Watch Me Take The Bar
Watch Me Take The Bar
This blog, originally started as a chronicle of my taking the bar, is now a look into the mind of an attorney in solo practice in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Thursday, June 30, 2005

In Which Seven Justices of the Supreme Court Put A Stamp of Approval On Systematically Ignoring Domestic Violence

OK, a few pre-post warnings are in order here.

First, this post is long, but I'd really appreciate it if you read it. I am ranting, but it's very, very important ranting.

Second, this post contains facts that are sad and even sickening. If you're in a bad mood now, you'll be in a worse one by the end of it. If you need to, go away and come back, but please read it.

Supreme Court Language Tip #1: When a Supreme Court justice starts an opinion by talking about how bad someone is, it's usually a tipoff that the good guy's going to lose. The starting-with-the-talking-about-the-bad-guy thing is really saying, "Look, I don't like what happened here either, but I'm not going to give the point to the other guy."

Case in point comes early in Justice Scalia's majority opinion in Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales. "The horrible facts of this case are contained in the complaint that respondent Jessica Gonzales filed in Federal District Court." Translation: "Jessica, baby, I'm about to sock it to you royally. But I don't want you to think I'm completely unsympathetic. I feel for you. After all, the case's full name lists the status of your children as 'deceased minors.' That means there's blood on the floor. And the system failed you. But, don't worry, we can fail you again. Watch!"

OK, here's the "horrible facts," as recited by Justice Scalia. Jessica Gonzales had a restraining order against her husband. This restraining order "commanded him 'not to molest or disturb the peace of [respondent] or of any child,' and to remain at least 100 yards from the family home at all times."

On the back of the form, there was a preprinted warning, which read as follows [bold and caps from the Supreme Court opinion]:





Since we're dealing with law enforcement officers and their liability here, I'd like to slice and dice this notice to law enforcement officers a bit. Bear with me:


Many of us would read this as a fairly clear directive to enforce the restraining order. But, apparently, not the Supreme Court. So, I figured, what the hey, I'm probably a little rusty on my basic vocabulary. I mean, I've been so busy studying for the bar, it's completely possible the meaning of words like SHALL eludes me. So, I went to the Mirriam & Webster's dictionary online. Here's the definition:

1 archaic a : will have to : MUST b : will be able to : CAN
2 a -- used to express a command or exhortation b -- used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory
3 a -- used to express what is inevitable or seems likely to happen in the future b -- used to express simple futurity
4 -- used to express determination intransitive senses, archaic : will go

OK, so, Jessica Gonzales has this protection order in hand, and let's say, being a nosy person, she reads the notice to law enforcement on the back. Because Jessica doesn't understand the meaning of the word "shall" (thus possibly qualifying her to be a Supreme Court justice), she goes home and reads in the dictionary that shall means...

"will have to": "Ah ha!" says Jessica. "If I tell the police my spouse is violating the protection order, they will have to enforce the order and arrest him."

"used to express a command or exhortation": "Oh, this is even better!" she says, feeling all warm and safe. "The Court is exhorting and commanding the officers to enforce my protection orders and keep me safe."

"used to express what is inevitable or seems likely to happen in the future": "Well, it's inevitable: I have an order from the court! It's the law! It has to be enforced. It seems likely in the future I will no longer be troubled by my ex-husband."

"used to express determination": "That represents the determination of the state to protect me and my children!"

Jessica, sadly, got a very cruel education in what the word "shall" meant on June 22, 1999, when her three daughters, who were playing in the front yard, went missing. She immediately suspected her ex-husband, and called the police. Two officers were dispatched, and she showed them a copy of her restraining order. She "requested that it be enforced and the three children be returned to her immediately. [The officers] stated that there was nothing they could do about the TRO and suggested that [Jessica] call the Police Department again if the three children did not return home by 10:00 P.M."

OK, let's all step back for a moment. First of all, let's think through this conversation.

Jessica: Right, my children are missing and I'd like them back.

Officer: Golly, y'know, I'd really like to help you, but, well, what am I supposed to do? I'm just with the police department, I'm no good at finding things out. And it might be that someone has 'em and wants 'em, and then if they won't return 'em, I can't do anything.

This sounds far-fetched, but it isn't. I know of a case where a woman couldn't get the police to help enforce her visitation orders because the magistrate hadn't signed his name, but rather used a stamp, to sign her orders. I'm not kidding.

Another thing that bothers me about this: Haven't I heard somewhere the most critical time in a missing persons case is the first twenty-four hours? OK, so, the police just abdicated the first two and a half.

An hour after this occurred with the police, Jessica talks to her husband on his cell phone and he tells her he has the children at an amusement park. Jessica calls the police and asks them to check for her husband, or his vehicle, or the children, or put out an APB. The police tell her to wait until 10:00.

Let's just imagine that conversation.

Dispatcher: Castle Rock Police Department.

Jessica: Hi, this is Jessica Gonzalez. Um, I talked to one of your officers about an hour ago, and I reported my children missing. I had this suspicion it was my husband, since I'm in a high-conflict divorce with him and I have a restraining order, which I'm holding here in my hand, and, well, it says you "shall" enforce it. Well, you told me to wait until ten and I was going to, but I just got a tip I thought you might be interested.

Dispatcher: You think we might, eh?

Jessica: Yeah, my husband called me and he said he has the kids. At this amusement park in Denver. And I was wondering if you could, like, do something about it, 'cause, like, it's orders of the court and that's, well, what you're supposed to do. I mean, a judge found he was dangerous enough to issue a protection order against. So, could you do me that favor?

Dispatcher: Well, look, lady, I'd love to help you out, but, y'know, that's pretty tough. I mean, your kids are missing, tough break. But, they could be with anyone.

Jessica: No, my husband has them. He called and told me.

Dispatcher: Well, y'know, Colorado's a big state. Lots of wide open spaces. Tall mountains. We can't go out on some wild goose chase.

Jessica [sick with frustration]: You don't have to! He's at an amusement park.

Dispatcher [sound in the background]: Look, it's a tough case, but, they're sure to turn up. You sure you didn't put 'em somewhere and forget about it? Maybe you should go look. Make a game of it. We do. If you don't find 'em by ten, call us back.

So, at 10:10 PM, Jessica called back, presumably to report that she had not found her children yet. The police told her to call back at midnight. (I mean, they were bound to turn up sometime.) They told her to wait for an officer. After forty minutes, she went to the police department, where she made a report. The officer who took it then went...out to dinner.

I'm not kidding.

Finally, at 3:20 AM, the police station and Jessica's husband were united. He pulled into the police station and opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun. (For the life of me, I can't imagine what his beef was with the PD; they seem to have been in his corner all along.) The police returned fire, and he was killed.

Sadly, they discovered the bodies of his three daughters in the backseat. He had murdered them.

Jessica brought suit against the Castle Rock Police Department. If there were any sense of justice in the world, she'd have ended up owning it. But, apparently, there's not.

Hers was, admittedly, an uphill battle from the start. In DeShaney v. Winnebago County Social Services Dept., 489 US 189 (1989), a county department of social services was sued. The "undeniably tragic" facts of DeShaney, as Chief Justice Rehnquist put it (remember Tip #1, people) were that the department had received multiple reports that Joshua DeShaney had been abused by his father; Joshua had been admitted to the hospital with multiple bruises and abrasions; and multiple other warning signs were present. Yet, the Department never removed Joshua from the home, and, in March of 1984, Joshua's father beat him so severely as to put him in a life-threatening coma. He didn't die, but will spend the rest of his life "confined to an institution for the profoundly retarded." Jessica's mother brought suit against the Department and claimed that the state, by failing to act, had denied Joshua of his due process of law and his right to be free from bodily injury. The Court basically said, "Well, the state doesn't have to protect you from private actors." (Even when it's their job, for heaven's sakes!)

OK, so with that background in mind, I guess it shouldn't have been much of a surprise when the Supreme Court on Monday said that Jessica Gonzales had no property interest in having her protection order enforced. (It was essential that this be proven if she was to succeed in her case.) Still, (a) the Supreme Court could have taken the opportunity to think if this really made sense; (b) they might have gotten rid of the abominable decision of DeShaney. Even without those things, it's worth looking at the opinion to see how much our courts and our system of government doesn't understand, and is thus unable to prevent, domestic violence.

One need look no further than this statement from Justice Scalia's decision. Here it is:

"The Court of Appeals concluded that this statutory provision--especially taken in conjunction with a statement from its legislative history,6 and with another statute restricting criminal and civil liability for officers making arrests7--established the Colorado Legislature's clear intent "to alter the fact that the police were not enforcing domestic abuse retraining orders," and thus its intent "that the recipient of a domestic abuse restraining order have an entitlement to its enforcement." 366 F. 3d, at 1108. Any other result, it said, "would render domestic abuse restraining orders utterly valueless." Id., at 1109.

" This last statement is sheer hyperbole. Whether or not respondent had a right to enforce the restraining order, it rendered certain otherwise lawful conduct by her husband both criminal and in contempt of court."

Nino, Nino, Nino. First of all, for a textualist, this is a remarkably tortured disquisition on what the legislature meant.

Beyond that, you don't get it. Not that any of us are terribly surprised -- failure to understand domestic violence in judges is endemic in our society -- but, dude, you're a Supreme Court justice. We coulda hoped. Allow me to educate you.

You're arguing that "[w]hether or not respondent had a right to enforce the restraining order, it rendered certain otherwise lawful conduct by her husband both criminal and in contempt of court."

