Diary of a Something L
Sunday, August 31, 2003
 
7:17 PM

The game was fantastic. My seat was great. The pre-game band performance was amazing; with all the alumni, it was probably the largest band I've ever seen. This is what law school is all about.

   
Saturday, August 30, 2003
 
3:19 PM

Man, I'm getting so sleepy sitting here in the basement of the library with nothing going on and no one around. I almost wonder if there's somewhere I can slink off to and catch a nap on the sly.

   
 
10:11 AM

Awwww man! Egg on my face! "Blawg" is a recognized legal term (probably in Black's 8th) meaning "law-related blog"...thus the L-A-W between the B and the G. I thought Dressler was just being an out-of-touch grown-up-type-person. Turns out I'm the spring chicken, the raw rookie...again! So blawg it is! I shall blawg on.

   
 
1:27 AM

Law school doesn't seem as different as other school as I expected so far. Maybe all the really heavy stuff happens later, say, when it's almost exam time.

But of course, today is when the important part of law school starts. FOOTBALL SEASON!

   
Friday, August 29, 2003
 
10:40 AM

We talked about the principle of legality in Criminal Law today. The main idea is that we can't let the judicial system create new crimes because it would give the prosecutors, judges, and cops too much power. Aren’t there other ways to limit their power other than eliminating all flexibility? Judges can be impeached, prosecutors and cops can be fired.

In cases like those we went over today, it seems appropriate for the court to step in. Why can’t the courts represent a “safety net” when the legislature fails to act or acts inappropriately? If we later determine that the court did the wrong thing, we can impeach the judge, grant the defendant clemency, pass a new statute, and all that.

   
Thursday, August 28, 2003
 
2:17 PM

What is the most efficient number of states in the Union? Why should we presume it is 50? Why wouldn't the most efficient number be 1?

   
 
8:20 AM

I have been getting in touch with my "prog rock super fan" roots the last couple of days. Right now, I'm listening to Genesis's "A Trick of the Tail". Just before that, it was the infamous "Tales from Topographic Oceans".

   
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
 
12:58 PM

I am so caught up. If fair winds blow in this here Contracts class, I can breeze virtually right on into the (long) weekend.

   
 
10:54 AM

Here is a necessary admission of abject guilt: this blog, in addition to being a ripoff of every other blog in the blogosphere, is a ripoff of the blog of my best friend (who referred to me as such in his blog; comity suggests I do the same) Sam Greenspan, whose own blog can be reached, appropriately, at www.samgreenspan.com. Furthermore, I have a complex about getting in touch with Mr. Greenspan, the relevant points being the following:

1. I haven't talked to him in probably ten years, which is especially egregious considering I went to the U. of Chicago for the same four years that he went to Northwestern. So if we can be considered friends, I'm a perfectly awful and inconsiderate friend.

2. If I come crawling back to him now, I can't help but feel like it's merely because he's about to become a famous comedic writer and performer. C.f. for example his eating contest with the screenwriter of the American Pie films.

More on this later. Go read his blog.

   
 
7:32 AM

The fates are not in favor of my going to law school right now. But I've never been superstitious. Why start now?

   
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
 
8:43 PM

I am currently coming down from a full-blown Excedrin tweak-out. It worked, though: I'm about half caught up.

While I'm thinking about it, I was recently asked why I had not yet mentioned Jessica, the hot blonde bombshell. I no longer need a good answer to this presently moot question.

Here's a shout-out to Professor Dressler for taking the time to read my "blawg" (rhymes with "dawg").

Of course, the important thing is: FOUR MORE DAYS 'TIL KICKOFF! After all, that's what I came to law school for, right?

   
 
11:25 AM

I hope I don't meet the same fate of John Hipple, AKA Senator J.H. Mitchell.

   
Monday, August 25, 2003
 
4:19 PM

My wisdom tooth is killing me. I hate to be dramatic, but I am totally miserable.

   
Sunday, August 24, 2003
 
5:28 PM

I have realized that if I'm giving away the address of this blog to pretty much everybody, I can't really say anything about anybody. I don't know what that will leave me to talk about. I guess I can write stuff that would be interesting to people who are thinking about going to law school and want to know what it's really like.

I must admit that one of my life's goals is to write and publish a book (fiction or non-fiction). This is partly an exercise to force me to write as though other people might actually read what I'm writing.

I'm giving myself the opportunity to be told that I'm a fantastic writer and that someone would gladly pay to read something I wrote. At the same time, I risk exposing myself as a pillow-chucking snoozemaster.

