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.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Notes on Blogging and Lawyering (Incompatability Of); Memorial Day; Living in a Tourist Mecca; and More

I've been meaning to update, and haven't gotten to for a while. However, when you start receiving emails (OK, really, only one) asking you to update, it's probably time.


I've been a little busy lately, and of course, due to attorney-client confidentiality, I can't tell you what I've been up to. I have to say it is frustrating; not that I want to go blabbing client secrets, but it can even be difficult to explain what is going on in a generic sense to try to advocate for change in the system as a result of this.

I think, however, I can say this. As anyone who's been reading this blog for very long knows, I am interested in representing victims of domestic abuse, especially with regard to how this plays out in the custody arena. I have blogged previously on issues in the court system that are perceived and how they are perceived to impact victims of domestic abuse.

I find it absolutely stunning how watching them play out in real life has, in many ways, been very similar to what I have written about.

There is much work to be done.


I hope everyone got a chance to commemorate Memorial Day in some small way yesterday. I did what I've been doing for the past eighteen years, which was go to the Oak Harbor Memorial Day services with my grandparents. (I've actually missed three in that time -- one in 1995, when I got sick; one in 2000, when I was in Washington, DC for summer classes; and last year, when I was spending my last day in our house.)

Yesterday it was hot -- around 90 -- but, to paraphrase my grandmother, this is what some servicemen in Iraq right now are calling a light day at the office.


Memorial Day also marks the start of the tourist season. For you out-of-staters, the northcoast of Lake Erie is the place everyone wants to be. (Years ago, we were the #2 destination; now, we may well be the #1.) As a frame of reference, I live about twenty minutes away from Cedar Point, which everyone seems to be familiar with. Port Clinton is right on Lake Erie, and our population, usually 5,000 in the winter, can swell to a quarter of a million on July 4.

As you might imagine, this leads to a little congestion, and occasionally, friction between locals and tourists. I, personally, am delighted to see the tourists come; they are unquestionably good for the local economy. (And, full disclosure, my family owns a 60,000 square foot grocery store that is a leading beneficiary of same!)

But there are some people who are not as excited to see the tourists come. They don't like the traffic problems it creates, the crowding, or the increase on property taxes it's led to.

I hear them, although I disagree. Something struck me this weekend about this. The complex I live in has a pool. About the best way for me to find relaxation is to sit by a pool on a pleasant day with good reading material and my iPod nearby. Over the weekend, I didn't venture out there (or out much at all, despite the beautiful weather), because the pool was so crowded.

Could I get irritated and argue it was because of the tourists? Sure, I could. But, in the end, I get the last laugh. Because yesterday, about 4:00, they all packed up and made a three hour drive home. I, meanwhile, put on my suit and grabbed my towel and went down to the pool, where there were just a scattering of people, and hung out for about three hours.

See, I get the last laugh. Others spend lots of money to have a second home here, and will drive great distances to come here. I have one home, and wake up here. They get to enjoy it on the weekends; I get it all week.


Every time I read it, I want to suggest to the editors of the magazine "Vanity Fair" that they change the name of their publication. Anything with "Vanity" in it is destined to sound like a lightweight publication, and it is so completely the opposite, it's not even funny.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Stop. Obsessing. Now.

This is a post about searches that bring people to this blog.

The problem with writing posts about searches that bring people to my blog is that you have to use the search terms that bring people to the blog, thus bringing more people to the blog searching for relevant information about the terms they are searching about, which will not be contained in this post. (The one that really vexes me is that I have had an incredible number of people come here searching for M-A-R-I-A-H C-A-R-E-Y D-O-N-T Y-O-U F-O-R-G-E-T A-B-O-U-T U-S V-I-D-E-O, which I have never seen nor discussed.)

I should begin by saying that I have noticed a rather sharp upswing in searches for terms relating to the bar exam and related topics (like "graduate without a job law school.") Robert Feinberg also appears to be a popular topic, which doesn't surprise me. I know when I first encountered the man, I immediately came home and got on Google and went, "Holy mother of God, who IS this maniac?"

Anyway. People are searching for every term imaginable under the Sun, and today, I was visited by someone who found me by typing in the words california bar exam on Yahoo.

I'm somewhere between result #1,400 and 1,410.

OK, what this means, is that someone had to click through 139 other pages to get to that page and click on me.

And to you, I say:


You have nothing better to do?

Like, study for the bar exam instead of search for it?