OK, why would it render this conduct unlawful? Because he was dangerous. To whom? Well, Sunshine, it certainly wasn't the Pillsbury was Jessica. THAT'S WHY SHE GOT THE RESTRAINING ORDER IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Now, could criminal charges have been filed against her husband for violating the restraining order? Sure. But wouldn't it have been better to just enforce them and, say, not cost the lives of three children? Doesn't she have, like, some sort of property interest in not having her children kidnapped? Or killed? (I know, revolutionary concept here. Drink lots of water and avoid high altitudes while I deal with these upper level concepts.)

Oh, and contempt of court. When I read your comment on that, to paraphrase Wayne's World, I laughed, I cried, I hurled. So would you, were you to visit Ottawa County, Ohio, where women file contempt of court motions that are pending two and a half years later without so much as a hearing, let alone a decision. Contempt of court is difficult to get and rarely enforced.

This was a pretty awful decision, Nino. Just like you devalued the life of Joshua DeShaney, you devalued the three lives of the Gonzales children and the loss their mother suffered. You also gave a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" to law enforcement continuing to look the other way and saying, "Wow, that's messy. I'm going to stay out of it."

But, berate you though I do, you are fond of solving society's problems legislatively and not through the court. There's a great deal to be said for that. And, your decision here can be salved through the legislative process as well. Legislators could pass a law creating a right of action against those who don't enforce protection orders. Making police departments liable to those adversely affected by their inaction.

I plan to petition my legislators to redress this grievance, and I hope others will. Perhaps it's a good thing -- it'll get us talking about a huge problem.

I think the best way to conclude a discussion on this new case is to borrow a conclusion from an old case. Justice Harry Blackmun was one of three justices to dissent from the DeShaney decision, and his dissent was as moving and eloquent as anything I've ever read. Here are the last two paragraphs. They make as much sense now as they did then:

"Like the antebellum judges who denied relief to fugitive slaves, see id., at 119-121, the Court today claims that its decision, however harsh, is compelled by existing legal doctrine. On the contrary, the question presented by this case [489 U.S. 189, 213] is an open one, and our Fourteenth Amendment precedents may be read more broadly or narrowly depending upon how one chooses to read them. Faced with the choice, I would adopt a "sympathetic" reading, one which comports with dictates of fundamental justice and recognizes that compassion need not be exiled from the province of judging. Cf. A. Stone, Law, Psychiatry, and Morality 262 (1984) ("We will make mistakes if we go forward, but doing nothing can be the worst mistake. What is required of us is moral ambition. Until our composite sketch becomes a true portrait of humanity we must live with our uncertainty; we will grope, we will struggle, and our compassion may be our only guide and comfort").

"Poor Joshua! Victim of repeated attacks by an irresponsible, bullying, cowardly, and intemperate father, and abandoned by respondents who placed him in a dangerous predicament and who knew or learned what was going on, and yet did essentially nothing except, as the Court revealingly observes, ante, at 193, "dutifully recorded these incidents in [their] files." It is a sad commentary upon American life, and constitutional principles - so full of late of patriotic fervor and proud proclamations about "liberty and justice for all" - that this child, Joshua DeShaney, now is assigned to live out the remainder of his life profoundly retarded. Joshua and his mother, as petitioners here, deserve - but now are denied by this Court - the opportunity to have the facts of their case considered in the light of the constitutional protection that 42 U.S.C. 1983 is meant to provide."

title? I don't need no stinkin' title! (Except Esquire)

OK, so, I've prayed for a lot of things in my life, including...

  • friends going through a rough time
  • family members who were sick
  • people who were terminal, for their suffering to end
  • the Ohio State Buckeyes
  • the Michigan Wolverines (I didn't say how I was praying for them)
  • political candidates
  • forgiveness

Last night, though, I just prayed for strength to get me through the next 26 days.

[end semi-philosophical rant]

I did feel a bit better today after a conversation with my friend Lindsey. Now, Lindsey is not to be confused with Linds, nor is she to be confused with Lindsay, a friend from high school. Anyhoo, Lindsey L. (not to be confused with a Lindsay L. another friend from high school, not to be confused with Lindsay, the aforementioned friend from high school...are you keeping up with all this?) and I were discussing the bar. I was explaining generally where I was in terms of studying, and looked up and said, "I sound like a complete idiot." She replied I sounded like everyone else, who is also behind their schedule and wondering about the necessity of outlining.

So, let me tell you about outlining. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on here. BarBri says you should outline every subject, and schedules one outline per day basically for weeks. This has really bogged me down, because it's taken me forever to outline some of these subjects. Well, yesterday, I saw a paragraph in our schedule that says, a) if the outlining isn't helping you, you may want to consider omitting it; b) don't panic if it takes you a few days to do a single outline. Well, that makes me feel somewhat better.

Meanwhile, my computer decided to do meltdown stuff yesterday. We're still not sure what caused it, but we do know that all of a sudden hitting ALT-TAB was not having the desired effect of transferring me between programs, my mouse was freezing, and hitting the start button was having no impact whatsoever. Also, my browser occasionally shuts down all on its own volition. (Let's hope that's not the case here.)

So today, I attempted to resolve this problem by calling technical support. As I was doing that, I was sending emails to a friend of mine about the experience. Some excerpts:

4:57 pm
From: Michael
To: C
Subject: wit's end

OK, so, I understand that we reelected W last year and as a result, outsourcing contiues unabated, and as a result, it's cheaper for my call to Compaq to go to India. I understand and embrace it.

Is there any reason I have to listen to Indian music?...Apparently, it was recorded live, because every now and then, you hear what might be sounding like disembodied clapping.

Oh, I've been on for twenty minutes. I've talked to two people, given them identical information, and am just going through intake.

To say nothing of the 50 minutes I spent (wasted?) talking online to a tech support guy.


Yippee, a real person. gotta go. M


5:00 pm
From: Michael
To: C
Subject: is there some reason

I have to give my phone # 4 times to these people? EMAIL, IM, something? Transfer it with my call.

Now giving my address for at least the second or third time. M


5:07 pm
From: Michael
To: C
Subject: and please

don't ask me if I want to renew my warranty right now, when it's been 31 minutes and 20 seconds and I have talked to three or four little Indians, none of whom have helped me.

Also, please, could we possibly figure out a way of me not having to give my serial number, WHICH IS ON THE BOTTOM OF MY COMPUTER, three times? 'Cause turning over the computer and holding it upside down can't be good.

Also, when I read it back, and you say "H as in 'otel," I don't appreciate it.


5:08 pm
From: Michael
To: C

I just gave my telephone number a FIFTH time.

My email address a second time.


It's still a Presario R3000. It was ten minutes ago [when they asked the first time.] It will be in twenty minutes. When we finish the call, it will be an antique.


I wish I could tell you that these emails represent the entire time I was on the phone with these people, but that would be grossly inaccurate. I ended up on the phone for ninety minutes. The first fifty minutes was spend talking to three or four people who took the exact same information. I could just see them sitting there. Guy #1 to Gal #1. "Hey! Michael ______ of _________, Port Clinton, Ohio, whose phone number is _______ is on the phone."

Gal #1: "Great. Why don't I ask him what his phone number is!"

Guy #1: "Oh, you're sexy when you make the Americans go nuts."

[three minutes later]

Gal #1: "Okay, Guy #2, I just got him to recite his phone number again. Why don't you make him give you his phone number AND his address this time?

Guy #2: "Guy #1 just took it from him."

Gal #1: "Yeah, and I'm betting he'll remember it. Teach him to call us!"


[four minutes later]

Guy #2 [to Gal #2]: "Hey, Michael _______ from _________, Port Clinton, Ohio, whose phone number is _______ is Line 172, and you've gotta get a load of this guy. He has a computer problem, he's too stupid to fix it, and have we got him by the neck! He'll give you his phone number all day if you ask him!"

By the end of it, I'm sure my voice was being projected out to thousands of cheering people as I marched through my phone number again. After fifty minutes, the fourth person I talked to said I would need to talk to a technician. (Because I didn't want to spend another fifty minutes trying to attain this particular Nirvana, I didn't point out that was the entire reason I had called them in the first place.)

Well, I will give the technician some credit. While he, apparently, was unable to retrieve my phone number from any of the first four people who had obtained it, he actually was interested in my problems, as opposed to the first three persons to whom I related them, who just listened to me rant and then said, "Yes, but what is your phone number?" He actually had me uninstalling and reinstalling and doing this and that and the other thing. I was appreciative.

Alas, it was to no avail. So, he suggested I reinstall my system. Unfortunately, doing this causes all your data to, like, disappear, so I chose the less-drastic option of "repairing" my system (wasn't that what I'd been wanting to do two hours earlier? No, I wanted to spit out my phone number like one of Pavlov's dogs, that's right.) So, to "repair" my system, the only data that would be impaired would be that which is contained in My Documents, which fortunately only contains all of, you know, my documents. Then, I needed the system disc, which of course, is in Toledo. And I'm in Port Clinton. And so the saga continues.

Fortunately, I have friends who are really good at this kind of thing, and have been burning up the email lines trying to come up with fixes. And providing laughs. Good news (a) is that Word appears to be unaffected, and so I can continue to work on my outlines. (B), and I knock on wood as I say this, my computer is acting normally right now and has not been being very evil since I've come back upstairs from dinner.

So, there's the update from me. I don't know how much bar stuff I'm learning, but I can tell you that I do know my phone number, and if you act like you'll repair my computer, I'll tell it to you.

Stay tuned, blogfans. I've been promising a post on Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, and I'm determined: It's going up tonight. Before it gets overturned.

(Hey, a boy can hope, can't he?)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Well, There's One Less Thing To Worry About

"I don't think there will be any bestiality on the bar exam."

