It’s been a weird year, you guys. I bleached my hair blonde again, and if I haven’t mentioned it before, people say the most ridiculous stuff to blond...moreIt’s been a weird year, you guys. I bleached my hair blonde again, and if I haven’t mentioned it before, people say the most ridiculous stuff to blondes. It’s crazy. It’s like people are standing in line to make idiots out of themselves if you have blonde hair. Blondes, you guys have to dye your hair brown for a while. Just do it to see what life is like on the other side. It’s real different. You can go places and not have people be asses to you. Samples of some of the weird things people have said (and these are not even close to the worst):
1. I was walking down a hall and a security officer in his fifties or sixties was walking towards me. I realized that I needed something back at my desk, so I turned around. As I was walking away, the security officer said, “Are you ticklish?”
I turned around, and thinking I must have misheard him, said, incredulously, “What?!”
“Are you ticklish?” He repeated.
“Huh,” I said, and walked away. Then I spent the next week trying to figure out if there is another, totally normal meaning to that question. People have not been able to tell me one, so if you know of anything, pass it along.
2. I was judging oral arguments at the law school last spring. I was wearing a judge’s robe and sitting on the bench in the school’s classroom that is set up like a courtroom. There were two other judges in robes, and the professor of the class was there. To provide context, when I was in school, oral arguments were the most terrifying thing I did.
The topic of the oral arguments was an allegedly illegal seizure, and one of the issues was whether the discovery of a warrant against the defendant, in the words of the Supreme Court, “purged the taint of the illegality of the initial search.” So, we had questions written out for us as suggestions of what to ask the students. I had to ask this one question about the warrant issue, and I was trying to say it in my own words, but I was stumbling. The student interrupted me, said he knew what I was trying to ask, and answered the question.
Then, as he was leaving the room, after his argument was done, he said in a low voice, but still TO A JUDGE IN A ROBE AND IN FRONT OF HIS TERRIFYING PROFESSOR, either, “Gotta purge that taint, huh?” or “I’ll help you purge that taint.” And he didn’t do it in so much of a come-on way, as much as he did it in this way like that was why I had stumbled over the question and we were sharing an inside joke.
We were so not sharing that joke.
So, those are just a couple of the less-lawsuit-material, less-totally-dehumanizing experiences I’ve had with this blonde hair business. I bet, at this point, you are seriously wondering how I am going to wrap this idea around to relate to the book. Here’s how: I think having blonde hair makes people associate me as a child, so they feel more free to say inappropriate things and show terrible judgment. And Jeannette Walls is so amazing at telling stories of what assholes people are to kids. She is a genius at telling these gut-wrenching stories without being maudlin. And lord knows I can’t handle the maudlin. So, like the people in Byler, I am left thinking that if some skinny kids can stand up for themselves in this way, I can. It was, you know, inspirational, without being sickly heartwarming.
The Silver Star is the story of two sisters who just experience life kicking the shit out of them, like ya do, and respond by being these brilliant, scrappy heroes. This story is not accusatory, and it is unflinching, and it’s not exploitative of the victimization of children, but it touches on just about every hideous topic possible. I guess something I love about Walls is that she isn’t writing for middle-class comfort, and to me that makes her stories more true and less manipulative than most. And this book touched on almost every hot-button issue: civil rights, Vietnam, corporatization, child neglect, and sexual assault, so it was rife with opportunities for me to get mad about exploitation and privilege comfort. But, Walls knows how to tell that stuff.
It seems like, at least on some level, this book is a response to The Help. Maybe Walls had this crisis of conscience and thought, “Eeeesh, someone needs to show this unfortunate Stockett woman how to write with a little humility about experiencing the South in the Civil Rights Era.” And this is how you do it. You know your own perspective, and you recognize that not everyone admired you. Not that this book is even really about racism, other than in a peripheral way, but that is what seems appropriate to me. Walls isn’t black, so she can only give the perspective of a white girl and her black friends, to the extent they tell her their perspective. But, Bean’s friend Vanessa had more dignity, in her small appearances in this book, than the whole of the black maids in The Help. And, good lord, these kids made some excellent points about To Kill a Mockingbird.
This was a lovely novel, and I appreciated all of its purposefulness and structure. This was how you should tell a Social Topics story. I would say I did not enjoy this, in a page-turning way, as much as I enjoyed The Glass Castle, but I did enjoy it, and the end really paid off. I know Walls is not for everyone because, where I experience beauty the most as overcoming and conquering evil, some people experience beauty as finding peace or reinforcing principles, or you name it. But, to me, these were wonderful, human characters. I’ll also say that a lot of things in here were weirdly reminiscent of my college days – from the baby left on the top of the car to the word-playing, to the emus. Just weirdly striking associations that make me look behind me to see if Walls is watching. Hopefully, instead, she is just breaking a path for me because I want to be her when I grow up.(less)
I hope Tom Wolfe has gotten so laid because of this book. I hope women have put down this book, thrown on some lingerie, and walked over to his apartm...moreI hope Tom Wolfe has gotten so laid because of this book. I hope women have put down this book, thrown on some lingerie, and walked over to his apartment – unless Wolfe is gay, in which case, I hope men have done the lingerie thing. I hope women (or men) invented a time machine to travel back in time and lay young Tom Wolfe because of this book. I hope Tom Wolfe has gotten anybody he’s ever wanted – x-ray, lemon tart, girls with any shade of lipstick imaginable, men with impressive sternocleidomastoid muscles. Anybody! Not that I’m recommending everyone start stalking him. Consent first, of course. But, I wish on Tom Wolfe a lifetime supply of sex and ice cream because of this book. I’m pretty sure he’s gotten it, but just in case, my wish is out there. The idea of writing such a beautiful book kills me. How does it happen? How does someone put something this perfect together? And I don’t even want to know. I just want to read it over and over again, mystery intact.
This book made me scream and gasp and stop, sit, and stare. This is one of the audios I listened to while I walked to work, so the neighborhoods of Eugene had the dubious privilege of waking to my shrieks and hysterical cackling for many mornings in April because of Tom Wolfe. Towards the end, I had to listen in private, so that my sobbing wouldn’t embarrass the neighbors or lead to a meltdown at work. Mixed results.
