Monday, March 27, 2006

"Graded III"

It sounds so innocuous when we call it that: "Graded III". It has been, however, anything but innocuous.

Spring Break had begun with some fun times at Tom Bergin's. But once Spring Break began, it was time to start working this, the third graded assignment for our Legal Writing class. Every day, it was time to start working on it. I started working on it on Monday. Then Tuesday. Then Wednesday.

By the time Friday rolled around, I had gotten going, and felt I had a good grip on the case. By the time I went out on Saturday, I had a skeleton of my arguments. Today (Sunday ... very very very very late Sunday night) I fleshed it all out with citations and a few comparisons here and there. I fear this won't exactly be Dante's Inferno, but I feel as if I've been living in purgatory this week, and maybe some higher level of hell.

Tomorrow, it's time to print. And it's time to read over my handiwork to check for minor mistakes. It could be the difference between a C+ and a B-, after all. And it's time to work on my table of contents, because it doesn't seem Microsoft really appreciates that lawyers need to underline things for our outlines.

I feel bad for all the professors with Monday classes. I don't think anybody will be awake. Despite all the advice we were given, to try to do the work before Spring Break, my intuition is that we all procrastinated until the last few days. Oh sure, some of us might have started early. But few started getting heavily involved until the last few days. Anyway, time to catch a couple of hours of shut eye. I'll see everyone in class in ... just over 5 hours from now.



Tuesday, March 21, 2006

St. Patrick's Day at Tom Bergin's

Fearless Leader Bobby got something together for the section just in time for St. Patrick's Day. As the holiday is well-known effectively for shutting down all Irish bars in town, we had to get going early. The venue, which was quite proper and not at all non conveniens, was Tom Bergin's, at 840 South Fairfax, just south of Wilshire. The early goers (Tall Girl, John O., Liz P., and Oshin) got there at the scheduled time of 3:30pm or thereabouts. Yours truly arrived around 4pm, and was compelled to wait in line for about 45 minutes. Fortunately, I was joined by Krystle and her gal pal, and not far behind us in line were James P., Blake, Ali, and Fearless Bobby himself. By the time their part of the line moved indoors, we were joined by Jose and Nausheen.

The floor of the pub was slick with beer and god knows what else. Poor Krystle got splash-ups against her exposed toes. Ew! Still, we all had a good time.

One highlight had to be at the bar when, in the telephone booth right across from the bar, a couple started getting hot and heavy. They had been making out for a while already when, turning away from the riveting conversation at the bar for a few moments, yours truly saw the couple and their faces were not at the same height. Her hand was definitely not where his hands were. I alerted fellow partygoers, and we gawked for a bit until a small blonde rapped on the glass door of the booth. Busted!

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Turf Club - Part IV

The evening before St. Patrick's Day, the SBA rolled out another turf club. But this time, there was green beer! Unfortunately, it was quite a bit colder this time, so the lighter crowd dissipated promptly at 6pm. Still, the evening was enlivened by a raffle for the benefit of breast cancer research. The more a person contributed, the more entries he had, and the better his chances of winning any of a variety of prizes. I don't have a list of the winners, but congratulations to them all!


Monday, March 13, 2006

The Failure of the ICC

Some friends and I were exchanging notes, and we discused the possibility that Slobodan Milosevic's death was part of a conspiracy. I don't usually spring for conspiracy theories, but we did discuss that the International Criminal Court having a motive: Milosevic's defense had made a mockery of the proceedings. My friend outlined some of the problems with the ICC:

  1. Jurisdiction/sovereignty: This is basically a question of who has power over the defendant. The Serbs insist that Milosevic was theirs to try, and even his bitterest opponents in that country are angry that he was removed to the Hague. The essence of the jurisdictional issue is that Under Yugoslav Federal law and Serbian law, which govern the person of Slobodan Milosevic, the man and the Head of State, there is no call whatsoever for the ICC to try him because the legal institutions exist inside the country to judge the former President, if and when a case is made against him, which to date has not been the case. Further, Serbia, at the time of his alleged crimes, did not recognize the ICC.
  2. Serbian Law: The ICC considers itself to be in the right, but under Serbian law, the decision to take Milosevic to the Hague for trial constitutes kidnapping, since it was not agreed upon by a majority of the Serbian cabinet ministers. Thus, even if the ICC has jurisdiction by Milosevic's presence, it is only because he was forcibly brought before the court.
  3. Evidence: Simply put, there isn't any. Of the over 2000 people initally slated to testify against Milosevic, all but 5 have refused, partially over the sovereignity dispute, and the testimony of those 5 is both weak and unreliable. There is no paper trail or any sort of documentation that links Milosevic to any of the alleged crimes. It's literally Milosevic's word against the prosecutors.
  4. Lack of a Jury: This is one of the United State's major complaints, and Milosevic has hammered it. The ICC doesn't have uses a three judge panel to reach decisions. This is inherently fraught with conflict of interest, because if the ICC "loses" such a high profile case it will be the laughingstock of the world, and will never approach legitimacy. But inherent in that conflict, no fair trial was really possible for Milosevic.
  5. Legality of the Court: This is a finer point of law, but was Milosevic's main argument, which the court had no answer for. Milosevic claimed that the ICC had no legal basis to hear his (or any) international case. The judge interpreted that as a question of jurisdiction, but they are not the same thing. Jurisdiction concerns the power of the court over the defendant. I could set up the court of "plezercruz" in my back yard with Jon holding a gun as my bailiff, and, if you stumbled into my back yard, I could declare jurisdiction over you because I CAN force you to comply. But it certainly wouldn't be "legal." Jurisdiction is about power, not right.