-- Professor Charles Whitebread, during our criminal law lecture. I do not make this stuff up.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

In Which Our Blogger Breathes An Incredible Sigh of Relief

A few days ago, I wrote a little bit about the fact that I was running into problems with the Supreme Court of Ohio because my background check was not yet completed. I think I rather graphically described the Character & Fitness process for you.

Well, the saga continued, and, happily, concluded, today. It didn't appear it was going to, at first. It started with a phone call from the lawyer's office who needs to do the character office. She left a message for me. Now, when I saw her number, I just knew the thing was resolved. I excitedly called her and said, "Shelly, please tell me that the character and fitness thing is there."

She replied, "I hate what I have to tell you."

When you hear that, in my experience, it's generally bad news a-comin'.

"Well, I talked to the Supreme Court, and we're running into a time problem." (You think I hadn't thought this through? The stuff has to be sent from Wisconsin or whatever godforsaken place NCBE has its fortress to Columbus, then from Columbus to Oak Harbor, then from Oak Harbor to Columbus, all in the space of a week.) "If they get it today or tomorrow, it should be okay, but beyond that, things could be difficult. And I asked her when the next opportunity was for you to take the bar, and she said not 'till February." (This, too, I am fully cognizant of, although I hope this turns out to be useless trivia.)

"But," she concluded mournfully, "it's not looking good."

OK, this is not taking the bar exam for six months, not cancer killing me. Of course, this is a perspective which I have about nine hours after the event in question; I don't recall it exactly being there then.

Right then, and I swear I am not making this up, it started to rain. Buckets.

Honestly, I didn't panic. I am of an optimistic disposition anyway, and for some reason, I just thought things would be fine. (No laughing from the peanut gallery.) I didn't have a whole lot to go on; my biggest hope was that someone at NCBE would talk to me, which I had been advised was not something I should pin a lot of hope on. Nonetheless, I dialed. Got an operator. Gave her my name. She put me on hold. (Their hold was one of these incredibly annoying things with two beeps to both remind you you're on hold and annoy the dickens out of you.) Got another person. Gave her my name. She decided I needed to talk to someone else. Put me on hold. More annoying beeps.

Finally got a woman by the name of Janet Riley. Now, I'd been warned NCBE talking to you is really the luck of the draw. And fortunately, I got the luck of the draw today. As it turned out, they had everything they needed -- they hadn't checked to see this, lately -- hello!!! -- and are sending it overnight to Columbus. Who will send it overnight to Oak Harbor. Where I will be interro -- er, interviewed. And they will send it back to Columbus. And all will be well.

What? Oh, yeah, I still have to pass the test.

For something completely different, here's a good idea: a group of conservatives want to take David Souter's house and make it into a hotel. We can do that now, y'know.

Meanwhile, here's a terrible one: Jude Wanniski wants President Bush to make Clarence Thomas Chief Justice of the United States. Uh, where to begin on that one? I think I'll go have a Coke. No, on second thought, I won't.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Good grief...

I'm not wild about the Grokster decision or the one on the reporters, although I understand both. Here's the one that's got my blood boiling. I'll have more to say on this later, but here's a quick summary:

Colorado law has not created a personal entitlement to enforcement of
restraining orders. It does not appear that state law truly made such
enforcement mandatory. A well-established tradition of police discretion has
long coexisted with apparently mandatory arrest statutes.

This is the Supreme Court, holding that, if you get a protection order against someone and the police don't enforce it and that person kills you, you don't have a case against the police department that didn't enforce it.

The case is Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales. As I said, I'll read the whole thing and write more about it later. Right now, I need to study for the bar.

It seems to me we are in need of some new thinking in the legal community.


Drudge's headline, right now, under a picture of Rehnquist:


Oh, what if he didn't?...

What if O'Connor didn't?...

What if they stay on and on and on and on, not obliging the wishes of the right wingers?...

What if W goes eight years and never appoints a Supreme Court justice?...

What if they wait a year and a half and W has to contend with a Democratic Senate?...

What if they all wait 'till Hillary is elected?...

Aw, the poor darlings. They had their hopes up so far.

Actually, I suspect W will appoint a Supreme Court justice or two before the end of our term. But

1) Supreme Court justices don't like to be predictable about when they retire. And Rehnquist loves his job.

2) I don't care how reliably conservative he thinks the person is he finds, justices frequently disappoint their nominating Presidents.

3) Maybe these justices are just scared to let W appoint their replacement.

4) Maybe they're ticked off with the recent war on judges waged by the Republicans.

So, simmer, marinate and stew, right-wingers. Appointing justices is a gift, not an entitlement.

(I also don't think it's out of the realm of possibility Rehnquist will announce his departure as early as this afternoon. But I hope he doesn't.)

A Bit O'Serendipity

As I'm working on freedom of religion and no exercise, the Supreme Court has just ruled that the Ten Commandments may not be displayed at a courthouse.

Stand by for howls of the right-wing, all.

(The same ones who argue that the courts should only read the law as made before them, not come up with their own principles...hmmmm...)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Quote of the Day

Michael's Mom: So, when did they come up with the bar exam?

Michael: I don't know. I think it was when they decided there were way too many lawyers. So, the idea's worked out really well.

I've sometimes said...

...that if I didn't write about politics, I'd be a sportswriter.

Whereupon, my dad pointed out I'd need to learn a little bit more about sports. Fair enough.

But, columns like this one about Shaquille O'Neal getting his MBA are funny, have a good mix of reportage and commentary, and are just generally fun to read. And I think it's also worth quoting this line for its truth:

Now when you consider all the stories about what's wrong with sports, Shaq
walking across a stage in cap and gown with a diploma in his hands is pretty

Shaq traveling across the country to put on cap and gown and walk across
the stage is even cooler, and a striking example of just one of the many good
and classy things O'Neal has accomplished in his life. He can stand so tall at

Anyway, it's a good, easy read, if you're in the mood for some decent writing.

And, believe me, you would be if you've spent hte past few hours getting cozy with terms such as "bona fide affirmative action," "privileges and immunities" and "substantive due process."

Back to it!

Saturday, June 25, 2005


So, I'm back in Port Clinton.

While I was driving down the turnpike tonight, there was a motor home in front of me. It was old and towing a white car behind it. In the back window, there was a little girl -- she can't have been older than four or five, waving at anyone and everyone.

Her eyes fixed on my car -- I drive a yellow Bug, yes, it's been pointed out on numerous occasions that is the "prototypical high school girl's car," but the price was right -- because kids seem to love Bugs. I waved at her, and she kept waving back. So, I honked at her, and she got a huge, heartwarming smile on her face.

Is there really anything that makes you feel better than brightening someone else's day? I don't think there is.

'Night, all.

In Which Our Hero, Provost Goodridge, Makes A Great Discovery: If You Treat Your People Crappily, Your Search For An Interim Dean Won't Go Happily

You may recall that, last week, I mentioned that, in an incredibly snarky move, the Dean of the University of Toledo College of Law's contract was not renewed. (Here's the original post.)

The Powers That Be @UT said they would be appointing an interim dean. And in fact, they have, at the College of Arts and Sciences, whose dean was deposed in a similarly dastardly manner.

So, what's up with not having an interim dean at UT law yet? Well, the comments on this page (which also has some additional information on what went on) suggest what I've been suspecting: The faculty at UT Law (from whom an interim dean is usually chosen) is, in a show of solidarity with Closius, refusing to help the administration out by not putting in an interim dean.

And it now appears we're having problems attracting interim deans from OTHER schools. They're saying, you treated the other guy this way, we're not coming here.

In other words, when next Saturday rolls around, the College of Law will have no dean and no associate dean.

Rather than writing boneheaded editorials such as this one (which were effectively rebutted by two excellent letters to the editor), the Blade ought to be asking: Is it really worth having a rudderless law school because of the provost's personal preferences?

Perhaps we should take up a collection to send Provost Alan Goodridge some Dale Carnegie books, before he singlehandedly dismantles the entire university. Just a thought.

Lines Composed Two Floors Above A Break From A Full Day Saturday Class on Property

I think that I shall never see
A place as desolate as the law school at UT
On June 24 (the day after June 23)
Where law students study property.

While others are enjoying summers carefree
We're dealing with the marketable title warranty
The covenants which you must not breach
Will soon cause every one of us to screech

We've had adverse posession with Jack and Jackie
Whose property was adversely possessed -- how truly tacky!
And Sam constructed a fence for his neighbor Diane's appeasement
And she had to maintain it, as part of an easement.

And so my summer will go, I fear
As the end of my ten minute break draws oh so near.
So, enjoy your summers, lucky people, and when you're back from your rest
I'll still be studying for this bleeping test.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Governor, Your Slip Is Showing

"Public employees can enjoy entertainment, such as golf or dining out, with persons working for a regulated company, or one doing business with the state, ONLY if they fully pay their own way."

-- Bob Taft, six weeks ago

A Disturbing News Day

Yesterday was a big news day, and none of it was good.

First, we had the fallout from Karl Rove's comment: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and prepared for war. Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

Oh, yeah, he made this comment in Manhattan.

Paging John McCain, we need a Republican with some class here.

Karl, baby. The use-of-force resolution passed on September 14, 2001 read, in part, "[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."

Passed the Senate, 98-0. The two not voting were Larry Craig of Idaho and Jesse Helms of North Carolina. I don't assume they were out preparing indictments or therapy for the terrorists, but probably had a good reason for not being there. I'm sure you'd give the same presumption if they were John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.

Now, can we agree there are some liberals in the Senate? Yeah, probably. They really must have watered down the language in there to get that passed. Let's take a look at it Oh, and it was sponsored by a guy named Tom Daschle. Democratic Minority Leader. South Dakota.

