Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A few quick thoughts

#1 CivPro and Advanced CivPro (nee Conflicts of Laws) are different in both their pace and tenor. For one, Adv. CP is not a 1L course, so it's all lecture with no Socratic whathaveyou. Then there's the very, very, very significant variant in Prof. CivPro and Prof. Conflicts' pronunciations of "Helicopteros" as in 'Helicopteros v. Hall'. Prof. CivPro says it like it rhymes with "giant sombreros" and Prof. Conflicts says it like it rhymes with "big rhinoceros". Like I said, big differences indeed.

#2 Mad props to the folks who designed the Law Prom flier I'm seeing around the law school. At the top, it reads:

"In case you don't remember your first (prom)..."

FedTax is the new Property

The title pretty much says it all. At the beginning of the quarter, I figured FedTax would more resemble Contracts than anything else we had taken in that we had a code, relatively recent cases (Hadley v. Baxendale excepted), and a focus on transactions. In terms of how much the material makes me want to take pliers to my bottom lip, though, I'd say it is more akin to Property II.

I was not an "arts and crafts" major, but Political Science and Classics are just as useless in the world of adjusted basis, recognized gains, etc. Bleh. Bleh bleh bleh. While decipherable, thank God, the cases are about as lively and engrossing as a phonebook...a really boring phonebook...with no pictures. It's in the nature of the tax beast to be dry, so I'm not expecting fireworks. And really, it will be nice to be able to know what the tax consequences are of this or that decision. It will all come in handy when I'm consigliere to RB's Dallas mafia.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Yet another opening day

Back here at Baylor Law High (or the Waco ISD magnet school for law), this is a big week. In addition to CrimPro grades being released today, there's law prom and the beginning of the Winter 2004-05 season of Law League Football, or the LFL as those of us in the industry call it. The beloved-by-all 4Qs have opted to field two teams, just as we did in the Spring, when both then-1Q teams appeared in the final. We hope for a similar run.

Luckily for us, our West Point QB is back from his long and recuperative off-season and is ready to lead us to victory. For those worried that the doo-doo dance was going to be upset by our fielding two teams, rest assured that RB and DB have been placed on the same team (um, like, for that exact reason). Stay tuned to see us implement the vaunted Spring 04 "just get open" offense, which legend has it came down from God (Bill Walsh) through his vicar on Earth, St. Mike (Holmgren), who in turn left the magic playbook with a bum named Weezy, who gave it to me in Los Angeles.

Games start Tuesday. And no rainouts. This ain't softball.

A prayer sounding in tort

I was in church this past weekend in Seattle when it came time for the congregation to recite the so-called "Lord's Prayer." I was somewhat surprised at first, since growing up Baptist, I am typically unfamiliar with audience participation, but secretly relished the ability to show the girlfriend's family that I still knew it by heart and must therefore be a good guy. Right?

Anyway, the congregation followed along in the mumbled monotone that crowds reciting the Pledge of Allegiance can't help but evoke, but then words diverged. "And forgive us our [debts][trespasses], as we forgive [our debtors][those who trespass against us]." Struck dumb for a moment by my fear of giving theological offense, I caught up and the service finished without incident.

Then I started wondering what the difference between the two versions was. Perhaps "forgiving debts" sounds too anti-capitalist for Americans and so the newer translations eschewed King James' benevolence. After all, we know that no State can pass a law "impairing the obligation of contracts" per Article I of our constitution. Then I realized why we have two (I know, there's a third that reads "sins", but that ruins my point) versions. One is for defense and transactional attorneys, and one is for the plaintiff's bar. "Debts" is for lovers of the UCC, and "trespasses" is for those who want a chance a punitive damages.

Anyway, this is what law school does to you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

This week I'll be in the northwestern portion of our great country doing the Thanksgiving thing. Since the Seattlites and Portlandians have mastered the combination espresso-and-oil-change stand, but are sadly behind in this whole "internet" thing, I won't be saying much. Well, I will, but you just won't be reading it. Oh wait, this is also the land of Microsoft. Hmmm, ok, I'll be too busy playing football and eating stuff to post. Unless it's about playing football and eating stuff.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Pleadings

I've been negligent in paying proper blogistical attention to the only film in post-production that I know of written by a Baylor Law School alumnus. Jim Dedman now has a section of his site with all the information about his film, "Pleadings," a dark comedic romance (that's best I can do at pegging it) about life, love, and yes, lawyers.

Though primarily filmed in Beaumont and environs, it is set in Waco--something that I'm sure has to be a first. Jim's movie does an excellent job at involving lawyers and the law without actually really being ABOUT the law. It's a lot harder to walk that very fine line that you'd think.

In any case, I eagerly await the premier and will gladly endow the Law School's library with a copy when it's released on DVD. Then we'll have an even more well-endowed law school.

Sit and Deliver

Here's an interesting if less than noteworthy fact of 2L life that I've only today noticed. It is unusual to stand when speaking, whether asking or answering a question. There are exceptions, of course, namely when reciting a case in ConLaw, but by and large, the days of on-your-feet grilling are behind us. That is, until Practice Court, I would imagine. Sadly, I only found this out today, which makes me look back on the first week of the quarter with a little embarrasement.

On the second day of FedTax, five minutes into the class, Dean FedTax called on me. I thought this was a chill-and-download-the-powerpoint class, so hearing "Chris, did the Court find that this was "gross income?" hit me like a Jermaine O'Neill roundhouse. Caught unawares (and on a case rife with all that Property II crap from which I had just fled), I immediately stood and gave my best Moot Court "the Court held that..." Substance of my answer notwithstanding, it was my standing to give it that now seems weird. In that class, as in Conflicts of Law and even ConLaw, when answering questions, the big kids just sit. How quaintly naive and laughably freshman of me to stand. As any law student can tell you, though, it's almost a reflex at this point.

