unbillable hours

Friday, January 31, 2003

I just picked up Terence Blanchard's score to The 25th Hour, since I'm still obsessing over the film. It's damn good. He's over the top on one piece, wherein Cheb Mami (backing vocals on Sting's Desert Rose) provides a long, Arabic, muezzin-like wail for far too long (as Spike Lee, in his subtle fashion, panned over Ground Zero).
TPB, Esq. || ||

i'm never speaking up again

"...then, I had to get up at 5:30 in the morning to take the dog to the vet," LBA said.
I leaned back in the conference room chair, my feet resting on the leather seat of a nearby chair. I rubbed my eyes as I cradled the cellphone between my shoulder and cheek.

"What, the... uh, the ringworm again?"
"No, his anal gland was swollen," LBA said.
"I'm sorry. What did you say?"
"His anal gland was swollen."
"Oh, good god..." I said.
"It's not what you think."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought it had something to do with your dog's ass. What exactly is 'it,' then?"
"It secretes... well, it's how dogs smell other dogs." LBA answered.
"Well, one would think as much." I let out a dry laugh. I had been on the phone all day, scheduling conferences with adversaries and dealing with clients' emergencies.
"If you're going to be funny, I'm not going to--" LBA said, in mock irritation.
"Sorry. Sorry. So, your dog's anal gland was broken."
I released a breath, letting the air pass slowly and audibly from my lungs.
"You know, this is quite possibly the worst conversation we have ever had."

I'm not sure how LBA manages to put up with me.

TPB, Esq. || ||

the friday five questions of nostalgia and regret

1. As a child, who was your favorite superhero/heroine? Why?

As a kid, I was a complete dork, so I didn't have the traditional superheroes. I was obsessive, after a visit to the Edison National Historic Site at Menlo Park (technically West Orange), New Jersey, over Thomas Edison. His laboratory was the most fascinating place I have been (Grand Teton National Park might edge that out, just by virtue of it's beauty). I just liked Edison's iconoclasm. He did whatever he wanted, however he wanted to do it. When I was a kid, most of my teachers thought I was, well, either defective or insane. To some extent, they were right. I did have a learning disability. However, I loved the fact that, like Edison, I was treated like an imbicile by teachers, but still was aware that I had some intelligence.

2. What was one thing you always wanted as a child but never got?

I always wanted cable television as a kid. We had one television in the house, set up so that I could only watch it if my parents turned it on (it was on a high shelf). Thus, they effectively controlled when I watched television. Because they never got cable, and television reception stunk in my area, I bitched and moaned about cable for twenty years, nearly. I never even saw HBO until college. Looking back, I really lucked out based on their decision. Because the television was boring to me, I read more. That, now, is something for which I am thankful.

3. What's the furthest from home you've been?

I spent a semester, almost, in Italy, working with the Boston Symphony. It was, hands down, the best experience of my life. We sang at two concerts a day for a month, and had the time to sneak off to ruins, castles, abbeys, and the Roman nightclubs. The Italians were the most friendly people I ever met. Our audiences used to follow us to the bars after the show, and would treat us to free drinks for the night. In the end, it was bad for the liver, but a great experience.

The best part was an evening performance we did at a castle just north of Rome, on the Appian Way. There, at the Castle del Corigliano, we did a great set: Haydn's Missa Santa Nicolai, Bruckner's Ave Maria, Monteverdi's Cantate Domino and Adoramus Te and Aaron Copland's The Tenderland Suite.

Our performance space was the old chapel for the family that had owned Castle del Corigliano for quite a long time, perhaps four hundred years. The chapel was this dark, stone structure that resonated so powerfully that the soft, meditative elements of the Ave Maria could be drawn out for half a measure longer than usual. When we got to the closing movement of The Tenderland Suite, a movement Copland called "The Promise of Living," we had to belt out and sustain the final 16 bars of the piece. In the closed space, feeling the sound reverberate through my bones, it became a nearly mystical experience, perhaps something like what monks felt when they chanted. As an interesting side note, the Corigliano family, who hosted us, was the inspiration for Beethoven's Coriolan Overture. The distant relative of Comte de Corigliano was a friend and benefactor of the composer.

4. What's one thing you've always wanted to learn but haven't yet?

Two things: I wish I had learned how to play the piano. I think I would have liked that much more than guitar. Second, I wish I had learned Russian or Spanish. They are the two big immigrant languages in my area (along with many Indian dialects and Korean, but most of the Indian or Korean immigrants are bilingual). I would love to be able to speak those languages fluently. I speak French and some Latin (and mangle English, regularly), but I would like to learn a few more languages.

5. What are your plans for the weekend?

Ah yes, the recurring question that reminds me: you gave up your life for your career. I am working on an appellate brief. It's a good case, albeit a difficult one, but it's sucking the life out of me. I've been here every night until 11. Bah.
TPB, Esq. || ||


Hmm... Apparently Jonas and Kevin were able to figure out how I managed to screw up my feed, and I'm now up on the LazyBlawg. Thanks, gents. It's a hell of a project they've got going on over at The Blawgistan News.
TPB, Esq. || ||

The People versus Richard Reid

I read the transcript of the ruling in the "Shoe Bomber" case today. Rarely have I read a judge speak so eloquently, so remarkably beautifully, on the issue of justice, and on the nature of law. I apologize to those that think this may be overkill, but I'm going to reprint a section of that transcript here. It's better drama, and more powerful a message, than anything my dear Robert Bolt could have put into A Man for All Seasons.

RICHARD REID: I start by praising Allah because life today is no good. I bear witness to this and he alone is right to be worshiped. And I bear witness that Muhammad Sa'laat Alayhi as-Salaam is his last prophet and messenger who is sent to all of mankind for guidance, with the sound guidance for everyone.

Concerning what the Court said? I admit, I admit my actions and I further, I further state that I done them.

JUDGE WILLIAM YOUNG: I didn't hear the last. I admit my actions and then what did you say?

REID: I further admit my allegiance to Osama bin Laden, to Islam, and to the religion of Allah. With regards to what you said about killing innocent people, I will say one thing. Your government has killed 2 million children in Iraq. If you want to think about something, against 2 million, I don't see no comparison.

Your government has sponsored the rape and torture of Muslims in the prisons of Egypt and Turkey and Syria and Jordan with their money and with their weapons. I don't know, see what I done as being equal to rape and to torture, or to the deaths of the two million children in Iraq.

So, for this reason, I think I ought not apologize for my actions. I am at war with your country. I'm at war with them not for personal reasons but because they have murdered more than, so many children and they have oppressed my religion and they have oppressed people for no reason except that they say we believe in Allah.

This is the only reason that America sponsors Egypt. It's the only reason they sponsor Turkey. It's the only reason they back Israel.

As far as the sentence is concerned, it's in your hand. Only really it is not even in your hand. It's in Allah's hand. I put my trust in Allah totally and I know that he will give victory to his religion. And he will give victory to those who believe and he will destroy those who wish to oppress the people because they believe in Allah.

So you can judge and I leave you to judge. And I don't mind. This is all I have to say. And I bear witness to Muhammad this is Allah's message.

YOUNG: Mr. Richard C. Reid, hearken now to the sentence the Court imposes upon you.

On counts 1, 5 and 6 the Court sentences you to life in prison in the custody of the United States Attorney General. On counts 2, 3, 4 and 7, the Court sentences you to 20 years in prison on each count, the sentence on each count to run consecutive one with the other. That's 80 years.

On Count 8 the Court sentences you to the mandatory 30 years consecutive to the 80 years just imposed. The Court imposes upon you on each of the eight counts a fine of $250,000 for the aggregate fine of $2 million.

The Court accepts the government's recommendation with respect to restitution and orders restitution in the amount of $298.17 to Andre Bousquet and $5,784 to American Airlines.

The Court imposes upon you the $800 special assessment.

The Court imposes upon you five years supervised release simply because the law requires it. But the life sentences are real life sentences so I need not go any further.

This is the sentence that is provided for by our statutes. It is a fair and a just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you.

We are not afraid of any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here. And I say that to everyone with the utmost respect.

Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals, and care for individuals as individuals, as human beings we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or that happens to be your view, you are a terrorist.

And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists.

We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You're a big fellow. But you're not that big. You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.

In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and you said you're no big deal. You're no big deal.

What your counsel, what your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have as honestly as I know how tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty and admit you are guilty of doing.

And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you. But as I search this entire record it comes as close to understanding as I know.

It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose.

Here, in this society, the very winds carry freedom. They carry it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely.

It is for freedom's seek that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their, their representation of you before other judges. We care about it. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mr. Reid, is the measure of our own liberties.

Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bear any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms.

Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow it will be forgotten. But this, however, will long endure. Here, in this courtroom, and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done.

The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged, and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice.

See that flag, Mr. Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom. You know it always will. Custody, Mr. Officer. Stand him down.

REID: That flag will be brought down on the Day of Judgment and you will see in front of your Lord and my Lord and then we will know. (Whereupon the defendant was removed from the courtroom.)

YOUNG: We'll recess. All rise.

TPB, Esq. || ||

that's your career warning light. it just went into overdrive.

We learn from the recent 2nd Circuit case of Sheppard v. Beerman that terminating a law clerk for calling a judge a "corrupt son of a bitch" is apparently not a violation of the law clerk's First Amendment rights.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Kevin and Jonas said I have to write Lazyblawg (and also that I need to learn how to spell) again

In other words, this post is only for aggregation purposes.
TPB, Esq. || ||

on ice

Red Bank, my pleasantly sleepy little town, made the NY Times today. Our river finally was sufficiently frozen for ice boat racing. There's a beautiful picture with the article that shows the start of last weekend's race. The Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club (the winter version of the Shrewsbury Sailing and Yacht Club, which suspiciously lacks yachts, but is a great place to learn to sail) maintained its 114 year status as holder of the Van Nostrand Cup. I caught a peek of this on my way to work this weekend. It was nice. Seeing stuff like this, it's no wonder how many writers we have in the area.*

* Kevin Smith (of Dogma, Chasing Amy, Mallrats, and Clerks infamy), John Sayles (of Eight Men Out, Limbo, and Sunshine State [and many, many more]), Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky (who has since moved away, I believe), Mary Higgins Clark, and (of course) Bruce Springsteen. Not bad for a podunk town.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Wednesday, January 29, 2003



"Lighting a lamp, Wing Biddlebaum washed the few dishes soiled by his simple meal and, setting up a folding cot by the screen door that led to the porch, prepared to undress for the night. A few stray white bread crumbs lay on the cleanly washed floor by the table; putting the lamp upon a low stool he began to pick up the crumbs, carrying them to his mouth one by one with unbelievable rapidity. In the dense blotch of light beneath the table, the kneeling figure looked like a priest engaged in some service of his church. The nervous expressive fingers, flashing in and out of the light, might well have been mistaken for the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through decade after decade of his rosary.”
- Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio, "Hands."

In 1919, Sherwood Anderson published an influential collection of short stories entitled Winesburg, Ohio. These stories centered on the affairs of the denizens of the small, mostly agrarian town. Much like Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology, or Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street, Anderson’s tales reflected something more than just the lives of those that resided in the town. The stories can be used as a microcosmic reflection of human behavior. I suppose some would say that all stories are designed to reflect all of humanity, but I disagree. There are stories that are pertinent only to their own little worlds, and in those worlds, become sirens, threatening to draw the reader into a fantasy that the world is real, and just as beautiful as on the printed page.

Anderson opened up forcefully in Winesburg, Ohio. The first story, "Hands," tells of a schoolmaster who was accused of engaging in untoward sexual conduct with one of his students. Later, as many of the other students recounted how the schoolmaster had tousled their hair or placed his hand on their shoulder, the men of a small Pennsylvania town gathered together. In response to these accusations, the men had a simple solution. The schoolmaster would be hanged. However, their resolve was tested upon facing the schoolmaster.

“They had intended to hang the schoolmaster, but something in his figure, so small, white, and pitiful, touched their hearts and they let him escape. As he ran away into the darkness they repented of their weakness and ran after him, swearing and throwing sticks and great balls of soft mud at the figure that screamed and ran faster and faster into the darkness.”


