A Law Student's Attempt to Understand It All.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Finals are COMMING!!!!

It is the ramp up to the most dreaded time of the year: finals! I am currently working around the clock to learn the doctrines I was supposed to be absorbing through out the semester.

Please pray for me.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks

Please forgive the lapse in postings. This semester of law school has been the most trying and difficult in my entire academic career.

While Mount Virtus has an excellent series on what he is thankful for, I neither have the energy or the creativity to create an extensive series. Instead, I will simply state what I am thankful for today as I get ready for nightly prayers.

I am thankful for God’s grace. You see, I am a prideful man in things large and small. God has currently made it His priority to break me of this pride. It has not been pleasant for sure. Yet, I see that He is molding me, maturing me. Indeed, I am being refined in the fire (see, e.g. I Peter 1:7). Now, lest I be accused of pride here, I must emphasize that it is God who is doing the work, and I am nowhere near fully refined or matured yet. It is only by Christ’s work that the chains of pride (Psalm 73:6) are broken and I am free (see Romans 7 and 8). God grants us mercy for our transgressions: He grants us grace to make us better.

I am thankful for family. Yes, this is an obvious choice, but I have a specific reason. Due to some family medical problems, we were not able to attend the greater family’s Thanksgiving feast. This is a sad event, for more of our clan passes away each year. Much to our surprise, though, not one but two different families within our clan brought us a Thanksgiving meal. My aunt and uncle as well as my grandparents brought us a complete meal-- roast (we don’t eat turkey), mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie, etc. My uncle and my grandparents both stayed a while to chat, making a mini-Thanksgiving for us. It truly warmed my heart.

I am thankful for education. There is rarely the day I attend a class and feel that it was wasted. I love learning new things, whether it is the Chevron two-step test of Administrative Law or learning to swing dance. I am fortunate to live in a country, and have the opportunities, to learn whatever my heart desires.

I am thankful for movies. While I am notorious for being slow to see a movie (for example, I just saw Fight Club a few months ago), I genuinely love to see movies. If they are great master works, then I delight in the artistry of the piece. If they are terrible, I play Mystery Science Theater. Today I got to see The Incredibles and Sixteen Candles. Yes, this is a random pair, but none the less, both were excellent movies.

Finally, I am thankful for my true friends. It is not prudent to list them here, for I will surely forget one or miss the contribution of another. Law and Politics are fields where one has many acquaintances and contacts, but few true friends. I have been blessed enough to have many true friends-- people who I can not only lean on but also simply talk to for a random conversation. As time moves on, we each go our separate ways and I do not get to see as many of them as often as I would like. Yet, we can simply pick up where we left off each time-- a rare quality in most relationships.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Please stop sometime and consider what you are thankful for and why.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama

Obama won the election. I hereby choose to take the high road (as opposed to the Democrats eight years ago) and say that he will be "my president." I will pray that God grants him wisdom and strength to bear the burden of "leader of the free world." It is awesome power-- and awesome responsibility-- and only the smart and brave thrive in the job.

However, his followers worship him-- literally.


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Yes, I know that the Onion News Network is not a reliable news source. But even my liberal friends who voted for Obama find this video funny-- and maybe a little true too.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why the Bailout is Bad

Explained by Scrooge McDuck.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Women

I don't get 'em.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Biden was WRONG

Last night, Senator, and supposed Professor of Constitutional Law, Joe Biden said something interesting (courtesy, the New York Times):
IFILL: Vice President Cheney's interpretation of the vice presidency?

BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.

And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.

The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.
There are several mistakes in the above statements. First, Article I of the Constitution is about legislative powers. Thus, the fact that the vice president’s duties are in Article I cuts directly against Biden’s argument. There is no provision extending presidential powers to the VP unless the president is incapacitated (US Const. amend XXV). Indeed, the fact that the Vice President’s duties and powers are so limited suggests that he was to spend most of his time in the Senate, possibly as a liaison between the executive and the legislative branches.

Further, the office of vice president received his budget and offices from the Senate until the 1970s. (See the Todd Zywicki posting on Volkh here, citing Glenn Harlan Reynolds, IS DICK CHENEY UNCONSTITUTIONAL? 102 Northwestern University Law Review 1539 (2008)).

As president of the Senate, the VP could wield considerable power, in theory. He could call for votes or halt votes at whim. (I believe there might be a provision in the Senate Rules to allow an override of the VPs actions as president of the Senate, but that is cumbersome to use.) Yet, few vice presidents have ever tried, and all have failed.

Finally, an argument that the VP is a creature of the Legislative rather than the Executive branch is in no way based on a “unitary executive” theory. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

But what do I know? I just read the Constitution…

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Quote of the Day

"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number."



HT: David Bernstein on the Volokh Conspiracy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Amendment 46

If you are a Colorado voter, you have recently or will soon receive the so-called “Bluebook” (because the booklet cover is traditionally blue).” In theory, the Bluebook is supposed to be neutral. In practice, one side or the other typically writes the arguments for both sides. Thus, the Bluebook becomes propaganda.

So, your humble correspondent will tell you the effects of the various ballot issues.

First up, Amendment 46: The Colorado Civil Rights Initiative.

The Colorado Civil Rights Initiative (CoCRI) is a proposed constitutional amendment that states: The state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any group or individual on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public contracting, or public education.

This is a good measure. It effectively ends affirmative action-- really preferential treatment-- on the basis of race, sex, etc. When government favored one race or set of races in the south, it was called Jim Crow. Now that it favors the races that “liberals” like, then it’s affirmative action.

Further, can we in modern America say what a “race” is? Take me as an example of the general trend in our melting pot: On my mom’s side, the family lineage traces to English, French, and a whole host of other national origins. On my dad’s side, the family lineage traces mostly from Spain (NOT Mexico), but with a lot of French, Irish, and American Indian. So, what the hell am I? I would say, "I’m an American from Colorado."

The effects of affirmative action in education and other institutions are to further race tensions. As I sit in class of a top tier law school, I wonder if my classmates think I belong there or I got there because of preferential treatment. Prospective employers first ask me about “diversity” rather than my legal abilities. Rather than making people color blind, they are more focused on my heritage than ever before.

Affirmative action is racism. It needs to end now if we will ever see the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. come true.

Vote YES on Amendment 46.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I am home

Today, school unofficially started.

I drove down the Boulder Turnpike running 11 minutes late to my interview. I was dressed in my best with my new watch that my parents gave me for my birthday (it is set by the atomic clock). I had two objectives for the day: 1) do not screw up the interview and 2) introduce the 1Ls (it is their orientation week) to the advantages of joining the Federalist Society.

Parking was a nightmare because it was “Move-in Day” and the law school sits next to the dorms. The interview went well. We talked, we laughed, and I impressed them with my knowledge of law. I then spoke to the scared 1Ls and gave them my three minute pitch for why the Federalist Society is cool. The group leaders then retired to the courtyard, where we manned tables for the opportunity of the 1Ls to ask further questions about our groups, receive pamphlets and freebies, and generally mill about.

What struck me was how much the school felt like home. The 2Ls (that’s us now) met up with old friends and caught up with each other’s lives. “How was Europe?” “Where did you work this summer?” “We’re going to grab a beer later, right?” filled the air.

The Ranger and I shook hands. I tried to convince him to join the Federalists, but he just replied “No way!” We ended up making fun of the Shane Company’s radio advertising campaign. “You have a friend in the diamond business.”

The Future (and Current) Politician and I caught up. He and I do not agree on most political issues, but he was trying to convince Justice Scalia to address his graduation ceremony in the spring. I told him to invite the Governator.

I never experienced a moment like this in school before. I quite frankly did not care about the social interactions of high school. My college was a commuter school and so I had few classmates who followed me to the same classes later. (I always wonder how the brilliant but spoiled doctor’s daughter is doing since we met in “Rome and the Caesars.”) No, this experience was a new one.