Actually, don't study for it. I didn't actually start studying in earnest (other than the first week after graduation during PMBR -- crap, I'm going to have so many people stopping here) until June 1.

I strongly recommend you take time off now. You won't otherwise.

OK, I admit it. I was pretty bad myself. I spent a lot of time reading the magazine of the National Conference of Bar Examiners the weekend before the exam (yes, I know. It was pretty damn boring.) And, just before the results came out, I was searching for other peoples' reaction.

But last year, at this time, I was sitting placidly by Lake Erie, reading Franklin and Winston, and happily ignoring the hellish summer that was to come.

Go do the same.

And quit searching for things at about page 50. If you haven't found it by then, it probably can't be got.

Friday, May 19, 2006

It's Code Out There

Today, The Da Vinci Code opens in theaters, and we'll either have a blockbuster or a bust on our hands, but we'll certainly hear about it for the next week or two before it's over. (The previews look pretty good, although I'll probably only end up seeing it once it comes out on DVD, since I haven't read the book yet.)

Anyway, I was reading an article about it and I came across this gem of a quote from Professor Alan Schreck, professor of theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville:

"It's not even such a matter that this is false that Jesus was married as it is the way the book portrays Christians and the Catholic church as being an institution that is investing in covering things up."

Yoo hoo, Alan? Last fifty years? Sex abuse scandals? Priests moved hither and yon? Documents being withheld as we speak? Lots of people (including me) no longer identifying themselves as Catholic?

Concerned the Catholic church will be portrayed as an institution that is investing in covering things up?

Sorry, Alan. I think the horse is outta the barn on that one.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Grey Sunday

There is this big discussion, among people who disagree over whether it's the King's English or American English, whether the word is spelled gray or grey. I've always come down on the gray side, but didn't really care one way or the other. I didn't even particularly understand the difference. I think I do now.

Today is, without a doubt, a grey day.


To start with, a friend of mine (the husband of a very good friend of mine), died at 6:30 this morning.

He's been ill for some time, and we knew it was coming, and he wasn't a young person (he celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday), so it isn't a shock.

At the same time, there are people you just get used to being in your atmosphere and around and people you can talk to, and when you realize you can't talk to them anymore -- ever again -- it does something to you.

Also, what does it say about how far we have come when I consider someone dying at 75 relatively young?


From the significant to the mundane. I will spend the better (or, more likely, worse) part of tomorrow writing an appellate brief.

Appellate briefs are challenging on so many levels. First, on your first pass through, the tendency is to become despondent because the person who wrote the other side's brief is so intelligent and brilliant there is absolutely no way you can win. Then you buckle down and realize they can e defeated, but only through careful and studious research. (At this point, you say, "Drat!" and look for arsenic. Realizing you have are out, you write on.) Midway through the brief, you begin to think you will win; and as you write the last quarter of it, you simply cannot imagine how anyone would have another viewpoint than you.

There's a great peril in writing an appellate brief, though. You have to think and, more dangerously, write like a lawyer. This can be a bad thing. Writing in legalese is proven to cause lapses into "wherefores," "hereinafters" and even the occasional "insofar." Sentences drag on forever and ever, and you end things with citations that look to the rest of the world like you've quite lost your mind. Engelbert v. Humperdink, 73 N.E.2d 478, 482 (1917)

At the beginning of my second year of law school, I co-wrote a book with my friend Laura, who was not in law school. According to her mother, Laura's head nearly exploded while reading my detailed outline, which consisted of things like 7(a)(ii)(c) subsection (4). While the ending did not depend on dividing the EITC allowance from subparagraph (d) of 501(c)(3) of the Tax Code and ensuring that there were no implications either from ERISA or 17 USC 1983, everyone agreed they liked the parts of the book Laura wrote better. (You can see why.)


On the subject of transitions, and a far more superficial and less important one than what I discussed above, tonight is the end of the "West Wing." While it is one of my favorite shows and that's bad enough, I also remember when the promos started in the spring of 1999, during my freshman year in college. (I remember thinking I wouldn't get to watch it, since I was going to take Writing for Mass Communications on Wednesday evenings.)

It turned out I didn't, and I distinctly remember watching the very first episode on September 22, 1999. That was a date of some importance, as it was the night before an election for county commissioner I was running in. (I lost, by the way.)

For some reason, that has created a link. And even as I think it's the best show on TV, I also feel there's a link that ends tonight.