Wikipedia told me that Wolfe modeled his writing after Thackeray and Dickens. It seems so obvious after you say it, but rather than realizing that, I just kept thinking, I've never read anything like this before. It was something entirely new to me. And it is because it is a book that feels so current and urban, while it clearly has classical structure and the involved plotting of Dickens and Thackeray. When I started, I thought it would probably be too dick-lit for me because it was clearly shaping up to be so hardboiled and because I think of Wolfe being in a whole gaggle of male authors who want to talk about how tough it is to have a penis and be so emotionally unavailable. Boo hoo. I have very little attention for that type of thing. But, this, this. This was wonderful. And it was dick-lit, but it was not in the least self-indulgent. It was even cruel, it looked so hard, and so carefully, at masculinity and cowardice. But, the structure of the plot was like a machine, just in the way that the plots of Thackeray and Dickens are. I could feel the sweat and grease of the writing process on the page, or, rather, hear it in the audio track. This book lives in the foundries of humanity; it is crafted from the fires and steel of the human heart.
For the most part, this book looks at three horrible men and how their egos and senses of puffed-up worthlessness control and destroy their lives. There are a few brilliant recurring themes in the book that I could not love more – the white whale, the Masters of the Universe. This book actually uses He-Man as a recurring metaphor to this beautiful moment where a character, steeped in his own awesomeness yells out in his head, “I have the power!!” So, so, so, so, so, so, so wonderful.
And the courtroom scenes!! Oh, the courtroom scenes. Devastating swoon over those. They made all the hairs on my body stand on end. How can a person describe what happens in a courtroom? Like THIS! This book is what happens in courtrooms. This book is what happens in criminal justice. It got everything just right. The belts and shoelaces, the defendants demanding rights, the defense attorneys running in late because they were in another courtroom, the hot jurors, the underpaid DA. And oh my god, Kramer’s sternocleidomastoid muscles! Remember that?? It made me die laughing every time that came up. I swear to god there is a DA like that in Lane County.
And the part where Martin and Goldberg have to give Sherman his rights. Oh my god. So wonderful.
So, I have nothing insightful to say about this book because . . . just read it. Practically the minute I started reading it, it made me think of a dear friend of mine because of its urban steel and fire, so I will say something about that association because I can clearly only swoon and sigh and flail about when it comes to the book itself. Like the men in this book, there is something strikingly normal about my friend when you first meet him. He is white office shirts, a neat haircut, and clean hands. He is success: a house in the suburbs, two blond children, and a wife who, with a stern hand, makes the family take annual pictures in matching clothes. And then you talk to my friend and find out that he is an evil genius, who has an opinion about everything and a hilarious story about everyone he’s ever met. But, you also know that the suburban thing, the normalcy, is true, too. The layers of his personality include fire and steel, and also funfetti cake, white office shirts, and Kraft singles. I think this book captures something of that kind of layered humanity in Sherman’s office decorum, American aristocratic habits, and bloody knuckles. It shows Kramer’s powerful sternocleidomastoid muscles with his shopping bag and running shoes, Peter’s head in an egg and landing of the white whale, Reverend Bacon’s noble speeches and greedy maneuverings.
I think what I’m trying to say is that it struck me recently, probably at least partly because of this book, that the characteristics we show the world are us, and are not us all the same. None of us are inherently suburban or aristocratic, but our choices to appear those ways reveal something about who we actually are, who we are in the caves and recesses of our souls. Sherman is equally the shallow, self-involved Master of the Universe and the jungle fighter, but he is neither of those. My friend is urban fire and steel, and he is suburban success, and he is neither of those. Wolfe writes the show of humanity in a way that hilariously stages the show, and then digs and hammers into the caves and fiery core of who people are beyond it. Are we the dog trained to fight or the social x-ray in a party hive? The little girl sculpting a rabbit or the little boy commanding an office? Yes and no to all of that. Who we are is something different entirely, but always there, underneath the show - the force behind it. And the way Wolfe builds it all and then tears it all apart - I would never ask so much of a writer, but I am so glad this exists.(less)
You are sure to be seriously disappointed if you confuse this book with the memoir of Charlie Sheen's law days, which I believe is called WINNING! (at...moreYou are sure to be seriously disappointed if you confuse this book with the memoir of Charlie Sheen's law days, which I believe is called WINNING! (at trial).(less)
This manual is about attorneys working with clients who have experienced domestic violence, and it has a lot of good advice, but might not be particul...moreThis manual is about attorneys working with clients who have experienced domestic violence, and it has a lot of good advice, but might not be particularly relevant outside the area of law. Probably all attorneys should read it, though, because you probably encounter abusers or domestic violence survivors in your work. I worked at a clinic that represented survivors of domestic violence in getting restraining orders against their abusers. It was a great experience. I think women who leave abusers are real-life super heroes, and I am just in awe of them. People ask why women stay with abusers, and I think that is such a weird question. To me, a better question is, how anyone would have the self-possession and humility that it takes to leave her whole life behind, reconcile herself to friends and family who will hate her for disrupting their world, and start an entirely new life? That is truly remarkable to me, and there are millions of women everywhere, who we see at the grocery store, the mall, living under bridges and running giant corporations, who have that super-hero combination.
I’m going to talk a little bit about domestic violence, and a lot of what I’m going to say comes from this manual, but some of it just comes from my own thoughts about seeing tons of women be abused all throughout my life and seeing a small handful of super heroes stand up for themselves. I’m going to break my thoughts up into sections just because of the sheer impossibility of talking about this subject with any kind of brevity. The sections are entitled as follows: Leaving an Abuser, Being an Abuser, Gender and Abuse, the Law, Getting Help, and Helping. Choose your poison.