Toward the balmy close of November 1998, I was nearing the end of my first semester at Georgetown Law. It was, in my mind, a decidedly unpleasant experience. My professors seemed aloof (for the most part), unwilling to interact with their students beyond the mere delivery of lectures. My classmates were a motley bunch, and many of them intimidated me with their intelligence, their wealth, or their social charms. I was amongst a small group that hung along the fringe of our section, not quite an outcast, but intentionally and willingly not a member of the group of students that considered the section to be familial, that considered their peers to be comrades. Law school was a competition, I thought. These are not my peers. These are my adversaries.

I held this belief, then, and hold to this day that, even though someone is my adversary in the field of law, I would hold myself to certain rules of engagement when addressing him or her. I would not stoop to “dirty tricks” or dishonesty, I vowed, somewhat sanctimoniously. I would allow myself to be unyielding, perhaps even callous, but I would never be malicious.

Thus, when the rumors began to circulate regarding JV, one of the top students and a notorious “gunner,”[1] I was enraged. The rumor started slowly. QL, a jovial yet moody classmate from Kentucky, the friend that eventually got me interested in alt country, whispered to me as we walked out of our Legal Justice Seminar.

“JV’s obtained a dispensation from the Registrar. She doesn’t have a time limit on her exams,” he said.
I was puzzled, and I could feel my forehead furrow together.
“She told the registrar that she had carpal tunnel,” he said, “and that she could not type or write at high speeds.”

That day, I saw JV walking across the marble floors of the law library. She had her hands in braces that looked remarkably similar to those used for inline skating. I decided not to let on QL’s introduction to the issue, and greeted JV warmly. It was a warmth I did not feel.

“Good lord, what the heck happened to your hands?” I asked. I tried to keep my pitch high and sympathetic.

JV explained that she had developed carpal tunnel syndrome, and that she needed to wear the braces while she wrote. I examined her as she spoke. JV was older than most of our classmates. She appeared to be in her early thirties, given the wrinkles around her eyes. She wore a gray sweatshirt emblazoned with the campaign slogan of her father-in-law. JV had married the son of a noted Democratic senator from New England.[2] She spoke of her father-in-law constantly in Constitutional Law.[3] This was a topic of amusement and irritation for many of the class. For those, like me, that were on the fringe of the social structure, it was the impetus, along with a few other mannerisms, for a seething rage at a woman’s insistence that her social and political stature, or at least her family’s, mark the starting boundary of all conversations.

“For god’s sake!” I once said. “She’s so f-cking arrogant she refers to the president as ‘Bill.’ Who the f-ck refers to the President by his first name? Do I go around referring to the Pope as Karol? Sweet Christ, she’s a pain in my ass.”

In the first year of law school, I was sufficiently agitated and misanthropic that I considered the personalities of others to be attacks upon myself. Therapy, clearly, might have been helpful.

JV and I continued to talk. I asked her if she was going to be able to take her exams. She explained that she had, “unfortunately,” been forced to ask the Registrar for extra time on them.

“Oh,” I said, “that’s too bad.” I sighed, and forced a concerned look. “Well, I hope you feel better soon.”

That day, on my way home from working at the law library, I stopped at Union Station. Inside one of the tourist-oriented kiosks, I picked up a disposable camera. I slipped it into my bag, and continued to walk the brick-lined streets of Capitol Hill to my home.

The next day, QL, RVA, a tall, thoughtful classmate from Alabama, and I sat on the steps of the library, chatting about our exam outlines. I had decided to forego the step of creating an outline, relying on my typed notes instead. The others thought I was mad. We smiled and cracked jokes about each other. I lazily sucked on a cigarette. It was another warm fall day in the District. People were still riding their bicycles to and from class. Some were sitting on the small green between the law library and the classrooms, taking their lunches.

JV rode her bike slowly across my field of vision, and I stopped talking. I could see her, just by the side of the law library, unloading books from her backpack and locking up her bicycle. She wore no hand braces.

“Son of a bitch.”

QL and RVA followed my gaze.

RVA let out a single, throaty laugh.

“Yeah, the hand injury’s really interfering with her lifestyle,” he said in a drawl.

“Can’t f-cking believe the audacity of that woman,” I said. I could, though. I knew it the day before.

This went on for a week more. JV would complain about her hands and show up in class wearing hand braces. After classes ended, I saw her resting her hands firmly on the handlebars of her bicycle, peddling home. I followed her, one day, and discovered she lived only two blocks from my apartment. Eventually, I began to take pictures of her riding her bicycle.

The day before the study period ended, and two days prior to our first exam (torts, if I can recall correctly), I had the pictures developed. A few came out, clearly showing JV placing her weight on her hands as she rode. One, I was pleasantly surprised to see, even showed her standing up off her seat, leaning forward. Her forearm muscles were tense. She had a slight smile. She looked relaxed.

I gave the pictures to RVA and QL when I ran into them again at the library. They laughed. If we handed them to the Registrar, JV’s career at Georgetown was over. After a few minutes, it was clear that we were earnestly considering giving the photographs to the Registrar.

RVA sighed. “It would be funny,” he said. He shook his head and looked down, laughing quietly.

“She deserves nothing better. Hell, we could make them into those photo greeting cards and send them to the class,” I replied. I held out my hands to indicate a caption. “’Happy Holidays, I just cheated you all out of a fair f-cking curve.’”

“She does deserve it,” QL said. “It’s not right.”

RVA waived his hands, defensively. “It’s your photos. I want no part of it.” He got up and left.

QL and I looked at each other. Almost simultaneously, we spoke.


We weren’t going to do it. I shook my head. We lacked conviction, but we had anger. I took one of the pictures out of the packet, and slapped the remainder against QL’s chest.

“Enjoy.” I walked off.

We began exams that Monday. RVA, QL and I didn’t have a chance to talk, and I only ran into JV once. After my Civil Procedure exam, I walked upstairs from the classrooms, to the second floor where Georgetown had smaller conference rooms and professorial offices. I had wanted to pick up notes for my Legal Justice exam from the professor’s office. JV rounded a corner, and we bumped into each other.

“Hey,” I said. I had little force in my voice.

“Hey.” JV answered. She wore her hand braces. She looked nervous. Perhaps she had heard the rumor as it spread around the section.

“How are the exams going?” I asked.

“Good. I’m actually in one now. I just need to proof my essays, and then I’ll be done.” She smiled. “Can’t talk, though.”

I smiled back. “Right, can’t talk. Well, good luck.”

The next day, the basement level, which held the student mailboxes, and the first floor of the building were plastered with photocopied photographs of JV, standing as she rode her bicycle, a slight smile on her face. Beneath the photocopied picture was simple caption.

“How’s the carpal?”

JV transferred from Georgetown at the end of the first year of law school. She ended up at a highly ranked Ivy League law school. She avoided the section, as a whole, during her final semester at Georgetown. She expressed palpable hatred toward me. I never posted the photocopies of her, though. I can only assume that either RVA or QL had a change of heart.

I keep my single copy of the evidence that JV lied about her need for un-timed exams in a filing cabinet next to my desk. Amidst the empty fountain pen cartridges, paper clips, and pencils, JV can be seen riding across East Capitol Street, just south of the Supreme Court, her fingers tightly wrapped around her handlebars. I suppose it’s time to throw the photograph out, but it does please me to see it.

1. In law school parlance, a gunner is a student who is aggressively striving for the top grades. Gunners are typically considered arrogant, sycophantic, and boring. Of course, that could simply be my perception.

2. No, not that one.

3. Which bore the title, in the syllabus, of “Democracy and Coercion.” Unfortunately, Constitutional Law II was only called “Constitutional Law II.” They ran out of amusing, neo-hippie titles for classes after the first year of law school.

TPB, Esq. || ||

a "switch" ad, sans the stoner girl

Gary Turner recommends that you hit the switch. Very funny. Via the apparently omnipresent Bag and Baggage.

Sigh... I can't hit the switch tonight. I am already back in trial mode. I have an appellate brief to deliver by monday. Not fun.
TPB, Esq. || ||


I love the fact that we are such an obsessive bunch that, even when we're away on a little jaunt with the wife, we still feel compelled to blog. Good lord man, take a break.*

*Oh mighty Instapundit, please do not shower me with your wrath....
TPB, Esq. || ||

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

big time

Wow. When you see articles like this, you know you're going somewhere.

Sorry. This is my infantile way of addressing hate mail. Damn, it does make me chuckle, though.
TPB, Esq. || ||

physician, heal thyself: a belated rebuttal of medpundit's critiques of lawyers

About ten days ago, Medpundit received the following letter:

The law in america is a 12th century construct with overlay of high middle ages guild thinking and a religious gloss over it. Lawyers can best be thought of as "free companies" ie mercenary knights of the 12-14th centuries. It believes in trial by combat(the adversarial process), the duty to zealously defend the client, no duty of the attorney to tell the truth(they are not under oath), a referee who can reverse any decision if it does not feel right ( equity taking the role of the archbishop), protection of the professionals (lawyers and judges) from the rules imposed on the rest of society(the serfs or us), and a refusal to acceed to control from outside the caste (the supreme court is always right, especially when its wrong). I often contended that the legal cannons [sic] are an almost perfect definition of evil, ie no responsibilty for any of your actions no matter how reprehensible(I was only following orders). The legal process has not yet come to grips with the enlightnment or scientific revolutions. Most legal process is indistinguishable from the process of the middle ages. A telling point on legal ethics is that all law reviews check each footnote in a legal article because of how commonly lawyers lie about facts. Anglo-american law holds that the highest right anyone has is the right to sue anyone else for anything. That actually trumps everything else. The judges view law written by the legislature as suggestions, after all only the judges can say what it really means. A bad legislative law can be reversed, reversing a bad supreme court is almost impossible.

Medpundit then went on to support the ideas in that letter.

I don't know. Maybe it's just a bit of team pride, but I'm a little irked by this stuff. So, I think I'm going to do a little deconstruction.

Lawyers can best be thought of as "free companies" ie mercenary knights of the 12-14th centuries. It believes in trial by combat(the adversarial process), the duty to zealously defend the client, no duty of the attorney to tell the truth(they are not under oath), a referee who can reverse any decision if it does not feel right ( equity taking the role of the archbishop), protection of the professionals (lawyers and judges) from the rules imposed on the rest of society(the serfs or us), and a refusal to acceed to control from outside the caste (the supreme court is always right, especially when its wrong).

Free companies?

Well, do you mean that we won't engage in multi-disciplinary practice with accountants? Absolutely. In order to be a law firm, only lawyers - those who bear all of the ethical obligations of officers of the court - can be partners. Non-lawyers can be staff members, but they cannot hold equity in the firm.

Trial by combat?

Sometimes. I believe so strongly in trial that I litigate all but 99% of my cases. Seriously, no one tries cases any more (unless it's a criminal matter, which is guaranteed a trial under the Constitution). Lawyers have a more measured understanding of trial as a cost-effective, reasonable means of resolution than they did fifty years ago. The following organizations demonstrate this point:

1. The American Arbitration Association.
2. The Harvard Law School Mediation Program
3. The Institute for Conflict Resolution at Cornell University

In New Jersey, we further demonstrate this idea that lawyers do not universally espouse trial as a sole method of resolution by way of the State's requirement that divorcing couples undertake Mandatory Early Settlement Panel Conferences (MESP's). This is a non-binding means for divorcing spouses to obtain an understanding of what would be a fair resolution of their case. Trial, in short, is a rare practice outside of criminal law.

No duty to tell the truth?

New Jersey Rule of Court, Rule of Professional Conduct 3.3 (Pressler) states the following:

"(a) A lawyer shall not knowingly: (1) make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal; (2) fail to disclose a material fact to a tribunal when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting an illegal, criminal, or fraudulent act by the client; ... (4) offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false. ...."

There is no loophole in this that allows me to lie. Even when not giving testimony or drawing testimony from others, I cannot lie. I signed an oath upon entering the Bar of the State of New Jersey, swearing to uphold the laws of the State. One must assume that includes not engaging in false swearing and suborning perjury. Furthermore, in written documents, I am bound by my oath to tell the truth. On any affidavit submitted to the Court, I must sign the document and have either a notary or another attorney sign as follows "Sworn and signed before me on this day, ___ January 2003." In other words, I've submitted my statement to the Court under oath. I have an absolute, unyielding duty to tell the truth.