I am a part of a school, a community, and a family.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Prison Trip III

This is part of a series on my trip to the Colorado Department of Corrections. See the other posts: The Supreme Court Sent Me To Prison, Prison Trip I and Prison Trip II.

Our last tour was the most profound. We toured the Colorado State Penitentiary, which is Colorado’s SuperMax. It also houses the execution chamber.

We first saw the execution chamber. When we walked in, immediately every person’s countenance changed. You could see the sorrow and pain in the women’s faces. The men no longer cracked jokes but stood stone faced. Everyone shifted their weight from between one foot and the other. This was a place of the ultimate punishment. This was a place for serious reflections on justice. This was a place of death.

Our tour guide explained the procedures for execution. From the date that the warrant comes down to the moment they remove the body. He spoke in a matter of fact voice, not as one calloused but as one who has a job to do. He spoke of why we have only executed one person since the 1970s.

We then moved to tour the rest of the prison. The security is supreme, but I will not detail it here. There are sixteen cells to a unit (or “day room”). There are eight day rooms to a “pod.” There are six pods in the facility. Further there is a medical center and decontamination room in the basement that can handle everything except major surgery.

Each pod has its own medical room and barber shop. Each cell houses only one man. The inmates never go outside. Their only time beyond the walls of the cell is a fifteen minute shower and an hour in a very small exercise room. Both the shower and the exercise rooms are in the day room, so they do not even see other parts of the pod. Only one inmate is out at a time.

Lest you believe that these men are mistreated, please note that they put themselves there. Due to the incentive system, the prisoner’s hold the power to determine where and thus how they serve their time. Only when they cause severe security problems and refuse to behave do they end up at the SuperMax.

The way to leave the SuperMax is simple: behave and start reforming your attitudes. Unlike other programs that simply teach the prisoners to say the magic words that the administration wants to hear, Colorado’s program involves cognitive exercises and hypotheticals designed to test if they are really “getting it.” The average stay at the SuperMax is thirty months.

Even here the staff hopes that some of the prisoners will reform. About thirty percent are certifiably severely mentally ill. They may never go to the general prison population and the state mental health penitentiary (San Carlos) is full. Some are simply “bad seeds” that refuse to reform. However, some have been reached. One inmate used to make prison riots a game. Once at the SuperMax he would regularly assault the guards simply because he was bored. Then, one day after being pepper-sprayed, he finally wised up. He started participating in the program and was eventually moved to another facility. He had been at the SuperMax for twelve years.

I left the prison a changed person. I now have a new view of the world. Our “field trip” made me understand the seriousness of this thing called law. The “field trip” was more like a trip to a foreign land. Just as a trip to Europe or Asia changes a person and makes him see America differently, so too has this trip affected me. I have seen the dark side of our society, but I have also seen hope. Every citizen should take such a tour

Saturday, August 9, 2008

BBQ with a Justice

I will be be attending the social event all lawyers... okay that might be a bit overstated. In either case I will be attending the Justice's annual barbecue. I look forward to it!

Prison Trip II

This is part of a series on my trip to the Colorado Department of Corrections. See the other posts: The Supreme Court Sent Me To Prison and Prison Trip I.

We also visited the Colorado Women’s Correctional Facility. There were striking differences between the men’s and women’s prison. First, the women inmates actually greeted us. Second, the women’s facility featured a Curves program. The tour guide had stopped counting at 1,200 pounds lost for the women inmates due to the program. Third, the women had more amenities, like koi ponds.

However, the most striking feature of the Women’s Correctional Facility was the “Incentive Hall.” This place looked more like a very nice dormitory at a college than a prison. Each “cell” had only two inmates. Further, they were given keys to their rooms. They could come and go (within the building) as they pleased and had better restrooms and showers than any other prison. They even had a pool table.

We then traveled down the road to Four Mile Correctional Center, where we had a very nice lunch. The culinary arts students made us an excellent three course meal. The salad and homemade dressing were excellent. The chicken parmesan was delicious. The cheesecake with cherry sauce was better than I have ever had at any restaurant. During lunch, representatives from CCI detailed some of their programs.

Tomorrow I will detail the final and the most profound part of our trip: the SuperMax.

Return to Old Ways

I just wanted to quickly comment on the day's development: Russia has invaded Georgia. This invasion is outrageous and against American foreign interests.

This greatly concerns me. The Russian Federation has been moving to it's old Soviet ways under the control of Putin. First, Putin violated and then amended the constitution so he could run again for Russian president. Then, as the U.N. and other bodies began to criticize the Putin for acting like a dictator, Putin stepped down. However, he handed the government over to one of his cronies, who is basically acting like puppet. Further, Russia has used our renewed efforts to protect ourselves from nuclear missiles from rogue nations (i.e. anti-ballistic missiles) as a pretext for revamping their arms production. The government tried to equivocate our actions with theirs: but there is a fundamental difference between defensive missiles and offensive programs.

Now, in the pretext of protecting a region from sectarian violence, the Russians have invaded Georgia. This is the same excuse used by Stalin to keep Eastern Europe in his grasp and start the Cold War. All Americans should be outraged. Georgia has been an excellent ally in the War on Terror and the Operation Iraqi Freedom. Up until the invasion, Georgia had a few thousand troops in Iraq. Now, of course, they must recall those troops to repel the invasion.

If I were President, I would seriously look at our military force structure it see if we could help our ally. I would like to avoid the weakness that Truman, Eisenhower, and especially JFK showed against Russian/Soviet aggression. The fact is that Putin wants to return to the "glory days" of the CCCP. He and his party are starting to re-form the iron curtain.

Such is much quick opinion on the subject. If you disagree, please feel free to comment and perhaps I can flesh out more later. However, I wanted to get some background info out there because this is a serious threat to world and American security.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Prison Trip I

Yesterday I gave you my general impressions. Today I’ll detail some of the trip. This has officially turned into a series. Stay tuned.

The trip was informative and interesting. We visited the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility (est. 1871). When the Colorado Territory was being organized, Cañon City had first pick for one major state facility: either the prison or the University of Colorado. Even then, Cañon City knew it did not want any hippy liberals.

CTCF houses the “Tag and Tab” plant where they make the license plates. The process was interesting. It turns out that that facility not only produces our hundreds of styles of plates, but plates for Alaska, some of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a foreign country or two. As a surprise, the guys made us license plate clocks-- real license plates in the Designer style-- customized with our names on them. Mine is already hanging in my office.

CTCF also houses the Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program (PTKCP). In this program, inmates earn the privilege to work with the dogs. The cell house that once housed death row and the execution chamber now houses the inmates and dogs in the program, where trainer and dog stay in the same cell. They can teach the dogs everything from simple commands to handicap companions to hunting dogs. The inmates and the dogs alike benefit from the program.

Tomorrow I will detail the Colorado Women's Correctional Facility.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Supreme Court Sent Me To Prison

The Justice took us on an end-of-summer field trip to the Colorado Department of Corrections in Cañon City, Colorado. She wanted us to see where we send people when we deny their certiorari petition or affirm their conviction. Our work has real-world consequences. It is not just research and writing. The Justice wanted this trip to bring gravity to our work.

Before I describe my trip (which I will do tomorrow), I will share my general impressions.

First, every worker and guard had a deep passion for their work. While they recognize that they work with bad and dangerous people, they hold out hope that some may be reformed. They are not bleeding hearts who excuse bad behavior. Instead, they hope that they can change the fundamental nature of the offenders.

Second, the prison system runs on an excellent incentive program. Every prisoner has the responsibility of keeping their cell clean. Every prisoner, with the exception of those in SuperMax, must work. However, the system uses incentives of nicer and better paying jobs for those who 1) behave, 2) do quality work, and 3) show a desire to work hard and do more. Education is available for everything from G.E.D.s to C.A.D.

Further, a prisoner may earn his way to lower security facilities with more privileges by good behavior. Thus, a well behaved murderer may be in a medium security facility making license plates, but a thug on a simple drug charge may serve time in the SuperMax. It is entirely up to the choices that the prisoner makes.