   
Friday, August 22, 2003
 
8:45 AM

The pattern is: get up early in the morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Read, read, read, and work all day. Go home and be completely tired and drink beer and go to bed. But what's happily missing to this point is frustration or stress. I figure I'm doing what I'm doing, and if it works, it works. If it doesn't, I have time to change my habits. So, I'd say, so far so good. It's a good thing there aren't a lot of other things I wish I was doing instead.

   
Thursday, August 21, 2003
 
8:08 AM

I'm hungry and I need to read faster.

   
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
 
9:00 PM

So...am I studying too much or too little? Probably too much. The next question is: how much longer can I keep this up before I burn out? I'm okay so far, but it's only been three days.

   
 
12:58 PM

Prof. Clovis doesn't look ancient enough to me to be an emeritus.

   
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
 
8:59 PM

Day two is complete! I'm home and ahh...and all that goodness. I started on Pennoyer v. Neff today, which is pure, pure death on a stick. I think I'm starting to get it, but I ran into a 2L at Starbucks, and he laughed and said "NO. You don't get it."

   
 
12:30 PM

I'm still trying to decide if Professor Fairman is naughty or nice. That's not to say I can make any judgment of him outside the classroom, but I'm getting conflicting signals about how he runs the class. Most of the time, he seems quite amiable, but every once in the while there's the hint of something just a little bit sinister. I'll have to come up with an example.

I have a bad feeling I'll have to stay late tonight. My "To Do" list is getting longer and longer, and I'm not even really done with my Torts reading yet. I hope I'm doing too much work.

And oh yeah...why is judgment spelled "judgment" instead of "judgement"???

   
Monday, August 18, 2003
 
12:56 PM

Alright...done with lunch, time for my "small section"...Criminal Law! Alright! Law & Order! Robbery, Assault & Battery! Murder & Mayhem!

   
 
10:48 AM

Already, I'm seated and locked and loaded for my first real, honest-to-goodness law school class. I expect to see a breaktaking PowerPoint performance from Professor Fairman. I wonder if we'll be able to get copies of the PowerPoints.

Oh yeah, and this:



CONTINGENCY?

NO!
MONEY
DOWN!

   
 
9:06 AM

Am I doing too much work? I'm spending way more time than I even figured getting my stuff together. I'll have at least 50% more for tomorrow and less time to do it. Maybe I'm totally nuts. I thought I seemed very reasonable at first.

   
Sunday, August 17, 2003
 
6:43 PM

I'm thinking I should chill tonight and then do my case briefs tomorrow morning. I sort of feel like I should be doing more. I suppose, though, that the conventional wisdom I've received is that on average people tend to do too much rather than too little. The early assignments are probably not meant to be really lengthy or difficult.

   
 
1:09 AM

It turns out that this is a terribly unoriginal idea, this blog. I'm going to need to do something snazzy and different to set myself apart. I guess one thing is that I'm me, so my family and friends will read this. But I'm going to have to get unbelievably entertaining in order to get anyone else's attention.

   
 
12:18 AM

Aaaahhhhh...I have my books. Now I know what I'm up against. I read my first Civ Pro case, and luckily it's like the second orientation case (the Stifel case). It's kind of like Stifel Lite. If you can be a resident of another state even though you're forced to live there as a prisoner, then I suppose it's more plausible that if you're a mere student and you've chosen to live where you live that you're a resident (or you make your domicile or whatever) in that state.

   
Friday, August 15, 2003
 
6:05 PM

I have experienced (though not completed) the unholy hell of getting your schedule and dashing over to the bookstores (with a laptop bag much heavier than before) to load up on heavy, heavy, expensive, inconvenient books. Plus, I have to share a locker. What the hell???

I'm so, so tired and nothing, nothing, nothing has started yet.

   
 
3:13 PM

Fun law school fact: if you routinely raise your hand in class, you will be labelled a "gunner" and shunned by your classmates. So keep your damn mouth shut.

   
 
2:05 PM

The suspense is killing me!!! Schedule, where are you???

   
 
11:23 AM

INDICIA is a popular word here at the law school.

   
 
8:57 AM

Here in the auditorium, the anticipation is at a fever pitch! Countdown T minus six hours and 24 minutes and counting to getting our schedules. Then it's a mad, mad, mad, mad dash over to the bookstores for all the texts you can carry!

   
Thursday, August 14, 2003
 
3:57 PM

We got a little bit more seriously oriented. We got a good talk by Professor Greenbaum, who told us to relax, except in a much longer and more polished way. Nothing at all earth-shattering.

The biggest event of the day was getting my wireless access working. In fact...I'm typing to you now from the Law Library at the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University!