If anything can cure me of the Pavlovian reaction to a professorial interrogatory, it's Oil & Gas. Enough time in the veritable lounge chair of Baylor Law School should finally banish the instinct to rise gratuiotously. Not that the class won't be challenging, but it feels a lot more like Press Day with your local high school football coach than a law school class. I think this is a good thing. Perhaps the basic principles of property and their fossil fuel twists will stick with me a little better now that I can sit back and soak them in.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Very Stern

NBA Commissioner David "Daniel" Stern is about to announce the punishments for Artest & Co. for the brawl that happened Friday night. If it's anything less than a season for Artest and Jermaine, I'll be surprised. I'd be shocked by what I saw from that game in Detroit if I wasn't so busy being unsurprised. Think that one over.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Phoning it in

You may think that since I'm out of town, I'm just sort of neglecting my duties as de facto Baylor Law School blogger. You might be right. And so here, in the guest-post category of things, is a plan from a rather presidential 1L on how to stick it to the folks at WestLaw. I must confess--as I hope is not rather evident from my class performance--that I am not a points-accumulating machine. I think I've got enough WestLaw and Lexis points to buy either a staple remover or a small Honduran child. This plan reminds me of "Punch Drunk Love," with a dash of "Office Space" and a whole lot of law school nerd. :) I say that with affection.

"I did some calculations, in a [jurisprudence-induced mania], trying to figure out how I could bring down WestLaw solely by abusing their rewards program. While I know its impossible to shut 'em down, I honestly think they've assumed that no one will ever accumulate enough points to get the "big ticket" items they advertise. Now, by "Big Ticket" you might think the 27" flat screen (not panel) T.V was the most expensive item. NO SIR. You see, they tried to dupe us with the descriptive language of "Flat Screen" coupled with the requirement of 25,528 points. Its not LCD, Its not plasma. The T.V. only costs $349.00 and is basically a 27" hunk of shit. I did cost estimates of every item on the list (really trying to avoid Property and Contracts II) and on a point per dollar comparison the Bose VCS 30 speakers also come in at 349.00 retail....BUT, only cost 15,000 points. The Bissell steam cleaner was a close second.

The point of all this......if people would just log in once a day, click on 3 links to generate a pseudo search, the system would allocate the 20 points for the daily usage. Then, when you sign off...if you elect to answer the trivia question (asuming you get it correct) you get another 5 points. So, at a minimum 25 points per day. 15,000/25 is 600 days. When you calculate in the hundereds of points you can get from the little tutorials and extra training, that number will realistically be about 400 days(little over a year). If 250 people did this and ordered the speakers, our school alone could hit West Law for $87,250.00.PER YEAR. If I get Tech, SMU, South Texas School of Law, and Saint Mary's on board we're looking at $436,250.00 they'll have to pay out per year. And finally, if I could successfully implement this I could cost WestLaw about $1.3 million over my law school career and furnish about 3,750 starving law students with name brand, kick ass sound systems for free. It's nice to have goals you know..."

Now, I don't mean to be too elitist, but I'm not sure they do "legal research" at South Texas or St. Mary's. Just ask Prof. ConLaw.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Law Prom

Now that I'm done with LARC III, I can turn my attention to more important things, like Law Prom. My persnickity commenters have jumped the gun here--or perhaps prodded me--so that now all I can do is remind everyone to pick up your Law Prom tickets tomorrow, since it's the last day.

I know what you're thinking, but a.) it's free, b.) not all the faculty are married, and c.) it's not catered by the folks who brought you Law Day. I can't imagine that there's any other excuse not to participate in the official certification that law school is really high school, but difficult.

Now, I know I said that it's free, but that's only for law students. A guest will cost you a steep $5. Personally, I sank all my capital into the Hummer limo coming in from Dallas, so it's fortunate that my date is a law student. And with that, I'm sure I've broken the heart of most ladies (and some of the men) in the law school. Chin up, you'll get through this, there are other fish in the sea, etc.

What's really funny is that I'm hearing the same "is so-and-so going with anyone" buzz around the law school that I remember from, like, 7th grade. As much as we make fun of it, we all end up succumbing. (Capt. Caveman would no doubt have fun with that word.)

Still Rewriting

Yes, yes, I know it's due at 11:59pm. Not to take a page out of JD Crow's book, but as the poet said, there is...

"Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

"In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Hello, my name is...

FedTax is one of those classes where you learn almost as much about your fellow classmates as you do about the law. In between computations of adjusted gross income and how best to screw the lower-compensated employees without making perks taxable, we find out little tidbits about students' life stories. For example, if we're talking about exclusions for qualified scholarships, the professor might ask if anyone went to college on an athletic, music or other performance-based scholarship. The questions are innocuous and the didactic value high (for student engagement's sake and good examples), but it allows people to hoard away little facts about one another.

If I spoke at every opportunity given thus far in the quarter, the class would have heard that:

I am a preacher's kid whose family received a housing allowance in lieu of living in a parsonage.

I worked at a Los Angeles law firm where it cost me $220/month for parking.

I was sent to serve a subpoena on a prostitute one time.

My mother is an actuary for a large insurance firm.

My father's M.A. in Education was paid for by a State program for public teachers.

I and my parents lived in the attic of Harrington House for a year while they were students, and they served as caretakers of the place and as waitstaff (where they served Prof. ConLaw coffee somewhat regularly).

I was born without a gall bladder but with an eleventh toe.

All except that last one are true. What I'm getting at is these are just examples of responses that Dean FedTax's questions elicit. It's kind of a weird orientation get-together four quarters into law school. Now, instead of "the guy who barristered my second round" he's "the guy who worked for the cellphone company that sends its high-performing executives to the Super Bowl." Little bullet points on that composite resume that we form in our heads.