Leaving an Abuser
I get why women stay with abusers. I get why women stop talking, stop working, stop feeling and fighting and crying, and disappear. It is presumptuous of me to say that I understand those things because, really, I probably don’t understand them in the way I can never understand someone else’s experiences and heart, but what I’m trying to say is that it makes sense to me. It is logical. When women stay with abusers it is not because we are deficient or stupid or, the coward’s lie, because we want to be abused. We stay with abusers because we are smart and survivalists and often that is all that is left for us. It is not easy to get blamed for the way standing up for ourselves disrupts everyone else’s lives and expectations of the world, and that is what most survivors face if they try to leave.
Even with small arguments, many of us have told women, “I agree with you, but maybe you should just apologize to him anyway, or maybe you should just not tell him he’s wrong, because, you know, he’s sensitive and you made him mad.” How much more likely are we to question a woman when standing up for herself means saying that a son, or brother, or friend we love is such a coward that he needs to abuse the people he says he loves? Unfortunately, it is easy to react to women leaving abusers out of our own conflict averseness, rather than trusting that sometimes conflict leads to something better, or at least more brave and honest, than the status quo – rather than trusting the woman. It is easy to talk about a woman standing up to a faceless stranger, but that is never who she is standing up to. I think it takes someone specially strong to leave because she is not just leaving one person, but friends and family who are very unlikely to thank her for the conflict she’s “causing.”
The other thing I do think, though, is that most women do have a super hero in them and the ability to leave. It is a terrible thing to have to do, but not impossible.
Being an Abuser
I think I get abusers, too. They’re fucking crazy douchebag cowards. What’s not to get? And I'm sorry to talk about you or your sons and brothers and fathers and friends that way, but I think abuse is by definition crazy, douchey, and cowardly. But, I can see how you'd be generally a good person and be that at the same time. I get that you grow up being abused, abuse becomes normal, and then you’re too cowardly to change the cycle, so you justify treating the people around you like shit. Or, worse, you grow up with a narcissistic sense of entitlement and you think that gives you the right to treat people, usually women, like your slaves. People do not abuse because they drink or do drugs. They might use drugs and alcohol as an excuse to abuse, but that is not why they do it. No one acts the opposite of how they feel when they are drunk. They might act weird or silly, or exaggerate their normal characteristics, but they do not do the opposite. And if all someone needs is to be slightly less inhibited in order to start hitting other people, that person needs some serious help – and not help that comes in the form of the people around him being super apologetic and understanding.
Shameless plug: Caris’s book, The Egg Said Nothing is a completely brilliant look at the psychology of being an abuser. I love it.
Gender and Abuse
According to this manual (based on statistics from 2000), 1.3 million women and 834,000 men are physically assaulted, and 25% of women and 7.6% of men are raped, by a domestic partner in their lifetimes. While those statistics are slightly outdated, statistics consistently show that women experience abuse far more frequently than men, are less likely to report it, and have far more difficulty getting out from under abuse. That is not to say abuse is worse when perpetrated by men. Abuse is an ugly wart on the face of an abuser no matter what gender that abuser comes in. Often, it is difficult to provide services to male survivors of domestic violence because victims’ services offices so frequently see men coming in to complain about how a woman’s face hurt their knuckles. But, providing services to men is very important, too, and no one deserves abuse.
Even though it feels like there is shame, as a female or male survivor of domestic violence, in reporting abuse, there really is not, no matter what people say to you. There is shame in being an abuser, but that shame does not transfer to the abused. And, it is usually true that someone who has been abused has made mistakes, or even been mean, in a relationship. It is usually true because most of us have done those things. But, that does not mean that you are in the wrong or deserve to be abused. No one deserves that. You could be wrong most of the time and mean most of the time, but you do not deserve to be abused.
One of the biggest reasons, to my understanding, that women stay with abusers is that we don’t realize that what we’re experiencing is actually abuse and that the law, even, sluggish and nostalgic as it is, recognizes what we’re experiencing as abuse. Countries have different definitions of abuse, and within the United States, the states have different definitions of abuse, so check your state laws on this. I’m going to give you a couple of examples of circumstances that are usually abuse, though.
Obviously, if your partner hits you or hurts you physically, if he wasn’t acting in self-defense, that is abuse. Self-defense is, for example, if you swing to hit him and he holds your arm to prevent you from hitting him. Self defense is not if you do something he doesn’t like and he hurts you to teach you a lesson. That is abuse.
If your partner forces you to do something that you don’t want to do by threatening to hurt himself or another person or you, that is abuse. I have known a lot of women in relationships like this, where a partner will threaten to hurt or kill himself (or herself) if the woman leaves, or hangs out with friends, or gets a job, or what have you. The thing is that if someone is going to kill himself because you are trying to live a happy life, he’s probably going to kill himself anyway. The other thing is, he’s not going to do it. Of the people I know who have threatened this, both men and women, exactly zero have done it when they’ve actually found themselves alone. Exactly all of them, instead, have gotten on the internet and found someone else to abuse. Don’t worry, the new victims can figure out how to leave, too.
If your partner forces you to do something you don’t want to do by breaking your things, hurting pets, or withholding money or food or shelter, that is abuse. You are probably getting the point that people don’t get to control you or hurt you, and you don’t get to control them or hurt them. And usually, the law protects people from that. If you feel like you might be experiencing abuse and you don’t have someone you trust to talk to about it, you can google “domestic violence shelter” or “domestic violence hotline” in your city, and you can call them. If the people you talk to don’t believe you, or they try to control you themselves by making you do something you don’t want to do, including leave your abuser, you can tell them no. Most likely, they will just listen, though, and let you decide.
If you live in the U.S., and you think you are going to abuse someone in your household, please call 911 instead. They will help you avoid abusing people. Another option if you think you are going to abuse someone is to visit the website www.thehotline.org, or call 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224. If you have survived abuse and you are ready to not be abused anymore, those are also good resources for you, though your local hotline and women’s shelter might be able to provide more immediate services.
If you experience abuse and you don’t feel like you can leave because you don’t have money, there are people who can help you with that. If you don’t feel like you can leave because it is too hard to abandon your old life and start a new one, that makes a lot of sense to me. But, it is probably still worth it. If you don’t feel like you can start a new life because you don’t think you are strong enough, I can practically guaranty that you are wrong. Life is a struggle, and it is always a fight to look for happiness, but it is worth it. Standing up for yourself doesn’t mean yelling or hitting or breaking things or controlling other people, but it can mean starting a new life.
