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Essay exam answer for a 100 score

Bar Examiners Give a Fleming's Law Student a Perfect Score on His Essay Exam Answer

Have you ever seen an essay exam answer written during an actual state-administered exam that the CA Bar Examiners scored a perfect 100? We never have either, which is why we’re bringing it to your attention.

The answer was written by Juan Garza, a Fleming’s student, who followed Fleming’s essay instructions, and applied the methods, strategies, approaches, and checklists taught by Professor Fleming. The result speaks for itself. The question, along with his perfectly scored unedited answer, is appended at the end of this article.

Essay exams in CA are graded on a 0-100 point scale. A 65 is considered a low passing score. Most exam answers receive a score between 50 – 65. Occasionally, an answer will get into the 70-75 range. Although rare, the Bar Examiners will sometimes score an answer in the 80-95 range.

In our 40+ years of experience reviewing thousands of exam answers scored by the Bar Examiners, Mr. Garza’s essay exam answer is the first one we have seen that received a perfect 100. The answer demonstrates all of the essential exam skill requirements. It is an example of what Fleming’s drills into its Baby Bar and Bar Exam candidates as they prepare to take these state-administered exams - and what the Bar Examiners are looking for when scoring exam answers.

Mr. Garza credits Fleming’s with his success, as “had it not been for this (Fleming’s) prep program, I would not have passed.” He followed Fleming’s review course approaches and outlines to achieve this unprecedented result. The Fleming’s method can be applied to both the Bar and Baby Bar exam questions because the State Bar utilizes the same graders for both exams.

When you read Mr. Garza’s answer down below, notice that the exam answer demonstrates all of the essential ingredients required to pass any legal essay exam:

Ingredient #1 - Answer the Calls of the Question

Foundational to Mr. Garza’s success is that he properly responded to the two Calls of the Question. The semicolons in the Calls are very telling regarding the organization of his answer because they denote the proper order, which he followed: name of each case, discussion of each crime, each defense, and an overall conclusion.

Ingredient #2 - Organize The Issues On An Outline Before Writing

Mr. Garza outlined his issues on an outline sheet before he committed himself to writing the actual answer. In doing so, he properly sequenced his issues and strategized what he wanted to say before entering the actual answer writing phase.

The issue spotting and organization are relevant because the sequencing is responsive to what the Call is asking. The organization also demonstrates the Fleming’s foolproof law school exam issue spotting approach and checklist for Homicide. By using that issue spotting method, Mr. Garza hit all the issues and organized them as required.

If Mr. Garza did not follow the Calls of the Question as he did, he would have lost points for failing to write in the required order.

Ingredient #3 - Thorough Issue Spotting

Mr. Garza spotted all the issues, organized them properly, and thoroughly analyzed each. He added to his success by head-noting the issues in bold as well as underlining them, which he learned to do in Bar prep. A perfect example is the way he bolded Pinkerton’s Rule under Conspiracy, as it is the only way to hold Dara responsible for the crimes of Don. His bolding and underlining ensured that the Bar Examiner would not miss anything significant and that he would receive full credit for each issue.

While Mr. Garza gives credit to the Fleming’s review course for his success in passing the Baby Bar - and we’re honored to be considered a part of his achievement - it was Mr. Garza’s own commitment to hard work and his dedication to the law school process that brought him a perfect score on one of his essay exam answers. Fleming’s provided the vehicle, but Mr. Garza drove it to his own success.

Ingredient #4 - Thorough Legal and Factual Analysis

As part of his essay exam prep, Mr. Garza sent Fleming’s his practice essay answers less than a week before the exam. They were reviewed and orally critiqued by Fleming’s attorney graders. Despite not receiving one passing grade on his practice essay exams, he took the feedback from the graders and successfully applied it when taking the exam to achieve that perfect 100 - as well as 75 on another essay - which pushed him “over the top” and he “passed comfortably.”

Because Mr. Garza practiced his exam skills and received professional feedback from Fleming’s readers before he sat for his exam, he knew precisely what to do when it really mattered. He demonstrated thorough analysis of each issue, weighing what was major and what was minor, and devoting appropriate time to each. For Dara, he developed Conspiracy because it was the only way she could be held accountable for Don’s crimes.

He also wisely allocated more time on Felony Murder, as the defendants were attempting an inherently dangerous felony when Ned shot and killed Don. The analysis for Ned hinged on intent as he had become obsessed with the recent break-ins. Therefore, Mr. Garza spent more time discussing 1st and 2nd Degree Murder, just as he should have. They were major issues.

Mr. Garza also did an amazing job using the facts from the essay, which is emphasized in Fleming’s Bar review course. He set the stage under Conspiracy, using the facts about stealing electronics. He then discussed the Attempted Burglary, which leads right into discussing Murder. As part of 1st Degree Murder for Ned, he provided a thorough analysis of Ned’s intent, using all the relevant facts from the exam.