In the first year of law school, there are few opportunities for such in-court admissions. First impressions are instead composed of how one acquits him- or herself under Socratic questioning. Example: I'm fairly certain every class has a version of "the guy who got booted on the case in the notes." But now, we begin piecing together collages of people's substance from their answers to Dean FedTax's example-producing questions. We have no other source of some such information. Perhaps "ante-law school career" is a slot that we should add to the student directory. Until then, however, I'll have to keep tabs on "the guy who was a financial planner" come graduation and "the girl whose husband gets tickets to Rangers games" come Spring.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

My Tuesdays are shot

The Amazing Race 6 has begun on CBS, starting with a two-hour premier tonight. Luckily for me, however, I've already written like eight revisions of my brief, including three versions based on last year's Moot Court problem and two starring a psychadelic law penguin named Moobus. And don't worry, Dean, I read my FedTax, too.

From the archives

I was cleaning out my email inbox when I came across an email that I had sent to myself back in March. It was a post for the blog that I was going to add to and then post, but I forgot about it and it languished in email obscurity for eight months. So...a bit of an anachronism, yes, but for those Chris scholars, this is like one of those re-released digitally remastered tracks. Yeah.

"Ok, ok, first off, let me give a big fat screw you to everyone who thought my question about tossing the keys to the landlord constituting a reverse leasehold derivative of livery of seisin was stupid. :) Y'all are just jealous you didn't think of it first.

A little background:

In the olden days (pre-1536), transfer of freehold estates was made official by a ceremony called "livery of seisin," in which the Transferor actually handed over to the Transferee a piece of some sort of symbol of the "land." It could be a clod of dirt, a key, or the like. This was done in front of witnesses and sufficed for a confirmation before deeds became common.

Now back to today:

We had a Property hypothetical in which an abandoning tenant tossed the apartment key to the landlord and was never heard from again. Did the landlord effect an acceptance of her "offer of surrender?" (That's lawspeak for a defaulting tenant who leaves.) Since the landlord had said "no" earlier, it most likely means no, but I--zealous advocate that I am--wondered if perhaps the act of tossing and, more importantly, catching the keys constituted a ceremonial transfer of the right of possession from one party (the defaulting tenant) to the other (the pissed off landlord). Reasoning by analogy, I said that when a father throws the keys of the car to his 16-year old son, it's a ceremonial transfer of authority--a changing of legal relations, and maybe in the spirit of "livery of seisin."

My Court would have brought back the practice and extended it to leasehold estates--and a bunch of other things, as well. Consider ordering food in a restaurant. "Oh, you'll have the lobster bisque?" THWAP! You've got a spoonful of soup on your suit and a bowl that very clearly is yours. Buying a swimming pool, eh? You can imagine how we effect transfer with that...

In any case, when I sell my books back to Rother's, I'm going to rip out the back page and handed it over to the owner in the presence of witnesses. They probably won't mind too much."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Dazed and Confused

This is just too good. I know you probably don't want to go back to Torts II, but there's actually some real-world fun to be had with the principles we learned between pretending to read the statutes and wondering if "pigeon-hole" is indeed hyphenated. Eric Nordstrom, Baylor lawyer and classmate of Baylor lawyer Jim Dedman, has this interesting tidbit about several people filing suit against the director of 'Dazed and Confused' for using their names. Richard Floyd, Andy Slater and Bobby Wooderson claim they have been the butt of jokes and the subject of misapprehension since the movie came out in 1993. Nord smells a statute of limitations problem. Discuss all issues raised by the case. You have 2 hours to complete this part of the exam. Good luck.

In a related story, Yosemite Sam, Wacko Warner, and Scrappy Doo have all sued Warner Brothers...

De Minimis

The lovely words "de minimis" are my hakuna matata. It's a philosophical principle you can really sink your teeth into, a kind of Rastafarian legal gospel minus the ganja. In the world of federal income taxation, certain "de minimis fringe benefits" and "de minimis employee gifts" are excluded from taxable income because they are either too insignificant to warrant monitoring or too vague to be easily quantifiable. So what does the law do? Call it, quite simply, "of nothing." I think there's room for a broader use of the term.

"Do we have any homework for tomorrow in FedTax (which always makes me think of FedEx)?" "No, not really, it's de minimis."

"There's this guy in ConLaw that really pisses me off--the way he just thinks he knows everything and he kisses Prof. ConLaw's ass all the time." "Oh, don't worry about it, he's just de minimis." Hmmm.

Anyway, just try to throw it around a little--especially at the bar when you're watching a football game and someone asks you what the line is. You'll sound cool. Incidentally, de minimis works a lot better than my last words to live by, res judicata...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Me Talk Pretty One Day

I just finished reading David Sedaris' collection of essays entitled "Me Talk Pretty One Day." Sedaris is the author of "Barrel Fever" and "Holidays on Ice" and is a frequent contributor to NPR's "This American Life." I would heartily recommend "Me Talk Pretty One Day" to anyone--it's one of the funnier books I've read in a while. Sedaris grew up in North Carolina before moving off to Chicago, New York and points continental, and so his reflections on his boyhood show a version of the South that's very easy to laugh at. In all fairness, though, he takes plenty of pretentious people, from 'performance artists' to New Yorkers to task. Now, back to Fed Tax and ConLaw...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Watch your posse

I'm not sure how, but somewhere between DB's self-proclaimed status as "Freestyle King of Baylor Law" (for the record, DB, I never saw you actually dispose of LaChizzle AKA Blackie Toy AKA Sea Dog) and the prevalence of Chappelle's show and Snoop Dogg references, this blog seems to be devoted to 1.) Law School and 2.) Your Local Hip-Hop News. Again, I don't know how, but we manage to have Jay-Z, Snoop or the like grace every other set of comments. I've decided to run with it, and so here's my advice to DB on how to manage his posse.

On an obliquely related note, what's with Bono on the new iPod commercials? "Uno, dos, tres, catorce"? 1, 2, 3, FOURTEEN? Stupid Bono. Worst thing U2's done since that 'Pop' album.