   
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
 
9:46 PM

We had an ice cream social tonight to meet and greet other students and professors and alumni and other assorted characters. I ate a lot of biscotti. I kept dipping it in the Cool Whip.

   
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
 
12:49 PM

My mom wants me to talk more about my feelings as I'm starting law school. All I have to say right now is that I suddenly remember how terrifying it is to meet new people you're going to be going to school with.

It seems so much easier to interact with people in the context of providing them a useful service that they're paying for and that you know you can provide effectively than...well, what? I can't even begin to divine people's expectations, so how can I possibly meet their expectations?

Just let me be the teacher. Hell, let me be the guy who rings up everybody else at the bookstore. Give me something that I can do for other people.

   
Monday, August 11, 2003
 
3:22 PM

Time to write about the second orientation case.

This case has a nice summary right up front that the other case lacks. That should help. But this is a much longer case and seems to actually have some lasting importance.

There's a lot you can say, but I want to try to make it as general as possible. The importance of this case goes beyond the particular parties involved at that particular time, and to bring that out you need to divorce the legal findings and reasoning from the specifics. (Wait, I'm not in school yet, how could I know or even profess to know all this?)

The appellant argues that since he's guaranteed due process by the Fifth Amendment, you can't have a law that more or less discriminates against prisoners just because they are prisoners. Interestingly, the court buys his argument, but not for the same reason.

The court uses a form of argument where they say "Either this is true, or this is true, or this is true. But this and this aren't true, so #3 must be true."

Alternative Number One is that the appellant is legally capable of establishing a domicile in Pennsylvania where he's locked up. In that case, the court must reverse the lower court's decision.

Alternative Number Two is that the appellant is not legally capable of establishing a domicile in PA. The court says there's only two ways this could be true, thus we have:

Alternative 2(a): He can't "form the intent" to make Pennsylvania his home because he's forced to be there.

Or Alternative 2(b): He's "civilly disabled" because he's a federal prisoner.

So the court then knocks off 2(a) and 2(b) in turn, and it takes a lot longer to get past 2(a) than 2(b).

The court talks about lots of different situations where someone might be forced to live in a certain place, like when you're in the military living on a base, or when you get appointed to the Cabinet and have to move to Washington, or when you move to another city to go to school or to teach. The court says that the rules about whether you can establish a domicile in the place you were forced to go can vary; it doesn't always go the same way. The court says if you can't preclude servicemen or students or monks or Cabinet members from establishing a domicile in the place they're forced to live, you can't do it to prisoners, either.

I think in this section there is a lot of meaty, weighty stuff that I don't understand yet.

As far as 2(b) goes, the court says that losing your right to sue in federal court has never in the past been considered part of the punishment when you're jailed.

The court does not say whether or not the appellant is a citizen of Pennsylvania, or Ohio, or anywhere else. All it says is that the possibility that the prisoner is domiciled in PA shouldn't be dismissed out of hand and has to be given consideration. The district court still has to decide the facts of the case, and it might be an uphill battle for the appellant to prove that he really intends to live in PA and not move back to Ohio.

In fact, in real life, the guy did move back to Ohio after he got out of jail. That big fat non-murdering liar!

   
 
2:28 AM

My Uncle Hank (actually great uncle) told me about this organization called HALT. It stands for "Help Against Legal Tyranny", which sounds pretty strident. It's actually a pretty reasonable sounding legal reform organization. One of their projects is keeping the definition of "the practice of law" from being overly inclusive, or in other words, limiting even really common legal tasks to lawyers as opposed to paralegals or other non-JDs. They argue that lawyers tend to try to monopolize the market for legal services.

Uncle Hank told a pretty good lawyer joke at lunch today, but the thing that made me uneasy was that there was nothing in the joke that was lawyer-specific. You could take the joke and take out "lawyer" and plug in, say, some ethnic group and it would be a horrible joke saying that you hate all members of that ethnic group and want them all to die (by jumping into San Francisco Bay under the supernatural influence of a mystical object, in this case).

I have this fantasy that I will grow up to be the lawyer that eats other lawyers. For example, I wonder if you could do a class action lawsuit of insurance customers against plantiffs (and especially their lawyers) who instigate frivolous lawsuits that drive up insurance rates for everybody else.

I might feel very differently about all this in a few months or by the end of three years. That's one big reason why I'm keeping track of these thoughts here.