Actually, I’m sure all of us know a lot of people who are in violent relationships. And there are a lot of things that everyone can do to help them.
If you are worried about a friend who is in a violent relationship, be a good listener and don’t say judgmental things about people who stay with abusers. Don’t reprimand women who stand up for themselves about small things because it perpetuates the idea that women should not stand up for themselves about big things. Don’t reinforce the idea that a survivor is weak for staying because it is probably factually and observably wrong. And when women believe the lie that they are too weak to leave, that helps nothing.
If you see people being abusive, it is okay to respectfully tell them they are wrong. I do think that abusers are typically weak people, but that doesn’t justify the abuse, and the pity you feel for them does not make their actions okay. Abusers are adults, too, and regardless of the mental illness or history of abuse that might have led to them abusing, they deserve the respect of honesty. They deserve the respect of other people telling them they are wrong when that is true.
If you have excess energy from worrying about a friend, use it by volunteering at a women’s shelter. Those places are so amazing.
And, if you are a woman, stand up for yourself if you feel disrespected. If you are a man, I am making the sexist judgment that you are already standing up for yourself on a regular basis, but if you are not, you should too. People are usually not so fragile that we can’t handle respectful disagreement, and if we are, then we will get used to it.
So, this is so long, and about a book that probably five people have heard of, and I fully expect no one to read this review. But, that is fine. I also realize that it might be entirely unhelpful to post this information here because if you are in a seriously abusive relationship and the words "protective order" show up in your browsing history, no good will come of that. So, don't forget to erase your browsing history if you need to do that.
I guess I am acknowledging that I am mostly writing this selfishly. It was pretty emotionally exhausting to work in this clinic with women who have been told for so long that it is not okay to disagree with men that they need constant affirmation that, to the contrary, it is absolutely right for them to stand up for themselves. I do not blame them for feeling like that at all - I feel like that for sure - but, it is nice to rant for a little while. Abuse is bullshit, imo, regardless of whether it comes in a physical, emotional, spiritual, economic, or other form. I hate it. I don’t think people should whisper about it as though it is a shame for the survivor. And if the abuser is too fragile to handle confrontation, that is just too fucking sad. He’ll have to find a way to grow a pair.(less)
I waited to take practical, non-caselaw classes until my third year of law school, which actually worked out pretty well for me. It was a little weird...moreI waited to take practical, non-caselaw classes until my third year of law school, which actually worked out pretty well for me. It was a little weird to take evidence while I was taking my other trial-related classes, but evidence is a pretty straightforward topic, so it wasn’t terrible. Evidence basically teaches you how to run a trial. It is like director school for attorneys – what you can put on stage and what you can’t. How to object. And objecting is actually pretty fun in trial, so I liked practicing it.
As a final for another class, I had to put on a mock trial, which turned out to be really fun. I had a partner, and we were the defense. Then, we were set against co-attorneys for a plaintiff. We were really nervous at first because one of the guys we were up against is this terrible, terrible dude. He’s very swagger and flash, which usually means an attorney who is willing to waste everyone’s time just to be sleazy. So annoying. My partner was in a small group with him in our class, and we had two-hour-long classes every Monday night to practice techniques. This terrible guy, who we nicknamed Cowduck for reasons I will not go into here, would make their two-hour class go three hours almost every week just doing things that wasted everyone’s time.
(I should note, as an aside, that Cowduck’s partner was really wonderful to work with.)
Anyway, we were nervous about our mock trial, but it ended up being my favorite thing that has happened in law school. It turns out that Cowduck probably wastes everyone’s time to distract from the fact that he doesn’t really get what is going on.
So, in this review, I’m going to go through the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) and use my trial as an example of them. My mock trial was a civil trial where a woman who had breast cancer sued a radiologist saying that the radiologist should have called her directly with the results of her mammogram. Have fun!
As a preliminary, there are civil and criminal trials – civil is when two people sue each other for money or some other form of damages, and criminal is when the state sues a citizen for breaking the law and to send the citizen to jail.
Also, the three overall tests for whether evidence can be admitted are whether it is
1. Relevant. It is relevant if it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable. FRE 401. Even if it is relevant, it is not admissible if its prejudicial nature substantially out ways its probative value. FRE 403. But, the default is that anything relevant is admissible.
2. Reliable. There are tons of rules about reliability of evidence, like, hearsay (the FRE 800s), best evidence rule (the FRE 1000s), etc.
3. Right. Even after you’ve considered the other factors, there are still policies that exclude evidence because of fairness (the FRE 400s and 500s). This is where attorney-client, doctor-patient, spousal, and other privileges come in. (As a side note, "privilege" and "confidentiality" are different in that "privilege" only means something can't be evidence in court, and "confidentiality" means the person plans not to tell people but that might be admissible in court.)
So, especially if there is a jury, a trial is a lot like a play, but the first time the parties get to put the play on in its entirety is when the trial actually happens - no dress rehearsal and hopefully no do-overs, though mistrials happen more than anyone would like. But, the parties usually have a plan as to all of the evidence that will come in and stay out before trial happens. They have a conference with the judge (an FRE 104(a)) conference, and the judge decides to exclude or include any evidence the parties can’t agree on. Sometimes, a judge will admit evidence as conditional (FRE 104(b)), so a party needs to prove one thing in order to be able to use certain evidence.
Like, say a party had a videotape of a robbery of 711 two years ago, but the robbers had masks on, and you couldn’t tell who they were. So, you’re at trial for a bank robbery, and the prosecution wants to bring in the videotape of the 711 robbery to show that the mask is part of the defendant’s modus operandi. But, the judge might say, “Okay, you can bring in the videotape of the 711, but you have to first show that the bank robbers used the same masks and that the masks are somehow linked to the defendant.” So, the video would be conditionally admissible under FRE 104(b).