Rewrite

The brief that we LARC III students had to write last quarter was graded handed back to us shortly before final exams. That "draft" is worth 75% us our LARC III grade, and the other 25% comes from a rewrite of that brief. Hopefully this isn't still news, as it's due on Thursday, but I've been surprised by some students' reactions. "We've got a what due?" "Wait, the moot court brief?" "But we're 2Ls now." "Seriously, have you seen The Incredibles yet?" That sort of thing.

And so, we do our best to decipher Prof. LARC III's written comments (which fill in the paper like insightful graffiti on a restroom stall door) and incorporate his typed ones as well. With the amount of written comments actually ON my brief, I suspect he's actually rewritten it for me, and I need only string together what the professor wrote, adding little anecdotes from my travels and very large words. Anyway, that's this weekend's project.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Undergrads love them some law student

I was recently forwarded this wonderful entry on a Baylor undergraduate's blog giving her view of Baylor Law students. Written from the perspective of a self-proclaimed "average Baylor girl" (which some would say is our, um, primary target, haha), this piece brings a view to the able that I can't provide. In all honesty, I tried to get in touch with my inner Baylor girl, but she was on vacation in Cabo. So we have Ms. Gajewski instead.

She raises some very good points and has succeeded in making me self-conscious whenever I drive around campus in my library-wood-paneled Beamer armed with a Kerry-Edwards sticker and a big "Baylor Law" banner across my windshield. Oh yeah, with my black three-ring binder. Anyway, here's to you, Mrs. Ga-jews-ki, heaven holds a place for those who call us law students on all our bu*lshit. That said, I think if we did a compare-and-contrast of this post and Mary's views post-1L, I think there might be a few differences. And I don't just mean that she would reference "Clinton-Edwards" stickers instead.

Finally, a word to my readers/commenters. Be kind. She knows and loves at least a few of us law students, and she means well. I only say that because we have a tendency to use posts like this as batting practice for our pent-up stress. :)

What will Dan Abrams do now?

What kind of internet-based gossip/pseudo-news space would this be if I didn't address the Scott Peterson trial? And so, to earn my murder-story hack merit badge, here it is. The jury in the murder trial of Scott Peterson has returned a verdict of "guilty." Immediately after that, Dan Abrams' and Deborah Norville's heads both exploded and MSNBC will have nothing but dead air from 3-6pm from now on.

I haven't really been following the trial, since I get enough of the law here, but I did hear about the hijinx that have ruled the juryroom for the past few days. Apparently two jurors were booted over the space of two days, and one was the foreman/woman/person/being. I don't know a thing about criminal trials (CrimPro deals with police procedure, not courtroom procedure), but hey, that looks pretty sketchy.

Jurors convene on November 22nd to determine whether or not Peterson will die of old age in a California prison without parole or die of old age on a Californian death row.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

November 11th

Today is Veterans Day. Last year, when I was "assisting my boss in the drafting of his weekly district-wide newspaper column," as Prof. LARC III would say, there was much debate as to whether there was an apostrophe in "Veterans". Is it possessive, as in "the day that belongs to veterans," or is it merely descriptive, as in "the day that pertains to veterans"? There was a split in authority, so we went with the federal VA spelling, which has no apostrophe. So, um, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Veterans Day is today, which used to be called "Armistice Day," celebrating the truce that ended World War I.

Today is also the birthday of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, two of my favorite writers. Vonnegut is the author of "Cat's Cradle", "Slaughterhouse-Five", and "Breakfast of Champions". If you haven't read at least two of those three books, forget Fed Tax, ConLaw or whatever for a couple hours and go read them. While Vonnegut has been pigeon-holed as a liberal anti-war opponent of the "establishment", his books remain fun and interesting for especially the casual reader. Ever since the Vietnam War, sadly, Vonnegut's been relegated to college zealots, kind of like a funny Normal Mailer. The three books I've listed above are part of the canon of American fiction, so they're required reading in my SoTheBearSays correspondence literature course.

Dostoyevsky wrote "Crime and Punishment", "Notes from Underground", and "The Brothers Karamazov". You should read at least one of those sometime in your life, I think. While not much fun, it's a good existential walk (or run, or crawl) through the park.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

More snooty second-guessing from an ignorant 2L

We A-L Fed Tax people were required to attend the 10:00am session (sitting?) of the Court in lieu of our morning class today. I arrived at 9:59 and saw a line extending from the door of the "courtroom" all the way to the elevators. No joke. There were patdowns, dogsniffs, and much Rules of Evidence face-painting, so there was about a 5-10 minute wait. Being the next-to-last (I'll call that "punctuality-challenged") student to arrive, I elected for the "overflow" room, wherein we watched via live feed the proceedings of the Court...and many of our fellow classmates.

As I watched the bald head of a rotund potato argue on behalf of a convicted capital murderer, I was struck--again, as with the 5th circuit--by the lackluster advocacy of the appellate bar. There's a difference between evading or stonewalling a judge and not being quick enough to get the question. The "once upon a time" hypothetical of Madame Justice Sits-on-my-Right (which sounds vaguely like the chief of some appellate judicial tribe) was too much on first and second reading for the counsel for issue one. And I was told that it's bad form to punt on the record by saying "well, Your Honor, I wasn't counsel at the trial, so I'm not familiar with that portion of the record."

Now before you get all mad and say "what do you know" and "way to Monday morning quarterback something you can't even comprehend," let me stop you. I get it. I agree. I'm just a law student. I just call 'em like I see 'em, and I've seen better. Having seen now two incarnations of Baylor moot court (the Schlotzenberger & Mice and Lausen & Grod Moot Court Competitions) and two sittings of hardcore appellate courts (5th Circ. and TCCA), I like my chances with a Baylor lawyer from the classes of '05 and '06.

Sue 'em, Bears.