Third, Colorado Correctional Industries seems to do just about everything. They have prisoners who make furniture, prisoners who raise livestock, and even prisoners who are chefs. The prison system is thus using a vertically-integrated company. The benefit is that CCI is TABOR exempt but not taxpayer subsidized. However, every higher education institution must buy their office furniture from CCI, and this seems to be a bit of a racket. On the whole, though, the program is good. The prisoners get training. The state receives the benefit of many services and products. The taxpayers do not (directly) pay.

Tomorrow I will detail my trip.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Make God Laugh

Tell Him your plans.

I have been reflecting on the future, my plans, and how I really don't know anything. The Bible verse that has been running through my head is James 4:13-17 (NKJV):
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Charles Spurgeon wrote an excellent sermon on this passage. It was published just after his untimely death. I highly suggest you read it. He had five points. First, that counting on the future is folly. Second, it is clear enough to us all that ignorance of the future is a matter of fact. Third recognition of God in the future is wisdom. Fourth, boasting of the future is sin. Finally, the using of the present is a duty.

I would just like to comment on the third point. In his book, James opens with a plea for wisdom and the promise that God will give wisdom freely. Beware praying for wisdom, for it is not often won easily. But how is the recognition of God in the future wisdom?

We (myself included) are apt to initially think that it means that God will "make everything work out"-- i.e. that it will all be pleasant in the end. I see no such promise in the Bible. Sure, God has a plan for the redemption and the renewal of creation. Yes, we have the promise of heaven and the resurrection in our glorious bodies. Nothing, however, is said that everything will turn out rosy in our lives presently. In fact, if Christ is to be our Model (and He is), then it is more likely than not that things will be tough. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified. In fact, most early Christians (and many modern Christians in China and elsewhere) have had to die for their faith.

So why trust and be wise in knowing that God is in the future? Because God is the Sovereign, the One who has a plan. So our present suffering and joys are just parts of His plan. We play a part in His dance that will renew the world.

We trust in God not because He promised everything would be rosy, but because He is in charge and is a good God. The pleasant things in life are shallow and vapid. The true joy, however, can withstand any trial and setback. That it because it is rooted in Him rather than circumstance.

It is what I'm trying to learn to do.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Happy Posting

Some have complained to me that my latest posts were too negative. So, I shall talk about something happy for a change.

I have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I picked up the book just before I left for DC. I have a tradition of picking up a book to read while on the plane and other times of low productivity while traveling.

The Chronicles of Narnia are a series of stories about a magical land. There, animals can talk, magic exists in abundance, and all sorts of creatures from mythology play roles in the battle between good versus evil. C.S. Lewis, a noted Christian theologian and writer (more works here and here), had placed a good variety of Christian morals and imagery in the books. I have read six of the seven books thus far.

What makes Narnia so great is C.S. Lewis' use of themes. There are super-themes that run the course of the whole series of books (e.g. the Gospel). Then, each book has a theme. The Magician's Nephew, for example, has the creation/free will/introduction of sin elements. Then, each book has several sub-themes in which various virtues, vices, and elements of Christian character are taught. It really is a marvelous series.

I really liked Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It has to be one of my favorite stories thus far. The imagery of Eustace as a dragon, how that comes to be, and how it is cured, are such great references to sin. I loved the book's theme on doing the right thing in the face of adversity (both internal and external). Sometimes we get complacent and weak (the governor of the Lone Islands). Sometimes our fears create our own trap (the dark island where dreams come true). Sometimes our own pride keeps us down (the Dufflepuds). It was really a wonderful book.

I whole heartedly suggest you read (or reread) The Chronicles of Narnia.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Racism

I just received this email in my school inbox:

Volunteer training at CU for Reading to End Racism


Interested in being a part of the solution?

All CU staff, faculty, students are invited to a special on-campus volunteer

training.

Reading to End Racism works to combat racism through interactive personal and

literary programs that educate and empower youth. Volunteers serve as guest

readers at local schools to help facilitate discussions around issues of

diversity and acceptance.

TRAINING: Wednesday, July 30th, 2pm-4pm in UMC 325

Space is limited, so sign up early!

Contact: **************

Additional information: www.colorado.edu/vch


So… Does anyone want to tell me how reading can end racism? Is that racists are illiterate? These idiots at CU believe their propaganda that bigotry is from ignorance.

Bigotry is not from ignorance: it is from hate. A racist maybe well educated in all matters of knowledge, and yet still hold on to his hatred. He or she can be a PhD in Mathematics or be a physician or a lawyer and still squirm when “those people” (whoever they may be) get on the bus.

This program is another silly waste of time and money. More that likely there are some public funds in this program, which has only one purpose: to give some brainless bureaucrat a job for life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Big Brother is Watching You

Flint, Michigan has two problems: crime and cash. To reduce the crime, the city wants to install cameras at 14 major intersections across the city. But cameras cost money, and so they want to have businesses sponsor the cameras. The cameras would feature the business logo: like NASCAR.

I love that Common Cause thinks the taxpayers should pay for the system. Common cause has never seen a tax-and-spend idea it didn’t love. While I’m all for sponsorship and all things hillbilly, this camera idea is ridiculous.

First, have cameras ever deterred crime? No. Just ask the thousands of convenience store clerks who are robbed or shot while their cameras capture the scene.

Second, do cameras solve crime? Not on their own. Every night, the local news posts some still image from a bank robbery or a convenience store hold up in the hopes that someone will recognize the man and call police with the tip. I somewhat doubt that the majority of cases are solved because of camera surveillance. Further, a good lawyer could easily cast doubt at trial when the state tries to use the evidence.

Third, this is a curtailment of civil liberties. While in the post-9/11 world “security” has become the idol of the public, all it has done is hassle the average citizen trying to go about his daily life. Remember my post on how the UK is now requiring old men to remove their hats in taverns. That is the logical step from security cameras. First, the government installs the CCTV system. Then it adds facial recognition, which cannot compensate for hats and glasses. So, the government steps in and bans the offending items. In the name of security, the government is now dressing you. The government has literally become your nanny.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dumber than Paris Hilton

Even Los Angeles, the land of Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton, thinks we’re dumb.

The bungles of Mayor Hickenlooper and his posse of Democratic boot lickers have made the national press. The Los Angeles Times reported that the city is $10 million dollars in the hole for the convention. Compounded to this, the planning apparently has been done by seven year-olds. The article does a good job of listing some (but not all) of the gaffs:

“[Barak Hussein Obama’s] acceptance speech being held at an outdoor stadium instead of in the arena where the rest of the convention will take place.”-- This was a last minute change on the part of the convention planners. It is a logistical and security nightmare. The secret service has always hated open-aired football stadiums.

“Even special daisies that the city bred partly to show off for the convention are failing to sprout.” Why the hell are we paying for “special daisies” that can’t even grow? Is it a sign of Obama’s plans for the economy?

“[Denver needed to defend its] much-mocked catering guidelines, which recommend organic produce and color-coordinated meals and discourage fried food.” -- Look, 90% of the convention goers will be drinking copious amounts of beer and eating greasy hamburgers. The catered food, meant to appeal to the Democratic fund sources (the environmentalist lobby), will be eaten at official parties but I guarantee many cows will die for the Democrats.

“Local political leaders and the host committee insist everything is fine, and that any bumps along the way will be overshadowed by the attention showered on the city next month.’ -- Do not look at the man behind the curtain! Buy our propaganda, not the truth!

Seriously, Denverites hate these conventions, which amount to welfare for the political parties, precisely because we can see these sorts of issues. Contrary to the mayor’s claims, hosting the DNC will not give economic benefit to the city. Once the costs of the convention-- its security, its protesters, and the lost productivity of workers who skip town to avoid the hassle-- are factored in, the city will lose tens of millions of dollars.