Plus, there's something disturbing about a series ending. Sure, Jimmy Smits got elected President and Josh will be his Chief of Staff and so on and so on, but they all disappear after tonight. And I find that disturbing.


On legal writing. You want to be careful that, even though legal writing is generally bad, it never gets too bad, or you will find yourself at the wrong end of an appellate opinion. This was written by Judge William Skow, who was then a Lucas County Common Pleas judge and now sits on the Sixth District Court of Appeals:

As to the first amended complaint the Court cannot but comment that the complaints are examples, in their best light, of notice pleading run amok. The complaints were deliberately overdrawn and vaguely drawn in an attempt to permit the inclusion of later-developed facts. This is not surprising as no factual basis for the original complaints and the first amended complaints existed at the time each was drawn. The Court found the identical complaint wanting in specificity in Tillimon v. Farmer, but no similar motion was filed in these cases, for whatever reasons defendants' counsel may have had. Thus there was no court order to further amend the first amended complaint (as there surely would have been); nor was there any request from the plaintiff (as there surely should have been for leave to further amend). Moreover, plaintiff's first amended complaint is an example of wretched legal draftsmanship. The syntax and grammer are lamentable, the punctuation remarkable, and the meanings consistently obscure. Mr. Rust could start a successful cottage industry selling road maps and flashlights to those foolish enough to enter his sentences at the beginning. Several of them run a full page: forlorn and stranded phrases in vain search of linkage; and marooned verbs gazing through a fog of participles, hoping to find a predicate.

By way of counterpoint, Mr. Bischoff's motions for summary judgment herein are not candidates for any literary awards either. Mr. Bischoff's problem is the reverse of Mr. Rust; that is, he is overly terse. Still, however, his motions do raise the defects of the first amended complaint and the fatal factual shortcomings in plaintiff's case, in at least an adequate manner. Tillimon v. Sullivan, 88-LW-3124 (Ohio 6, unreported) (1988.)

Where I come from, we call that an old-fashioned bitch-slapping.


Another thing contributing to my bad mood is that it's been raining and, well, grey, and cold for days now. I mean, the sun came out today ever so briefly and I squinted.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Quotes of the Day

"So, are there hamsters inside that copier running on a little wheel to power it?"

-- Anonymous, having spent several hours in front of this solo practitioner's inherited copier. (So, it wasn't just me...)


"My dad is very proud that he got a good deal on that copier. I believe he probably didn't spend a lot of money on it, but I'm not sure he got a good deal."

-- Me, later, describing the copier.


Sorry for the lack of updates; I've been busy being a lawyer. :) Will write more once things calm down a bit and I get my arms around them...

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Sad Part Is, George, We Agree With You

The Only President We've Got was recently interviewed by a German journalist, who asked what the most wonderful and the most awful moment in his Presidency was.

His most awful was 9/11. We can all agree on that.

And his most wonderful? After six and a half years of accomplishment, making us safer from terrorists, eavesdropping on evildoers and ridding Iraq of WMDs that weren't there, this is the most wonderful moment of the Bush years, straight from the President himself:

"The best moment was -- you know, I've had a lot of great moments. I don't know, it's hard to characterize the great moments. They've all been busy moments, by the way. I would say the best moment was when I caught a seven-and-a-half pound large mouth bass on my lake."

Wow. Just wow.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Stupendous Stuff on a Sunday

I honestly can't tell you the last time I've had a better weekend.

Yesterday, I headed north to Ann Arbor, where I had a truly wonderful time. Among other things, I had the opportunity to get a guided tour of the Young Adults' section of Borders by a perfectly delightful sixth grade Language Arts teacher. Let me assure you, you have not lived until you have done this. In addition to inducing pleasant flashbacks of, "Oh, I read this/meant to read this/had a friend who read this," remember how your Language Arts teacher could make most ANY book sounded exciting? Turns out this talent does not work only on sixth graders, but on jaded 26-year-old lawyers as well. By the time we headed for the biography section, I was waxing poetic on the joys of Beverly Cleary.

After stopping at Noodles & Company (an institution which is regrettably not at all in evidence in Ohio) walking past the campus bookstore for the University of Michigan (an institution which is all too much in evidence in the otherwise excellent town of Ann Arbor), and bidding the sixth grade language arts teacher many thanks for an excellent afternoon, I wandered back across campus. (I didn't do this out of any sort of desire to just wander aimlessly; rather, I was parked all the way across campus. The University of Michigan's parking is so bad, I can only conclude they hired one of their own graduates to complete it.) Anyway, I did take a little time and settle on a bench and look through the two new books I purchased at Borders (no, they weren't from the Young Adult section; I bought The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope by Jonathan Alter, as well as President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination by Richard Reeves.