Later that day, the House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 420-1, the same resolution. One person dissented, to wit, Barbara Lee, a Democrat of California.

OK, so, let's presume that Barbara Lee was a liberal. (I don't know a damn thing about her, but, hey, we're in Roveland now, so facts don't really matter.) So, on the strength of her vote, liberals were not "prepared for war?" I dunno, there were apparently a few of them who voted to give the President blanket authority to take all appropriate means against nations or groups who HE determined (no legislative or judicial discretion there, all on the President's shoulders) had a part in 9-11.

Yeah, wimpy indeed.

Maybe it was the Patriot Act. Y'know, liberals are always complaining about the Patriot Act. They get so irritated when you try to do searches on the whim of the executive branch or find out what people are reading. They were gnawing at the heels of that damn thing all the way back in 2001.

Or not. Actually, the appropriate description of what happened when the Patriot Act came to the floor of the Senate in 2001 was that everyone rolled over and voted yes. One -- ONE -- person voted against it, Russ Feingold of Minnesota. Ted Kennedy, whoI think everyone agrees is a liberal, voted for it. John Kerry voted for it. Hillary. Barbara Boxer. Even that scofflaw Dick Durbin voted for it.

Indictments? Who the hell was talking about indictments then?

I am hoping and praying we see a MAJOR backlash against these discussions. Things in this country get scarier by the day.

Another scary thing. The Supreme Court. For the love of God, now they can take your property to build a shopping mall? Baloney. I'm not sure I consider myself much of a strict constructionist, but just about anyone can read the provision, right there in the Fifth Amendment that "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

This ruling is ridiculous. If a developer wants to buy land and build it, don't just go say to the government, "Hey, I'm gonna create new jobs, take out Ma and Pa's ranch, please!" Rather, you go to Ma and Pa, and you get them to a price they think is fair for giving up their ranch.

No longer. Now, you just have to convince the government. And you don't even have to convince them that much -- this ruling holds that there needn't even be a "reasonable certainty" that expected public benefits will actually accrue.

I think, and I say this nervously as someone who is on a school board and relies on property tax revenue, people should start demanding that the valuation of their home be keyed to only what they would get if it were taken by eminent domain. And I think there's a decent argument to be made that everyone's property value has now been diminished by the possibility of the government swooping in to take your property.

I'll leave the last word on this subject to Justice O'Connor. While she was definitely asleep at the switch in Bush v. Gore, she phrased it most eloquently here:

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

Meanwhile, General Abizaid testified yesterday that the insurgency is not shrinking, but has stayed constant, which is in direct contradiction to what Vice President Cheney said recently. Leaving us, as per usual with this administration, with two possibilities: Either they don't know the truth or they're hiding it.

You tell me which is more disturbing.


Sitting along the third-base line Wednesday evening, a cool breeze wafting through Jacobs Field, I think I finally realized why they call baseball the Great American Pastime.

Understand, I'm not much of a baseball fan until the playoffs come around, at which point, I love watching the games. (Actually, the only team I follow regularly are the Buckeyes for football.) But I can't be bothered to sit in front of the TV for three hours 162 times a year, wondering who will make the out.

But actually being there? Now, that's spectacular. I was with a good friend, we were having pleasant conversation, I wasn't studying for the bar or doing anything that looked remotely like work, I was watching world-class athletes ply their trade, I was eating a hot dog (OK, that was a bit of a disappointment -- I went out to get a bratwurst with sauerkraut; they were out of them; so I asked for a coney dog, which they said they gave me, but it turned out to be a plain hot dog, and not a very good one at that, certainly not $3 good), and life was generally good.

I think that's when it occurred to me that Abner Doubleday never intended us to watch his creation on TV. He expected us to spend pleasant summer evenings at the ballpark, with friends, watching baseball players and eating $3 hot dogs that weren't very good. (OK, MLB probably wants you to think Abner wanted us to eat $3 hot dogs that weren't very good.)

Baseball Week will continue for me on Monday, with a trip to watch the Mud Hens on Monday. I don't know who they're playing, but it's not so much who they're playing as what.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Since 1980...

the World Series has gone to a game seven eight times, and the home team has won all eight times.

the Stanley Cup finals has gone to a game seven five times, and the home team has won all five times.

the NBA Finals have gone to a game seven three times, and the home team has won all three times.

And Detroit is down 13-12.

Or 0-16, depending on how you look at it.

PS: I just love how they come up with all these great useless stats watching sports on TV.

Watch Me Take The National Conference of Bar Examiners and...or, A Series of Fortunate Events

Later on tonight, I hope to write more about the second half of yesterday, which was a lot of fun, as opposed to the first half of yesterday, which was not fun. But, boy, did I get lucky on how things came together.

I got a phone call from a local attorney's office in Oak Harbor, wondering why they hadn't gotten any paperwork to schedule me for my character interview. At which point, I guess I need to digress.

In order to become a member of the bar, you have to pass a rigorous "character and fitness" test. (Stop snickering.) This involves a 32-page questionnaire filed no later than January, another 18ish pages filed in March, and listing just about every time you've scratched your back with your left hand since seventh grade. For this privilege, you get to pay money you didn't know you had to the Supreme Court for fees.

Well, no detail is too small for the powers that be at the Supreme Court and the National Conference of Bar Examiners, with whom the Supreme Court contracts (using my money...I'm sorry, I don't like to pay for investigations of myself) to perform the background check. This included releases for medical information and the Washington, DC police department. (I lived in DC for four years, and so they want to check out my rap sheet there. It's clean.)

Well, letters were exchanged between me, the Supreme Court, and the NCBE. Their letters would go something like this:

Dear Michael:

Thank you for providing us with the minute-by-minute account of your life. One might think this was enough intrusion into your life; however, we need further personal details from you. Please provide them post haste, or you will never have a career. We realize that you are in your third year of law school and have a life, which will make it more difficult to comply with this request. Tough noogies.

This is, of course, totally voluntary on your part, so no complaining.

Yours very truly,

The Supreme Court of Ohio

to which I would reply

Dear Wise Justices of the Supreme Court of Ohio:

I hope you will permit someone as lowly and humble as me to draft this missive providing you with the information you sought. I assure you it was a pleasure to come up with information that was years and years old and held by people who I had lost contact with. I didn't have anything better to do, so by all means, it is always a pleasure to reply to you.

Please, sir, may I have another?

Yours with the highest regard and much love,


To which they would respond:

Dear Michael:

Thank you for providing us with our latest invasive request. We'll send you another next week. In the meantime, please send us another $55 immediately.

Yours truly,

Supreme Court of Ohio

One kidney lighter, I'd send in my money.

OK, so, releases executed, forms sent, all possible sources of funds depleted, character & fitness process completed, right?

So I thought.

OK, so, the call yesterday is from this attorney's office. They didn't have any paperwork on me and were offering to call the Supreme Court of Oho to figure out why. That sounded good by me.

They called me back. My background check wasn't complete, and if I wanted to find out why, I could call Heidi at the Ohio Supreme Court, which I did.

Well, it turns out that the latest report from NCBE says my file is 81% complete. This was as of June 15, so it was a week old. They were waiting on one character reference, which I got taken care of yesterday (and wasn't a big deal), a background check from the Washington, DC police department (which they may not send, despite my separately executed release from them) and information from two other people.

Once NCBE decides to "close my file" (and this is all NCBE's decision, mind you), they will send the information to the Supreme Court of Ohio. The Supreme Court of Ohio will then send the information to the office of the lawyer who will interview me. I will be interviewed, and the lawyer will send back the information to Columbus.

And all of this must be completed by July 5 at 4:30 P.M.

Oh, and the other thing? The Supreme Court will not get a status update on my NCBE file until one is sent on July 1; but with the holiday weekend and the mail, it probably won't get to Columbus until after July 5. So, in other words, I may be up a creek without a paddle and have no way of knowing it.

OK, so, after completely panicking for a few moments, I start calling these places that have records that need to go to NCBE. Talked to one guy's assistant's voice mail, explained nature of situation with some urgency. Talked to second woman's voice mail, again, nature of situation with some urgency.

Fast forward seven hours later, when I'm done watching the Indians, I climb back in my car and have two messages from the second woman I called. She advises me that she never got a request from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, and is going out of town tomorrow and will be gone until July 7. (The keen among you will note this is two days after the drop-dead information must make it to Columbus.)

I am having a heart attack as I listen to the second message, in which she explains she did find the request, at the bottom of a pile of stuff on her secretary's desk. (I want the secretary's head right about now...) She is faxing it off as we speak.

So, that was my adventure. If this stuff doesn't make it to Columbus in a timely fashion, well...

It will. It will. It will.

(Just to be safe, say a few prayers to whomever you pray to. Even Glod.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On The Principle of "Throw Open The Shutters And Say, 'Good Morning World!'"

"OK! Let's do...Civil Procedure!!!!!!!"

-- Me, to Myself, moments ago as I sat down to work on my civil procedure outline.

OK, I could never be a cheerleader. You can tell when I'm not enthusiastic about something...

This and that

It seems like as good a day to blog a few odds and ends before I have a little lunch and hit the books again...

Something Gained, Something Lost

Over the weekend, I gained, finally, my diploma from the University of Toledo College of Law. (Obviously, my inability to find the Coke's Institutes did not hinder me too much!) Proving that God has an incredible sense of humor, I also received what, one hopes, would be my last missive from University of Toledo parking enforcement in the exact same shipment.