Oh, and do not forget tax free gas and car washes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Police: Not Above the Law

In an argument on the law, who do you root for: a lawyer or a cop?

Breitbart reported the AP story of a showdown in a Japanese restaurant between a lawyer and a cop. The cop had run into the restaurant for a quick meal-- but he parked illegally next to the curb outside. Now, if you or I did that, we would get a parking ticket. The lawyer brought up this important point.
Bryant testified. "I responded, 'No, you're not.' I told him he was an officer of the law. He's not supposed to break the law. He's supposed to enforce the law."
The cop replied that the law did not apply to him. The best he could come with in court is that he might have to leave quickly to answer an emergency call.

This is a victory for the rule of law. The police should never be above the law. If the law needs to be amended to allow a cop to park illegally for routine meals, then let the legislature do so. I seriously doubt that parking an extra 30 feet away would really hamper the cop in performing his duties of taking reports after a person is victimized. What this is really about is the arrogance of the police culture in assuming power they do not have, but who will argue with the man with the gun?

Nonetheless, until the law is changed, the cops must abide by the law too.

Tangentially, I will never use the LE/"Civilian" distinction. Really, either a person is active duty military or they are a civilian. Either they operate under the rules of martial orders and law or they operate in civilian law. A soldier has vastly different responsibilities to the state than a cop. A cop is a citizen whose given a badge to enforce the law, while a soldier is to defend the very existence of the state.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lesbian on Lesbian Action Again

To update you on my previous post:

Reuters reports that a court in Athens has dismissed the plea by Lesbians (residents of the Greek island of Lesbos) to ban Lesbians (homosexual women) from using the term. Given the nature of hypersensitivity to the GLBT movement, this ruling does not surprise me in the least.

What bothers me is one particular line in the story:
In a July 18 decision, the Athens court said the word did not define the identity of the residents of the island, and so it could be validly used by gay groups in Greece and abroad.
This holding is patently false. The word's etymology derives from the name of the island and its inhabitants. To be "Lesbian" was originally the same as being an "American" or "English" or "French." When part of a hegemonic league (such as the Delian League), "Lesbian" was roughly equivalent to "Coloradoan" or maybe "Puerto Rican." That is the word has historically been understood to refer to the inhabitants of the island of Lesbos.

Where "lesbian" achieved its new definition comes from the ancient erotic poet Sappho whose works often featured female homosexual sex. While it is true that Sappho was from the seventh century, B.C., the term "lesbian" had a duel meaning through most of history. During that time, the term was very often, if not most often, understood to mean the inhabitants of Lesbos first and homosexual women only secondarily. It's like us referring to a "special" or "San Francisco" type male today. Does that mean the homosexual community should be able to steal the word "special" from our language? Or should a person be ashamed for being from San Francisco and thus associated with homosexuals? (Wait.. that has happened already...)

The case will almost certainly be appealed, for this is a matter of principle. Don't hold your breath for a different ruling because European courts recently have been going to great lengths to satisfy their GLBT communities.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Good News!

I just found out that I have succeeded on securing a place on CU's Journal for Telecom and High Tech Law. This is a high honor, as there are only 20 spots on the the JTHTL and one must submit an essay successfully complete a "citation exercise" in order to "write on" to the journal. If you do not know, legal citation is about 20 times worse than normal academic citation (get a group of lawyers together to write rules and, well, it gets terribly complicated for complexity's sake).

JTHTL is one of the top five Intellectual Property Law journals in the country (a growing field and more important than ever-- think of iTunes). Further, JTHTL has also been ranked one of the top communications law journals and one of the top technology law journals in the country.

I am really happy about getting on this journal and just wanted to let you know about it.

So, Yay!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

DNC Gas Fraud

The DNC has committed fraud. They pretended they were city of Denver vehicles entitled to tax-free gas and “private” car washes. When the Rocky Mountain News broke the story, the fallout was immediate: Denverites were angry, and justifiably so. Some quotes:
"I do know for a fact that they're doing the same exact thing in Minneapolis," Hickenlooper said, referring to the city that along with St. Paul is hosting the Republican National Convention.

But Teresa McFarland, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis-St. Paul host committee, said its members are getting their gas at public pumps.
This is the “but the other guys are doing it” argument, and it appears false. Hickenlooper is either lying or he cannot verify his “facts.” Now, it could be simply because I don’t live in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area, but it seems to me that the Republicans are not have nearly the problems of setting up their conference as the Democrats in Denver seem to be having. Only the party of entitlements would think they should get low cost gas paid for by taxpayers.
The host committee, which is responsible for raising money to put on the convention, is using the city's pumps "for safety and security reasons," [Chris] Lopez [spokesman for the host committee] said.
I had no idea I was using unsafe and insecure pumps. Now, every time I fill up, I feel like the oil companies-- and the government too for that matter-- are robbing me. Maybe if I could fill up where the cops fill up their squad cars, I would feel more secure and safe. Nah, I would probably just get a speeding ticket (Denver loves giving them out).
The disclosure brought immediate scrutiny. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the practice "would seem" to be illegal and referred the matter to the state Department of Revenue.
Yep. This is tax fraud.

Everyday there is a new story about how Denver has bumbled the planning of this convention.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jet Plane


I will be attending the Federalist Society Student Leadership Conference. Consequently, I will be out of touch for a few days. If I can blog, I will, but don't count on it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Celebrating with Guns

I have celebrated Heller this weekend. I went shooting with my Dad on Friday. He shot his Glock and I shot my Taurus. We had a good time and angered Obama in the process. What a deal!

Then, I attended the sixth annual Independence Institute Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Party. This is our chance to celebrate the fun of being an adult-- while it is still legal. We shoot guns (shotguns on a sporting clay course). We smoke cigars and cigarettes. We drink alcohol. (No shooting after the alcohol, in case you were wondering). We celebrate liberty and the FUN of being an adult (until the nannyists stop us).

Some highlights:

Deer Me!: Stand 9 featured a “rabbit” target, and thus shooters were aiming at the ground for that station. Deer have never been known for their intelligence. The deer slowly mooned across the shooting lane of Stand 9. The deer did not take the large amount of 12ga. fire as a clue that maybe he didn’t want to be there. We released a clay to scare it away. Instead, the deer got the classic “deer-in-the-headlights” stare at the moving clay. I was quite tempted to shoot the deer and put it up on my wall. (Note: there was a sign that prohibited shooting of live birds, but nothing prohibited shooting medium game.) Finally he wandered away and my group could continue attacking the clays.

Heller Celebrated: The expert on the Second Amendment happens to work for the Independence Institute. David Kopel was at the counsel’s table during the oral arguments of DC v. Heller. He gave a great presentation on how it was as best as gun people could hope for, and what the pro-gun lobby would be doing to further the cause (including suing Chicago and San Francisco over their gun bans). He received a standing ovation, and deservedly so.

Jonathan Hoenig: Jonathan Hoenig, the founder of CapitalistPig LLC, gave a fantastic speech on the role of the welfare/nanny state and how it makes us, as a community, poorer. It was entertaining and informative on the real economic impacts of false “government safety nets.”

The ATF party is a great event and will be on my calendar every year in the future. It is a fantastic chance to get to have fun and meet with like-minded people (maybe there I can find a woman to be my wife on day). We get to anger the nannyists who want to run our lives.

Slam it. Smoke it. Shoot it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Guns and DC v. Heller

The SCOTUS has handed down the biggest case of the year: DC v. Heller (opinion here). Justice Scalia, the most philosophical/logical of the conservative justices, wrote the majority opinion. Had Kennedy wrote the opinion, the reasoning/protection of the rights would not be as strong. Justices Stevens and Breyer wrote dissents representing the four liberal justices. The opinion is long, so I give a brief synopsis here. My full(er) discussion is below.