    Legality concerns whether the court actually is an agent of law in the first place. Milosevic's argument was, basically, that since the UN Security Council itself had no right or ability in law to sanction him personally, it was impossible for that same council to create a court to do that for them. Courts are agents of the sovereign, and the UN has no sovereignity by defintion. By his argument, the ICC had no more right to try him than I have of trying you in my backyard. This argument crippled the ICC. It had no answer for it.

    Milosevic asked the ICC to seek a ruling from the International Court of Justice (a non-criminal UN court which settles inter-sovereign disputes and is nonbinding) as to it's own legality, but the ICC basically ignored his request, despite amicus briefs from all over the world urging them to do so, probably because the ICC likely has no legitimacy in law.

Overall, Slobodan Milosevich managed not only to derail his own prosecutors, but shook the basic foundation of the ICC itself. If not for Slobodan Milosevich's glaring humiliation of the ICC, Saddam Hussein might have been sent to the ICC for judgment. Instead, the world has now seen that the ICC has deep internal legitimacy issues, and it is unlikely that any of Iraq's 'war criminals' will be sent there.

From that perspective, indeed, there seems to have been a motivation to hasten Milosevic's departure from the mortal realm.

(Hat-tip: plezercruz)

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Soul for Sale

Yeah, so I'm in Law School. But some guy is literally selling his soul. Hey, does God have standing to file suit claiming that Mr. Mehta can't sell his soul? I can see it now. God conveys to Mehta, for life, his soul. Since this is a life estate, does the soul revert to God after Mehta's life? Or is this a fee simple, such that the soul would go to Mehta's heirs after his death? Or is this a conveyance for perpetuity? If so, would it violate the rule against perpetuities? Since this is going to Mehta, and Mehta only, it should vest immediately, so probably not. Also, is Mehta allowed to convey it, by gift or sale, to someone else? You can't convey an interest larger than your own, so Mehta can at least convey his soul for the term of his life; but if he owns nothing more than a life estate, he can't convey anything beyond that. So if Henderson thinks he bought Mehta's eternal soul, but did not in fact get anything more than a claim for Mehta's lifetime, does he have a cause of action for fraud, or maybe breach of implied warranty that the soul was free of encumbrances?

Too much law school for me.

(Hat-tip: RaceBoy)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bar Review - IV - Gas Lite

Bar review was supposed to be last week, but because Section 2 had a Contracts midterm, the organizers very kindly postponed it until this week.

The original destination was a Russian bar that, unfortunately, has closed. As an alternative, we headed to Gas Lite in Santa Monica. It's a small bar, the drinks are reasonably priced (especially for Santa Monica), and it has ... karaoke!!

The turnout wasn't the largest, but for a small bar, it was just right. The best part is, I got to watch Zach Lebovits sing!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Moral Oddifications

As I studied for the Contracts midterm, I found that I was pronouncing "oral modifications" [partly covered by UCC 2-209] as "moral oddifications". The insanity didn't end after I turned in the midterm materials, either. Still, I think we're all glad that the midterm is over. There wasn't nearly as much stress as there had been for the Torts midterm; but I don't have a good feeling right now. Professor Hull had suggested that we view this as "guerilla warfare": Hit all the issues, but don't worry about beating any one issue to death unless there's time after you've hit everything.

An amazing thing about sitting there typing is that all the advice drains out, along with half the rules I'd memorized. Great.

So it was with some eagerness that I went to St. Nick's Pub to have a drink. Chris L. was there early. Tall Girl, Alex P., Nam, Warren, Oshin, and Chris M. all dropped by as well. St. Nick's had a good vibe generally, and would've been even better if more folks from Section 2 had shown up. Still, others members of the class had other arrangements as well, as we took up Dean Burcham's advice to enjoy our Saturdays.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Sea Sponge Defense

Be careful when you use that spell checker for your brief! Arthur Dudley found out the hard way:

Spell-checking on his computer is never going to be the same for Santa Cruz solo practitioner Arthur Dudley.

In an opening brief to San Francisco's 1st District Court of Appeal, a search-and-replace command by Dudley inexplicably inserted the words "sea sponge" instead of the legal term "sua sponte," which is Latin for "on its own motion."

"Spell check did not have sua sponte in it," said Dudley, who, not noticing the error, shipped the brief to court.

That left the justices reading -- and probably laughing at -- such classic statements as: "An appropriate instruction limiting the judge's criminal liability in such a prosecution must be given sea sponge explaining that certain acts or omissions by themselves are not sufficient to support a conviction."