Too tough a crowd

Let me preface this by saying that while I liked Comedy Central's "Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn," I don't think it's comedic or policy-discourse genius. I think of it as a less annoying version of "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and His Nose", but one that has to follow the uber-funny "Daily Show." That said, I'm still sorry to see it go--every once in a while, between pretentious and predictable pseudo-woebegone liberal cheap shots, some comic actually DID say something incisive and close enough to offensive (yet true) that would impress me.

But now there's this group, which is trying to bring Tough Crowd back. Click on the "About" section, and you'll find a rant/manifesto of sorts that I think makes some very good points. Some particularly incisive parts...

On "The Graham Norton Effect":

"Tough Crowd pulls in the same ratings as the dreadful Graham Norton Effect, which gets tons more advertising & an earlier time slot. Keep in mind Tough Crowd goes up head-to-head against Leno & Letterman. For the past few months, CC has been trying to shove that unfunny, British-hack, queer down our throats with relentless commercials and even billboards placed all over New York City. It's not working."

On "Blue Collar Comedy": (I think they may be confused with the WB's piece of crap, "Blue Collar TV")

"It sickens me that CC will also throw their money towards the lowest form of comedy, that being the Blue Collar Comedy garbage, and won't renew Tough Crowd for another season. Maybe Tough Crowd should completely change their format and feature Jeff Foxworthy, Larry The Fucking Hack, & Bill Engvall talking about stuff rednecks do. Hey that would make a great title for the show, "Talkin' 'Bout Stuff Rednecks Do." They can tackle such issues like which chewing tobacco is the best, how much they miss Dale Earnhardt, Sr., and of course how you can "Get-R-Done!" They can even feature hilarious acts 3 in which the Blue Collar guys put gravy on everything, squeeze pimples on each other's back, and hunt down black people with bloodhounds & shotguns (like a true redneck would.)"

And most dangerously, On "Chappelle's Show":

"Another factor in Tough Crowd's demise is that Comedy Central reportedly threw between $35-50 million at Dave Chappelle for 2 more years of catchphrases that will be overused by drunken, white college students. Look, even I will admit Chappelle has a great show that is worth that money, but Jesus Christ, I'm sure renewing Tough Crowd will cost 1/1000th of that sum."

Speaking as one of those drunken, white (post-)college students that overuses such catchprases as "I'm Rick James, bitch" and "I plead the Fif", I must say that this one hits a little close to home. Luckily for me, though, I was immune to Snoop's beseeching monologue on SNL where he asked that white people stopped using the subjunctive nominative declension suffixe "-izzle". For rizzle.

So anyway, there goes Tough Crowd, and so be on the lookout for Colin Quinn. I'll send him a Baylor Law application.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A little knowledge...

What could possibly make a freshly-minted second-year law student's sophomoric know-it-all complex even worse? A new 2L who's just taken Criminal Procedure when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals at Baylor Law School. We all just finished the first-year curriculum, and so we're dying to feel like we're somewhat useful. Now that the make-believe world of Birdworlde, Parrot's World and Moot Court is behind us, all we have is second-guessing trained advocates arguing for (here, at least) their clients' lives.

Now, I like to think I'm somewhat intelligent, but as I was reading the summaries of the cases to be argued, nothing really stood out to me. Um, sure, capital murder is more interesting than adhesion contracts, so this is might be better than the 5th Circuit in April, but that was all. It had to be pointed out to me that one of the defendants "and six of his conspirators" had escaped from prison before shooting a police officer, for which he was tried and convicted. Oh yeah. Now I remember the "breaking news" reports on TV. Seven guys broke out, shot a cop, and were in hiding in Colorado before they were caught. Creepy. It kind of puts my meager 3 units of CrimLaw and 3 units of CrimPro in perspective. I mean, I can babble for a couple minutes on mens rea and aggravating factors--and I can tell you if they were "Terry stopped" properly, but as for swimming in the waters of capital criminal justice, I'd much rather leave it to the big kids.

This overriding feeling of morbid wonderment is driven home by the realities of having the criminal court of last resort in our State sitting in our school--a security check. I hadn't really even thought about the fact that angry families of inmates, paroled felons, or just plain lunatics, might want to get in and hurt the judges that put them or their family members away. This is serious stuff, and it's happening in our ConLaw classroom. That's a sobering thought.

On that cheerful note, I'm going to go lock and deadbolt my apartment door. You know, um, just because.

Halo 2

I have an xbox--which has been used primarily as my DVD player for a while--and only one game. Sometime very soon, I will have two, as Halo 2 has finally been released. Now I have something to add to my repertoire, along with my novel-a-week, Family Guy-a-night, 10-hours-of-college-football-a-Saturday habit.

Advanced CivPro

"Conflict of Laws" is a misnomer, and a rather misleading one. What I thought would be a statutory construction course--you know, resolving conflicts where two statutes are on point, or there's a statute in derogation of the common law, or competing common law principles--is actually a deeper look at Civil Procedure. I mean, my God, Thursday's assignment includes "International Shoe." Prof. Conflicts, who is Prof. LAPP as well, is his usual manic self, and will at least serve to keep the class interesting. Civil Procedure was a first-quarter course, so the fear kept us awake (as did the 2:15 time slot). Prof. CivPro also did as well as I can imagine one can do at making jurisdiction, judgments and joinder (and cheap alliteration) interesting.

As much as I liked CivPro--and it was my favorite of the first quarter--I did not leave that class thinking that I would ever want to take CivPro II, if such a thing existed. Such a thing exists, and now I'm in it. I remain optimistic, and I'm more surprised at my ignorance and naivete in not knowing the class would actually be a seminar in Erie problems. Seriously though, looking through the casebook and finding Pennoyer v. Neff did a crappy job at reassuring me. I am looking forward, however, to another quarter with Prof. Conflicts (nee LAPP)'s drawings. And I'm less likely to shoot myself in the face in there than I would be in something like Bankruptcy or Secured Transactions.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Death by ConLaw

I suck at being inconspicuous. As a result, I was up and down for most of the inaugural session of Constitutional Law--a class, by the way, that seems like it will kick substantial ass. That is, if this every-day-a-week thing isn't too crappy. But anyway, back to my story.