Synopsis: I am happy with the fist holding (2d Amendment is an individual right). I understand the reasoning behind the second holding (allowing limits on the right) but am weary that it could lead to back door bans. I am happy that the third holding strikes down the DC gun ban. Yet, the holding still allows for licensing programs and that is dangerous (DC had a gun licensing program, but simply never issued licenses). This was the best the pro-gun side could hope for. There is still going to be a lot of litigation to flesh out the limits of the right and or the limits of the government to regulate the right. The second and third holding in particular have some troubling caveats to the general rule. Yet, the opinion was well reasoned and fairly exhaustive and will provide a launching point to challenge other silly gun laws.

Admittedly, I am an extremist when it comes to the second amendment (and constitutional protections generally). Thus, Scalia didn’t give me all that I wanted, but the opinion is certainly the absolute best the pro-gun rights side could hope for. It is a good day. Also, this commentary is long, but so is the decision (157 pages). It is difficult to compress all of the information.

The post below has my full(er) discussion.

Heller, Guns, DC FULL(ER) DISCUSSION

Full(er) discussion of DC v. Heller:
Holdings:

1. “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.”
2. “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
3. “The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.”

The first holding, that the Second Amendment is an individual right is fundamental. Had the court gone the way of the liberal justices, the second amendment would apply to the National Guard only. Scalia did a good job going through the history of the meaning of the purpose clause (“A well regulated militia…”), the operative clause (“the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”), and the relation between the two. Of particular note, Scalia does a good job of refuting the dissents’ contentions that the second amendment applied only to militias.

The first holding is so important because it gives the foundation on which to challenge/examine other gun laws. Not only does this case establish the individual right in the SCOTUS jurisprudence, it also gives a through justification for why it is a right. Also, the Court does not rely on “hunting” or “target shooting” as the rationale for the right, but one of personal security. That will be key in future cases.

The second holding, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” troubles me a bit, but the rationales are actually pretty reasonable. Laws the prohibit felons and the mentally ill from possessing firearms and the like are expressly upheld (generally) by this ruling. I’m still bothered by Scalia’s upholding of banning guns at “sensitive places” like government buildings and schools only because the list of “sensitive places” keeps expanding. (Like I said, I’m an extremist in this area, and the discussion of which places should be able to ban guns is for another day.)

So too with the discussion of Miller, which was a case 70 years ago about a sawed off shotgun. The “unusual and dangerous” exception can make sense (really, the argument for allowing possession of RPGs, tanks, and claymores is on somewhat shaky ground). Historically speaking, the militia that won the Revolutionary War did so without the latest in military technology. While the language under this holding seems to indicate that the M-16 type tactical weapons may be banned, I think the language under the third holding may save the right to have “military looking/style” weapons (more on that later).

However, it is a real danger in the opinion’s language that modern military weaponry may be banned. It may come back as a back door ban on guns. For example, the Mexican Constitution allows for the right to bear arms that are not militarily useful. Since militaries use all sorts of calibers for various purposes, the end result of the Mexican law is that a Mexican citizen can only have a .22 which is useless in most self-defense situations. Most other calibers have been adopted by the Mexican military at one time or another and therefore are banned to the general populace. If we are not careful, that same reasoning could be applied under the language of the second holding in this case.

The third holding actually pertains to the Draconian gun ban in place by DC (Chicago and San Francisco have similarly harsh laws). It is important to note that DC is a federal district and therefore this ruling does not necessarily apply to states and normal cities.

Since the first holding established that the second amendment pertains to the right of self defense and guns are included in that right, then DC cannot outright ban handguns. What is interesting is that Scalia bases his rationale on the fact that handguns (as opposed to long guns) are overwhelmingly the choice for most Americans for self defense. This is where I think that the AR-15 and other “military style” semi autos will be found to be okay. Since so many people choose to buy them for home protection, then, under the reasoning of this third holding, the military style rifles cannot be banned (does not apply to full auto). This of course is reading into the text, but that is where I would start my argument in a future case to stop bans on semiautomatic rifles. This may be the saving grace from the problem that Mexican citizens face.

The third holding strikes down the outright ban on handguns in the home, the requirement that long guns be disassembled and have a trigger lock on at all times, and other nonsensical laws. One of the worst parts of the DC law was that a homeowner could not move his gun from room to room in the house. Wherever the gun was when the law was enacted in the 1970s, it must remain for all time.

I am bothered by the Court still allowing “licensing” of guns in DC. To license is the ability to restrict and ban. Indeed, DC had a licensing system—but NO ONE was ever granted the license. Thus, it was a practical ban. The court did not really address this problem and it should have. I suppose that’s another day’s litigation.

Scalia failed to explicitly state which standard of scrutiny the Court would take in examining gun laws. Of course, I want the strictest (“strict scrutiny”) that would make the government show a compelling state interest in the law-- which is a very difficult test to pass. The dissents wanted the lowest level of scrutiny: rational basis (asking, “Did the government have a rational reason for this law?”-- which almost any law can satisfy). Reading the tea leaves, it appears that the Court wants something higher than rational basis but I doubt the votes will be there for strict scrutiny. They may settle on something in between (intermediate scrutiny of some sort) in the future.

This was the best the pro-gun side could hope for. There is still going to be a lot of litigation to flesh out the limits of the right and or the limits of the government to regulate the right. The second and third holding in particular have some troubling caveats to the general rule. Yet, the opinion was well reasoned and fairly exhaustive and will provide a launching point to challenge other silly gun laws.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Who Polices the Police?

SCOTUSblog does a great job of covering the Supreme Court Of The United States. In a recent article about the grants and denials of certiorari and various other orders, one case thrown in at the end caught my eye.

The case of Arizona v. Johnson (No. 07-1122) intrigues me. The issue is:

Whether, in the context of a vehicular stop for a minor traffic infraction, an officer may conduct a pat-down search of a passenger when the officer has an articulable basis to believe the passenger might be armed and presently dangerous, but had no reasonable grounds to believe that the passenger is committing, or has committed, a criminal offense.

According to a passing reference in the New York Times,

A Tucson police officer testified that she had searched a passenger, Lemon M. Johnson, because he was wearing gang colors and seemed dangerous, not because he was suspected of having committed a crime.
The search yielded a gun and marijuana. An Arizona appeals court overturned Mr. Johnson’s conviction, saying the evidence against him should have been suppressed because the search was unconstitutional.

The SCOTUS jurisprudence is very complex for Fourth Amendment searches for occupants in a car. Due to the late hour, I cannot recall the exact names of the landmark cases (please feel free to help out in the comments section), but Fourth Amendment priciples are generally based on a balancing test. On one side is the individual's interest in "privacy" (really, his interest in not being molested/abused by the police) and on the other side sits the police officer's interest in self protection.

Certainly, as the gang shootout last night near the DNC's convention site demonstrates, the police have legitmate security concerns. (However, they get to carry guns and handcuff people too, so they are far from defenseless.)

Yet I cannot help but believe that our rights are very important. We do not want the police state that the United Kindom has become-- where big brother watches over your shoulder and it is a crime for old men to wear a hat lest they "hide their identities."

Lest you think I'm jumping too far: look at what the officer identified as the "basis to believe the passenger might be armed and presently dangerous." She said he was wearing gang colors. Guess what folks, gang colors encompass just about every general color possible. Indeed now police are saying that gang members no longer display their colors to avoid police detection. In other words, anyone wearing any color or "looking dangerous" (whatever that means) can be searched in a car they are riding in if the SCOTUS upholds the police officer's actions.

Based on the SCOTUS' tendancy to defer to the police, I suspect that the officer's actions will be upheld. Remember that it is police officers who serve as security detail for high-ranking judges (in the case of the SCOTUS, it is the Secret Service) and thus, in a very real way, the judges' lives depend on the police. That is why the judicary is so deferential to the police.

I do not fully know the facts of the case and I suspect that the suspect was a gangbanger scumbag, but rights need to be upheld for everyone, otherwise they apply to no one.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Climate Change Killed Elvis

A contributor to Discover Magazine online has an interesting theory on the tomato scare.