It is the judge’s job to admit the evidence and the jury’s job to weigh the evidence (FRE 611), so the judge doesn’t consider whether s/he believes the evidence when admitting it, the judge only considers whether it falls under the rules.
For example, in our trial, I tried to argue that the jury, in weighing all of the plaintiff’s evidence in her favor, a jury could not find that our radiologist should have diagnosed her with cancer, so I tried to keep Cowduck and his partner from even arguing that at trial. The judge, though, said that there was some actual dispute among the parties, so he let them argue it.
Otherwise, we had most of our evidence negotiated and agreed on, actually, before we even met with the judge. We had a negotiation conference, and I was really nervous about it because of Cowduck, but he didn’t show up until an hour after we were supposed to meet, so we got everything negotiated in the first ten minutes of meeting without him. Hangovers are a bitch.
Usually, jury trials start out with jury selection, but the rules for that are not really covered by the FRE, and our trial didn’t have jury selection, so I’m not going to go into it here. We had volunteer jury members coming out of the woodworks because they wanted to be on a jury that voted against Cowduck. I would feel sorry for him for being so universally disliked if he didn’t obviously try so hard at it. Anyway, the judge reads instructions, blabla, and then you get to opening statements.
Openings are supposed to give the jury an idea of the facts of the case and the laws they will have to use, but it’s not supposed to overshoot on what you think the jury will see. So, in opening, you can’t talk about inadmissible evidence, argue your case at all, give personal opinion, or talk about your opponent’s case. So, you can’t do most of the things they do in movies in opening statements. For example, we watched the opening statements in Philadelphia in class, and they are pretty objectionable.
In my trial, they talked about punitive damages. We were arguing that they couldn’t ask for punitive damages at all, but they still talked about it in their opening statement. So, we probably could have objected to that, but we didn’t because we knew we would have to object the whole time otherwise. You end up looking kind of like a bitch to lay people for objecting during a whole trial, but it’s actually just a normal thing. Still, you want to be the least amount bitchy.
During the evidence presentation part of the trial, you’ve got your direct and cross examination of lay witnesses and experts and you’ve got your presentation of exhibits. On direct examination of witnesses, you’re not allowed to ask leading questions. So the four basic types of questions are the following:
1. Closed questions, like, “Do you have a favorite book?” (closed because you answer yes or no)
2. Open-ended questions, like, “What is your favorite book?” (open because you answer however you want)
3. Why questions, like, “Why is that your favorite?” (obvious)
4. Leading questions, like, “But, Gods of the Jungle Planet is actually your favorite book, right?” (leading because it tells you the answer)
You ask open-ended questions on direct and leading questions on cross (FRE 611). But, Cowduck has the theory that it’s a good idea to break the rules, so he asked a ton of leading questions on direct. We didn’t object right away, partly because the questions he was asking were not that important, and partly because we knew we were going to have to object a ton throughout, and partly because I was not paying attention to the form of the questions. Anyway, the judge was looking at us like, “WTF! Object!” And then after a while, I stood up and said, “Your honor, I’m going to object because this line of questioning has been leading for sometime.” The judge was like, “I agree! Sustained!” And Cowduck got all flustered.
There were many wonderful things that happened during the trial, but my definite favorite part happened when he was cross-examining my witness. (We had friends playing our fake witnesses and fake jury members, so it was a courtroom full of law students and attorneys.)
So, cross-examination usually takes like five minutes because you don’t want the other side’s witnesses to talk for a long time, but he cross-examined this witness for around a half an hour. On cross-examination, you can use leading questions (FRE 611), so you want to do that because it keeps the witness from telling their story and looking more sympathetic. So, Cowduck was being SO BORING, and asking the same questions over and over, so I was objecting the whole time, like, “Argumentative, calling for speculation, asked and answered, etc.” And the judge was sustaining most of my objections. So, I got on this roll objecting to everything he asked.
He was obviously trying to get the witness (who was the defendant, my client) to confess, but he would ask these open-ended questions of her, and it just let her talk and tell her side for so long. You felt kind of bad for him, but it was still really annoying. So, then he asked, “Wouldn’t you agree that a regular doctor couldn’t read your radiology report?” And she answered, “No, I would not agree, and I know for a fact that this doctor can read my reports because I’ve worked with her for years –“ And then Cowduck objected to his own question! He was like, “Objection! . . . oh, I’m not on that side right now.” And the whole room was laughing. I had to put my head down. It was really awesome.
There is lay and expert testimony. Lay people can testify to anything they’ve actually observed. FRE 602. Experts have to be approved as experts, and that’s just a procedure under FRE 702 and some cases. I won’t go into it. An out-of-court statement offered for the truth of the matter is hearsay. FRE 801. It is not hearsay, though, if it is a statement of one of the parties or under a couple of other circumstances. FRE 801(d). Hearsay isn’t admissible (FRE 802) unless it falls under an exception in FRE 803 or 804. I won’t go into those, but there are a ton of them. A lot of out-of-court statements are not hearsay or fall under an exception.
You have to “lay a foundation” for exhibits to show that they are what you say they are. You do that through witnesses. Exhibits are under the FRE 900s and 1000s. So, in my mock trial for example, Cowduck, wanted to offer this statute as an exhibit and I objected because it was confusing as an exhibit. I said I was fine with the witness testifying to it, but I didn’t want it to be an exhibit because it was confusing and irrelevant. The judge said to Cowduck, “Why is it relevant,” and Cowduck said, “Well, it was passed by Congress!” And then he proceeded to bring it up about fifteen more times during the trial, but each time, he wouldn’t describe what the statute said, he would just say, “We have this act, and it was passed by Congress,” “So, there’s this act that was passed by Congress,” etc. It was really awesome. He was really impressed that it was passed by Congress.
Closing is where you argue. You still can’t give your own opinion, and you can never do things like ask the jury to put themselves in a party’s shoes or appeal unfairly to prejudice or passion (like, I haven’t seen or read it in a long time, but I guess Atticus’s closing in To Kill A Mockingbird is very objectionable). You can’t talk about evidence that hasn’t been admitted. Things like that.