Here's what I lost -- Lexis. Not a car, a research service, or, as they described it when I went on a visit to the Case Western Law School when I was looking at places to go, "like crack cocaine. Free long enough to get you incredibly addicted, then you pay through the nose." Lexis-Nexis contains so much. First, basically, any court decision beyond the common pleas level in the United States is there. Public records. Voter registration files. Transcripts of most all major news shows. Magazine articles. Newspapers. From years and years and years and years back.

I've had access to this stuff since my freshman year of college. You most certainly get it in law school, so they can get you addicted. But now that you've graduated, you're rudely pushed nto the real world where you (or your firm) would have to pay an arm or a leg for it.

So, while I'm still pretty decent at finding things out, I've lost a major tool in my arsenal.

At Least I Won't Be Sleeping In A Box...for a while, anyway...

...when I go to Columbus. I made my hotel reservation the other night at the Lofts, which is an awesome place to stay.

A Day In The Life, Pt. I (with apologies to Lennon-McCartney)

I read the news today, oh, boy
About a lucky man studying for the bar
And though the news was rather sad,
Well I just had to laugh and,
I saw the photograph and,
He blew his mind out in a car.
He had just completely gone deranged.
A crowd of people stood and stared
They'd seen his face before
He was losing it over PMBR...

An Example of a Phone Message to Not Leave a Person Preparing for the Bar

"Hey, how'd your test go? Hope you did really well on the bar exam!"

-- my best friend, who was of the opinion the bar exam was June 20. I have since disabused her of said notion.

A Day In The Life, Pt. II

OK, seriously, one of the things I thought I'd be doing more of in this blog is giving you an idea of what an ordinary day in the life of someone studying for the bar exam is, and I'm not sure I've done it. So here's what you might call the ticktock of my life right now.

One disclaimer -- those who know me know I tend to get involved in a lot of extra things. I'm pleased to report I've successfully held my commitments involving those to a minimum for this summer (thanks, Carol.) So, my days tend to go generally like this...

I usually wake up somewhere between 6 and 7. While waking up and getting out of bed for me is not a problem, actually getting moving sometimes can be. I like to start out by checking email, reading news or surfing the 'Net a bit while watching the "Today" show. Around 8:15, I realize I have to start getting my butt in gear and have to get to the law school. (I'd like to start walking from 6:15-6:45 or something like that, and am actually considering it. My body needs more motion than it is getting right now!)

Class runs from 9-12, sometimes to 12:30. Then, I come back here, check in with messages and email and relax a bit. I try to hit studying from around 2-6, which is when I do my best work. I've been pleasantly surprised to find I am sticking to this pretty well for me, although it wouldn't hurt me to increase my time a bit. By 6, I'm usually done retaining information for a while. I sometimes can get another hour in in the evening, although not usually. I am usually asleep by midnight -- sometimes falling asleep well before then!

I think I'm about where I need to be. No one I have talked to (with the exception of Kylie, who, while wonderful, is a freak of nature when it comes to studying for law school) is actually up with the BarBri study schedule. I am hoping to attain that state of Nirvana soon...

At The Risk Of Sounding Like Laura's Mom...

So, about a week ago, I posted an easy recipe, and my friend Laura advised me I was starting to sound like her mother, also a friend of mine, dispensing recipes at the drop of a hat. Nonetheless, what I made last night was so good and so easy, I am willing to endure the slings and arrows of Laura's sharp wit. Plus, this doesn't really qualify as a recipe since I lost the actual recipe, and am so daggone proud of myself for being able to reconstruct it. will need...

Farfalle (also known as bowtie pasta)
A 14.5 oz can of tomato sauce
A capful of olive oil
1/2 pint of cream
Sprinkling of basil [I told you, I don't have the damn recipe!!! What do you want from me?]
A cup of Parmesan cheese. (I suggest using more than a cup, actually, I just shake the thing to taste.)

Prepare pasta according to package directions. In separate pan, heat olive oil. Add tomato sauce and basil, heat over medium-high heat for four minutes. Add cream and Parmesan cheese; bring to boil and simmer for 1 minute. Toss with pasta. Enjoy.

PS: Thanks to Janet, who let me talk through this recipe before I made to make sure I didn't sound nutty.

Off to read ConLaw!

Monday, June 20, 2005

One reason people hate lawyers

I'll suggest a few reasons. Lawyers and the legal system are given a bad name when:

  • a judge doesn't think a person who's conned the locksmith into giving him a key to the house he was just locked out of is dangerous
  • a judge doesn't think the same person's trying to break through a locked door with a chair is dangerous
  • a lawyer is given the responsibility for conducting an investigation, but her "investigation" consists solely of listening to one side of the story and basing her decision on that
  • consequences for bad behavior are nowhere to be seen.
  • orders of the court are a joke; forget enforcing them, even getting the court to hear them can take years
  • a magistrate comments that a comment "I'm going to kill you" was taken out of context, and isn't worth worrying about because it's a family matter.
  • being reasonable is not rewarded
  • the victim who indicates abuse is ocurring is penalized.
  • it's OK if one in four emails are abusive. (The fatality rate for a gunshot is 1 in 11.)

This is happening, folks. There are studies to back it up. It's an epidemic.

And it's happening in our own backyards. Now. Here. America, 2005.

I've seen it.

And the biggest problem is, no one is talking about it.

I'm going to talk about it.

Titles in the above will be supplemented with names, places, dates, and where you can go to verify this in the public record.

The President is thrilled about tort reform. Saves corporations money.

Want to save them some more cash, W? High medical costs and diminished productivity related to domestic violence costs American corporations between $3 and 5 billion a year.

But it's easier to believe it's not happening to people like us. People who do bad things are punished, right? All that's stuff's so messy and grubby and icky, we'd rather not get involved.

Surprise. You're involved. You're paying for it. Sooner or later, it could be your daughter, your sister, a friend.

And you'll say, "It'll be okay. They won't let someone get away with this."

You can either learn then, or you can learn now.

My vote is for now. 'Cause enough people have learned the other way, and it's plain wrong.

June Memories

I've just finished watching a barnburner of a game between the Pistons and San Antonio. (Alas, San Antonio won in overtime by a point.) I caught the last quarter or so after getting into Toleod around eleven; I flipped between the basketball game and a discussion on Charlie Rose on North Korea, because I'm dorky that way.

But it got me to thinking about when I wouldn't miss a minute of the NBA finals for anything. When no one would. The 1991, 1992, 1993, '96, '97 and '98 finals.

You, of course, know who I'm talking about.

But it wasn't just Michael Jordan. He was the raison d'etre for the finals being so big, but it was the whole atmosphere. The Zen of Phil Jackson. The always-awesome, always lump-in-your-throat inducing intros of Bob Costas. (How he kept coming up with new and different ones, I'll never know.) That cool theme music of the NBA on NBC. The lights in Chicago Stadium going out.

"Aaaaaand nowwwww...the starting lineup for your Chicago Bulls..." Ray Clay, over the song "Sirius." That song still gives me goosebumps, and makes me want to turn the lights out.

And, of course, there was Michael Jordan. Who always pulled out the right move at the right time. Who made it look easy, and made it fun to watch. Who ended it one June night with one last dose of magic, barely looking as he sunk the winning shot. What a way to go out.

It couldn't last. But, wow, what memories.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Among the Treetops

It's been a pretty decent weekend; I'm in Port Clinton (will return to Toledo later this evening), and my parents have been gone all weekend taking my brother to camp, so I've had the house to myself. And no, I didn't have a party or somesuch crazy thing. I've really been studying, or taking a break from same, all weekend.

We recently moved to a new house and my favorite room is a sort of sunroom, with windows on three walls. Our house sits on a cliff (which could prove convenient if this bar exam studying proves oppressive, or unsuccessful), and on the ground under the cliff trees were planted years ago. So, sitting in the sunroom (which is where I've been for most of the weekend), you do feel like you are up in the trees. It's a rather strange, but really neat, effect.

I have to say, yesterday I probably overdid it here and, by about 9:30, was getting sick of this room and had to go take shelter in the family room just to move.

I outlined Contracts this weekend and am now going through my CivPro outline. I also did 34 multichoice questions from BarBri on Contracts, and got 20 right. This is about 58%, which is comforting, because Feinberg of PMBR fame said that by the end of June, we would probably be at 60%. Perhaps, perhaps, things are coming together. Knock on wood.

I'm going to start packing up my car and wait for my parents to return home, so I can wish my dad a happy father's day. Plus, he's going to make steak on the grill!

Hope everyone's having a good weekend. Make sure you check the stunning statistic right below this entry.

PS: Howdy, Michelle (probably the person reading this who's known me the longest...1st grade...the stories she could tell)-- will I see you July 9?


This statistic, I think, speaks for itself:

Number of battered womens' shelters in the United States: 1500

Number of animal shelters in the United States: 3800

Saturday, June 18, 2005

While I Was Out Studying For The Bar, I Missed It When The University of Toledo Blew A Hole In The Law School

So, yesterday was the professional responsibility lecture. The lecturer was over by 11, when most of them go 'till closer than 12:30. (Reader: Insert your own punchline.)

Before I headed back to school, I needed to do one or two things in the computer lab. So, I wandered up there and got into a conversation with another guy who just graduated from law school. He's taking BarBri for Michigan students, which is also offered at the law school. We chatted a bit about our study methods, which was a good conversation because I clarified that others are using the Conviser outline much more as a study outline, and also that being a day or so behind the study schedule is actually ahead, relative to others. :-) (It's still behind, and I don't like that, hence my happiness at having the weekend.)

Well, we were chatting, and a girl from our class walked in. Now, this person is good-natured, well-liked and levelheaded, so when it became apparent she was fuming, it was something to sit up and take note about.