Apparently, "climate change" causes everything. Perhaps my foot is itching because of climate change. Maybe climate change caused my computer to freeze last night. I know, climate change is what killed Elvis!

The writer's claim that "genetically modified organisms" (GMO) are also partly to blame. Some background for those of you who are not biology/agri-science nerds: the US is one of the biggest producers of genetically modified food (i.e. plants, not animals) in the world. Through the use of genetic replacement therapy, we have been able to use plant viruses to change the DNA of a plant to be resistant to bugs, grow faster, or even choke out weeds. While the means we use to accomplish these goals (DNA modification) is new, the idea is not. Farmers once selectively bred their crops for certain characteristics.

Now, there is a global debate on the safety of the modified food. The environmentalists claim that it is "not natural" and therefore bad. (By the way, Salmonella is natural and bad, but an autoclave is unnatural and good.) Mostly fanned by the Europeans, who have an economic interest in stopping US food exports, many third world nations refuse US genetically modified food-- despite starving families.

Now, back to the claim that GMOs are responsible for the current tomato scare: the writer fails to show how exactly GMOs "exacerbate" the problem. He lays a claim, and then gives no evidence or argument to back it up. Indeed, he even admits that the outbreak could have "natural" causes not related to GMOs.

In the end, environmentalists hate two things: people (except themselves) and technology. They have stated consistently in their literature that people (overpopulation) are the cause of all their professed problems. Sure, they talk about investment in new technology for energy, but the reality is that they want fewer people and a return to an agrarian life with little in the way of technology. The most extreme example is the hippie commune.

We have returned to the lie of the nobility of savagery.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lying Government


The Rocky Mountain News reported today on a series of sightings. Before you go all UFO on me, wait. It appears that Special Operations Command was running a series of training exercises in the Denver area.

What shocked me was the line:
"Military and police officials dismissed reports that the exercise was preparation for the Democratic National Convention coming to Denver in August."
OF COURSE this was a training exercise for the upcoming Democratic National Convention! For one week, Denver will be one of the biggest terrorist targets in the nation.

This is why I will boycott Denver during the DNC. Yes, I do have a mild fear that there could be an attack (this is the world we live in now). Also, though, I would be working next to the "Free Speech Zone." The chanters and protesters will be an annoyance. Some groups have promised violence. Who needs to deal with all of that just to go to work in an office with broken a/c?

Nah, I'll take a vacation instead.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Banana Car


Breitbart.com pointed me to this recent AP story.

I know that whenever I travel looking for bananas, I am always ready to pay those high grocery store prices. Perhaps they were intending to shop at 7-Eleven.

P.S.: At the going rate of ~$1.65 per pound (cited in the story), the men would be buying approximately 225,454 pounds of bananas. Assuming they are medium bananas, that would be approximately 676,364 bananas total.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Why I Do Law

A relative of mine is in the hospital. She was supposed to go in for a quick procedure and be out within twelve to forty-eight hours. She has now been in for nine days. The surgeon unnecessarily delayed in performing the procedure, despite recommendations from her primary care physician and the Emergency Department physician who recommended the procedure. That was an annoyance.

The true problem arose when the staff physical therapist failed to do her job. My relative had orders from the medical attending to receive physical therapy twice per day. In the nine days she has been in the hospital, the physical therapist has spent a grand total of twenty (yes, 20) minutes. As any medical professional will tell you, if a person does not get out of bed and use their muscles, then the muscles will begin to atrophy within a day.

My relative could walk when she went to the hospital. Now, she cannot walk. People are not supposed to get worse when they stay in a hospital.

When we expressed our concerns with the physical therapist, she began to talk over us and then proceeded to blame my relative for not “alerting her” when she failed to return. Yes, that is right, a bed-bound person recovering from surgery is supposed to chase a flighty physical therapist down the hallway.

Well, the “house manager” was eventually called. When he came, I put on my lawyer hat and represented my client. I was able to calmly and rationally explain our concerns about my relative’s treatment. I then discussed the physical therapist’s failure to hear our concerns (i.e. she was filibustering). Finally, I emphasized that it is not the responsibility of a bed-bound patient to chase someone down the hall to beg the therapist to do her job.

My relative was relieved that I stepped in to explain what was going on. The house manager promised a meeting and that someone else would take over my relative’s physical therapy.

Yesterday I was an advocate. Yesterday I made a difference. This is why I’m in law school.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Qwest's Bum

The federal prosecutor in the Joe Nacchio case has requested en banc review by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Nacchio was the former CEO of Qwest, which is based in Denver, Colorado. He was convicted of nineteen counts of insider trading. A three judge panel at the Tenth Circuit later reversed the conviction and remanded for a new trial because the trial court improperly barred the defense from calling a witness.

This case is not about the insider trading per se. What is really going on is that many of the USWest and Qwest workers lost their retirement investments in the company when the company's stock tanked. The employees blame Nacchio, and there is good evidence that he was focused on his well being rather than the company's well being. I happen to know several top level managers (i.e. those who achieved the highest level possible without kissing butt). They could see Nacchio was no good for the company or the employees.

Like many actions of criminal law against the wealthy and the powerful, the charges Nacchio faced were not what the government really wanted. Following this case, it is clear that the insider trading charges are weak. The prosecution was really trying to apply some retributivist justice. The employees suffered greatly for his mismanagement. The government wanted to make him pay somehow, and the insider trading charges were their best bet.

There is little reason to see why the Tenth Circuit should grant en banc review. (The Wikipedia article on en banc is here, if you need it.). The prosecution is trying everything it can to get the panel's decision overturned. The first trial was extremely expensive, and the second trial will be too. So, the prosecution must try every appeal to avoid the cost of the new trial and to make Nacchio pay for his bad behavior.

This case is about making those who lost their lifetime investments somehow whole by throwing the bum in jail. The problem is that the government is struggling to prove a weak case. Nacchio will probably walk.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wikipedia

I have a little less than a week before my jobs start. I am doing what any newly minted 2L would do in this situation: sitting on my butt watching TV.

Among the plethora of vocational school commercials, ads for “male enhancement,” and pitches for new kitchen gadgets, I saw a personal injury attorney’s commercial. The attorney’s commercial featured dramatic music, stock photos of doctors and factories, and a dramatic voice. The voice said, “Have you or your loved one suffered from Mesothelioma?...” Many lawyers place such ads (Colorado features “The Strong Arm” and “The Bulldog”). What was unique about this ad was that its information on Mesothelioma was cited to Wikipedia.

How far have we sunk when Wikipedia serves as a source for a legal commercial? Do not get me wrong, I have used Wikipedia when I need quick information on a non-controversial topic. But I would never cite it for my livelihood. Even if the article was correct and well-written, I would still seek more reliable evidence.

Such legal commercials are often for class action lawsuits (the notice requirement for FRCivP. 23). If a lawyer already has a class representative and is putting a case together, surely he can afford the few extra dollars to get his medical expert to be his citation for his commercial.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Good Bye Summer, Hello Resume

What will I do when since I have two prestigious internships available for the summer?

On the one hand, the state supreme court justice has offered me an internship. Among other things, I will be researching long-term issues of law for the justice. More importantly, I will review the certiorari petitions to the court. It will be my job to find the interesting and pressing cases that need review. That is quite a bit of responsibility. It will also be great experience. How can a 1L hope to beat the state supreme court?

The solicitor general will have me researching long term issues that he thinks might come up in the coming term. Since I am looking at getting into appellate advocacy, this will be good experience to work with him.

Therefore, I really want both jobs. I had applied to the state supreme court justice first (in October), but I did not hear anything for months. Whenever I inquired I received the same response, “She has not decided yet.” I had assumed she had not chosen me for the interviewing round. Finally, I had the second opportunity come where I could work with the solicitor general. After I applied and was accepted by him, the justice called up. Now, I am left with a puzzle: who should I work for? I applied first to the justice, but I was accepted first by the solicitor general.