Okay, so that’s my summary of evidence, and that concludes my legal instruction of all y’all. Thanks for listening.(less)
Being almost through with law school is kind of terrifying and disorienting. It’s like I had this huge security blanket of constant, dehumanizing feed...moreBeing almost through with law school is kind of terrifying and disorienting. It’s like I had this huge security blanket of constant, dehumanizing feedback wrapped all around me, and now the universe is trying to take it away. But it is mine!
All I have left is one final and a couple of days of work. But, my job is totally not dehumanizing and is actually kind of fun, so it doesn’t feel like a security blanket. What comforts me destroys me, which is slightly different than the quote Angelina Jolie's tattoo, or from Marlowe or whomever, but I'm making it my own here, so calm down. Again, mine.
This book was fine. It is the textbook for my last class in law school. I’ll tell you about evidence in my review of the code book. (less)
This is my second-favorite casebook I’ve come across so far. It is clear and concise and the problems illustrate practical application of the principl...moreThis is my second-favorite casebook I’ve come across so far. It is clear and concise and the problems illustrate practical application of the principles. The only thing about it is that commercial law isn’t really about anything, as far as I can tell. This is not the same as administrative law, where I’m sure it is about something, but I just have no idea what that is. We must have spent two or three weeks in my commercial law class discussing how to search databases, and that is just baffling to me. How is that a class? I mean, I understand that searching UCC filings is a potential problem because the search engines suck, but wow, that took about ten seconds to say. Noted. No further explanation necessary.
The commercial law class I took went through the UCC articles 2, 4, and 9, so it is a pretty good overview of the UCC if you’ve already taken sales. I mean, you can easily take it if you haven’t taken sales too because sales = goods are anything moveable. Now you’ve learned sales. By the same token, securities transactions = watch your collateral. I think that usually UCC-related finals have a significant multiple-choice component, so that is something to be aware of. If you take this class, definitely get the book Questions & Answers: Secured Transactions because it is a lifesaver. The questions on my final were not nearly as hard as the questions in that book, so it was excellent practice. I know I got at least one wrong, and that is so annoying to me because I totally knew that if a debtor changes location and adds after-acquired collateral of the same type covered in the security agreement description, that collateral is secured with the other covered collateral for four months after the move. But, I said after-acquired wasn’t covered! What was I thinking? Lame.
Interesting fact of note: credit and cash are treated differently as proceeds of collateral. So, say Eh! loans $10 to me and the collateral secured by our agreement is my copy of Lips Touch: Three Times and any proceeds from the book. But, then I sell my copy of Lips Touch to Ceridwen for $5 and a pie. Ceridwen pays the $5 with her credit card from her paypal account, and mails me the pie. So, Eh! probably has security in the pie until I eat it, so if I don’t pay her back, she can demand the pie, but she might not have security in the paypal money unless her security agreement specifically provided for “payment intangibles.” That is my understanding at least. So, security in credit transactions is effectively disfavored. If Ceridwen had paid me in cash, Eh! would have had a security in that with no problems. This could be different from state to state, but most, if not all, states adopt the UCC as written with few variations. If you were wondering, after I eat the pie, Eh!’s security is probably worth shit . . . literally!!
Even if Eh! has no security in collateral for the loan, though, I would still owe her the money. It just means that the loan is unsecured debt, which is disfavored almost unilaterally. To enforce payment of unsecured debt, you have to go through the judicial system and have the sheriff levy on property, and it is quite a hassle. If the debt is secured in pie, you can just go to the person’s house and take the pie out of the window sill, as long as you don’t disturb the peace. Which, who has ever seen any cartoon animal disturb the peace by taking pie out of a window sill. It is unheard of.
My advice: don’t secure your debt with pie unless it is inventory of a pie store. That collateral turns to shit proceeds pretty quickly. (less)
This was a lifesaver for my commercial law class. If you take commercial law and have a multiple-choice final (which I’d think you will), definitely g...moreThis was a lifesaver for my commercial law class. If you take commercial law and have a multiple-choice final (which I’d think you will), definitely get this book. The problems in it were much more complicated than my actual final, but they illustrated all of the main principles we were tested on, and I don’t think I would have been prepared without this book. Also, one a lot of the people in the hypos in this book have my name, so that is an unexpected bonus.(less)
It’s weird how with tax, you don’t have as many cases as you have statutes. I guess I don’t have that much else to say about the topic in general. I d...moreIt’s weird how with tax, you don’t have as many cases as you have statutes. I guess I don’t have that much else to say about the topic in general. I did the worst I’ve ever done on anything school-related ever on my tax midterm. It was weird, too, because I got full points on the essay part, but I just bombed the 20 multiple choice questions. Twenty questions, and it basically failed me. My opinion is that multiple choice is ridiculous with law – even the MPRE, and I passed that. So there, that is my opinion. Sorry, Ian, I am not good at your topic of law. Gimme Commerce Clause any day over depreciation.
Anyway, everyone basically knows about tax because we have to pay it. Gross income = inclusions and not exclusions (all income from whatever source derived unless it is specifically excluded. Yeah, that’s right, you should have included that). Adjusted gross income = GI – above-the-line deductions. Taxable income = AGI – below-the-line deductions (or standard deduction) and personal and dependent exemptions. Then you calculate the alternative minimum tax to see if you have to take that instead. Then you take the tax credits off. So, I guess I’d say I learned some stuff in this class, and this book is fine. My professor was very smart and accomplished, but is probably an insane person and cannot complete a sentence to save her life. That was a challenge.
There is a part in this book where they make some kind of crack about how women don’t support themselves, or something. I didn’t get the joke, but the professor doesn’t like that. So, if that’s actually the joke they were making, uncool old tax guys. Uncool. If they were saying something else, please be more precise, tax guys.
