Inns of Court: May the Force Be with You

light_sabers_webOn May 8, 2014, Judge Craddick’s pupilage group (starring Jeremy Seymour, Matt Guichard, David Marchiano, Maria Crabtree, Amy Foscalina and Heidi Coad-Hermelin) focused on criminal law with “May the Force Be with You.” References to “Star Wars” abounded.

Judge Craddick could not attend, as she was out on leave, but the rest of her group soldiered on admirably in her absence. Amy Foscalina started off the program by introducing the general topic and all the people involved.

Jeremy Seymour led off the presentation with a history of policing in America and the appropriate usage of force by police. He introduced terms from the first year of law school, like “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause.” Remember those? He also discussed the difference between police arrests and citizen arrests. We “normies” need an actual occurrence of a crime to perform a citizen arrest, not just probable cause.

Maria Crabtree next spoke about police training as it related to force. She discussed the continuum of force as it starts with “police presence” and ends with “deadly.”

Then she explained the many different, uniquely shaped continuums of force, including ladders, circles and stair steps. Also mentioned were Möbius strips, the Rainbow Road from “Mario Kart” and dodecahedrons. Each continuum she listed was more continuum-y than the last until we finally reached peak continuum.

The big question she posed was when Darth Vader used his force choke, where on the spectrum was he? In theory, serious pain was being inflicted upon the victim, but Darth Vader wasn’t even touching him. Is it merely police presence or is it deadly?

Next up was the highlight of my five-plus years at the Inns of Court. The pupilage group had invited two Danville police officers to provide a demonstration of their police canine.

Now, as a cat person and the son of a personal injury lawyer, I live in fear of dogs. However, this was not a factory-issued dog. This magnificent beast had a coat of fur so gorgeous, he seemed more akin to a lion (aka a cat!). The Danville police officers had brought the King of the Suburban Jungle to teach us about the use of dog force.

First, they discussed the training of these dogs. They are from Holland and undergo thousands of dollars worth of training, all while wearing dainty wooden shoes. They are trained not only to subdue criminals, but also to search for drugs. For them, it is not a job, but a game.

When they bite a criminal, their tail wags furiously like it would for a game of fetch. When they are searching a car for drugs, they act like they are just finding a hidden treat. The fact that these dogs view such a serious and violent job as a game is one reason I live in fear of them.

Of course, it was all fun and games until somebody got bit. Actually, no, wait, it was even more fun and games when somebody got bit! One of the officers put on a protective suit and the dog’s handler sent him over for a nosh.

The dog went in three separate times for bites, his tail wagging excitedly each time. The handler showed how different commands or movements by the criminal can cause the dog to attack.

Interestingly enough, after the third bite, the dog inadvertently knocked into the projection screen as he was returning to his handler and the screen started to fall. The officer in the protective suit took a step forward to grab it, and in an instant, the dog spun around and leapt back to take another bite.

In the dog’s mind, the criminal had not followed the agreed plan of “giving up” and so dinner was again served. Plus, the projection screen was protected from a criminal attack! Hooray!

Heidi Coad-Hermelin, David Marchiano and Matt Guichard then finished up the presentation. Heidi broke down the usage of a police dog on the spectrum of force and discussed when using a dog may be excessive force.

David Marchiano discussed tasing, including the mechanics of the Taser itself. He showed a video of a man getting tased, which seemed fairly bad.

Finally, Matt Guichard discussed the Coroner’s Inquest, which is an investigation done any time a person dies with the involvement of the police. Even if the police did not directly cause the death, an Inquest is still conducted.

One might say this presentation took the Inns of Court to the Bark Side of the Force. After the program, scholarship awards were awarded to student Inns’ members, Nathan Pastor and Sunita Popal.

The Inns of Court summer mixer event will be held on July 17, 2014, at Judge Cram’s house. If you are interested in applying for RGMAIOC membership, please contact Patricia Kelly at


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