What likely secured his perfect score was how he infused the law he learned from Fleming’s Criminal Law outline into his analysis. He not only provided the required analysis for each element of each issue, applying the facts in support, but he also sprinkled so many little treasures throughout his answer. Under Accessory, he provided a nice discussion of principal in both the first and second degree. In his analysis of Attempted Burglary, he included that Dara did not attempt to withdraw. He included the inherently dangerous nature of Burglary as part of proximate cause. He provided an excellent discussion of co-felons under Felony Murder. He correctly applied the rule for Defense of Property, i.e., that a person cannot use deadly force to protect property unless he is threatened with deadly force.

It is fascinating to know that Mr. Garza struggled when he wrote his practice exams as part of Fleming’s exam review course. However, he persevered, and after receiving feedback from the Fleming’s readers, he knew what to correct, and how to do it. His perfect 100 is the natural result of his well-reasoned issue spotting and analysis.

His reasoning for premeditation and deliberation under 1st Degree Murder for Ned is well supported. He has a good discussion of depraved heart and why there was no cooling period for 2nd Degree Murder. Though the defenses would fail, he provided strong arguments for raising each defense.

Ingredient #5 - Reasoned Conclusions Consistent With Analysis

Mr. Garza finished with decisive conclusions for each issue. This signified to the grader that he was confident that his analysis supported his conclusions.

Ingredient #6 - Perfect Does Not Require Perfection

The perfect score is well supported by all aspects of the answer. Although there were spelling and grammatical errors in the exam, the grade was not reduced because of it. The Bar Examiner understands the time pressure and the demands of the Bar and Baby Bar exams. There are some misspelled words and punctuation issues, but they did not take away from the overall achievement of such perfect content in the answer.

Now, take a look at the exam and the answer so you can see what can be done with hard work and dedication to the law school process. With Fleming’s at your side, you, too, can find perfection when answering essay exams in law school and on the Baby Bar and Bar Exam.

 

QUESTION 4

Ned learned from news reports that several homes in his neighborhood had recently been broken into at night. The reports said that the break-ins had occurred when the homeowners were not present, and that no one had been injured; however, thousands of dollars’ worth of electronics had been taken. The break-ins were being perpetrated by Dara and Don. Dara would wait in the getaway car while Don broke in and stole electronics. Neither was armed during the break-ins.

Ned became obsessed with preventing his home from being broken into. He installed exterior cameras with night vision that would set off alarms inside his home if anyone approached. He also placed loaded guns that he lawfully possessed in every room. In fact, Ned began looking forward to the prospect of shooting an intruder.
One night Dara and Don chose to break into Ned’s home. Dara parked outside and Don crept toward the house. Inside, Ned’s alarm activated. On the video feeds, Ned saw that Don was right outside his dining room window. Ned entered the dining room, picked up a shotgun, and shot Don through the window, killing him. Don had not yet touched Ned’s house when Ned shot him.

  1. With what crimes, if any, can Dara reasonably be charged for the events that took place at Ned’s home; what defenses, if any, can she reasonably raise; and what is the likely result? Discuss.

  2. With what crimes, if any, can Ned reasonably be charged; what defenses, if any, can he reasonably raise; and what is the likely result? Discuss.


4)

State v. Dara

Conspiracy

Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act. Here, Dara and Don are perpetrating break ins and stealing electronics. There was an implied agreement between the two because Dara would wait in the getaway car and Don would break in and steal the electronics. There was therefore and agreement. The state will argue that both Darla and Don had the specific intent to commit burglary therefore when they entered into the agreement, therefore, Dara will be charged with conpspiracy to commit a burlgary of Ned's residence.

Pinkerton's Rule: Members of a conspiracy will be held criminally liable for all foreseeable crimes committed in furtherance of the conspriracy. Dara would be charged with any crimes Don committed or attempted to commit at Ned's home

Accessory

Don was the principal in the first degree, the one actually committing the crime. Dara, would be the Prinicpal in the second degree, as the getaway driver. Here, the facts indicate that Dara would wait for Don to complete the burglary and larceny of the electronics then she would be the getaway driver. Dara would be liable for all crimes Ned committed under an accomplice theory of liability.

Attempted Burglary

Attempt is substantial step toward the perpetration of an intended crime. Here, Darla and Don were going to break into Ned's house. She had the specific intent that Dan was going to commit the burglary and she was going to be the getaway driver.

Intent: A desire or knowledge to a substantial degree of certainty that a particular act will have a particular result.

Darla also committed a substantial step of driving to Ned's house. This was not mere preparation, Darla drove to Ned's house and was waiting for Don to go it, so it was a substantial step in the perpetration of the crime. Dara did not attempt to withdraw from the crime, and therefore, Darla will be charged with attempt. Therefore, Dara will be charged and convicted with attempted burglary.

Homicide

Homicide is the unlawful killing of a human being by another human being.

Causation

Actual Cause: But for Dara agreeing to drive Don to Ned's house to commit a burglary, Don would not have died.