Protection of the professionals from the rules imposed by society?

The State Bar has set higher standards for attorneys than society sets for itself. In my state, you really can't be a lawyer if you have been (1) convicted of drunk driving, (2) failed to pay child support or alimony, (3) declared bankruptcy, or (4) engaged in the use of narcotics. While private society may penalize people for engaging in any of these practices, rarely does it bar entry into a field as is done with law.

The Supreme Court is always right, even when it's wrong?

Not really. Unless the United States Supreme Court addresses a purely Constitutional issue, the United States Congress can change a statute, and thereby eliminate the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of that statute.

Next point:

I often contended that the legal cannons [sic] are an almost perfect definition of evil, ie no responsibilty for any of your actions no matter how reprehensible(I was only following orders). The legal process has not yet come to grips with the enlightnment or scientific revolutions. Most legal process is indistinguishable from the process of the middle ages. A telling point on legal ethics is that all law reviews check each footnote in a legal article because of how commonly lawyers lie about facts. Anglo-american law holds that the highest right anyone has is the right to sue anyone else for anything. That actually trumps everything else. The judges view law written by the legislature as suggestions, after all only the judges can say what it really means. A bad legislative law can be reversed, reversing a bad supreme court is almost impossible.

Legal cannons [sic] as the perfect definition of evil?

I always thought that evil was perfectly defined by the existence of the Shriners, but I can understand why some would disagree with me. See the points made above. The Code of Professional Responsibility, in Model or adopted form, is actually an admirable standard to which people are held. Granted, some lawyers do not meet this standard. For that, they are severely punished, regardless of their fame or power. For example, even President Clinton was disbarred. Judge Nixon, when found guilty of perjury in the seventies, was sent to prison. He also was disbarred and impeached.

most legal process is indistinguishable from the Middle Ages?

"Hi, I'm Torquemada, I'll be your inquisitor for this evening. Tonight's special is a lovely turn on the rack, served with lashings and immolation." Come on.

all law reviews check each footnote in a legal article

All law reviews check footnotes so that, when someone - lawyer or otherwise - makes an assertion like "there's no duty to tell the truth" for lawyers, the editor can point out the flaw in this argument. Seriously, law reviews check footnotes to make sure citation follows the rules imposed by the Blue Book (a guide published by the Harvard Law Review so that all lawyers may suffer), and so that quotes (as opposed to paraphrasing) are properly credited. Law Students have neither the time nor the inclination to make sure that authors are telling the truth. That's what scholarly review does. Authors tell the truth so that they are not refuted by later authors.

the law of the legislature as a suggestion?

Is legislative statute a mere suggestion, not a directive to the Courts? No. The Courts, and the administrative bodies, can only make a reasonable interpretation of the law of the legislature (unless the statute is unconstitutional, in which case it must be overturned). They cannot go farther than that. Natural Resources Defense Counsel v. Chevron, Inc. proved that point dramatically.

reversing a bad supreme court [decision]

As noted above, Supreme Court decisions addressing laws that are not Constitutional in nature (i.e., federal question issues), while rare, do exist, and can be overturned by legislative decree. Often this occurs with respect to laws regulating the government or lawyers in federal practice. Supreme Court decisions addressing Constitutional questions can only be overturned by a later Supreme Court case.[1] Then again, isn't this the point of the Supreme Court? Don't we want it to be the final arbiter in the land? What else would we have in its place? Popular opinion? Fox Television polls?

I assume this letter, and Medpundit's comments, reflects the medical community's frustration about their malpractice rates, about being sued for alleged errors, and the like. Guess what. Lawyers don't decide whether these mistakes merit payment in lawsuits. "Twelve men, good and true," so to speak, make that decision. The common jury determines whether doctors should be penalized for their errors, and in turn, corporations react and adjust their malpractice insurance rates. If doctors don't like being accountable to jurors, there's a more significant problem than the prevalence of lawsuits: the belief held by physicians that they are no longer accountable to those outside their profession.

1. Which, I may note, will likely claim that it is only "modifying" the original decision, at best. See Frye and Daubert, for evidence of the reversal of a "bad" Supreme Court decision.

Edited for Formatting, January 29, 2003 - TPB.
TPB, Esq. || ||

oh come, oh come, emanuel's

Denise at Bag and Baggage has pointed out a cranky law student's web site, Open and Notorious.[1] Once the emotional damage has fully faded, perhaps I'll talk about law school. Law school being my code words for "three years of my life wherein the world turned and I failed to notice."

1. For the non-lawyers out there, this phrase has absolutely nothing to do with R. Kelly. Honest.
TPB, Esq. || ||

tell that to Mrs. Coolidge

Jeffrey Cross has one of my favorite presidential jokes/stories up on his site. Always good for a laugh.
TPB, Esq. || ||


How to Invoke the LazyBlawg in BLAWGISTAN?
LazyBlawg reads your RSS feed. In future incarnations, we'll also be able to read your website and generate the RSS feed for you, if you don't have one.
We then parse your feed for:
Postings in the category "Blawgistan" or "Lazyblwg"
or (if you don't have categories) postings with "BLAWGISTAN" or "LazyBlawg" in the Title
items with either (or both) are "featured" as "invoking".
It's easy. It's fun. Do it.
TPB, Esq. || ||

cry freedom (and other inappropriate uses of apartheid references)

It's official. In one month, I make my escape. My first full week of vacation since I started working in 2001 will be spent on the beaches of Aruba.

There was much rejoicing.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Monday, January 27, 2003

if this gets me censored, I'm kicking Hartley's a**

Please support Chuck and his associate, Pongo, in their aspirations for blogwhoredom. Keep your eyes on the prize, Chuck. www.blogwhore.com

By the way, is blogwhoredom a step up the social ladder for attorneys?
TPB, Esq. || ||

addendum: "oh, but I won't make those mistakes"

I was thinking about the comments to my posts on prenuptial agreements and divorce. A lot of people who commented, both via email and the comments section, seemed to have this idea that they would never need something so crass as a prenuptial agreement. I suppose this is because a lot of people think they will never need to see me or someone like me. Over the weekend, I attended a Bar Association symposium on Family Law. One of the speakers pointed out the following facts, taken from the Stepfamily Association of America, Stepfamily Fact Sheet (Jun. 10, 2000):

- 52-62% of all first marriages will end in divorce;
- 75% of all divorced parties eventually remarry;
- 43% of all marriages are remarriages for at least one of the adults;
- 65% of all remarriages involve children from prior marriages;
- 60% of all remarriages will end in divorce.

Getting married, in America, is like eating in America. You say you needn't worry about divorce or heart disease, but the statistics say otherwise. Flip a coin, as I once said before. It is slightly less likely that the coin will turn up tails than you will need to see someone like me (assuming you marry). This isn't gloating. Rather, it's a somewhat sad observation. Family law, like personal injury law, rarely has "bad" years. The economy's state seems to have no effect on my practice. "In the end, the house always wins."[1]

The reason prenuptial agreements are considered can best be explained by the second-to-last statistic I posted above. Sixty-five percent of all remarriages involve children from prior marriages. When people remarry, there is the risk that assets they set aside for their children will later be apportioned to their new spouses. Many create prenuptial agreements because they want to protect the rights of their children, particularly in the face of laws that often assume, wrongfully, that children and spouses share the same economic interests. For example, estate law has a provision called the elective share. Under this provision, when a spouse dies, one third of that spouse's assets are guaranteed to go to the spouse's wife, unless specifically set aside in an agreement or testament (and this may be set aside under certain circumstances). Thus, the children from a first marriage, without the protection of a prenuptial agreement, may be left with very little upon the death of their parent. As the second spouse's economic interests may behoove him or her to not provide those first-marriage children with a portion of elective share assets, the kids are, technically speaking, up sh-t's creek. Technically speaking. The point of is that there are very real, very altruistic reasons (protection and love of children from a prior marriage) that encourage people to draft a prenuptial agreement, however distasteful it may seem.

1. Billy Crystal (as the Devil), in Deconstructing Harry.
TPB, Esq. || ||

ain't talking 'bout love

Wow. My little Howling Point-inspired candy idea seems to have inspired a hell of a conversation. Granted, I think there's a lot of merit to the idea of agreeing that, so long as the marriage lasts a certain period of time (say, no more than five or ten years), parties should be bound by prenuptial agreements. People should be allowed to enforce contracts, if they are so inclined, about their relationships. The original structure of marriages, whether Christian (with the traditional notion of dowry), Jewish (the Ketubbah), or Hindu (once again, the notion of dowry), always held for such contracts.

In my mind, though, once a date certain occurs (ten years or so), I think the marriage has become something far too significant to be determined by contract. This is because the contract could not be said to anticipate the amount of economic and social interdependence that goes on in marriage. A spouse is tied to the other spouse's fortune, and to tear a couple apart is likely to tear one spouse from his or her primary source of assets when a marriage has reached ten years in length.

Would I sign one? Probably not. While it would be a good way to protect my assets, I have dealt with prenuptial contracts to an extent where I know just how easy it is to get a court to go around them. Courts, while they allegedly like enforcing marital contracts, seem inclined to overturn them when their sympathies are well-played. There's no sense in spending the time or money - or in what Nikki noted as symbolic planning for the end of marriage at the time of a marriage's start - when the contract will be meaningless after a few years. Of course, I am not nearly in the economic class of people that often use them. Usually the people that get prenuptial agreements are in the top, oh 0.01% of society. The people with salaries well into the seven figures (we had one this year that had an income that was in the eight figures), particularly those who are heading into second or third marriages, are the ones that get prenuptial agreements. Frankly, if I was in that position, I would demand such a contract as well. These are people that have a lot to lose in divorce, and likely feel like they have already been burned at least once by the process. I think they fear that their future second or third spouse may be leading them on so that the future spouse could collect a few million in alimony or equitable distribution after a few years of marriage. This helps high income clients assure themselves that, unless the marriage is of great length, they will be protected against paying alimony or a significant amount of equitable distribution (well, not significant to them... to me, it's often five or six times my income).
TPB, Esq. || ||

Sunday, January 26, 2003

thirty seconds of las vegas

I finally got my scanner. Here's some of the fun I've had with it.

I couldn't tell you what kind of flower this is, but that's not really the fun part of this picture. I took this from, oh, 20 or thirty feet up, while lying on my roof. I love my zoom lens' movement correction motors.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Friday, January 24, 2003

the piano is drinking, not me

How Nigella Lawson ended up making social critiques is confusing to me, as I thought she only had something, vaguely, to do with food (I must admit, I somehow get distracted and miss the food on occasion), but she has a good point regarding drunkenness. Ah, intemperance. My favorite vice. Via Notes on a Glamor Profession.
TPB, Esq. || ||

the irritatingly personal friday five

1. What is one thing you don't like about your body?

I'm 5'8". That's too damn short.

2. What are two things you love about your body?

Nothing really. I don't really think about it that way. I guess I like the fact that I can work for about three days without sleep, but that's about it.

3. What are three things you want to change about your home?

1. Move out. Find an apartment by the beach.
2. Find a way to actually fit all my books into bookshelves, instead of the piles and boxes in which they are presently located.
3. I want to get rid of as much stuff as possible. I hate all the random crap I have around. I just want a bed, bookshelves, and nightstand in my bedroom, not filing cabinets and dressers and such.

4. What are four books you want to read this year?

1. I want to finish In Ruins.
2. Killing Pablo
3. 2002 Best Short Stories Anthology - I read the anthology each year. It's great stuff.
4. The New Grove Bach Family. - It's been a while since I read much on J.S.

5. What are five promises you have kept to yourself?

Five promises I kept to myself? What the hell? Good lord. Who makes promises to themselves? Either you want to do something, and you do it, or you fail to do it. There's no need for a promise. You are either compelled or you lack intensity. Promises to yourself? What is this New age, Oprah and Doctor Phil spouting bulls--t?