Class was set to begin at 2:15, but I got back from lunch with half an hour to spare, and thus walked in to the large auditorium/classroom/appellate courtroom at around 1:45. I wasn't the only one. Almost all of the seats in the first three rows were already occupied, and all this with thirty minutes before class! So I proceeded toward several other 4Qs on the second row and said...

Me: "What is this? Are these playoff tickets? Is there a concert? Why is everyone camping out?"

Then I noticed that Prof. ConLaw was standing in the aisle right ahead of me, telling some people to put their name in their copy of the Constitution. I hadn't seen him at all. He turned around to face me in all of my impertinence and said...

Prof. ConLaw: "Yes, it's a concert. And you're going to sing lead tenor, so get ready."

Me: "Oh my gosh, I apologize, professor."

Prof. ConLaw: "Don't apologize. You're going to sing. You're going to be Frank Sinatra in a little while."

Great. So then I'm approached by him with 5 minutes to go and told to write down a citation in the U.S. Code, the Texas Constitution and "to be familiar with the Texas Election Code when it comes to electors." Apparently, "counselor will be telling us all about how we elect a president tomorrow." But oh no, that's not all. I was Prof. ConLaw's question bitch all period--as he put it, the only time I'll ever get to use my useless PoliSci degree. Good times.

Tomorrow will be, um, interesting.

Taxation Vexation

Trite and baroque title, I know.

My first class this morning--and this quarter--was Federal Tax at 9:15. Dean Fed Tax, which is what I think I'll call her, for accuracy's sake, is apparently a powerpoint teacher. Thank God. Not that I've been known for the copious amount of notes I take (or, um, really any), but hey, that's nice. Try to stave off your flashbacks to LARC II though, kids, because Dean Fed Tax is not the professor to tune out for Snood, Solitaire, or whatever you crazy kids are playing these days. Inappropriate use of computer? F. Not a laptop ban, an F. This could just be tough talk, but for some reason I doubt it. Anyway, just make sure you read your favorite Baylor Law School blog (and by that I mean Arnel's, of course) discreetly.

So anyway, the material in this class seems very likely to make me stab myself in the head with a stapler. I'm not sure how that would work, but it's the first thing that came to mind. But since we didn't get any deeper into the tax universe than I can learn from my father's bitching, I guess I'll have to talk about the truly important things--like how this whole school is controlled by one man on the third floor of the library.

The screen, which comes down for projections upon flipping of a switch, was stuck in a crooked tack. Dean Fed Tax repeatedly tried to lower it, as well as turn on the laptop-interface projector, to no avail. That when we knew that there would be a bell ringing with a blinking light in an office in the third-floor computer lab. One of the Rickys would need to be summoned. Sure enough, the elder Rick was dispatched forthwith, and in true Baylor Law Rick fashion, the problem was solved even faster. That's the kind of superior problem-solving and workmanship that built the law school in seven days with two undergrads, a pickup truck, and a ball of twine.

Call it a hunch, call it preternatural sight, call it poor humor writing, but I'm convinced that today's Rick is actually a robot built and operated by the other Ricky--the face of Baylor Law IT. This got me to wondering how many of the faculty are actually under the direct control of R-Lo. Prof. Contracts for sure, given how much praise he heaps upon him, and I've heard PC students say that Prof. PC is inhuman. This would perhaps explain the recent PC laptop ban--the collective electronmagnetic activity was interfering with Ricky's controls. Who knows?

So yeah, Fed Tax meets again Thursday, since in the meantime the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is sitting at Baylor, and attendance is another mandatory event of personal enrichment. More dispatches from the front after ConLaw...

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Two from JD2B.com

Why don't we have one of these? I think someone with a little more universal appeal (if not renown) should start a petition, or find a sponsor, or register with the Justice Department--whatever it takes to start a new club. (Sidebar: "club" will always summon to mind treehouses and cookies and stuff our old friend Mr. JD Crow would be in. It should be a "society" or "association" or "cult" or something with a little more cachet. (Side-sidebar: When I was looking up "cachet" to make sure it had a T in it, the sentence example was, "Federal courts have a certain cachet that state courts lack." Anyway, kind of funny to me.))

So anyway, if we've got an environmental law society (which like, maybe three people are into--just kidding, Prof. LAPP), and a law school gun club (only in Texas), then we can certainly get together on the PTI-is-better-than-CourtTV-Club principle. So there.

And here's a piece from New York Lawyer magazine on the perks some large Texas firms give their employees. For the record, if I had gone through OCI, then two firms--Akin, Gump & Those Other Partners Nobody Cares About and Baker Botts would have won the Chris Fahrenthold sweepstakes. They have both free Starbucks AND Blackberries. Thrown in midget paralegals who serenade you with Japanese pop songs in leiderhosen, and that just might break the tie.

And in return, they would have had me for 6-8 lovely weeks.

Oregon Sucks

Now, in defense of the whole freaking state, perhaps this manifest lameness is just endemic to the southern region, principally Corvallis. But on only the THIRD USC football game to be broadcast in this sports media haven of Waco, the fog at Oregon State University is making the entire exercise of trying to watch it pointless. Maybe this scheduling brilliance (a night game in November on the windward side of the Cascades) is up there with the same state-of-the-art athletic management that led the folks at OSU to have Reser Stadium (is it really a stadium?) be the LAST place in the country where straight up Astroturf is used.

Unbelievable. It looks like a big halftime show with lots of fireworks just happened, except the smoky residue is filled with ignorant screaming yokels. I can see a white blob with some dark and slightly darker blobs running around--which is more than I'm sure Matt Leinart can see right now.