I’d hate to really say anything else because it might rub up against advice, and no one probably wants to know my advice about tax after the shitshow of that midterm. If the final goes a lot better, I might come back and get bossy. Probably I’ll just thank my lucky stars and walk away, though.(less)
Chirelstein’s contracts book is rad. This one was not as wonderful, though, imao. I mean, it was interesting, but it was all tax theory, and I was hop...moreChirelstein’s contracts book is rad. This one was not as wonderful, though, imao. I mean, it was interesting, but it was all tax theory, and I was hoping it would, instead, be a way to get out of actually reading the statutes and figuring out what they meant. No dice. It was not super helpful for my Tax final. It does explain what taxable income is and blabla. I don’t know, I might have spaced out a little bit at certain points. Not that it was not interesting, and I still like Chirelstein. It is just more of a tax policy book. So, if you are interested in tax theory, HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION (that is now how we express that there is an off chance you might want to read something on these here internets, yes?). If you are not, you might pass on it. I do not think I will read it again. Or go back to those middle parts I may or may not have missed. (less)
The unfortunate thing about this book is that it feels the need to exhaustively go through the entire history of every topic within trademark law. I m...moreThe unfortunate thing about this book is that it feels the need to exhaustively go through the entire history of every topic within trademark law. I mean, I get that they are all relevant, but you just get these pedantic casebooks sometimes that start listing all these rules and going into all this elaborate reasoning and then are like, “Oh, yeah, remember how we told you that stuff? Well, that’s all bad law now, don’t ever use that.” I’m not saying I’m not interested in how the law developed, but I kind of just want to voluntarily go into those areas. Also, I’d like there to be some kind of warning before I read useless cases, like on Westlaw. I like the big red stop sign and yellow flag system. This book would benefit from that kind of thing. Otherwise, this book is fine. This area of law is fine. Neutral response.
Trademarks is the area of intellectual property law where you don’t have a right in gross. The other areas of intellectual property law (correct me if I’m missing something) are copyrights and patents. Copyrights and patents are protected under the Constitution, and once you have them, you have them. You have something more solid. I kind of think this analogy is useless, but with property they always say rights to property is a “bundle of sticks.” So, the point is (I think) that ownership is more than one thing. Like, I can own property, but lease it, and then I’ve given some of the sticks in my bundle to the person leasing the property. I don’t have all of the rights to my property anymore. It’s a weird analogy, but it’s my understanding that it’s what they mean by a “right in gross.” Anyway, copyrights and patents are like a bundle of sticks, but trademarks is not. Trademark rights only happen through use of a mark in commerce (Imma give a little shout out right there to my friend the Commerce Clause). So, if you stop using a mark, the right disappears. With copyrights and patents, you own the rights regardless of anything else that you do. (I’m kind of lying about that because copyrights and patents both have end dates, where trademarks are forever – as long as you keep using them.)
The point of trademarks is that they identify the source of goods. The idea is that mark owners spend a lot of money getting goodwill with customers, and customers like to be able to rely on the quality of goods. Trademarks are a signal to customers of the quality of goods. So, they protect the seller who has invested in goodwill and the consumer who wants a quality product.
You probably know already, but trademarks, copyrights, and patents all cover pretty different concepts. I haven’t taken copyrights or patents, so I can’t be very detailed, but the idea is that copyrights cover “original” creative works and patents cover inventions. Trademarks, on the other hand are things like logos. They can also just be phrases like WikiMagVag™ or colors, like the Tiffany blue. They can be the way a product is packaged or the way a restaurant is decorated. Stuff like that. Source-identifying stuff. The NBC chimes. If you see the ™, it means that the trademark is owned in common law, but not registered. If you see the ®, it means the mark is registered. I’ve probably talked about the difference between common law and statutory law a lot of other places, so I won’t explain it again here. Basically, ™ is useful and not bad at all, but ® is more solid in a lot of ways. You have to actually apply for an ®, though, and ™ still counts.
Problems come up with trademarks when there is a likelihood that consumers will confuse one mark with another or when someone tries to register a mark and someone else doesn’t think they should be able to do so. Then you have to consider whether a mark is actually distinctive enough to identify a source, whether it is actually functional and necessary for other people to compete, and a bunch of other stuff. You can read the book to find out the rest. It has pictures! They are not very exciting, though. Except there is one picture that says FCUK because there was an issue over whether that was an offensive mark. So, I like that.
Unfortunately, this book is not one I would recommend for teaching yourself the law. I mean, you could totally teach yourself trademark law with this book. God knows, my brain was absent for most of this semester, so that’s what I did. It’s just that I think trademarks is one of those topics that is interesting in practice and kind of boring in theory. Actually, maybe I think it is a little bit of a drag in practice, too. It has a little bit too much of a he-touched-my-toys flavor to get me really passionate. Please, kids, there are enough marks for all of us. Can’t you get your own?(less)
Maybe I should wait to write this review until blood stops pouring out of my eyes, but where’s the fun in that? Skimping on exclamation points never h...moreMaybe I should wait to write this review until blood stops pouring out of my eyes, but where’s the fun in that? Skimping on exclamation points never helped anyone. I’m not going to tell you that big corporate conglomerates are the good guys; I’m not even going to tell you that I totally agree with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment during the Lochner era (though the reasoning from those interpretations has resulted in a lot of what I consider good outcomes - like how the government can't arrest people for using contraception or being gay). But, I am going to tell you that Thom Hartman makes so many basic (wrong) assumptions about the Constitution in Unequal Protection that it makes the book completely irrelevant to any discussion of actually limiting corporate influence over Amernican government. It might be my loathing of historical fiction talking, but this book totally sucks.
There are parts of it that don’t suck, but where it doesn’t suck, more recent legal developments have made it obsolete, or sucky assumptions have infested the non-sucky-parts. Sorry, Mr. Hartman, I mean this with all due respect, and you are obviously a much more influential person than me, so I hope that instead of taking offense, you will invest in a constitutional law class.
The basic assumptions I see causing so much confusion in this book are the following:
1. That the Constitution guaranties any blanket rights; 2. That including corporations in the Fourteenth Amendment makes their treatment under the Constitution similar to humans; and 3. That it is possible to limit corporate rights without increasing government rights.