After finally finding my parking garage (and considering the pleasant possibility maybe the University of Michigan's parking structure was designed by a Buckeye as some sort of elaborate joke), I decided to make a stop at the Barnes & Noble on Washtenaw Avenue. I truly believe it's the crown jewel of the Barnes & Noble empire, and possibly bookstore Nirvana. (Laura, I didn't check to see if they had any Todd Parr classics.) I keep missing the Shaman Drum Bookstore, which everyone says is awesome. Somehow I keep walking past it.

Anyway, while at Barnes & Noble, I heard a song I hadn't heard in years: Dan Tucker.

Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man,
Washed his face in a fryin' pan
Combed his hair with a wagon wheel

What? You've never heard this? Clearly, you didn't live through second grade at R.C. Waters Elementary School. Anywho, I found out that this song and multiple other old folk songs are contained on a new release by Bruce Springsteen called We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, and I am listening to it on my iPod as I type. (Yes, I heard a CD played by the Barnes & Noble music department and came home and got it from iTunes. Don't feel too bad for B&N, though. They were a few books lighter when I left.) I highly recommend it.

I finished the day off by getting carryout from the Beirut, which is Toledo's best restaurant and probably the best Lebanese restaurant in the world.

Today, I've spent time reading, listening to music, and generally smiling. Life is good.


I saw Bill Clinton on TV last night when I got home. It occurred to me that if we could just repeal the 22nd Amendment, this would make life better in two different ways. First, President Clinton could seek a third term.

Second, so could President Bartlett. (No, I'm not looking forward to the West Wing ending.)

(Oh, and before anyone brings it up: I'd probably submit to life without one of my big toes to see W try to stand on the same debate stage as Bill Clinton.)


PTSD alert: I recently received an email inviting me to the 2006 Ohio Democratic Party's annual dinner, where the featured speaker will be Senator Barak Obama.

Now, I'm a fan of Barak Obama. Not nearly as much as my mother, whose fondest hope would seem to be that I give up fighting for battered mothers and start working for the junior senator from Illinois, but still, I'm a fan. And I'm looking forward to seeing him.

There's just one thing: the dinner will be held at Veterans' Memorial Auditorium.

Those of you who have been reading this for a while will recall I spent two and a half days there last summer at the end of July. (Remember, when you watched me take the bar?) I really wasn't looking for a return engagement. (I even said this as early as last November 5.) Even though I passed, I'm in no hurry to revisit it.

Oh, and the other thing? Generally, when Anonymous and I go to these things, we find ourselves at the very back of the room. I mean, way way way back. (Last year was a rare exception; we were right next to the stage.) But, if form holds true, this year, we will find ourselves in the back corner of the room.

And that's where I sat last year. I believe my exact quote was: "I'm so far south, I'm applying Kentucky law."

Ah, well. There are worse ways one can return, you know.


I'm in a good mood. Can you tell?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Another Blackwell Run Election...Another Mess?

Bassett here, from deep in the nerve center of the Port Clinton Bond Issue election effort. Just got this email from the Brian Flannery for Governor campaign saying "Polls Are Open...Mostly"

We have received dozens of calls today from voters being turned away from polls, being pushed to take Republican ballots, and other election day oddities. If you have experienced anything out-of-the ordinary at the polls today, please email Communications Director, Anthony Fossaceca immediately at

This morning, after hearing numerous reports of polls opening late, Bryan issued a request to the Secretary of State to keep polls open an additional 45 minutes to accommodate voters who were turned away this morning. The release is below:

Issues With Electronic Voting Machines Disenfranchising Voters

(Cleveland) Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Bryan E. Flannery this morning made a request to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to extend voting hours to 8:15pm this evening in response to numerous reports of voters being turned away at polling locations in Cuyahoga and Summit Counties. “Voters of this state deserve every opportunity to cast their ballots.” Flannery said. “Turning away voters because of defective machines or inexperienced poll workers is inexcusable. We must do everything possible to ensure fair, safe, and honest elections. Extending poll hours and giving those turned away this morning an additional opportunity to cast their ballot is the right thing to do.

Get awesome blog templates like this one from

Listed on BlogShares