Next you'll want to know whether I "self actualize." Freakin' promises. Good lord, screw this. I'm going to have a cigarette.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Thursday, January 23, 2003

the verdict

BEU, our client, and I sat quietly at a table in the back corner of Castello’s, a local nouvelle cuisine restaurant. BEU dipped a chunk of bread in the olive oil placed in a dish at the center of the table. I rubbed my eyes, gingerly pulling at the bags beneath my lower lids. The client, a dapper gentleman in a tweed sports coat, sipped at his wine. He let out a contented sigh.

For the past two hours, we had been alternating between giddy exuberance and contented exhaustion. This, because that afternoon, the Superior Court had come down with its ruling in the case we had been trying. Our client had won on all counts. His former spouse was guilty of fraud, false swearing, perjury, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, violations of litigant’s rights, and was obligated to reimburse our client for all monies wrongfully paid over to her. When all was said and done, she owed him a sum in the middle six figures. It was a large judgment for the family court.

Two days prior to this, at around midnight, I was in the office, frantically organizing the files that we would need for exhibits, doing a few final research projects (one of which ended up being a major component of the case, specifically, a choice of law question as to what laws apply to a marriage contract {the laws of the state of the contract or the laws of the domicile}), and making sure that there were no loose ends for the next day’s hearing. Most of the work for a trial does not occur while one is actually trying a case. By that point, the case, really, should be ready for resolution. In the present matter, the only thing I had left to do was to organize the volumes of evidence we intended to bring in to court. My boss, BEU, had decided that we needed the entire file in court, which meant that I had to prepare for quick access the six boxes of evidence we had in the file. Usually, in matrimonial cases, we would walk in with five exhibits, each no more than twenty pages long. This time, we were going to court with 38 pre-marked exhibits, constituting at least 1,000 pages, and a few thousand pages more in correspondence, motions, and research. Halfway through packing this stuff together, I had to replace my hand truck with a pallet cart. I did not make it home until 2:00 AM on Tuesday.

Later that Tuesday, I met BEU and the client at the courthouse at eight in the morning. I brought the aforementioned pallet cart with me, loaded up with the evidence boxes and our trial binders. I sweet-talked one of the sheriff’s officers (who work in courthouses in lieu of bailiffs in New Jersey) into allowing me into the courtroom early so I could arrange the evidence. Then, BEU and I sat down with the client, and began the waiting game. Our adversary arrived just before we were to make our appearances, belligerent and sloppy in his cheap suit and comb-over.

Traditionally, when a court appearance is scheduled at nine, it means that the attorneys are to be in the courthouse by 8:30, but the judge will not entertain their motion or hearing until 10:30 or 11:00. The waiting is frustrating. The client must be billed for the time, and the attorney is taken away from the day-to-day work that he or she must do when back from court.

This time, though, the Sheriff’s Officer told us that the Judge wanted us ready for opening argument in ten minutes. My boss and I silently gave each other looks. The judge was eager. This was good for our client, we thought. If the judge was eager to hear the case, that meant he was intrigued by our claims. We gathered up our coats and legal pads, and walked into the courtroom.

By the end of the first day of trial, it was clear just how intrigued the judge had been. The defendant bore the burden of proof in this matter, meaning that she had the obligation to present her case first. The direct examination by the defense counsel was bad. She kept slipping up on details, and rambling on, indignantly, about our client’s position. On cross-examination, we methodically took apart her arguments. My boss, BEU, who can be callous when necessary, was like a sadistic physician, culling away the defendant’s “misstatements” as though they were tumors.

After the hearing, BEU and I strolled down the busy New Brunswick streets to Soho on George, an upscale Italian restaurant. Over braised lamb shank and duck, we went over key points for BEU’s argument. Both of us were physically drained. As second chair, I was responsible for preparing exhibits for entry into evidence, locating key or contradictory statements in the defendant’s depositions and affidavits, and on-the-spot research for objections. BEU had the more physically draining job of the actual cross-examination and delivering our objections. So tired that both of us had lazy, drooped eyelids (compounded by our mistaken choices of having a few drinks to unwind), we moved like runners after a race. I learned a great deal that day. Evidence, the class I paid little attention to, even though I aced it, was clearly the most important subject in law school (at least for trial attorneys), perhaps even more than civil or criminal procedure. We were good at controlling evidence by quick refutation of objections regarding our documents, and by demonstrating the lack of relevance and probity of the defendant’s testimony. We controlled the facts. Therefore, we owned the case.

At 7:00 PM, we were done with the closing argument. Spent, we lacked ideas to use as “bolts” in our final sortie against the defendant. BEU and I went our separate ways. I walked back to my car, and began the long drive down Route 18 to Red Bank.

I cannot convey just how fatiguing the trial experience was for us. A colleague of mine once pointed out that the only reason he jogged was that he needed stamina for court appearances. For me, that meant that my lackadaisical approach to weightlifting, of late, was going to have its costs. I pulled into the municipal parking lot in Red Bank at around 8:00, turned off my car, and put my seat back. Within a minute, I fell asleep. Too tired to make the drive home, I slept for an hour, until the extreme cold (it was 9 degrees, Fahrenheit, that night) forced me to get up. I took a quick dose of rocket fuel (espresso), got back into my car, and drove home.

Wednesday was to be a shorter day. The defense counsel concluded his case, and we brought on our rebuttal witnesses. The first was a co-conspirator of the defendant’s. Again, BEU took him apart, careful to only ask, as he put it, “questions for which we already had answers.” This time, I was more involved, taking part in the arguments concerning objections on an open basis. The judge had fun with us, sometimes sparring over one evidence rule or another, but generally accepted our position. Our client went on the stand at 11:00 AM, and performed beautifully. His dignified – never vindictive – responses contrasted sharply to the defendant’s bitter tone. The judge listened intently, or at least made it appear as such. After that, a fifteen minute recess was taken.

Finally, it was time for the big show. BEU and the adversary were to deliver their closing arguments. As he bore the burden of proof, the adversary had first dibs on argument. He delivered a sort of rambling monologue on why the defendant lacked intent necessary to create our cause of action, slightly altering the facts of the case, and did not seem to help his client’s position much. Interestingly, he requested, and was granted, the right to deliver his closing while seated. That was a mistake, I thought. BEU also began his closing while seated. Halfway through his monologue, he also realized that a seated closing lacked impact. As he finished his recitation of facts, BEU stood, with a good deal of dramatic effect, and began a fiery assessment of the defendant and her case. It worked. The judge perked up as BEU stood, and smiled wryly. He was hooked. I knew it even before BEU finished.

Usually, judges take time to deliberate on their verdict. On this occasion, however, the Judge listened to both closing arguments, sucked in a deep breath, and produced a piece of paper from beneath his robes.

“This Court finds defendant’s arguments to be, at the least, unpersuasive, and quite possibly some of the more disingenuous testimony to come before this judge.” The Judge said, in a cold, angry tone, before listing the Court’s findings of fact. My eyes were wide, my mouth agape. Rarely did a court make such one-sided findings. We had destroyed the defendant.

“On all counts, this Court hereby finds for the plaintiff.” He paused. “Plaintiff’s counsel shall submit an order, in adherence with this ruling, which, I suspect, shall not be that daunting a task. Good day, gentlemen. This Court is adjourned.”

No gavel rapped, and there was no dramatic scene of courtroom glory. As the judge delivered his findings, I quietly reached over and grabbed the shoulder of our client. He had been vindicated, after years of wrongdoing by the defendant. The Judge slipped away to his chambers.

During the final recess, just before the closing arguments, I had left BEU and the client to work on refinements to BEU’s speech. I sat in the courtroom, going through papers. After a while, I stopped, and exhaled a long sigh of relief. My work was done. It was all in BEU’s hands.

“You know, if I were the judge, that fool defendant’s ass would be in jail right now.” A voice came from behind the oak barrier of the Judge’s bench. I got up from the plaintiff’s table, and walked around the bench. In a low chair sat the Sheriff’s Officer, a lazy smile on his face as he scratched at his long premature five o’clock shadow.

“Yeah, well, let’s hope the Judge is of a similar mind.” I said, quietly.

“Oh, counselor, I don’t think you need to worry. You guys have a slam dunk on this one.” The Sheriff’s Officer said, still slouched down in the chair.

“That would be nice,” I thought. Slam dunk? No, we earned this. BEU and I fought long and hard, both over and for this case. It only looked like a slam dunk because we had left little to chance. Chance being the random questions I had asked at deposition, luckily scoring us “smoking gun” quality evidence. I walked back down to the plaintiff’s table, and continued to put away exhibits and update our exhibit log. It was rare for the Sheriff’s Officers to speak their mind on cases, particularly to lawyers. Sheriff’s Officers have been harassed by far too many lawyers over the years to feel much openness or friendliness to them.

After the Court’s decision, I let BEU and the client sneak out of the courthouse as I packed up our exhibit boxes and binders. The courtroom was empty, but for myself and the Court Reporter. As I closed up shop, she told me that BEU and I made a good team. I guess we did, even though we fought over it. BEU and I have decidedly different approaches to things, but we did work well together. While I was sometimes frustrated with these differences, I could not justify, after the Court’s ruling, that his approach was not profitable. It worked. It may have been the only way to go.

I finished packing up the evidence and trundled off through the cold wind to the courthouse parking decks. As I made my way to my car, I passed the defendant. She glared at me, and for a second, I felt a wave of nausea. Someday, I thought, an adverse client will actually attack me. I suppose it is paranoid to think that, but I have heard so many stories of such violence that I have to give them some credence. I hope, though, that when it happens, it is not through some sort of deadly means.

Today, I sat quietly in my office. I went through my backlog of correspondence, a half foot of letters that had piled up in the two days I was on trial. I was still tired, although pleased to recount to the staff and other attorneys the little gems of the trial (my boss' dramatic rise in his closing had made the rounds). Although tired, I felt ready to get back to my cases. I had a little more energy. It was satisfying, to go in and fight.

I want to do it again.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Here's a little conversational terrorism for your Wednesday Afternoon. Tell me, what do you think about this?

Coming up: a long, long long ditty on my hearing. I'll just warm you up with this: the Court was so incensed with our adversary that we may be getting fees, sanctions, and costs directly from him.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Monday, January 20, 2003

the ways of old

"...intercourse is not only a marital right, but also a marital obligation." Bolmer v. Edsall, 90 N.J.Eq. 299, 106 A. 646 (Ch. 1919) (emphasis added).
TPB, Esq. || ||

I finally gave up the ghost on not needing a fully functional home computer (my old laptop lacked speed, sound, and the ability to print on a regular basis, but I didn't give up the beast until its monitor started to fail). I picked up a Gateway, and profited by the company's dismal 4th Quarter losses by getting it at a reasonable price. So reasonable, in fact, that I didn't mind throwing in a scanner. The scanner is key, as I don't believe in digital cameras yet. I'm not saying I don't believe they exist, I just don't think they're worth my money yet. Anyway, now that I have the scanner, I think I'm going to have to put up a few snapshots from my travels. First to come (once I get home from work): my time lapse shots of the Vegas Strip. Hopefully, this will give me more incentive to take pictures. Well, that and my secret, disturbed desire to become Sy the Photo Guy from One Hour Photo.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Just finished Michael Palin's Pole to Pole, about his trek from 90 Degrees North Longitude to 90 Degrees South Longitude (i.e., from the North to the South Pole). Pretty good, I should think, and even better for being free. You can access it and his other books here.
TPB, Esq. || ||

guardian ad litem for the unthinkable

NYT has an interesting article on Lee Malvo's guardian ad litem. That has to be an unenviable job. My work has taken me to juvenile detention centers, and they are, by far, some of the filthiest, most disgusting places I have ever seen. The stench, this horrible stench of body odor, urine, and disinfectant, hangs over the place, and the inmates are miserable, sad little men. For someone whose job is a neat, antiseptic world (usually), the experience can be overwhelming. Now, the duty of Todd Petit is compounded by the fact that he must deal with these issues at the same time that he deals with being one of the attorneys for a pariah (rightly or wrongly; I'm not going to pre-judge this case). That's tough.
TPB, Esq. || ||

I saw Adaptation on Friday. Many in the press have praised the film, but I side with the columnist (I think it was either A.O. Scott of the NYT or Roger Ebert) who likened the film, appropriately, to the work of a clever student in a creative writing class, to wit, the clever student, suffering from writers' block, has written a story about a clever student suffering from writers' block. It's cliche. It's been done.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Saturday, January 18, 2003

eldred, from a general practitioner's angle: loss and zealotry

I keep coming back to the same post by Pr. Lessig on his involvement in the Eldred matter. My interest in copyright law is, quite frankly, limited. I studied it in law school. I worked for an IP/entertainment firm for a summer. I dealt with the issue, but was never particularly passionate about it, like many on the web are and will be. However, I am so thoroughly struck by how dignified and commendable Lessig handles what, for him, was a negative outcome in this case. He's not self-righteous. He takes the loss seriously, and he thinks, in this and later posts, on how he can find another way to serve his client. Better that than to walk away from the client, I think, or to lose dignity in a self-serving rant against the Court.

