Mischievous Law Prof + Texting Students = Media Frenzy

Add this to the reasons you might not want to allow texting in your classroom:

Above the Law, a legal blog, reports that a Georgetown University law professor unwittingly caused a national media frenzy on Thursday when he used a Paper Chase-style pedagogical gambit.

According to Above the Law’s report, Peter W. Tague began his criminal-law course Thursday morning by telling the class that the U.S. Supreme Court’s chief justice, John G. Roberts, would soon announce his retirement for health reasons. At least one student in the class immediately began sending notes to the outside world.

Within 20 minutes, Radar Online, a gossip site that is a corporate sibling of the National Enquirer, published an “exclusive” about the alleged news. From there the rumor moved on to The Drudge Report and dozens of other blogs.

But Mr. Tague had only been trying to prove a point. As one student wrote to Above the Law, “halfway through our lecture on the credibility and reliability of informants he revealed that the Roberts rumor was made up to show how someone you ordinarily think is credible and reliable (i.e., a law professor) can disseminate inaccurate information.”

In that same spirit, The Chronicle should note that we haven’t contacted Mr. Tague to confirm the tale. But we’ve never known Above the Law to be anything other than credible and reliable. Right?

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