My decision thus far: try to see if I can have my cake and eat it too. I will try to work for both the justice and the solicitor general. I may not have a social life this summer, but I should come out with two awesome references and a great resume.

Hopefully, I can handle the pressures…

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Traffic Ticket Quotas

Finals are now officially over. I am in the post-exam decompression. This includes being a little ill (my body finally has permission to succumb to illness), lots of sleep, and a curious headache.

Of course, my law school had various parties (official and unofficial) involving copious amounts of alcohol. Now, before you think my headache is a hangover: I do not get hangovers and I didn’t have very much to drink.

I needed to be temperate because I had an interview Friday with the state supreme court justice. I believe it went well. I kept them laughing, and it was not about my resume. That’s usually a good sign. I should be hearing about it in a week. I really want this internship, so I am hoping they think I am a “cool guy.”

Then, at a law school party yesterday, I was speaking with a State Patrol trooper. (Yes, law enforcement and lawyers mingle— sometimes). Someone (not me) said, “Yes, but how high is your traffic ticket quota?” The trooper replied with a joke about how she gets a toaster if she could write 100 tickets in a month. Her point, of course, is that there are no quotas for traffic citations.

However, the trooper then went on to betray her defense. She said that the supervisors will question her if she does not write any tickets on a ten hour shift. She framed the situation as, “They ask: what have you been doing for the last ten hours, then?”

The trooper gave an anecdote. One day, she was assigned to the Left Hand Canyon patrol. She drove five hundred miles and had only stopped one car. That is because the Canyon can be a fairly empty place, depending on the time of the year. When she came back to the station, her sergeant noticed she had issued only one citation. The sergeant asked, “What happened? Did you go hiking today instead of patrolling?” The Trooper then needed to explain that the Canyon was particularly empty that day and, as proof that she was on the job, she produced the mileage on her patrol car which had five hundred new miles on it.

This anecdote is precisely one that proves the pressure patrol officers feel in writing tickets. It is true that few police departments are brainless enough to give an exact numerical quota of traffic citations. Yet, if an officer or trooper or deputy faces a likely dress-down every time they have “too few” citations, then that is still pressure to give citations.

What are the chances, now, that this trooper will give you a warning the next time she stops you?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Criminal Law

I was running late. Where is room 206? This place is familiar—it is the law school after all. Yet, something is wrong. Where the hell is room 206? I’m late! The test started 20 minutes ago!
This was my first law school related nightmare. It was not a good a good sign for the day to come.

I just finished my Criminal Law exam. All I can say is that I certainly helped the curve. I am a giving person. I want to help my fellow students because I care. Therefore, I decided to go ahead and screw up the four-credit class’ exam so that I can raise the curve for everyone else.

The exam was that bad. I already knew that I was not cut out to be a prosecutor or a defense attorney. I know criminal law generally and I am pretty good at statutory interpretation. What I could not wrap my head around was the common law of criminal law. What’s worse, we did not spend much time in class discussing the rules but instead looked at focused on theory and international versions of criminal law.

The exam was multiple choice and two issue spotters. I was going to regulate my time, but I arrived at the 75 minute mark (my time limit for the first section) with 10 multiple choice questions left. I therefore faced a dilemma: should I finish the multiple-choice or go on to the essay? I choose to finish the multiple-choice. I calculated that I am a fairly good writer, especially under pressure. Further, the multiple-choice was likely to be the curve-determinate, so it needed to be finished. However, the consequence of that decision was that I was not able to fully cover all the issues in each issue spotter. Finally, the time constraints forced me write, “I see the felony-murder issue here, but I do not have time to fully explore the issue.” And, TIME!

I actually respect and appreciate my crim law professor. He is a great guy and one who really knows what he’s talking about. The problem is entirely on my end. I simply do not think very well in the criminal law framework.

Who knows? Maybe I did better than I thought I did. I can always hope for that…

Friday, May 2, 2008

Halfway Through

I am halfway through finals. I just turned in my Property paper. The Paper topic:

"Teachers teach nonsense when they persuade students that legal reasoning is distinct, as a method for reaching correct results, from ethical and political discourse in general (i.e., from policy analysis). It is true that there is a distinctive lawyers' body of knowledge of the rules in force. It is true that there are distinctive lawyers' argumentative techniques for spotting gaps, conflicts, and ambiguities in the rules.....But these are only argumentative techniques. There is never a 'correct legal solution' that is other than the correct ethical and political solution to that legal problem. Put another way, everything taught, except the formal rules themselves and the argumentative techniques for manipulating them, is policy and nothing more. It follows that the classroom distinction between the unproblematic, legal case and the policy-oriented case is a mere artifact: each could as well be taught in the opposite way."

To what extent is this statement true or untrue? Specifically, use two or more cases we have studied this year (you can use cases from the first semester) to illustrate the extent to which you believe it is or is not true that "the classroom distinction between the unproblematic, legal case and the policy-oriented case is a mere artifact: each could as well be taught in the opposite way."
Here I had a choice. I could stick to my guns and say that his legal nihilism was bunk. Or, I could get a good grade. I choose the latter. I can rationalize it as simply learning to adopt the best interests for my client (here, me) by arguing in such a manner that will appeal to the court (here, Campos).

What was curious was finding what Campos was looking for. He gave us copies of past papers that received top marks. One was written at a fifth grade level. It was a "stream of conscience" of a new associate who was representing one of the clients from one of the cases in the casebook (Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condo Ass. Inc-- the "cat lady" case). The other paper was a discussion of the "decision matrix" (a glorified pro-con list) and did not mention Property Law until the eighth page.

These papers received top marks? Perhaps I should simply turn in a Haiku.
I like hiakus
Sometimes they do not make sense
Refrigerator

Instead, I managed to quote Dennis the Peasant and King Artur from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I also included references to "Reverend" Jeremiah Wright. My crowning achievement, however, was referencing Third Amendment case law.

Yes, I am the master of BS.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Sad Day



My beloved Colorado Avalanche have lost their bid for Lord Stanley's Cup this year. The evil Red Wings have swept the Avs with an 8-2 victory. My friend Mount Virtus will certainly not let me hear the end of this defeat.

What can I say? The team has never been the same since Roy left. Roy carried the team far more than most people wanted to admit. This is certainly true since the team has lost its defense focus as soon as Ray Bourque left.

Nonetheless, credit should go the the Red Wings for a solid series and playoff run so far.

Congratulations Detroit. (ick, I threw up a little in my mouth...)

There is always next year....

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lesbian-on-Lesbian Action

As an Ancient History major, I have heard a few corny history jokes with "Lesbian" in the punch line.

The term Lesbian originally referred to the people who lived on the Greek island Lesbos. Indeed, they were an important player in the Peloponnesian War. This knowledge, however, does not stop me from snickering every time the "Lesbian ambassador" was mentioned in class. (To be fair, I also snicker when my law professors say "but for" or "duty.")

Now, the AP is reporting that three Lesbians (of the island) are suing a Lesbian (homosexual women) group.
"My sister can't say she is a Lesbian," said Dimitris Lambrou. "Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos," he said.
First, the line "My sister can't say she is a Lesbian":This must bring a chuckle. What more is there to say for that phrase? Second, I love the euphemism, "certain ladies." How politically correct and respectful!
Lambrou said the word lesbian has only been linked with gay women in the past few decades. "But we have been Lesbians for thousands of years," said Lambrou[.]
Lambrou has a point here. The homosexual community has usurped many words for their own identification. Other words have been thrust upon them. Either way, the modern speaker has a minefield to navigate lest he somehow refer to homosexuality. "Gay" once simply meant merry or happy. Lesbian referred to a person from the tiny Greek island. "Queer" simply meant odd or unusual. "Faggot" is really a term for kindling. Indeed, anyone who reads Foxe's Book of Martyrs will get quite a surprise if they did not know the true definition of faggot.