I keep thinking about the idea of losing. I haven't been a lawyer for very long. I did the tally last night, and I have been a lawyer for thirteen months, twenty-nine days. As of yet, I have not lost a motion. The closest I have come to this was when I had a pro bono client who was unwilling to do anything but accept a prosecutor's plea bargain. Even then, though, I was filled with this overwhelming sense of self-loathing and misery. The sense I will get, someday, I'm sure, from losing a motion from a client that genuinely wanted or needed to win, may be crushing. Lessig, I'm sure, invested his heart and soul in his case. That's commendable. At the same time, though it is a recipe for great personal suffering. Lessig, along with many other lawyers (myself included, I would like to think), cared deeply for his cause, and it must have burned to see that cause not be advanced by his efforts. Thus, many, especially outside the field of law, would say that lawyers should take a step back from their cases.

Jules, at Life, Love and Tennis wrote a recent post wherein she chastised those that look at their jobs as a "messianic mission." As she referred to me directly, I felt this hot blast of embarrassment, the sort where you can feel the heat radiating as you blush, because I did not know, or did not realize, that I had been treating law like some sort of crusade. She's right, of course, there's a point at which one goes too far in the love one has for a career [1]. However, I don't think that lawyers would be well served from stepping completely away from the passion many have for their client's causes or for their profession.

As lawyers, we are charged with the duty of zealous representation of our clients. "Zealous" is the exact word used in the Model Code of Professional Responsibility (Rule 1.2, I believe... I leave it to those law students out there to point out that error). Lessig's post - fairly small, yet very moving by way of one simple line - is telling as to the extent to which we should go in this duty.

I will always be grateful to Eric Eldred, and our other plaintiffs, for putting his faith in this case. I will always regret not being able to meet that faith with the success it deserves.

Such sorrow at loss, if genuine, is so remarkably demonstrative of how far we must go. We must understand, and we must honor, the fact that our relationships with our clients is often (at the very least, for the client) a matter of faith. Lessig seems to display a faith in his client as well, and I hope I do the same for mine.

1. At the very least, stepping back from one's career helps one avoid becoming an insufferable bore.
TPB, Esq. || ||

just my baby-mama

The conversation that terrifies every male at any age.
TPB, Esq. || ||

not at liberty to confirm or deny

Well, that was neat. For those in the North Jersey area, feel free to look for my interview in the Bergen Record. I think I might have a mention coming up in Law Technology News as well. It's a shame it has to happen now, when I am swamped with trial work. Otherwise, I might whip up a nice little post on my top ten panic attacks during law school or something. Ah well, soon.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Friday, January 17, 2003

After Walt and I had an interesting little aside about rehabilitation and punishment, Scott Turow has a decent op-ed piece on capital punishment. Not that one relates to the other, but it's timely.
TPB, Esq. || ||

the strikingly pertinant and uncensored friday five

1. Where do you currently work?

A top 500 law firm in New Jersey. That's all you're getting out of me.

2. How many other jobs have you had and where?

Full-time jobs? None. I went straight from college into law school, and from law school to here. School-year jobs? Too many: (1) pizza chef at Papa Gino's, in Boston. (2) Resident Assistant for Boston College. (3)Research Librarian, Edward Bennett Williams Law Library. (4) Antiquities Librarian, Edward Bennett Williams Law Library, (5) Legislative Assistant to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Ad-hoc sub-committee on the Impeachment (unpaid, overworked, and far too frustrating).

3. What do you like best about your job?

I love going into court. There is nothing more thrilling, for me, than risking something on the persuasiveness of my words and my ability to bluff (more the bluffing than the persuasiveness, really). Second to that would be the research. I really enjoy hunting down the "magic bullet" case that gives me a cause of action.

4. What do you like least about your job?

I don't get nearly enough sleep. I usually work on 4.5 to 6 hours of sleep, which is not enough. Hence, I am always tired.

5. What is your dream job?

Well, poet laureate of New Jersey seems out of the question (I'm not an anti-semite, like the current officeholder).... I would love to write screenplays or novels at some point, preferably screenplays. I love the way a good story is transformed on the screen. Barring that, professional candlepin bowling champ seems to be the role for me.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Thursday, January 16, 2003

You can't imagine how frustrating this is. It is actually hurtful to hear the Vatican railing out at Catholic lawyers and politicians for defending the views, sometimes of clients, sometimes of constituents, with which the lawyers may not even agree. We have a fiduciary duty to these clients. We must defend their position zealously. I, for one, also don't buy the idea that Catholic lawyers just shouldn't take cases the Church disagrees with. What I represent in court does not reflect my beliefs in my heart. It reflects the position of my client. Here's another question: does the Church expect lawyers to hold their clients to Catholic standards of ethics, even if the clients are, say, Sikhs? How far does this go? Does it stop when lawyers can only represent clients approved of by the Church?

I love, though, that the piece mentions the patron saint of Lawyers, Sir Thomas More, as the model. More was an elegant, erudite lawyer who arranged for Henry VIII's first "annulment", but was, more importantly, a cynical* iconoclast who would likely have gotten into running battles with nearly any leader. I suspect that includes Papa Karol....

I think the Vatican is heading down a bad road. It is focusing on attacking views it dislikes, yet forgetting to rehabilitate itself from the past year's debacle. Ticked off doesn't even begin to describe my reaction.

*Cynical? He wrote Utopia, about an ideal society. Utopia is Greek for "nowhere." More thought social idealism was a pipe dream. Plus, he inspired my site's sub-title/quote.
TPB, Esq. || ||

It would seem that the game is afoot.
TPB, Esq. || ||

are you going to bark all day, little dog, or are you going to bite?

Last night’s lecture went well. We discussed new developments in New Jersey Family Law (“Development No. 1: People are still getting divorced.”).

On Tuesday, I received an email from D., who was, well, a bit irritated at an older piece of mine addressing federalism and global environmental treaties. As you can see below, D made it somewhat easy for me, as he quoted one of the earlier paragraphs in this piece. Me, I wouldn't have gone after an old piece. I like the stink of freshly made invective.

"Like then, I'd love to sit people down and
explain, "look, it's nothing
against these organizations, but we're a
federalist republic." By that,
I mean that we simply cannot join any group that
has power over the
nation without them being from within the nation.
We are
Constitutionally prohibited from doing so. The
second we allowed such
power, we are denying the voters the
representative democracy guaranteed
to them within the U.S. Constitution. Now, we
bristle most often with
regard to the World Court, but I think this would
also apply to the
Multigovernmental Environmental Group espoused by
President Chirac."

Okay, scanning this and my original text, I now remember that I wrote this as a paean to representative democracy, and specifically to the American tradition of having non-experts run our governments. We have bug exterminators and physics professors running our country, not experts on administrative law or economics. That, on a global level, is somewhat unique. Perhaps it’s not as unique as having a world-renowned writer as president (Vaclav Havel, of the Czech Republic), but it’s pretty damn neat.

I was doing a blind search using the keywords "typography, violence" (don't ask) and was directed to your blog. I was reading some areas, skimming others trying to figure out why (domestic violence section I suppose). You impressed me as an intelligent sensitive guy aside from the fact that you think Rush is intelligent and that justice Scalea [sic] is your favorite supreme. After I read the section I quoted above it began to make sense. You don't bother to go too far beyond the surface of things do you? It's kind of like Rush, you look at the world through ideological blinders, and if you hear something
that causes some cognitive dissonance you just hit the "dump" button. Or in your case hold your ears and hum to block out the offending sound. It's why conservatives make good TV and radio hosts; the world is cut-and-dry, black-and-white, we're the good guys and they're the bad guys --cut to a commercial. There is no gray in their world, no nuance, no shading, no depth. Everything's just like a flat cut-out shape in a shooting gallery: BANG! "gotcha," BANG! "gotcha."

When I read this section of D’s email, I was a bit puzzled. Rush? Rush Limbaugh? I can’t say I have ever referred to Rush Limbaugh in a post. I may have expressed some sort of pity for his hearing loss, as I am going through something similar, but I am not a particularly big fan of his. I checked my post, dated September 5, 2002, and realized D’s mistake. I wrote about my Congressman, Rush Holt, as follows:

“When my representative (the rocket scientist, Rush Holt, an immensely likeable, brilliant, devoted guy, even though our politics are different) does something or says something to NPR (3), he has to worry about losing his job in the fall. The only people we allow to work as behind-the-scenes, intelligent committees, are appellate courts (Circuit Courts of Appeals, the United States Supreme Court, etc.). This is appropriate because we need them to do a back-up check on all of those politicians we citizens have a duty to watch. ….[and far below, at Footnote 3]

3. Rush is pretty much limited to NPR. He's too intelligent for CNN/NBC/Fox. Too many big words, not enough soundbyte [sic].”

I see the problem. Ignore the paragraph, and look only at the footnote, and you can see it as well. D, I was referring to Congressman Holt, not Rush Limbaugh. Congressman Rush Holt (see?), D-NJ, is a fairly decent guy. I was giving him praise for that. I was giving praise to the odd little system of government that we have that allows fairly decent guys like Rush Holt to get elected. Sure, we get some garbage as well (Trafficant, Keating, etc.), but usually some decent people get elected. More importantly, I think that we get a lot of people in office who aren’t wholly assured that they know “what’s best for us.” I don’t mean that there aren’t people in office that won’t try to do what’s best for us, but rather that the large part of the Congress realizes that they are simply Senators or Representatives, not “experts.”

D also mentions that I am partial to Associate Justice Scalia. Well, yes. I am partial to Justice Scalia. The man is smart, funny, and pretty much willing to say almost anything on the bench or before a podium. I think of him as irascible. For that reason, politics aside, it was a given I would like Justice Scalia. It’s for the same reason that I like President Lyndon Johnson. Politically, I’m probably a shade closer to Scalia than to Johnson (discounting Johnson’s work on the Civil Rights Act, of which I would have been in favor), but that has no basis on whether I “like” a politician or judge. I like them because they are interesting. Case in point, my second favorite Justice: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer. Breyer is thoughtful. He has a remarkable grasp of administrative law and labor law. He wrote a book I read in law school, Regulation and its Reform, that actually made administrative law fascinating. For those not acquainted with the field, administrative law is the law that governs how governmental bodies act. Administrative law doesn’t cover the actual things that these bodies do (i.e., superfund sites, NEA funding, NIMH research, etc.), it just covers how these bodies can act. It’s the law of protocol for government. It’s dry. Breyer made the field rather interesting. Hence, I enjoy him being on the bench.

D, in effect, is pointing out something I really dislike about modern politics. People are so terribly committed to their political ideals. Few seem willing to enjoy the gamesmanship or the debate as a thing of pleasure – and, on occasion, beauty, particularly in the speeches of Lincoln or King – in and of itself. Yeats had a great quote about this. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” (The Second Coming) That being said, there are certain issues that deserve being stated in “black and white” terms. Unfortunately, the issue raised by D is not one of these.

D states that the world, for me, “is cut-and-dry, black-and-white, we're the good guys and they're the bad guys --cut to a commercial. There is no gray in their world, no nuance, no shading, no depth.”

Aside from the fact that this paragraph is based on the incorrect assumption that I was writing about Mr. Limbaugh and also is tautological, the paragraph itself is logically flawed. It strives to pigeonhole a group (“conservatives”) as bearing particular traits in a black and white way. As an aside, I do not consider myself a conservative, so my judgment on this group is decidedly from the outside.[1] However, I think that there are many conservatives capable, willing, and frequently engaged in the practice of addressing the nuance of human affairs when dealing with law. For someone, such as D, who is presumably a liberal (or at the very least, not a conservative) to assume that the group as a whole is incapable or unwilling to engage in a sophisticated analysis of world events is just as “black and white” as the flaw for which D indicts the conservatives.