Well, I found out why she was fuming, and by the end of her description, so was I. Not to mention, embarrassed.

I was embarrassed because the tale I'm about to tell you has not only been going on for the past two weeks, and has basically passed its prime now, but also because it was in the newspaper and I didn't realize it. It was in the damn newspaper!!!!

Our Dean at the law school is a guy named Phil Closius. I had Closius for Con Law I and II, and he was awesome. (See some of his quotes in a student publication here.) Many people also think he's got to be related to Ben Stein.

Closius has been Dean since 1999. It's clear to me the faculty is behind him and is appreciative of the work he's done to enhance the school. He takes a personal interest in students and has gone out of his way to ensure their success, understanding that their success is also the law school's success.

Beyond that, I think one of the most tangible things he's done has been bringing well-known speakers to the law school. In three years there, I saw two Supreme Court justices and a former attorney general (to name three folks off the top of my head; there were more.) The law school moved into the second tier of law schools last year from the third tier (although it moved back down into the third tier this year...a statistical fluctuation, basically.)

OK, so, why I'm fuming. Closius' contract is up June 30. Last year, around this time, he started pointing this out to The Powers That Be In Charge of Closius' Contract, suggesting maybe it was time to start talking about what the next one would look like. They kept saying (in essence), "Yeah, Phil, we'll get back to you."

Then, someone pointed out that the University is taking Deans to four year contracts and Closius had three. (OK, so, negotiate a four-year contract, for goodness sake!) "OK, Phil, we'll get back to you."

This continued for the better part of the year, until finally in May, Closius himself drafted a contract and sent it over to the provost's office. Actually, he drafted two: A four-year contract and a one-year contract, in case they wanted him to be interim dean and bring someone else in. Closius has been making $191,011 a year and wanted (for the four-year contract) to go to $210k, plus a one-time payment of $10,000.

Now, that's admittedly a jump (in fact, here's a post by someone who thinks Closius got exactly what he deserved), and the provost (who, as we shall see in a moment), ultimately decides such matters only makes $232 more than Closius' requested salary. But does anyone ever make their first request for a raise what they want it to be? No, you increase it so you have room to negotiate.

Apparently, no one told this to provost Alan Goodridge. On May 31, he had dinner with Closius and some other folks, and was apparently very pleasant and gave no indication anything was wrong. On June 1, Closius headed out of town, and around the time his plane was wheels-up, his secretary was handed a letter for him from Goodridge saying they weren't going to renegotiate his contract and he could return to teaching.

Now, here's where it gets slightly embarrassing, in that this was reported in the Toledo Blade on June 3, which I completely missed. I think it's fascinating to read Goodridge's comment that "I don't think performance was an issue as far as this decision. This really resulted with some demands that didn't provide us with much wiggle room."

OK, setting aside the fact it resulted from demands, not with (and you would think a provost of a university could keep that straight), let's think about this. How do contracts get accomplished? They are (say it with me) ne-go-ti-a-ted. One side says, "This is what I think the contract should look like." The other side says, "Your price is too high./I can't pay in six installments, can it be twelve?/I can't deliver your widgets by Friday, could it be next Wednesday?" You (hopefully) come to some agreement.

So, no negotiation on this. The law school is up in arms, petitions are passed, and so Goodridge agrees to have a meeting on Tuesday. (I was still, regrettably, blissfully unaware and buried in BarBri, or I would have been up in arms and signing petitions as well, as well as attending the meeting.)

Now, someone had told the Blade, which had a fairly blase report on the meeting. Here's a post by someone who went and thought the students didn't handle themselves that well.

The person I talked to who went to the meeting told me that Goodridge basically said he didn't like Closius' "confrontational style" (with regard to his contract), and that's why he didn't renew the contract. He did say something to the effect that this was only his second contract he'd dealt with. (I'm not surprised, if this is how he handles 'em. If the university continues to trust him to negotiate contracts, they'll soon have no one left!)

And then he made a critical mistake. On the list of things you Just Don't Wanna Do, this has got to be right up at the top.

Now, picture this. 100-150 irate law students. Him. He's outnumbered. And he says to these 100-150 law students...

"Well, let me tell you something about contracts."

My understanding is that first there was a mass snarl, and then laughter. Derisive, pervasive laughter. So much laughter it made even Goodridge realize how bad it sounded, and he backed down on the trying-to-tell-people-who-by-definition-took-two-classes-on-contracts-their-first-year idea.

So, Closius appealed Goodridge's decision. Here's another fun thing: When you don't like the provost's decision, you appeal it to........

the provost.

Yeah, guess how that came out. It was denied yesterday.

Here's what bothers me the most. It's not a Closius thing, although I think he was a great Dean. It's the fact that I had (and still have) great feelings of warmth for the University of Toledo College of Law. In fact, after graduation on May 7, I stopped Closius in the hallway to let him know I looked forward to contributing as an alumni, which is more than I can say for my undergrad institution. Going there was truly a great experience.

But, why am I going to give my money to what I think is a great institution to make strides to improve, when the administration over it has shown a willingness to swoop in after five years and cut them off at the knees?

At the end of Closius' email to faculty and students yesterday, he wrote, "I still do not believe that this decision is in the best interests of the College of Law." I couldn't agree more. First of all, this whole charade has ticked off our associate dean, Beth Eisler, so much that she won't continue as associate dean. (Both she and Closius are going back to teaching, which is one bright spot, because Closius is a great teacher and I've heard very good reviews on Eisler as well.) So, the two people who have led as our standing increased and our bar pass rates scores increased (and let's all pray they continue to this term!!!!) are going.

This makes no sense. And I'm embarrassed I wasn't aware this was happening before final decisions were made. But make no mistake, I will still be writing a letter to express my displeasure.

And I'm not sure I can say the same about a check. Which really saddens me, because I was looking forward to supporting the College of Law. But, if the University of Toledo can't, why should I?

PS: I can't wait to hear what the new dean (who I hope has everyone's support, this isn't his fault) makes.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Good day

Yesterday, Linds wrote on her blog (what? you haven't been to see it yet?) about days "when you wake up all energetic and peppy and your mind just naturally focuses on 'getting things done'" [fuller explanation on the link, although I didn't have "She's Got The Beat" going through my head today, which is probably a good thing.] She then went on to bemoan that she wasn't having one of those days, which I particularly appreciated since I wasn't either.

Well, I'd like to incorporate by reference her description of one of those good days because today has definitely been one of them. I woke up around 6:15 and was not just awake but AWAKE -- ready to (in the words of my dad), "Hop out of bed, throw open the shutters, and say, 'GOOD MORNING WORLD!!!!!!'" This is how he thinks everyone should begin the day. (It drives my mother nuts.)

Well, anyway, I don't have any shutters, but I headed off for the lecture on agency and partnerships; then came home and was actually inclined to study and started in on it after an hour break. I did that for roughly the past three hours, which is some sort of consecutive personal record for me. (I have to admit I became markedly less dedicated in hour three.)

I also today have gone out on a limb and actually allowed myself some exposure to fresh air -- I have my windows open. So far, so good; allergies are not bothering me yet. I hope I don't pay for it in a major way. It is also incredibly temperate outside.

So, now, I feel like I've done enough for the day (although I really haven't and will probably try to do another hour's worth of work this evening) and can do some other things, most importantly, fulfill the description of the day again supplied that "when it's all over, your apartment is clean, too." Because my apartment needs cleaning, and the Cleaning Elf who usually does it appears to have gone on vacation.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

In Which The King of the Road Decides To Kill All The Lawyers

This was going to be a somewhat-philosophical post on the nature of law and law school; and that will come sometime this week; but I slipped a CD into my CD player and the way my brain operated when the song started playing indicated I am severly disturbed. (Such fact is not to be inferred by the fact I'm listening to "King of the Road.")

Trailer for sale or rent

Is this an offer? Probably not; not enough definite terms.

Rooms to let, fifty cents.

This sounds more like it; price is stated, as are the terms.

No phone, no pool no pets
Ain't got no cigarettes

Ah, but two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight-by-twelve four-bit room

Ah, now that last stanza there might just be a unilateral offer! It's not good enough to say, "I promise to push broom for the eight-by-twelve four-bit room," you have to actually push the broom to accept the offer. Perhaps.

I'm a man of means by no means,

This could be grounds for insecurity upon which a merchant might demand reassurance from a seller under the Uniform Commercial Code.

King of the road.

Third boxcar, midnight train.
Destination, Bangor, Maine.

Old worn out suit and shoes,
I don't pay no union dues.

I smoke, old stogies I have found

Possible issue of lost property. What is the statute on it in Maine?

Short, but not too big around
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the Road.

I know every engine on every train

On the weight of this statement, King of the Road will be unsuccessful in arguing he was surprised when the 7:05 to Bangor was three minutes late.

All of the chillun
And all of their names

People like you are supposed to register at the Sheriff's office, I believe.

And every handout in every town
And every lock that ain't locked when no one's around

Which knowledge could be useful in a career as a repo man, since today, Professor Michael Sabbath told us that in breach of the peace, you have to threaten violence. If, as the King infers, these locks ain't locked when no one's around, no breach of the peace will occur, and the goods may be able to be repoed, although courts tend to frown on breaking and entering to repo goods.

I'm sure it will come as a surprise to you all that I had a Secured Transactions lecture today and spent the rest of the time studying Contracts.

I will also say that, every now and then, I think someone Up There sends you a little memo to quit complaining. I was waiting for a lecture to start today and chatting with my friend Shelby, who yawned and mentioned that "the girls were up at 6:30." By "the girls," Shelby, who is studying for the selfsame bar exam I am, was referring to her twins, who are not more than a year and a half old.