It will be interesting to see how this case turns out. Greece has long been known for its openness to "alternative" sexual choices. Thus, the courts may be reluctant to condemn in anyway the homosexual community. Yet, the Greek people are very proud of the heritage and land too. I would not want to grow up on Lesbos and have my sister thus teased for being a "Lesbian." Which side will win the tug of war?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Murderer On Campus

Fellow blogger Rocky Mountain Neo-Con broke a major story at my alma mater. It seems that the Metro State Political Science Department will be inviting a former Iranian "Revolutionary" (read, "Murderer/Terrorist") to speak to my former school. The full story can be found here and here.

Metro is a great school. The professors care deeply that the students learn the material. Further, the school has a philosophy that the professors need to have real-world as well as academic credentials. But it appears that the Political Science Department is determined to undermine the school's credibility.

I remember Dr. Oneida Meranto (the PhD is suspect: it is in "Native American Studies" and the only school that offers a doctorate in that field is UC Berkley) and her diatribes against "white Christian males." Indeed, she was so radical that even very liberal friends of mine found it difficult to sit through her lectures. Once, when on tour through the American Indian History Museum, one of these liberal students expressed their boredom and lingering doubt that all of the Christians were "that bad." He received an "F" in that course. For his privacy's sake, I do not fully disclose who this person is, but I can personally vouch that he was a solid B student and in now way deserved the F. Indeed, he was a socialist and we rarely agreed on anything. The problem was that he dared to question, even in the slightest, Meranto's philosophy. You can imagine the issues I had when I took her course.

Yet, there are good people in the Political Science Department too. Dr.
Norman Provizer taught me more about Constitutional Law than I learned in the course with the same name in law school. He is also an nationally-renowned expert on jazz. Dr. Robert Hazan, the chair of the department, is a kind and generous man who actually gives a fair reading of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Indeed, he was born in Turkey and gives an insider's view to politics for the entire middle east.

Perhaps poli-sci simply attracts extremists and weirdos. I cannot explain why my alma mater has so disgraced its name to allow a terrorist to speak to the school. It makes me ashamed to say I went there. Perhaps the school will wake up one day.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Christian License Plates


My friend Dan pointed me to this CNN story. A Florida state representative has proposed a bill to create a new license plate which reads "I BELIEVE" and bears the image of a stained-glass window featuring a cross. (photo credit: AP)

There were some interesting quotes in the article.

The problem with the state manufacturing the plate is that it "sends a message that Florida is essentially a Christian state" and, second, gives the "appearance that the state is endorsing a particular religious preference," said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
This is the boilerplate, standard response by the ACLU on any indication of Christianity in the public sphere. My guess is that Mr. Simon had not even seen the proposed plate. Even if he had seen it, his response was not reasoned out based on these peculiar facts. Instead, the response is the product of a kneejerk reaction to any cross seen in public.

What is more interesting is what Rep. Kelly Skidmore (D) said:
It's not a road I want to go down. I don't want to see the Star of David next. I don't want to see a Torah next. None of that stuff is appropriate to me," said Skidmore, a Democrat who voted against the plate in committee. "I just believe that."
Why are there two references to Judaism? This double reference may be a slip of the tongue but it smacks of anti-Semitic animus. She may have wished to refer to either the Star and Crescent or the Koran of Islam. (Often, politicians use the “Big Three” of monotheism when discussing religious access.) Yet, she mentions Judaism twice about a case of a Christian symbol, which is suspicious.

Finally:
Simon, of the ACLU, said approval of the plate could prompt many other groups to seek their own designs, and they could claim discrimination if their plans were rejected. That could even allow the Ku Klux Klan to get a plate, Simon said.
This is a true problem when allowing the state’s imprimatur to be lent to a cause or issue. The actual example (A KKK license plate) is highly unlikely, but often used when someone wants to shut down the free access side of the argument. “Should we let the KKK or Nazis do it too?” is nice and pejorative so as to make the idea seem ridiculous.

Normally, I would say Florida is wasting time and money on the idea. However, the bill has little chance of passing, given the recent history of similar plates. The best way to look at is to realize any day a legislature is arguing about irrelevant topics is a day they cannot pass new taxes.

Disclaimer.

I just scheduled my interview with the Colorado Supreme Court justice. I am so excited. As for other postings for the next few weeks, I may be intermittent due to finals. I hope you understand. Keep checking up on the blog because you never know when I will be posting something in an attempt to procrastinate studying.

Eh...

I'm currently trying to work on the "final" paper for Property. The honor code and paper instructions both prohibit me from discussing the paper topic here for now. (I will divulge it after the deadline has passed.)

The great rule of persuasion is "Know thy judge." That is, know who they are, what they think, and what arguments would work best on them. I have thus been researching Paul Campos. It seems he has made some interesting comments recently that stand against academic freedom. See Brain Leiter's scathing reply to Campos.

Further, the man is a legal nihilist: the law is nothing but arbitrary pronouncements from the bench. There are no rules or logical conclusions. It's all vanity and navel contemplation.

This paper should be interesting.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Genetics and Privacy

Lawmakers are close to passing a bill to prohibit insurance companies and employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic information. (HT: Dan) Their reasons for restricting the use of DNA and genetic encoding information in the determination for insurance or employment stem from a concern of the right to medical privacy and the infancy of medical knowledge on genetics and disease.

The right to medical privacy and the doctor-patient privilege is sacred to our modern society.

The fear is that a company will do a DNA “background check” on its employees or applicants to determine how many useful years of work and an estimate of healthcare costs of a person. Thus, if a person were to be genetically predisposed to breast cancer or a cardiac disease, then the company may not hire that person to save on the bottom line.

The insurance fear is tangential to the employment fear: people with “bad genes” will not be able to buy health insurance because they are “too great a risk” for the insurance companies. Remember, insurance companies are primarily investment corporations that take the premiums of their clients and invest that money in the markets for profit. The more they pay out, the less money they invest and consequently, the less money they make.

Further, medical knowledge on genes and disease is in its infancy.

Some genes seem to flag a greater probability of getting a disease, but that flag is not dispositive. A person can have a “bad gene” and never get ill, and conversely, a person with “good genes” could succumb to breast cancer. There are too many variables to the health of a person (exercise, diet, employment, emotional health, etc.) to use genetics as a deciding factor in employment or insurance decisions.

The reality of our world is that entities crave quantitative data for every decision. Statistics are in vogue with academia, the media, and the man on the street. Every week there is a new statistical study on the effects of caffeine and alcohol on health. USA Today is famous (or infamous) for its colorful charts. The RBI stat in baseball is the most overused and over-analyzed stat in all of sports. Companies are using credit scores in their determination for hiring candidates. In short, our culture has shed its ability to decide abstract ideas based on evidence and philosophies in favor of easy, mathematical decisions based on numbers. Turning to genes and the probabilities of disease are just another story in this line.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Friggin Drama UPDATE

So, there was a great backlash against the change in exam rules. Many people marched up to the dean's office to complain. Others simply stood around, complaining. Still others were jubilant that the exam would be shorter and could not see past their self interest to understand why their classmates were upset.

Isn't this the true reaction that most groups of people will have to adversity? Some complain and moan, but do nothing. Others see the change in their favor and belittle those who believe otherwise. Finally, some take action and go.

This time, I did not take action. For me, my interest lies in the shorter exam. A nine-hour exam steals my energy for two days afterward. However, as I mentioned in my previous post, I prepared for a take home exam. Either way, I gain in one respect and lose in another. So, I took no action.

The amount of drama and caucusing that resulted from this last minute change amazed me. You would think that the Dems and GOPers were fighting in the House of Representatives over funding the Iraq war. Name calling. Raised voices. Frustration. Note to the world: when it is exam time, do not provoke the law students.

***UPDATE***

Now, as I post this, I just received an email from our con law professor. She has declared that the exam is back to the original nine-hour-at-home format. However, she did mention writing more questions and "changing the exam." Call me paranoid, but it appears to me like we are going to be punished via more questions on the exam for our challenge to her authority.

The fun continues.