Referring to your statement above; have you ever
heard of NAFTA? Have
you ever heard of the "other" Chapter 11. The
other Chapter 11 is an
obscure clause buried within the 555-page NAFTA
document. It's being
used by multinational corporations to challenge
the powers of government
to protect its citizens, to undermine
environmental and health laws,
even to attack our system of justice.

In theory, Chapter 11 is designed to compensate
companies if foreign
governments seize their property. But the lawyers
who helped draft NAFTA

inserted language making it possible for
companies to also seek
compensation when government regulations cause a
dip in their future
bottom line. Many of these same lawyers are now
selling their services
to the very corporations using their legal
handiwork to sue for
millions. In one case a Canadian corporation is
suing the U.S.
government for $970 million because California
decided to phase out a
cancer-causing gasoline additive the company

Let me see if I can understand this. You’re upset because the NAFTA treaty gives reciprocity to US, Mexican, and Canadian companies that may wish to sue based on regulatory takings? Not to make too big a point of this, but the right to sue based on regulatory takings has been around since the United States Supreme Court decided either Penn Central or California Coastal Commission v. Tiburon (whichever came first, although the concept of regulatory takings was certainly present in the much earlier case of Euclid v. Ambler Realty). South Carolina v. Tigard, I believe, is a relevant case as well. My point, though, is that the ability to sue for a regulatory taking, as created in Chapter 11 of the NAFTA treaty (assuming the validity of D’s assertion, as I have neither the time nor the inclination to look up the Treaty), is nothing special. The right pre-existed NAFTA (I believe by approximately twenty-five years, as Penn Central was decided {I think} in 1972). Yes, it’s bad that additives cause cancer, but that is not the point of NAFTA. That sort of issue, with the proper proof, is for the world of tort law, not international law. In fact, whether a chemical is bad for someone has nothing to do with international law (or my post of September 5, 2002). The point of international law, as it relates to the United States, as well as the point of my post, is that much of the proposed organizations that come from Europe are incompatible with American Federalism.

Perhaps if you didn't spend so much time
contemplating your navel in
plain view of the entire world you could develop
more informed
observations on how the world turns. In closing I
would like to share a
pithy quote I stumbled upon somewhere:

Navel contemplation? Look, I work in an office and I have a bad back (due to the wonders of physics and a drunk driver). I’m so inflexible, I couldn’t even tell you if I have a navel anymore.

Regardless, though, I think D misses the point of weblogs. They are designed to be electronic journals that the world can enjoy (as the world seems remarkably voyeuristic lately, given those “reality” shows people keep telling me that I can’t miss). They are, by nature, introspective, much like Pepys’ Diary, any of the hundreds of memoirs in the bookstores, or any similar sort of revelatory writing. Navel gazing is what we do. We are writers, and by virtue of that we are both reflective and focused on the world insofar as it relates to us.

Whatever it is that happens to be the point of these weblogs, I take objection at D’s tone. What will be gained from this sort of attack? Does it truly help his cause (if anyone’s could be helped by it)? It’s petty. Attacks, when not witty, are childish. When witty, an attack can be sublime (check out Noel Coward, Oscar Wilde, or Jonathan Swift for evidence of that), but that is rare. This, this whole exercise, is much better served by an engagement based on fact or logic. Getting emotional about these arguments serves no one. I know. I have to explain that to many clients.

"Do not attempt to improve your neighbor or your
neighborhood by what or
how you read. . . . The mind should be kept at
home until its primal
ignorance has been purged." -- Harold Bloom.

Ah, yes. Harold Bloom. Few people have a love for books nearly as great as his. I particularly enjoyed his book entitled The Western Canon: The Books and Schools of the Ages. I hear How to Read and Why is quite enjoyable as well. In a similar vein, Jacques Barzun’s From Dawn To Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life is entertaining.

1. I’m in favor of same-sex marriages, environmental stewardship, and fairly ambivalent about the right to abortion (although I find the procedure to be repulsive). I am more a libertarian or a fan of the law and economics school than I am a conservative. I dislike the idea of injecting a particular form of morality into most political issues (I think criminal law and education may be the two exceptions, as morality seems to be a natural component of each issue). That being said, I could be called a war hawk, or anti-welfare, or pro-business. I tend to think that I don’t fit neatly into a political category. In truth, I tend to think that most people do not fit neatly into a political category.

TPB, Esq. || ||

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

play misty for me

Woo hoo! I finally got hate mail* for this thing. Granted, it's about something I wrote months ago, but it's still hate mail. I have to take a few days to get through my other email to respond to the gentleman, but I will get there. Just to give a brief update, I still have way too much to do and too little time. Trial preparation wraps up today. We will send out our exhibits, our trial briefs, and our Affidavit of Services to the Court and the adversaries. That's going to be a welcome relief, particularly since it means that there is no more editing that I can do.

Tonight, I give the first of two lectures on the book, which came back from printing yesterday. Fun stuff. Quite frankly, I'd much rather catch up on my sleep, but that's going to have to wait.

*Not counting the hate mail I normally get from friends, their girlfriends, etc.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Monday, January 13, 2003

Justice Bedsworth on his readership: "Me and 600 Nigerian women have hijacked them and diverted them from the important legal issues of the day, leaving them clueless in the face of cultural mores they have as much chance of understanding as a chipmunk on crack."
TPB, Esq. || ||

Sunday, January 12, 2003

a small escape

Friday, for my respite from preparing for trial, I saw Narc. It seems that, like law school, I am turning to films as a means of escaping from work. It works well, as they are of the perfect length for me to limit the amount of time I spend away from work. I did the same thing in law school, allowing myself three to four hours a week so I could go out with an old friend, watch a film, eat dinner, and then rush back to my home office in a panic in order to finish my dissertation or study up on Land Use. I thought that getting out of law school would free up much more time, but I guess that isn't the case when I am doing trials.

Anyway, Narc is good, definitely a promising introduction for Joe Carnahan. Carnahan, like Soderburg in Traffic, has apparently decided to use gels to convey different worlds. A blue gel was used to give the world of the police investigation a cold, empty hue (fitting for how Jason Patrick portrays the protagonist). Home life, for Patrick, is given a more natural tone. Ray Liotta, as always, plays a strung-out cop well (this time he mixes it up by playing one that doesn't use coke). Jason Patrick is an interesting protagonist. He conveys a sort of dissolute yet decent humanity to the role. In other words, he's good at conveying the baggage people carry.

Saturday, I took a two-hour escape to check out my new DVD purchase, Signs. A lot has been made over the heavy-handed, pro-religion overtones in Signs. I don't have much of a problem with the promotion of the idea of faith in the film. I think it's actually pretty sophisticated for traditional American fare, particularly the scene wherein Gibson and Phoenix discuss belief, skepticism, and the "end of the world" while watching television. Certainly, it's not Shadowlands or Faust, but then, it's a movie, not a diatribe. I still love how James Newton Howard, who composed the score for Signs, seems to riff on Hector Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique and Danse Macabre. I'm curious to see what Shymalan does next.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Friday, January 10, 2003

the [delayed due to firm policy] friday five [redacted for content]

Yes. For some reason the website upon which one finds the friday five has been blocked at my office. Mind you, I know (and I've seen others manage to do this) that there are sites you can get to from firm computers wherein lavicious images are displayed. Secretaries walk around with Victoria's Secret catalogues. I can't see the Friday Five website. Okay... that's fine.

The Friday Five - Location, location, location

1. Where are you right now?

My office. Here's to having no life!

2. What time is it?

6:42 PM, EST.

3. What are you wearing?

Were this Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, I would now have to launch into a 30 page story on booby-trapped artillery rounds and comradeship in uneasy times. Yeah, well, it's not The Things They Carried, so... I'm doing the whole corporate casual friday outfit today. Khakis. Blue Oxford. Boots (it's still muddy/snowy out in NJ). My new watch (a Fossil, because they're damn cheap and they don't break). Eyeglasses. Class ring. Boxers.

4. Any people or animals around you?

There's a cleaning lady vacuuming in the hallway, a few attorneys in conference in the north wing of the building, and probably a few on the other floors. No animals around, as far as I can tell. Not counting the sharks.

5. What are your plans for the weekend?

The final touches on my book need to done. I also am going into trial next week (real trial, not just oral argument, is rather uncommon. Approximately 97% of all family law cases never go to trial), so I need to prepare exhibits and testimony outlines. That will be most of the weekend, but for a late-night showing of Narc tonight at the Menlo Park Mall.

TPB, Esq. || ||

I finally received my "Segovia Collection" Boxed set from Barnes & Noble, after four weeks of waiting. It's absolutely amazing. The most frustrating part to me is that, in his late sixties, Segovia was a more nimble guitarist than I was at 21. The collection has a fairly wide range of Segovia's performances, and is worth checking out if you're curious about classical guitar.
TPB, Esq. || ||

people you had to meet without your clothes*

Despite genetic evidence demonstrating that he was not the biological father, the Florida Supreme Court has denied a man's motion to terminate child support based on lack of paternity. See story here. The basis for the ruling was that the woman's conduct could not rise to the level of fraud with regard to the paternity issue. As Florida does not have a clear remedy regarding a non-biological support payor's remedies in such a circumstance, it remains to be seen whether the payor can seek relief against either the biological mother or the biological father.

*Apologies to Leonard Cohen on that one.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Thursday, January 09, 2003

mighty fine a-pickin' and a-singin' boys

You know, I don't think you have lived until you've heard a bluegrass/Bakersfield Sound version of Pink Floyd's "Hey You." That may have been the most surreal thing I've ever heard. Via KHYI.Com, by way of Flyover Country's Chris Cotner, who advised me that I am not allowed to listen to that radio station without a bottle of bud and a pull of chaw.

I'm skipping the chaw, Chris.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

if his heart were a cannon...

My blood begins my safer guides to rule, 164
And passion, having my best judgment collied,
Assays to lead the way. If I once stir,
Or do but lift this arm, the best of you
Shall sink in my rebuke. Give me to know 168
How this foul rout began, who set it on;
And he that is approv’d in this offence,
Though he had twinn’d with me—both at a birth—
Shall lose me.

- Othello, Act II, Scene 3.

I came in late today. I was tired, and I could not get up from my kitchen table after breakfast for at least twenty minutes. Last night I had been at the office until 11:30. With the snowstorm that hit New Jersey, that meant that I didn’t get home until Midnight. Such is life, I suppose.

I walked down the corridor between my office and that of BEU, my direct mentor. As I approached his office, I could hear him shouting at someone on the phone. Damn, I thought. It’s going to be a long one. RQD burst from his office, probably fresh with energy from his morning visit to the gym. Goofing off, RQD reached for the tip of my tie, attempting to yank it down.

“Get the f--- away from me.” I whisper hoarsely. I’ve been smoking too much lately. My voice has a strained sound to it. RQD walked off, unphased. I kept heading to BEU’s office.

“I don’t like you today,” DBL, one of my favorite secretaries on the team, announced. Her cubicle was between RQD’s office and BEU’s office. She was RQD’s secretary, but she acts like my surrogate mother. Yesterday she threatened to smack me if I didn’t clean up my “room.” A boisterous, kindly Sicilian, DBL is welcome to consider herself my surrogate mother.

“That’s an interesting thought. Will we be deciding each day which attorneys we like and dislike?” I asked. Screw this, I think. I’m tired of being nice to each and every member of the firm.

“What’s the matter, honey, don’t you feel well?” DBL ignored my attitude.

I was pale this morning. More pale than usual. I saw it in the mirror when I was shaving, and I knew then I really wasn’t going to be able to hide the fact that I wasn’t sleeping again.


I think she tried to pat my shoulder, but I walked off. I had to finish a brief.