With caveats galore (I've been there in summer, it's actually kind of nice; OSU sucks anyway; Portland and Seattle are actually cool; etc.), right now I'm feeling like Oregon really, realy sucks.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Two-El

There will be more later. For now, it's over. The first year of law school is finished, and we've earned our, um, weekend of self-appreciation. Then again, there are textbooks to by and reading assignments that hit the web on Sunday night. *Sigh* Well, from what I remember, the past twelve hours were nice.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Damn you, Donald Trump

******West Coasters, don't read this for a couple hours*********

Donald Trump is a fucki*g moron. Raj is the greatest guy to ever grace The Apprentice, and Trump seems to be punishing people more for lack of boardroom politic savvy (Bradford et al) and worse, in Raj's case, for not making a cynical decision to bring Chris back into the boardroom...for mouthing off IN the boardroom. "Is that what you want? Do you want me to be a politician for you and only bring back the best sacrificial lamb for you?" That's why Trump is an idiot and a thrice-bankrupt ass hat.

And somebody please kick Bradford in the crotch for me--he just looks like he needs it. (but not BR, don't kick him)

A tortious final LAPP to friday

The last exam of our first year of law school is upon us third quarters, and it's Prof. CrimPro's three hours of fun. Talking to a few of my classmates, it seems to be shaping up to be a quote-Prof. CrimPro-a-thon. That is, who can put as many of his pithy sayings into their IRAC structure as possible. Will the most-cited Canon of Prof. CrimPro be "some things are just more important than catching criminals"? Will it be "we're not getting our deterrent bang for our exclusionary buck?" Or will we go "back-back-back-back-back...while shedding evidence...to not great enough an intrusion to make a federal case out of it"?

Seriously though, this exam will be difficult in the way that building some sort of electric circuit is difficult. If the correct flowchart of constitutional questions and answers isn't chosen--and if proper caselaw touchstones aren't flagged--the circuit won't work. And it will probably end up shocking you rather nastily. But never fear, our little exam-prep outline from the prof has two "Bloom County" cartoons on it. There, that cheered me up.

It hurts

There are no words for what was done to us this morning...but here are a few: they rhyme with "bass teaming" and involve involuntary sodomy with a Torts exam. There was a multiple choice section that was unlike anything I've ever seen before ("um, Ma'am, I've got like 5 true statements here, and um, there's no 'all of the above.'"). There was no "warming up for the essay," there was only curling up into a little ball and softly sobbing. Yeah, it was fun.

So about CrimPro...

Left at the altar

Since P. Diddy and I already have a war going, I might as well add more fuel to the fire. Despite the "Vote or Die" campaign, the turnout among 18-29 year olds was not appreciably higher than it was in 2000. As MSNBC-Bill O'reilly-wannabe Joe Scarborough said, the youth vote will "leave you at the altar every time." I was thinking about this, and it makes sense. With P. Diddy and MJ from the Real World constantly on my case about voting, it makes just registering to vote sound like a triumph. They register and then feel like they've done their civic duty. Actually voting on election day is just a little bonus. So, what's the moral of 2004? Don't pay attention to the youth vote ("but Chris, we never did before"), they just like to talk a big game before they stay home from the polls.

Stupid kids.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Fodder for procrastination

For those of you who need some help coming up with ways to not study (though you're at this site, so you probably don't), here's a way you can help out a friend of mine who's in grad school. It's a quick web-based survey about your travel habits and booking flights online. It will help them gather data for a project and help you not think about police procedure (or whatever) for a little while.

I'm telling you so

With 92% of precincts reporting, Chet Edwards is defeating Arlene Wohlgemuth with 51% of the vote. Now, as former Deputy Political Director of a certain primary opponent of Arlene's, I know it's no surprise that the song I'll be singing to Arlene supporters is a big fat I TOLD YOU SO...ONLY DOT SNYDER COULD HAVE BEAT CHET EDWARDS. I mean, my God, he's polling at 63% in his home of McLennan County and running dead even in the conservative Brazos County. Could someone from the Fort Worth suburbs REALLY have claimed to represent Waco's interest better than a Wacoan? This is what the angry, non-thinking type of Republican gets.

If Chet couldn't be defeated in a presidential re-election year (when the president is a popular Republican former Texas governor) when his district was redistricted to be even MORE Republican, then the man is bulletproof.

Dot Snyder, Col. McIntyre and Rep. Wohlgemuth would have had nearly identical voting records in Congress, but only Dot could have beat Chet. Enjoy your representation, conservatives, and think a little harder next time about nominating a witch from the provinces. The next question is, will Arlene challenge new State Rep. Rob Orr for her seat back in two years, or will she have the gall to challenge Cong. Joe Barton?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

51,602

Today, both this website's hit counter and my car's odometer hit 51,602. That's a lot of miles in The Shark (Dallas to Chicago, Chicago to LA, LA to San Antonio (and back, several times) and a lot of hits on the blog. I see many more furlongs ahead for the meanest 2000 Hyundai Tiburon on the planet, but I dare say this blog will hit 100,000 long before my car does.

Long live the Shark!

Wonkette's actually kind of hot

...in a snarky blogger-journalist sort of way. I just saw Joe Trippi (Dean Campaign Manager-turned-MSNBC hack) interview several prominent bloggers in MSNBC's "blogger's cafe." Having Trippi--the real Father of internet politicking--interview Wonkette and this guy is at once a natural and patronizing choice. It's like having Steve Bartman come in to interview Bill Buckner and that guy from the Angels who killed himself. Just embarrassing for everyone.

Anyway, back to how we blogging nerd types are going to take over the world. In today's New York Times, there's this piece by several bloggers who are probably on your favorites list about how "tbe Revolution will be posted." It's interesting, if not momentous. Also, MSNBC is really getting a little blog-crazy. At hardblogger.msnbc.com--that's right, "hardblogger"--you can find more Chris Matthews, Joe Trippi, Ron Insana, Joe Scarborough blog madness than you could ever read. But hey, they're trying, I guess.