I really don't have it that rough.

I just would like to believe I'll someday listen to King of the Road again without having flashbacks to Contracts.


OK, so, I think this morning I woke up and realized just what a complete hell this could ultimately turn out to be.

Today is supposed to be the start of the cooldown that was supposed to be here yesterday. (It seems to have gotten lost somewhere that was nowhere around here, meaning it was thus damned hot.) I was looking outside and thinking about the joys of summer (I guess this was more a theoretical thought, since I won't be going outside anytime soon with these allergies.) But I was thinking about how nice it was that, once I got back from the law school, I wouldn't have anything I'd have to get done.

Oh, I thought to myself, other than studying.

Perhaps I can get it done quickly, said I. And that'll leave me the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, I'm not that good. I don't get them done quickly -- I don't have the patience to do three hours in one sitting, usually, so it drags out into the early evening and then your day is pretty well shot.

And anyone who says "oh, you only have six more weeks left" will be summarily executed.

After I do another 50 PMBR questions.

Edit: Almost forgot! The "Today in Twisted History" at Me4President2008 advises that today is the feast of St. Germaine Cousin, who is (I just must quote this verbage): "patron of seemingly disparate causes of female sheepherders & child-abuse victims."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Raw Materials

WARNING: If you are currently studying for the bar, the picture below may make you nauseous.

I post this not because I wanted to prove that if bad news comes my way when the results are in, I'll still have a future doing layouts for a magazine; rather, because it illustrates some difficulty I had over the weekend. Trying to be a diligent student, I took home several books. Unfortunately, they weren't the right one. This, I'm quite sure, is because I was an idiot, and not because it's difficult to keep which book is which straight right off the bat. (Of course, one could have read the directions on the front of one's study schedule, but one wasn't smart enough to do that, regrettably.)
So, for those of you fortunate enough to not be taking the bar and enjoying the summer, here's a quick summary of what these books are.
Starting in the top row, on the left, you have the Ohio outlines. These are massive outlines in subjects not tested on the multistate multichoice questions; but tested on the Ohio essay questions. These are ponderous and fairly dull, but have just about every answer you might need. Maybe.
Middle, top row, Drills & Released Questions. These are actual previous multistate questions, asked of bar examinees in years passed, which questions have now been released. (Hence, the term, released questions.)
On the right, in yellow, Essay Testing. As you may have guessed from the title, this book contains...essays. Past essays from the Ohio bar exam, in fact, at least, those which are still tested. There are several questions not included, where they say, "No Question: Subject No Longer Included." I always wonder how that makes the people that flunked the bar exam on their answers to one of those questions feel.
Second row, far right, below the essays. The Conviser Mini Review. This mini review contains outlines, not to be confused with the Ohio Outlines, of course. Conviser's Mini Review is easier to read, more accessible, full of charts and such, although I dispute that it's "mini" anything.
To its left is the MPT Workbook, not to be confused with the Essay Testing workbook. The MPT Workbook is where you are given a case file with relevant (and irrelevant) law and facts and asked to come up with a legal solution. We haven't even touched the MPT yet.
To its left are the Practice Questions, which are not, in any circumstances, to be confused with the Drills & Released Questions. The practice questions are actually just a precursor to answering the questions in the drills and released questions. (Yes, you read that right: Essentially, you are studying to study for the bar exam.) Surely, no one with a law degree would confuse the two, right? Certainly not! Because it would certainly suck if you were to do that when you were going home for the weekend and take the Practice Questions when you were supposed to take the D&RQ. Could throw off your whole study schedule for the first half of the week, if you were such an idiot.
Believe me.
OK, just below that is the Ohio Lecture Handout book. This book has several charming features: (1) It forces you to go and pay attention to lectures, so you can fill in the blanks and have the answers when you go back to study later. (2) It reminds you just how bad your handwriting can be sometimes, and encourages you to do better before you take a test that will require legibility. Such a confidence booster.
To its right is the Multistate outline book. This is not to be confused with the Ohio outline book, the D&RQ, the MPT or either of the Multistate Workbooks. This is much like the Ohio outline book, insofar as it has more dense outlines, but just on subjects covered by the multistate bar exam. Still confused? That's tough! That's tricky! That's......the multi-state!
Below that are the two PMBR books, each of which contain ungodly numbers of multistate multichoice questions. You're supposed to do fifty questions a night out of there. That is tricky, and that is, most definitely, tough.
So, if you can master these books, what they mean, and what all the abbreviations on your study schedule relate to, you may be ready to start studying for the bar with some higher degree of confidence.
I'll need to get back to you on that one.

Sustenance for the Starving Bar Studier

OK, if you're looking for a substantive post, don't worry, I won't be denying you of your substantive due posting rights ;-) just by posting a recipe here tonight. I'm actually working on another one, and decided to post this first so it won't stay at the top of the blog for long.

Here's the situation. You've been in class this morning; you've studied most of the afternoon; your brain is numb; and if anyone tries to talk to you about an elective share, you might very well commit a violation of the state's many stringent anti-homicide laws. You are in no gourmet mood, but pizza doesn't sound good.

In other words, tonight.

It's time for hash brown casserole. Not only is it incredible once finished, it's so easy to make even I can do it!

1 bag (26 oz.) frozen country style hash browns [OK, I buy OreIda tater tots, and they only come in a 32 oz. bag, which makes it a bit of an inexact science.]
2 cups (one bag) shredded Mild Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup milk
1/2 cup beef stock or canned beef broth
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Combine hash browns, cheese and onion in a large bowl.

3. In a smaller bowl combine milk, broth, melted margarine, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix and pour over hash browns. Blend well.

4. Spoon hash brown mixture into the sprayed baking dish.

5. Bake for one hour, stirring in at least twice to insure thorough cooking. (In other words, every twenty minutes; this breaks up the tater tots and makes them more like hash browns but they still retain their crispy outside.)

6. Serves 8. (Ha!) Refrigerate any leftovers.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Collection of Three Short Films

(OK, they're not films, they're just entryettes, but I thought calling them short films made them sound artistic and serious.)

Paranoia, It Can Really Annoy Ya

First of all, I highly recommend you hightail your mouse right over to Lindsionary if any of the following apply to you:

a) You are not getting your fill of panicky bar exam studying from me.

b) You want to read some pretty funny -- and accurate -- takes on law school (see especially this post and this post).

c) You appreciate good writing and laughing out loud.

Lindsay, the proprietor of Lindsionary, recently left me a comment that I'm going insane. I'm not sure if I'm to that stage yet, but I do think I'm getting paranoid.

So, the other day, I was returning from a break in BarBri, and I see Professor Davis at the elevator. Now, I've never had a class with Professor Davis; don't know the man at all. Anyway, he's holding a Twinkie and a pack of Big Red gum in his hands, which one could infer was purchased from the vending machines. "Do you like Big Red gum?" he asked me. Well, as a matter of fact, I do, and apparently he doesn't, so he handed me the packet of Big Red gum, gratis.

No earthly reason for me to distrust this pack of gum. Professor Davis is, so far as I know, a perfectly nice guy who gives packs of Big Red gum to people he's seen around the law school but doesn't know with no earthly motives. The pack was sealed.

And yet, every time I put a stick in my mouth, I think, "This might be it. Perhaps They Who Wish Me Failure in the Bar Exam have employed Professor Davis as their conduit, and Big Red gum as their modus operandi for doing me in. It could kill me instantly. Worse yet, right as I start to answer the first question on the bar, having studied for it all summer and lost my last summer. Or even worse yet, at the end of the bar. Or even worse, just before I find out whether I passed, thus leaving me with an eternity of never knowing."

Then I think, "Wow. It's only June 15. I'll be a hell of a lot of fun by the Fourth."

Memos to Santa Maria


To: The Jury
From: Michael
Subject: C'Mon!

Now, really.

He's 46 years old, sleeping with kids in his bed.

Did you notice that all the previous victims that came in under the prior bad acts evidence looked the same?

Did you ever stop to think that he might select his prey for vulnerable people? That, when he realized the mother was a whackjob, he decided this would be a good one to molest?

I tell you, your decision today was no Thriller. You should have told him to Beat It, because he was Bad. He's even Dangerous.

On the other hand, it's not like it was a slam dunk. It was a tougher case. Prosecutors don't get their witnesses from central casting, and witnesses change their stories when they get on the stand. So, I at least understand where you came from.

But still.



To: Michael
From: Michael
Subject: Where to begin?!?!

OK, you dodged a bullet today. A big bullet. Right now, you coulda been having a sleepover of your own at the Santa Monica County Jail, and I don't think you'd have enjoyed that.

But dude. You gotta make some changes. Your Creep Factor is out of the stratosphere.

Knock off the sleeping with little boys. In fact, knock off having them in your bed altogether. In fact, knock off having little boys around you at all. Ever. Because all we're going to do is look at you and go, "Ewwwww."

No, I know you think it's sweet. And innocent. And childlike.

Dude. It's not.

Don't get a girlfriend if you don't want one -- no one would believe it even if you did (although somehow, I think you and Paris Hilton might be a match made in heaven.) Be a confirmed odd bachelor.


We'd really appreciate it.

Oh, and if you manage to go broke while owning the publishing rights to all the Beatles' songs, you will go down in history as one of the stupidest businessmen in history.



To: Activists Who Claim The System is Biased
From: Michael
Subject: Please Note...

...there was a lot of bellyaching about the fact there were no blacks on the jury. I should hope this verdict will go a little ways towards establishing it doesn't matter if you're black or white.

Of course, some pointed out the defendant was white, too.