Three hours later and I was ready to smack someone around. I had been snapping at people all day. Every third person I ran into has commented on the goddamn bags under my eyes. I know they’re there. I can feel them. It’s not like I don’t notice that they’re there. At noon, after a rousing little battle with BEU over the format of the brief, I decided not to take lunch. My stomach was feeling sick again. I hadn’t had time to eat breakfast this morning. I only had enough time to sit and doze, coffee in hand. I hadn’t had time to go down for my morning cigarettes/walk at 10. I was fed up. Too much work begins to pile up on me, and I get irritated.

At five, the brief was done. I sent it out to the client and BEU for review. Around the same time, a lawyer in another case, unrelated to my traditional practice area (I still pretend I could be a general practitioner, rather than a specialist), gave me a call. We have a motion coming up, and the adversary, an older gentleman, seems a slight bit unprepared.

“Do you happen to have the Tax Assessments?” the adversary asked.

“Yeah. I’ve been getting the documents regularly from the township. I put them in my last motion papers.” I answered. The adversary had failed to respond to my last three letters suggesting that we come together to discuss settlement.

“Oh. I don’t happen to have a copy of them.” The adversary sounded sleepy.

“Really. Well. That’s too bad. So… with regard to this call… what’s the story?”

“The story?” he asked.

“Yeah. The story,” I took a breath. “What do you want?” I asked the last question in a slow, staccato manner. I didn’t give a damn if I irritate the adversary. I knew then, as I’ve known for a while, that he doesn’t have a handle on his case.

“Well, I was thinking about the motion. Maybe we could sit down and talk about settlement before then.”

“Wait a minute. You want to talk settlement? Now? I have sent you letter after goddamn letter asking you to come to the table. The motion’s on for the Seventeenth. You had my last proposal in October. Answer the motion or answer the proposal. I personally don’t care which. In fact, I want this case to go to trial. Your little peon of a client will be bankrupt long before I finish discovery. And you know what’ll happen then?” The question was rhetorical, but I wanted to play with him for a bit.

There was silence on the other end of the line.

“I asked you a question. Do you know what will happen when your client goes belly up?” I ask slowly.


“He’s going to sue your grubby little a— [1] for malpractice. So tell me, why do I have to come to the table this time? What’s in it for my client? What are you going to give me?”

The adversary made a concession. It was a key one, and I didn’t expect him to make it. He lost it. I don’t know if he’s realized it yet, but the adversary lost it. It’s useful, on occasion, to play the bully with adversaries. With these “other” attorneys, you tend to find shortcuts to get them to do what you want. It doesn’t work with all attorneys. You learn quickly which ones are competent, and which ones are the “others.” In talking with the more senior lawyers on my team, I hear stories about the “other” attorneys.

“They’re lazy,” BEU told me. “That’s how we beat them. I do f—ing everything, long before it needs to be done. They’re not ready for it. Then we dump it on them and let ‘em drown.” BEU and I recently sent a motion out that dealt with discovery. The motion brief (as opposed to the affidavits and exhibits) was only fifty pages long (which is still long for a brief). The affidavit and exhibits [2] consisted of approximately 1200 pages, given the nearly forty exhibits and twenty pages of sworn testimony. In reply, the court sent us a letter stating that the judge intended to suggest weight limits to motions in the future.

“You don’t have to be smarter than them… but that’s not really an issue in most cases.” RQD said one day. “Fact is, we usually are smarter than them. We know the case better than them. We know the judges better than them. Sometimes, we’re friendly with the judges. Most importantly, dude,” he said, letting my nickname [3] roll slowly from his mouth, “we give the judge what he or she wants to hear. Everything else is just bulls—t.”

I do the absent-minded professor routine with judges. I play the young, naïve attorney who seems to know a lot, but not have a lot of aggression. Rarely do I come down like a wrecking ball on adversaries. Rarer still is the occasion where I will shout over the adversary or even object. I mix one part Columbo, one part Rain Man, and one part Atticus Finch. They seem to like it, and, for the most part, it’s accurate. I keep my temper controlled better than most. Rarely do I have days like today where I am universally irritated by others. I learned my lesson on my first motion, when I objected to an adversary’s characterization of one of my colleagues as a “walking ethics violation.”

I jumped up, and yelled “Objection! Such defamatory comments are worthy of sanction, your honor.”

The judge smiled, amused, and said, “Mr. B., let us remember the old legal adage. ‘Never snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.’”

The audience in the small Jersey City courtroom tittered, and I sat down, blushing. The judge then threatened that adversary with sanctions and granted me all of my requested relief. I learned the first lesson of motion practice that day. If the judge doesn’t ask you to speak on behalf of your own motion, keep your mouth shut. You’ve already won.

Today was another lesson. You can’t escape your work. It will, eventually, take a part of your personality and consume it. What’s left is new, and not necessarily better. After twenty years of being a prosecutor and ten of being an administrative law judge, my father learned that you can’t trust a soul. One of the more suspicious, controlling types I’ve met, my father now assumes that most of his cases are filled with diametrically opposed, adversarial, lies. I tend to think that, somewhere in all of the affidavits, exhibits, and filings, there may be room for some truth, but it’s rare that a judge catches it. Like everything else for this avowed skeptic, my practice is built on subjectivity. There’s absolute truth, but I will never know it.

Last week, talking with JMJ, a close friend of mine from California, I managed to astonish myself. We were driving down Route 34, just heading over the last remaining wooded hills in Holmdel and Matawan, as we talked. Just finished with a bar, we were chatting about Las Vegas. I started telling him a story from my most recent Vegas trip. Excited about the topic, he continuously interrupted me, chiming in with points about his trips to Sin City.

After a few minutes of interruptions, I snapped.

“God damn it! You will not f---ing interrupt me again! I do not tolerate it from my colleagues. I do not tolerate it from my parents. I will not tolerate it from you.” After the first two shouted sentences, the phrases came out in a hiss from behind clenched teeth. Honestly, it surprised me. I had much better control on my anger, I thought. And the most disturbing part… the part that ate at me, was that I was using the same tone I heard attorneys I disliked use when chastising their secretaries or talking to their clients.

I know there’s no simple, no trite, O Henry-drafted formula for me to deal with the anger. It’s there. It will stay there, as it was there before I became a lawyer. Most of the time, I keep it at work. I don’t let it affect how I deal with friends and family. I don’t use it as an excuse to be belligerent. I push it down. I let off the steam while hiking, or at least did before the busy season.[4] I spend my Fridays at fancy restaurants. That seems to help me loosen the knots.

I know, though, that it isn’t working. CK, a close friend from Red Bank, pulled me aside a few weeks back. A professional photographer for many magazines, CK has an eye for detail.

“You look like sh-t,” he said. CK wobbled. CK, along with being a professional photographer, is a professional lightweight, and can barely hold two pints of stout in him.

“I feel like sh-t,” I answered from behind a cigarette.

“Didn’t you say you can take your vacation whenever you want?” He asked, his hand still on my shoulder.

“Yeah, well, it depends on your caseload and what’s going on at the office…”

CK interrupted me. “Take it. It’s time to go.”

He’s right. It is time for me to take an annual break. I’m starting to burn out. I don’t really have as much fun as I did when I was working in the fall, which means that I need rest.

It’s 9:30 now. It’s time to go.

1. Since my work ISP keeps censoring me for using profanity, I’ve been forced to do a little editing.

2. You must swear to all exhibits, otherwise they’re useless as evidence. Hence, exhibits in motions are attached to affidavits (sworn statements regarding the facts of a case).

3. I’m the “Dude,” a.k.a., Lebowski, a character in a bizarre comedy by the Coen Brothers that all of us at the office seem to enjoy. Because I tend to be more laidback than the other attorneys, I started hearing one of the key quotes from the film all too often: “The dude abides…”

4. Labor Day through Christmas is the busy season. People are used to not dealing with each other. Thus, when summer vacations come along, spouses realize just how much bilious hatred they have for each other and divorce, usually around Labor Day. A second wave of divorces comes just after Thanksgiving. Once again, all the close proximity, the inability to escape family, and the social freedom to overindulge in alcohol consumption, encourages people to realize just how much “the other half” drives them to madness. I picked up a nice little batch of clients in late November and early December. The really fun ones are the Christmas divorces. Usually, these are the ones that end very badly. Spouses don’t just scream and yell and storm off. They don’t disappear halfway through a vacation, flying home in order to call me. No. They smack each other around. Wrists get broken. Faces get slapped, punched, scratched, bitten (on one occasion), and carved (on a truly disturbing occasion). Furniture’s wrecked. Cars are keyed. The police show up, fill out the Domestic Violence Incident Reports, and we take our retainers by the Feast of the Epiphany.

TPB, Esq. || ||

The Smithsonian Institute is going to increase its emphasis on research, which is a good thing. However, the topics it will focus on - mostly natural sciences - seems to be out of synch with the strong points of the Smithsonian. During my first year in DC, my limited social life revolved around the Smithsonian museums (my recommendations: The Hirshorn Modern Art Museum, the American History Museum, and the National Building Museum). The Smithsonian is at its best when it deals with humanity. It should revive the dying sciences of anthropology and archaeology. It should be doing all of those great cultural histories that gave us the Lomax music collection. Hell, it should find and finance the next Margaret Mead. Leave the natural sciences to the universities, who will fund the research themselves.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Do I have to turn in my "hip kid" i.d. card just because I think Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is crap?
TPB, Esq. || ||

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

suffer the children

Yet another story has appeared that evidences the lack of competency present in the Division of Youth and Family Services ("DYFS"). Personally, I find DYFS to be a terrifying organization. It has a reputation, this year alone, of attempting to remove children from homes against court order (Div. of Youth and Family Svcs. v. K.F., 353 N.J.Super. 623 (App. Div. 2002)), of demanding court appointed psychologists to alter recommendation reports without notifying the court (id.), and, generally, of threatening to take children from their families and homes in situations where I feel removal is unnecessary. By the same token, when action is required of DYFS, the organization appears to be slow-moving, disorganized, and non-committal to the safety and welfare of the children it is designed to protect.

Serious overhaul is needed with regard to DYFS, before more children in its care starve to death - or worse.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Monday, January 06, 2003

Dictation, Part Two

1. It's "The Hague Convention," not "The Hade Convention." Had you typed "Hades," however, I might have laughed.
2. "Proffer" does not equal "Prefer."
3. It is "New Jersey's Supreme Court." It is not "New Jerseys Supreme Court." They wear robes, not jerseys.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Technique 3 (Advanced)

Sit in front of a computer. Have a thesaurus nearby. Smoke up. Proceed to pronounce on anything that happens to come to mind. Use a tone that is urgent and highfalutin. Avoid the use of punctuation and use periods as infrequently as possible. French and German phrases should appear with regularity. When in doubt, make hasty references to Foucault, Heidegger, or Derrida. Take great pains not to explain what you mean. Abandon all reason.
From Tips for the Top: How to be a Philosopher, via Ipse Dixit.

Ouch. I guess this isn't a good time to mention that Heidegger's A Question Concerning Technology was one of my favorites in college.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Rita has an interesting post on termination of parental rights on her site, Res Ipsa Loquitor.
TPB, Esq. || ||

I just linked to A Web Undone 2, a site by someone who seems as dedicated to coffee as I am. Just to give you the day's running tally, I'm on my fourth cup, about to head back to the firm's coffee room for number five. Rocket Fuel!!!
TPB, Esq. || ||

the parent trap, redux

Dahlia Lithwick reports on the same-sex parents from Virginia that recently bore the first infant of the New Year. Well, at least one of the parents did. I'm not quite sure what the other one did, but anyway.... She looks at the incident from a different angle than I did when I noted the birth on January 2, 2003. Lithwick cautions same sex parents of the possibility of being obligated to pay child support, even when adoption does not occur. She then closes with a position in favor of open and public acceptance, or at least open legal acceptance, of adoption by same sex couples. My position? I'm just happy I scooped Lithwick by a day. That being said, I'm pretty much in agreement with her. I think the State would need to demonstrate some sort of evidence that same sex parenting is not in the best interest of children before barring such adoption rights.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Of Scoutmasters and Scorpions

Today, my family, along with the local Boy Scout Council and Congressman Holt, honored my father for his approximately fifteen years of service to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). It was a nice event, especially since my father was taken by surprise with it. We told him nothing with regard to the ceremony, instead telling him that we wanted to go to a local Rumson restaurant for brunch.

