School Without Fear: Strategies for Success, Foundation Press, 2nd ed. (2002)
  • Hegland, Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law, West, 2nd ed. (2003)
  • Miller, Law School Confidential: The Complete Law School Survival Guide by Students for Students, New York, St. Martin's Press (2000)
  • Fischl & Paul, Getting to Maybe: How to Excel On Law School Exams, Durham, North Carolina Press (1999).

Now for three freebies that you will definitely be able to corral: A helpful old article on note-taking, study strategies, outlining, problem-solving, legal analysis, etc., is found in Wangerin, Learning Strategies for Law Students, 52 Alb. L. Rev. 471 (1989). See also, White, The Study of Law as an Intellectual Activity, 37 J. Legal Educ. 1 (1982); Gordon, How Not to Succeed in Law School, 100 Yale L. J. 1679 (1991).


CALI (The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) is a membership organization; +-180 law schools belong to CALI. It features some 720 computer-assisted web based tutorials in 29 legal topic areas, including all of your first year courses, e.g., criminal law. [Note: I have placed hyperlinks in the right- hand margin of Bushrod's Notes that will take you directly to discrete tutorials that treat the subject of that particular Note.]

To register for access to the tutorials, go to CALI's homepage, and click on the "Not Registered User Yet" link. During the registration process you will also create your own password. In subsequent visits to use lessons, you will only need to enter your email address and your password. To access CALI online initially you will need to obtain an "Institution's Authorization Code" from your law school; it's typically available on your law library's web page or from either a reference librarian or an employee of the patron services department.

I suggest that you try CALI as a way of checking your progress by applying the concepts that you are learning to solve multiple-choice problems. Although I'm not a fan of CALI and don't necessarily agree with all the suggested answers, the criminal law exercises are useful in getting a lasso over this course. Some are good. Completion time for most lessons ranges from 30-60 minutes. [Note: I applaud the CALI folks for putting these useful tutorials together. That said, sometimes interactive technology, e.g., CALI, can be too cute to hold the interest of today's millennial students. Hence, you may quickly find some of the exercises tedious, but keep plowing and give it a fair try before relegating it to the impracticable. The exercises might be more fun if you do them in a study group of 2 or 3. This will promote discussion among the members of the study group. So if you are in a study group, play CALI tutorials together.]


At first blush, canned briefs look like a Godsend. After all, if Cliffnotes worked in college, why not canned briefs in law school? The idea is to expend as little time and effort as possible and still get the job done. Unfortunately, canned briefs don't get job done. If you try to read your canned brief, the professor will tell you to put it aside. Even if you've studied the canned brief, you'll be found out by your professor the first time you stand up to recite on a case. The professor will question you on a nuance of the case that isn't contained in the can but is contained in your casebook. Briefing cases is one of those legal talents you develop by doing. If you graduate from law school without learning how to brief a case, you'll have to learn on the job.


During your law school days, you'll get free access to the legal research web sites run by the giant publishing houses. Westlaw, Lexis, LoisLaw, and VersusLaw can provide you with a lot of useful information. When you graduate and get your ticket to practice, the price goes way up. Enjoy these web sites while they are gratis. There are a number of other research resources that you may find useful: here's a smattering: Cornell Legal Information Institute; State Constitutions and Statutes; Supreme Court Decisions; Yale Law School's Avalon Project; Law Guru; Hieros Gamos; LLRX; Library of Congress; The Law Engine; Virtual Chase;; LexisOne (free); Index for Legal Research. You'll find many more on the Links page. I've written pages on Law Office Management for Solo Criminal Practitioners and Pretrial Criminal Practice that have many suggestions re legal research.


Read: 7 Ways to Cut Costs on Law Books. Casebooks are typically published by five major legal publishers, i.e., Wolters Kluwer Law & Business - Aspen Law & Business; Carolina Academic Press; Foundation Press; LexisNexis Matthew Bender; and West Law School Publishing. They are always way over-priced. Your law school will have a bookstore that will stock assigned course books and some supplementary books. In my experience, the staff at the school-based bookstore has always been helpful and courteous. However, if you want to save money on your law books, you'll need to explore all the options which may include online rentals or purchases.

You will find that there are also Internet bookstore sites that stock a wide selection of casebooks and supplementary texts at discounts (often 10%) and without the added state sales tax. Some of these on-line bookstores ship free for sizeable orders, e.g., totals over $100. If you are interested in renting or buying on-line, you might check out these vendors: (1 - Bookmovers), (2 - Swap), (3 - Wal-Mart),  (4 - Barnes & Nobles), (4 - Amazon), (5- Barrister's - this site looks good to me), (6 - Used Texts), (7- Books for less), (8 - Law  Books), (9 - Abebooks), (10 - Chegg for used and rentals),  (11 - 28 Places to Buy Law Books). E-Bay has also gotten into the business of selling law books substantially below retail. I make no recommendations or guarantees with regard to any on-line bookstores, but, I'm just saying - if you want to save dough. (For saving money elsewhere in the law school experience, check out the FrugalLawStudent.)

To save money buying vastly overpriced casebooks, I suggest that you buy used books when they are available. Look for ones that have neat book briefs written in the margins by the previous owner.

Bene vobis.

* Another way of saying "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool." — William Shakespeare (As You Like It)

**  "Dub-ya's" disdain for reading led to some amusing funnies, e.g., "Did you hear that Bush2's library burned to the ground? Both books were totally destroyed. It was particularly sad because he had only colored half of the second one."

*** STCL students -  To find the MPC online, follow these steps: Sign onto STANLEY; click on the Library Tab; go to the "Electronic Resources" in the middle of the page; click on "Hein Online"; scroll down a short way to the "American Law Institute Library" and click on that link; scroll down to Roman Numeral III (3) "Codifications, Principles of Law, and Other Projects"; click on the box + to expand the list; scroll down to "Model Penal Code"; click and go from there. You will find numerous council drafts and other supporting documents. [Note: You don't need to do this, because all portions of the MPC that will be covered by the course are contained in the appendix of the casebook.]

A room without books is like a body without a soul. Marcus Tullius Cicero

A book is to the mind as a whetstone is to a sword.


Criminal Law
copyright © 2001-2017 ray moses
all rights reserved

Cutting up your casebooks?
A handy idea, but resale to a bookseller will be precluded. A chap who goes to these lengths to save having to lug heavy books to class is probably meticulous enough to make helpful marginal notes. If you have a chance to buy used books from such a person, do it. He's done all the streamlining work for you.

Another reason to cut
up your casebooks.