Proximate Cause: It is foreseeable that taking Don to Ned's house to commit a burglary, an inherently dangerous felony, Don could be killed.

Murder

Murder is the unlawful killing of another being with malice aforethought.

Malice

The malice element can be fulfilled in one of four ways

Intentional killing with Pre-Mediation and Deliberation

Intent to inflict great bodily injury, this is where one only intents to inflict great bodily injury on the victim, but the victim dies.

Felony Murder: Where a death occurs during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony.

Depraved Hear Murder: Where one acts with wanton indifference to human life.

1st Degree Murder

First degree murder can be reached with an intentional killing with premeditation and deliberation and the felony murder rule. The facts do not support that Dara intended for Don to be killed, so she won't be charged under an intent to kill theory.

Felony Murder : When someone dies during he commission or attempted commission of an inherently dangerous felony, co-felons could be charged with Felony Murder. The courts are split as to when co-felon is killed. Most courts hold that a co-felon will not be responsible for the death of a co-felon because they are not in the class of people the law was intended to protect. Here, Dara is co-felon, was principal in the 2nd degree to the attempted burglary of Ned's house. The burglary had not taken place yet and Don was killed by Ned. It is not likely Dara will be responsible for the death of Don under the felony murder rule.

Darla will not be liable for the death of Don

State v. Ned

Homicide

Homicide is the unlawful killing of a human being by another human being.

Causation

Actual Cause: But for Ned shooting at Don with a shotgun, Don would not have died.

Proximate Cause: It is foreseeable that by Ned shooting Don with a shotgun, he would die.

Murder

Murder is the unlawful killing of another being with malice aforethought.

Malice

The malice element can be fulfilled in one of four ways

Intentional killing with Pre-Mediation and Deliberation

Intent to inflict great bodily injury, this is where one only intents to inflict great bodily injury on the victim, but the victim dies.

Felony Murder: Where a death occurs during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony.

Depraved Hear Murder: Where one acts with wanton indifference to human life.

1st Degree Murder

First degree murder can be reached with an intentional killing with premeditation and deliberation. Here, the facts indicate that Ned had become obsessed with recent break ins. He installed a security system with night vision outside that would alert him inside of the home if anyone approached. He then placed loaded guns in every room of his house. Ned also began looking forward to the prospect of shooting an intruder. Given the totality of the circumstanced the State could argue that Ned intended to Kill whoever came to his house. Ned's alarm went off and and through the video feed he saw Don was right outside his dining room window. Ned also watched the news cast which showed no one had been injured as a result of the break ins. Ned then intentionally and volitionally fired a shotgun towards Don, killing him. The state will argue Ned intended to kill Don. The State will argue that installing a camera system and places loaded firearms in all rooms showed his premeditation and deliberation. Don will be be charged with first degree murder under an intent to kill theory.

2nd Degree Murder

2nd Degree murder is all other murder that is not 1st degree murder. Here, the state will argue that even id Ned did not intend to kill Don, but only wanted to seriously injure Don, he would still be liable for 2nd murder under intent to inflict great bodily injury murder.

If that were to fail, the State would offer evidence that shooting at someone who walks up to your house, prior to them even touching the home, would qualify as a depraved heart act. An act of wanton disregard and indifference towards human life. At that time Don had not touched the house and Ned had no reason to shoot at Don. It was a depraved heart act because Ned did not know why the person was there at the time he shot.

Voluntary Manslaughter: An intetional killing, but with mitigation. Ned will have to show that a reasonable person would have been provoked, that he himself was provoked by Don walking up to his house, that he did not have time to cool off, and that he in fact did not cool down. These are going to be unreasonable arguments for Ned to make because Don did not affirmatively do anything to provoke Ned. Don simply wallked up to house without touching it.

Involuntary Manslaughter

If the state fails to convict Ned under 1st degree Murder or 2nd degree murder, then the state could show that Ned's firing his firearm at someone through a window without justification would at least be negligent. The state could properly convict Ned under a negligence theory because he fired a gun throw a window without . being privileged to do so.

Defenses

Defense of Property

Ned is going to argue that he was justified in shooting at Don to protect his home. The problem with that defense is that one can not use deadly force to protect your property and belongings unless you yourself are threatened with the deadly force. Here, the facts show Don was barely making it to the home and had not even touched the house, much less put Ned in reasonable fear that Don was going to use deadly force.

Self Defense

Ned is going to argue he acted in self defense, however, the facts do not show that Ned was defending himself from anything. Don made no movements, or displayed any weapons that would reasonably make Ned fear for his life or great bodily injury.

Crime Prevention

Ned will argue he was justified in shooting Don because he was preventing a crime. The issue is Ned did not have a knowledge that Don was actually going to commit a crime, and even if he did, you cannot use deadly force to prevent a crime unless you or someone else is in reasonable fear of an immenent great bodily injury or death.

Ned will be charged and convicted of 1st degree murder.

 

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