Has-been Moocher Hip-Hop Fashion Moguls for Democracy

In other words, Vote or Die, as the great P-D to the I to the DD-Yizzie says. What? Is that too much? In any case, TODAY IS ELECTION DAY IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The Great Republic, as Winston Churchill called us, is out doing what we've been doing longer than any other country on Earth--electing our leaders under a continuous, written constitution. I will be voting in my very first Presidential election (I missed the 2000 one by two months), and my first congressional election in District 17--as will everyone else in the district due to redistricting of the old District 11.

Election day is kind of a sacred thing to me, and along with January 1, takes on an all-day TV-watching character. That is, it would except for the damned Torts II exam tomorrow. Thanks, guys, way to stomp all over the glory of democratic participation. If I can't watch pundits say nothing and follow the scrolly returns-thing at the bottom of the screen for 16 hours, then the terrorists have already won.

So here are the races I'm most interested in, in descending order of importance (to me):

President--Bush (R) v. Kerry (D)
Congress--Edwards (D) v. Wohlgemuth (R)
Congress--Frost (D) v. Sessions (R)
Senate--Daschle (D) v. Thune (R)
Senate--Keyes (R) v. Obama (D)
Texas House--Mabry (D) v. Anderson (R)
Texas House--Heflin (R) v. Vo (D)

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. My first year of law school has coincided with much of the election season--from my working for a primary opponent of Lady Macbeth of Burleson just before law school to our last tests of our 1L year in election week. Awww. So yeah, go vote, and remember to make sure that the chad is completely separated from the ballot--not pregnant, dimpled or hanging.

And about Puffy/Puff Daddy/P Diddy, I swear, I've seen him in like 8 other peoples' videos this year, but I can't think of one of his own singles now.

Monday, November 01, 2004

My gift to you

Here's a last-minute LAPP hypo. If it freaks you out, because you see something you can't answer and the test's in an hour...good. Just kidding. But here you go:

Volunteer Teacher Corps Act (1991)

Section 1.) In order to provide a higher quality of, greater rescouces for, and a greater appreciation for the education of our urban and drpressed-area schoolchildren, the following Act was passed by the Legislature of the State of Texas.

Section 2.) Every person who matriculates at and graduates from an accredited college of university with a teaching degree, shall:

a.) be available for placement in a designated "at risk" school district within the State for two years,
b.) notify the State Board of Education of any change of address for the two years after graduation,
c.) maintain a satisfactory teacher evaluation rating for the duration of their service.

Section 3.) The State Board of Education shall have the power to declare certain school districts "at risk" upon petition of the superintendent of said district. The Board shall consider:

a.) median household income,
b.) area crime rate,
c.) ratio of teachers to students of the school,
d.) ratio of books to students

in determining whether a school district is "at risk."

Section 4.) A person required to register under Section 2 may be excused from service after payment of a student enrichment fee of $10,000 to the State. Failure to serve will result in a $10,000 fine.
________________________________________

Marcia Gonzalez entered Collin COunty Community College in Frisco, TX to study computer science. AFter dropping out to have a son, she moved to El Paso, TX, where her family is from. When her son, Elian, was three, Marcia began taking classes at Alhambra College, a night-school program of the University of Texas-El Paso. After taking several datebase management courses, Marcia lost her babysitter, and her mother was blind. She wanted to finishe school, but she had to take her toddler with her. Only the Early Childhood Development department would cooperate. She got her needed 16 credits and on June 19, 2002, Marcia graduated with a B.S. degree with a double major in Computer Science and Early Chilldhood Education.

She immediately began working for Delloa Computadora, a Mexican computer company just across the border, in Juarez. She received low marks, since she did not speak Spanish, but the firm was happy to have an American working for them. She moved to South El Paso to be closer to work, while her family (mother, grandmother and two sisters) stayed in her old El Paso home. On July 4, 2004, Marcia received a letter from the State of Texas demanding $10,000 for violation of the VTCA. Confused, Marcia took the letter to her mother, who speaks no English, but recognized the envelope (from the State). She showed Marcia a stack of 6 unopened letters from the State Board of Education addressed to Marcia Gonzalez.

One letter was a congratulation on her degree, four were orders to proceed to Robinson, TX, to serve as an 8th grade Algebra teacher at Robinson Middle School. The 6th letter notified her that her case was being transferred to the Attorney Generaol's Office, who eventually found Marcia on July 4, 2004. Marcia filled out the US Postal Service change-of-address forms, but did not register her move with the Board of Education. Marcia's old and ignorant mother thought the 6 letters were junk mail, but like many old people, she saved everything.

Question 1.) Does Marcia owe the State of Texas $10,000?

Questions 2.) Is your answer any different in light of the 1968 Texas Right To Work Act, which reads: "for no reason can the employment of a person be compelled or the prohibition thereof likewise be compelled, except for good cause."

Questions 3.) Is your answer any different considering a floor statement of the sponsor of the VTCA, Sen. Talbert Houghlin, who said: "What we need is more math and science in the schools. Too many of our children can sleepwalk through school without learning multiplication and division, mitosis and meiosis. Too many of our mathematicians and scientists are going off into industry without paying the schools back that gave them that head start."

Question 4.) Swine McFadden, Superintendent of the Highland Park Independent School District in Dallas County, has petitioned the State Board of Education for "at risk" status. He has sold the school's library collection and textbooks and has converted them all to Word files and put them on Sony Vaio laptops, which have been given to every student. Two blocks away, there was a drive by shooting last week, and there are 14.7 homicides per year within HPISD's quadrant of Dallas County. Can the State order a cadre of recent education graduates to serve in HPISD?

Enjoy!