I went home this weekend (more about that tomorrow, most likely); anyway, I managed to leave my handouts book here in Sylvania, and by the time I was out of my 7 AM meeting today, it was either get to class on time and without the book or late and with the book. Since I had my computer, I just took notes.

I did some contracts answers and some ConLaw answers today. I didn't know how I'd come out on the ConLaw answers because I felt very un-confident and didn't think I'd do as well as I did last time when I did fifty questions (29/50.) I shouldn't have worried; I got 32 out of 50.

Joyous. It appears a nest of some sort of bugs has perched itself above my window in my living room, thus cutting off the possibility of egress to my porch. This is not quite as upsetting as it might otherwise have been, insofar as I can't go outside or even have the window open yet without completely flaring up my allergies.

All for now.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Let's All Go Down To Amish Country And Watch 'Em Play That Ancient Game Of Rock, Paper & Scissors

I'm not quite sure where this post will go, and it may be somewhat lengthy, because I have a series of somewhat disconnected thoughts, which have as a loose connecting thread Con Law, which is something that I could ramble on forever (OK, for quite a while) about. I'm going to try not to do it, but I enjoy it and some of the examples are kind of fun. And I just realized I should explain that Con Law is legalese for Constitutional Law, not about swindlers!

First of all, on a general basis about me: The darned paper that I've made reference to before in this space is now in Professor Kennedy's hands. (OK, more accurately, in his secretary's.) His note to me about it said that my final grade would be based on my revisions, but the good news is I don't get a grade, he just has to give me two research credits, which he will. I did make some revisions, although mainly they were getting things out of the passive voice and reformatting my footnotes. However, some of the suggestions he made sent me off on a wild goose chase -- for instance, he suggested I look up something called "The Coke's Institutes" which would discuss incompetency. (Kylie, have you ever dealt with the Coke's Institutes?)

Well, this led me into the law library's second floor, where I soon realized the book I sought was in the section on English law. Now, note please that my paper contained half a sentence on how the idea of guardians ad litem had its root in English concepts; that was it. But here I was, immersed in Merry, Verry Olde English Law.

And I mean very olde. I had volumes in my hand that, no joke, were published sometime in the 1800s. I saw volumes on maritime regulation in Great Britain, which I'm sure will be jolly good fun when I decide to take a teatime cruise down the Thames, but were of absolutely no use in researching this paper. I did see books on British domestic relations law, but I'm more interested in curing our system than theirs. And I never could find the damn Coke's Institutes, even with the call number in hand. I do, still, hold out hope to find a slimmed-down version of such book, which will be the Diet Coke's Institute.

Anyway, I'm very pleased to be done with the paper because my need to complete it was infringing on my study schedule from BarBri, which was already a little set back by my frenetic schedule of earlier this week. Fortunately, the schedule is clear, the paper is done, and I'm settled in. I was originally going home tonight for the weekend, but have shortened that to going back tomorrow evening to celebrate Father's Day early (my brother is leaving for camp next week so won't be around for it.) That gave me tonight and tomorrow to do some studying. Plus, I plan to do more at home on Sunday; stay overnight Sunday night, and head back Monday morning.

The past two days, I've spent in the Con Law review. (You were wondering if I was ever going to get to Con Law, weren't you?) BarBri's Con Law review (in Ohio, at least) was taught by a woman named Mary Cheh (pronounced Chay), a professor at George Washington University. (I should have met her while I was there...inside joke, I went to American University but some people are confused...)

Mary, sadly, was fairly ponderous, long-winded and dry. She occasionally dropped a hint that she might have a humorous bone in her body, although one time was very unintentional. The first time was intentional, when she was discussing how, years ago, Congress required states to permit drivers to turn right on red. "I might point out," she said, "that in the District of Columbia, we've modified this to include left on red and straight on red as well." (This is one of the reasons I never had a car in DC.) As someone at AU's student newspaper, The Eagle, wrote once, "I didn't know that stop signs were optional in the District of Columbia."

At some point, she was talking about some concept and decided to draw a comparison -- and, as a result, drew howls from her audience in Toledo. (Because these people are all on videotape, it allows us to be particularly merciless, although I think her live audience probably didn't cut her much slack on this, either.) "When I was a kid," she said, "we played this game, and I'm not sure if you've ever played it, and what we'd do is we'd take our hands and throw symbols." (Does this sound like something the Lucas County Gang Task Force might be interested in? I wondered to myself.) "If you made a fist, that was a rock. If you put your hand out like that, that was paper. If you took two fingers like this, it was scissors."

Yeah, rock, paper, scissors...that definitely went the way of whist, didn't it? (Actually, a student at the University of Toledo recently participated in the national rock, paper, scissors competition, thus proving one of Bassett's Unalterable Laws of the Universe: If you search hard enough, there is a national competition for everything.)

That was the major excitement yesterday, although some people got pretty excited in another way when she concluded the section she said would wrap up the day and decided that talking about state action would be a great bridge to lead us into today. Bridge into troubled waters, was what that was.

(You might guess that a bridge that goes into any waters is not a good thing. And you would be right. So it was with the Cheh Bridge.)

Today, she made a comment that was probably true but also very disturbing, and may one day soon form the basis of another post here. "From time to time on the bar exam, you will see someone who is a saint, a selfless person, a completely sympathetic person. On the bar exam, this person gets nothing." Cruel, although I have to say I have evidence to support that this is not a bad representation of what legal life can be like. Grrrr.

Today was some of the fun stuff -- ballot access, redistricting, and my particular favorite -- freedom of speech. By the way, when redistricting, y'all should know that it's unconstitutional to draw lines to suppress voting power of parties. So, I'm really glad that doesn't happen, Texas.

Freedom of speech, oh how I love thee. I guess freedom of speech appeals to the sensibility of me that wants the guy in authority to get it. Plaintiffs in freedom of speech cases are not generally sympathetic characters. You've got your flag burners, your defamers, your huddled Nazis yearning to march in Skokie.

Now, I disagree completely with flag burners, defamatory statements (as a victim of some) and certainly with Nazis. I also think it's completely against everything we as a country stand for to try to shut any of these people up. I think you let them go on and they will expose themelves for the idiots they often are.

Good speech is not, generally, polite speech. When I write, I try to write with verve and wit and keep you interested. Paul Robert Cohen was trying to keep people interested, too, and in the process, created Cohen v. California. (I love this case for whimsical reasons.)

The year was 1968. People were all stirred up about the draft, and, Mr. Cohen was, too. Not content to write a letter to his local newspaper, he decided to be slightly more bold and put on a jacket saying "F--- the draft." (I don't know where Paul got "F--- the draft" stitched on to his jacket, and I should point out that there were not dashes in Paul's version. Perhaps he was handy with a needle and thread.) Not content to admire himself in the mirror, he decided to venture out into the world.

Now, were I inclined to don such a garment and venture outside (which I'm not!), I'd probably peer cautiously out of my apartment, take a few tentative steps out, pronounce my principles satisfied, turn right around and head back inside, pronouncing my principles satisfied. Not Mr. Cohen. He decided to wander into the Los Angeles County Courthouse, where he was observed wearing the jacket and was arrested for "offensive conduct."

The Supreme Cout held, basically, that a simple public display of that four-letter word could not be made criminal. I tend to agree...but that's not why I love this case.

My first reason is the reaction of the Supreme Court justices. The Chief Justice at the time, Warren Burger, concerned with the decorum and sensibilities of the august institution that is the Supreme Court, advised the attorney arguing Cohen's position that the Court was "familiar with the facts."

Translation: "Don't you dare drop the F-bomb in my Supreme Court."

The attorney, a First Amendment advocate named Melville Nimmer, felt his position wouldn't carry the day unless he uttered the word in the Supreme Court because, "[i]f a well-respected attorney could speak those words in the Supreme Court, should a young man go to jail for displaying them on his jacket in a courthouse?" And so, Nimmer (after, I presume, taking a very deep breath and probably wondering if he was about to win a free trip to Fort Leavenworth) recited the facts, complete with a statement of exactly what his client's jacket had said.

As it turned out, he didn't end up in Fort Leavenworth (although in The Brethren, Bob Woodward reported Burger was none too happy) and won his case. Conservative Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote for the majority, "[O]ne man's vulgarity is another's lyric."

My other whimsical reason for loving Cohen is that every time I hear it, I have to tell a great story that is told in the biography of Woody Hayes, Buckeye, to give an idea of what the fervor against perennial rival Michigan is like in Columbus. In the mid-seventies, a young man was arrested for driving around with a bumper sticker on his car that said "F--- Michigan." (As with Mr. Cohen's jacket, the dashes were not present in the original.) He was arrested under some statute that indicated he was being disorderly by making offensive statements.

The judge dismissed the case, finding that the f-word means "to have sexual intercourse," and that, taken literally, "F--- Michigan" thus expressed a desire to have sexual intercourse with the entire state of Michigan. This, as everyone knows, is an impossibility, and thus, no one could be offended by it.

I've always thought the far better argument for dismissing this case was on contemporary community standards grounds, which is what we judge obscenity cases on. I'll explain. In determining whether material is obscene, one of the things that has to be determined is whether the material would be considered offensive by contemporary community standards. Well, if you've ever traveled to Columbus, especially around the third week of November, you'll understand what I mean when I say that a bumper sticker of this type would not be offensive. If you don't believe me, walk down the streets of Columbus and listen for their version of the Michigan fight song, which manages to incorporate two of the seven words you can't say on TV within four words, a feat previously reserved only to rappers.

Well. Enough ranting on the First Amendment for the evening. I told you this would be disconnected. But it's interesting -- at least, I think so. :-) Or else I'm going insane.

Or insaner.

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