   
Friday, August 08, 2003
 
10:20 PM

Heh heh...I'm a bad, bad little lawyer. I looked up "Orville Stifel" on Google. Turns out there's a big gotcha in the second orientation case: the appellant who was trying to sue his lawyer and his parents in federal court turns out to have been released from his life sentence twelve years after he was first incarcerated for blowing up his ex-girlfriend's fiancee by mail. Turns out the girl's father did it. But anyway, that's beside the point. (More here, search for Stifel)

I know, I know, I know what this Professor Beazley is going to do...she's going to be all like, "Look at this boring case. It's so boring, it's all procedural, and la di da...isn't this boring and irrelevant and unexciting? Right...welll...THE GUY WAS INNOCENT AND GOT OUT OF JAIL! GOTCHA! INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY! BOO YAA!" and all that. And it seems that Stifel II is a lawyer now...that makes sense.

Ha ha ha...I know something everybody else doesn't know...tee hee hee...I'm so rotten.

   
Thursday, August 07, 2003
 
2:33 AM

We have two cases to read for Orientation. One is for what I think will be a more informal case briefing session, and one is going to be with a real live professor the afternoon of the first day of class. Today, I'm going to write about the first case so I can go back later and see if I totally missed the point.

The first case is a ruling from a case that was recently in the news, Pelman v. McDonalds. Here is a link to the ruling in PDF format.

Two children along with their parents were trying to start up a class action lawsuit against McDonalds, and the ruling was in regard to a third party, Rivka Freeman, who wanted to join up with the suit. She was trying to make argue that she should be allowed to join based on Rule 19(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The judge decided that Freeman could not join the class because she did not meet the criteria for joining a class action that are listed in the rule Freeman cited. In making this determination, the judge used a particular interpretation of Rule 19(a) that came from a previous ruling of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. It lists three conditions under which someone should join a class action lawsuit.

The first condition is when the parties already involved would not be able to get the relief they're after without the new member of the class. I get the sense that this would usually apply to adding parties to the defense side such that the plantiffs can get money or other relief from all of them at once. The judge says that Freeman isn't needed for the plantiffs to get what they want.

The second condition is when the person who is trying to join the suit can't protect their interests adequately without getting in on the action. The judge argues that this doesn't apply to Freeman because she doesn't claim to be someone who would be a member of the class; neither does she claim that the people already in the suit wouldn't adequately represent her interests.

The third says that you must let the new person in if, otherwise, the parties might be subject to "inconsistent obligations or double liability". I don't understand much about class action lawsuits yet, but I think this condition goes to the heart of what they're for. It's more efficient to have a whole bunch of people sue McDonalds at once than have them all sue separately. For that matter, it also makes more sense to have them sue McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell and the like all at once, too. The judge says that Freeman's claims are mostly quite different than those of the current plaintiffs, so it wouldn't hurt the current parties if Freeman just did her own lawsuit against McDonalds.

The judge had a couple of side comments. First off, he mentioned that since Freeman was acting as her own attorney, the judge should cut her slack, although she still has to follow the law. He also says that Rule 19 wasn't really Freeman's best bet. Rule 19 is usually used defensively to keep parties from having to join up with a lawsuit, whereas Rule 24 is more typically used by parties that want to intervene. He goes on to say, however, that Freeman's motion would have failed even if she had used Rule 24.

This would be the point at which I would evaluate the judge's reasoning. This ruling seems pretty cut and dried, and it does indeed seem like the judge cut this lady a lot of slack. He strongly implies that she is off her rocker and that she basically only filed this motion because she heard about the case on TV. The ruling was quite thorough, though. I was impressed the judge would take that much time to address such a seemingly weird motion from a weird person.

I guess one way you could criticize the judge in this case is to say that he should have cut Freeman even more slack. It's kind of hard to argue with this ruling because the motion seems so clearly in violation of the rules involved. Based on what's in the ruling, if I were Freeman's attorney I think I would advise her to try to start a separate lawsuit.

Okay. That was pretty long. Also, I don't think people refer to "The Judge" as if he or she was a person. They talk about "The Court". I think it's important to remember, however, that there are people behind everything "The Court" does. Sometimes they're wrong.

So I wonder how much I would write about this ruling if I were writing three months from now...probably two sentences, tops. I suppose I'm assuming that this at all important, which it's not, except that it's our first Orientation case.

   
Monday, August 04, 2003
 
2:26 AM

Greetings! In the coming weeks and months, this is where I'm going to record my thoughts as a first-year law student. I hope that others will find it interesting to read, so I plan to focus on my law school experience and my thoughts on the law itself. I may pepper my blog with personal tidbits, but feel free to skip them. After all, who the hell am I?

I will start orientation in one week. School itself begins in two weeks. I am getting my jollies while I can, devouring some Vonnegut and my ultra-pretentious but super fun idol, David Foster Wallace. Also, I am now the proud owner of a copy of Finnegans Wake, but when am I ever going to get the chance to read it? Maybe when I retire.

   

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