My father started in the Boy Scouts when I was old enough to join. He saw a lack of adult leadership in the local scout troop, largely due to turnover as older boys (and their fathers) left the troop. He stepped in, along with a close family friend, and eventually ended up running the troop. Through that, he had a remarkable effect on the young men in the area. My father led, taught, and encouraged over 300 young men from 1986 to the present date. Of those, approximately 38 rose to the rank of Eagle Scout, including my brother and myself. Nationally, only about 1% of all Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts. My father ensured that 12% of his troop attained the rank. It’s a definite achievement, reflective of my father’s dedication and patience. Thus, the surprise event was warranted.

Unfortunately, along with keeping the event a surprise for my father, the planners of the event also kept the fact that I was one of the speakers a secret from me. Thus, I had to ad lib it. Fortunately, though, I was the speaker expected to provide the “roast” portion of the event. I think I managed to pull it off without much stage fright, which is a nice change.

Anyway, here is the speech I used to embarrass both my father and myself in front of a member of the United States Congress:

I want to thank all of you for coming here today. It means a lot to me, and it means a lot to my father. You know, many of you, that my father is very dedicated to scouting. He has given many, many hours of his life to it. Through scouting, my father gave us – those he led – an education on morals, on leadership, and, most importantly, a deep and abiding love for nature.

With that in mind, it’s worth considering how far my father has gone. When he and I first joined scouting, my father was not an outdoorsman. Other than shore casting, my father’s understanding of nature came from a few hours of “Wild America” on a lazy Saturday afternoon. However, he learned the ropes, learned how to camp, and became a master woodsman. Today, I am here to tell you how my father became "one with nature."

Just as my tenure in scouting winded down, in 1994, a year after I returned from my trek of New Mexico [1], my father, enamored with my stories of the Desert Southwest, decided the family needed to take one last trip before I went off to college. As my father was afraid of flying, he got the idea that a cross-country drive would be a great summer excursion.

This…was perhaps one of the worst ideas he ever had.

After many weeks of traveling from National Park to National Park, during which we stayed in campsites with Hell’s Angels or cinder block hunting motels with men who spent their evenings polishing guns that, I think, may have been used to assassinate presidents of small Latin American countries, the family arrived at Arches National Park. Arches, a true desert park, is located in the famous and beautiful Four Corners region of the United States. Filled with beautiful sandstone arches and remarkable rock formations that resemble… well… well… Freud would have been at home in Arches.
We spent a week at Arches, hiking the slot canyons, mountain biking, off-roading in my father’s new SUV… walking back to town after my father crashed his new SUV into a gully, and engaging in many, many other foolishly dangerous yet amusing activities. By the last day in Arches, we were hot, tired, and ready to head back home. We decided to have a nice meal in town, one last night under the stars, and then make a break for civilization in the morning.

So… on the last day, we went into the park’s cool, clean facilities to wash up before heading into Moab for dinner. My father decided to use one of the stalls to relieve himself. My brother and I busied ourselves by washing up, aggravating each other, and all of those wonderful things that siblings do.

You know, one of the most interesting things about visiting our wonderful National Parks is the people you meet. We meet the aforementioned biker gangs, as well as the numerous Europeans that come to America each August, as part of the traditional European summer holiday, in order to take pictures of our natural wonders, complain about the quality of our cheese, and demonstrate to our youngsters that Europe is suffering horribly from the effects of a three-generation embargo on underarm deodorant and women’s shaving products. [2]

As my brother and I washed up, two Germans who we had seen earlier in the week walked into the bathroom. Seeing that the single bathroom stall was occupied, the two Germans stood politely in the corner. I began to brush my teeth, when, from the stall, I heard my father say, in a startled manner, “Oh… Oh my.”

My brother and I turned from the sinks, and watched as my father lunged from the stall.

My father, surprisingly, doesn’t usually leave bathrooms in this manner.

He buckled his pants, and turned towards the German man who was attempting to pass him en route to the stall. My father held up his hand to stop him. He shook his head, and simply said “scorpion.”

The German man looked at him with puzzled eyes.

“Scorpion,” my father said again.

The German didn’t get it.

My father, as we’ve noted today, was always very patient with the scouts he taught. If he couldn’t explain to them how to do something in one fashion, he’d always be willing to try another, until that scout learned. Dealing with the German, my father was no different. Seeing that the language barrier made his words meaningless to the German, my father attempted another method.

Stepping from the podium, I paused for breath. “Allow me to demonstrate.”

He lifted his hands into the air on either side of his head. “You know,” he said, “Scorpion.” He then began to clap his fingers against his thumbs in a pincer-like fashion while, at the same time, swaying his bottom from left to right and back again.

I then began the same horrible, scarring dance-like movements I watched my father engage in while at Arches.

This, quite frankly, did not have the desired effects. Panicked, the German’s eyes bugged out in his head as he slowly backed away from my father. At this point, ladies and gentlemen… at this point, I noticed the final piece to this puzzle….

As you know, my father is a neat, clean man. He would never dare sit on a public toilet seat without some sort of protection. Thus, in the stall, he had carefully lined the seat with long strips of toilet paper. One of those strips, I suppose, had gotten caught in my father’s pants as he escaped the poisonous desert creature.

I turned around, still dancing as my father did in Arches National Park’s restroom. My butt swayed from left to right in front of 150 people. Never before have I intentionally embarrassed myself and others in such a public manner... still, for a laugh like I was getting, I would have probably gone on for another ten minutes like this.

That same strip, ladies and gentleman, was now swaying from the seat of my father’s pants!

It was horrible. The Germans were horrified. I was horrified. Many years of therapy were needed for this episode alone.

Fortunately, my father did not share this horror. That’s because I didn’t tell him about the toilet paper until after he had carried his ‘tail’ into the restaurant, throughout dinner, and on the ride back to the campsite.

Thankfully, though, the Germans safely were able to escape the restroom, free to return to their homeland with tales of deranged American tourists dancing in restrooms. We made it back to New Jersey, and now, we find ourselves here today, inflicting grievous insult on my father’s dignity… and, quite frankly, after that spectacle I just made… mine as well.

After that trip, I went off to college, leaving scouting behind [3]. The interesting thing, though, is that my father stayed on. Long after my brother and I left scouting, my father continued to guide and instruct many of the young men you see here today, and many more beyond these walls, on how to become upright and productive members of society. After my brother and I left, he stayed. You know, there’s two things I take from that. First, my father gave. Freely, and without reservation. The Greeks call this ‘agape.’ Looking out in the audience, though, I think it may actually be an investment. I see out in the audience a group composed of social workers, engineers, med students, teachers and lawyers. All of these people now make great contributions to society. This brings me to my second point. My father’s greatness seems fairly patent to us because it is one that cannot be hidden in bank vaults or portfolios. It is an investment in humanity that has produced great returns. For that, I am thankful. Once again, I’d like to thank all of you, as well, for helping me show appreciation for my father’s many years of dedication.

1. In 1993, I had hiked the trail that runs the length of the Sangre de Christo Mountains from Colorado to New Mexico as part of a BSA promotional stunt. It made for a lot of fun, and began my love for the desert.

2. I know it’s offensive. Please stop slapping me, Francois, your feeble arm movements might stir up a breeze.
3. Enough fun. Time for tribute.

TPB, Esq. || ||

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Go see it. It's either Waiting for Godot without the absurdity or Death of a Salesman without the over-the-top melodrama.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Friday, January 03, 2003

the dude abides

Because the questions are usually interesting and often amusing, I think I'm going to take part in the "Friday Five." So... here we go:

1. Do you wear any jewelry? What kind?

I'm not really a jewelry type of guy. I wear my class ring and a watch. I used to wear a religious medallion (the Virgin Mary), but stopped doing so when I stopped going to church. It just didn't seem honest.

2. How often do you wear it?

I never take the class ring off, because I'd probably lose it otherwise. I always wear watches (I have seven of them), because I'm a bit obsessed with time.

3. Do you have any piercings? If so, where?

Nope. I like to maintain a minimum of holes in my system.

4. Do you have any tattoos? If so, where?

No, although I always wanted one. I just could not think of anything I'd like to keep with me forever. Once, in law school, I thought of getting scales (the scales of justice kind, not the fish kind) on my shoulder, but my paranoia took over and I was convinced that, if I got a tattoo of scales, I would fail out of law school and be stuck with a reminder of my hubris. Hence, no tattoo.

5. What are your plans for the weekend?

I'm editing the second edition of the book I write each year for the Bar Association. I compile all cases related to family law in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, District Court for the District of New Jersey, District of New Jersey Bankruptcy Court, and state courts. I then set up each case in a case brief format, so that the books can be used as quick research tools. It's not fun, it's not particularly glamourous (it's not exactly Prosser and Keaton), but it's a useful tool. Plus, it gives me an excuse to lecture to judges.

TPB, Esq. || ||

Thursday, January 02, 2003

family inaction

Rita at Res Ipsa Loquitor writes that she didn't mind doing the family/friends free legal advice thing. I've mostly held myself to the same rule my father, an ALJ [1], has held himself to all of his life. He will never sign anything, he will never do any correspondence to his family on paper or via email, and will only go to court for my brother and I.[2] My rules are thus:

1. I will only do criminal matters for my nuclear family. Fortunately, that means I only have to deal with Flounder.
2. I will never - never - go to court on any family member's behalf unless they retain me through my firm. I don't want the liability.
3. I will gladly look over a contract. I will gladly suggest modifications to a contract. I will even do research on the issue. I don't draft contracts. Well, outside of matrimonial law... which brings me to point 4:
4. I will give matrimonial advice to family, but I am very reluctant to give matrimonial counsel to family. The end result could be disastrous and isolating.
5. Repeat the mantra: just because they're family doesn't mean they won't sue me...

1. Administrative Law Judge: My joking explanation of this position is that it's like a real judge, only unconstitutional. Actually, he has many hats: judge, negotiator, arbitrator, investigator, prosecutor, and congressional expert. It's a pretty sweet deal. Plus, he works about 35 hours a week.

2. My father kicked tail on my behalf in municipal court when I allegedly ran a stop line (the little line that designates where one stops at a stop sign-based intersection). In an event that vaguely resembled Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant", my father produced three-by-five glossy photographs of the intersection (particularly the part of the intersection that lacked a stop line, i.e., that lacked the very thing I allegedly drove past). It was amusing, humbling, and remarkably awe-inducing for a young man to watch his father take apart a local cop and a county prosecutor.
TPB, Esq. || ||

Last weekend, I sat down to watch a marathon of the Band of Brothers DVDs my parents purchased for Flounder[1]. I learned a few things. First, I wish I had HBO. Second, while watching a marathon of anything, it's usually not a good idea to sip a nice Merlot. Third, it is even less wise to finish a bottle or so [2] of said Merlot just because the second-to-last episode of Band of Brothers becomes insanely morbid. Fourth, after the final episode, when one decides to stand up for the first time in, oh, four or five hours, one might - perhaps - just fall flat on one's face. Hypothetically speaking. Ahem.

That being said, I highly recommend investing in the series. It's well worth it. Brilliantly acted, brilliantly adapted, and without unnecessary sanctimony, the series has a real sense of intensity that works... perhaps better than Saving Private Ryan did.

1. My often mentioned, never-underpraised, usually funny giant of a brother. He's a big dumb animal.

2. "Or so" is another half-bottle, approximately.
TPB, Esq. || ||

one click dissolution

Apparently, you can file for divorce on Christmas Day in the United Kingdom. Via the internet. You can file for divorce, via the internet, on Christmas Day. Not to knock those sophisticated European sensibilities out there, but I've really been questioning the level of taste and class present over on that side of the pond. Oh well. I'm going to go see if I can file a nuisance claim on Amazon.com.
TPB, Esq. || ||

According to MSNBC, the first infant of the New Year was born to a same sex couple. This couple, originally from Virginia, moved to Maryland so that the non-biological mother could adopt the child. While some might view this as a new trend, same sex couple adoption is actually rather common (particularly amongst lesbian couples), as noted in the article. Personally, I'm in favor of the concept. I'd much rather spend my time doing an adoption matter than a domestic violence or divorce matter.
TPB, Esq. || ||