There are many, many other assumptions and errors in this book, but those seem like the ones that are most fundamental to the premise of the book and that most make this book irrelevant to any real solution. I’m going to discuss those assumptions in the order I listed them.
First, it’s important to be clear that the Constitution doesn’t guaranty any blanket rights. It doesn’t guaranty that you can say anything you want to say, carry guns, be free from searches or slavery, have a jury trial, or vote. What the Constitution does is limit the government. Congress can’t pass a law that infringes on speech; Congress can’t pass a law that infringes on your right to carry guns; the federal government can’t unreasonably search your stuff. The Constitution formed the federal government; it didn’t form anything else, so it doesn’t govern anything else.
States gave up some rights when they signed on to the Constitution, so in some ways it applies to states. Through the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court has applied the other amendments to the states, so they are an exception to the rule that the Constitution only governs the federal government. Like the federal government, state governments can’t infringe on certain rights. While the Constitution identifies rights, it doesn’t guaranty that people always have those rights. I can infringe on someone’s speech, and, unless there is a statute prohibiting my infringement, get away with it without punishment. My boss can infringe on my speech, with a few limited exceptions. Goodreads, as another example, can take down my reviews if it wants to, and I have no recourse other than getting really, really mad and talking shit about it.
So, my point is that you’re a Supreme Court Justice, and you’ve got this case in front of you. Some doofuses (Congress) wrote a statute, and it says, “Any person who dumps more than five teaspoons of toxic waste into the Mississippi River has to pay the neighbors one-hundred jelly beans per teaspoon of toxic waste.” So, now BP has dumped six teaspoons of toxic waste into the Mississippi, and it’s claiming that the statute doesn’t apply to it because it’s not a person. Do you think Congress meant to include BP when it said “any person,” or not? Was Congress thinking about who was doing the dumping, or was it just thinking about punishing anyone (or thing) that dumped?
It is the same with including corporations under the Fourteenth Amendment. The focus of the Amendment is to restrict states from infringing on certain rights. So, then, are states not restricted as long as the rights they’re infringing are the rights of corporations? Maybe. But, then what if states decide than only corporations can buy property? So, you form a corporation, buy property, and the state can search it any time it wants to. Or, don’t worry, if you already own property, you’ll be granted a free corporation in your name by the state, and your property ownership automatically transfers to that new corporation, but the Fourteenth Amendment doesn’t apply to your property. I’m not saying that would necessarily happen, but if a state can perform warrantless searches just because the land it is searching is owned by a corporation, that seems like undermining the basic purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment to me. Its purpose is to restrict state power, not to grant rights to anybody.
Second, including corporations under the Constitution doesn’t guaranty that the government treats them the same as humans. Maybe that is just self-explanatory. All it means is that states and the federal government don’t get a free pass in whatever the limits on their power is, just because they are dealing with a corporation. The criticisms Hartman makes of the Santa Clara decision are true in many points (specifically, in his pointing out that it doesn't actually do what the basic premise of this book is claiming it does), but I completely disagree that a solution to corporate abuses is to allow states and the federal government to have complete freedom in governing corporations. Saying that states can’t deprive corporations of property without due process does not mean that corporations are similar to humans. I won’t go into the equal protection clause now, but it would, likewise, be weird to me if it didn’t apply to corporations. And neither of those clauses make corporations similar to humans, they only restrict state power.
Third, the way to limit corporate rights is to increase government regulation of corporations. Somehow, that idea gets glossed-over in this book. The reason I feel this avoidance from the book is because he references Jefferson a lot and the idea that Jefferson would have wanted to replace corporate rule with agency rule is totally outrageous to me. I mean, Jefferson was like a Clarence Thomas-style nut about anti-regulation, as far as I have ever read. To me, you can't be proposing government regulation and citing Jefferson as your founding-father backup. That's the way to get a zombie Jefferson stalking your home, looking for blood.
Anyway, maybe Hartman is assuming that applying the Fourteenth Amendment to only humans would increase regulation, but that seems far from correct to me. This year, I accidentally organized a panel at a conference that turned into recruitment for a militia hoping to destroy American infrastructure. I’m not kidding – at one point a speaker put up a slide on U.S. military strategies for fighting asymmetrical warfare. It was very troubling. Flannery was there, she’ll tell you. When people asked the speaker what her plans were for rebuilding society after she’s destroyed it, she carefully avoided saying that she wants to return to a hunter-gatherer society (which is what she wants to do, I believe). This review does an excellent job of discussing how unrealistic that idea is. There is a similar dissonance in Unequal Protection, where Hartman carefully avoids telling you that his solution to the evils of big business is to create big government.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that’s a good solution. I have been saying for years that we live in a feudal society, in which corporations are our feudal lords, and I completely agree with Hartman on that point. I do not, however, agree that the alternative is democracy. Hartman sets up the dichotomy that we could live in a democratic society, but a feudal society has supplanted it. I think that is false, and that feudalism and democracy are not mutually exclusive. I think you can have a democratic feudal society, and that is probably what we have. I think the alternative to Hartmann's feudal society is a socialist society. Personally, socialism, which I would argue is just another variety of feudalism in which government officials act as feudal lords, sounds way better to me than Hartmann's feudalism, but it is not very popular with real Americans, so I can see why Hartman sidestepped the issue. I think that when a stronger government supplants strong business interests, the nominal purpose, at least, is the public good. When business interests rule, that is not even a nominal purpose.
The real problem Hartman flatly (and wrongly) denies is in corruption. When regulators are giving BJs to corporations, there is a problem. And, I think it’s pretty clear that regulators are, for the most part, giving BJs to corporations in America, but also in other countries. The solution to this isn’t allowing more government abuse (as in, giving states the right to bypass the restrictions of the Fourteenth Amendment), it is to give the government more regulatory power over corporations. It is to require rich people to pay enough taxes that the agencies that catch corporate crimes can actually do their jobs.
Sorry, Brian. This book practically killed me. There is a sentence towards the end of this book that I can’t find now about a constitutional-law scholar who said he practically passed out when he read what Hartman’s ridiculous proposals were. That guy. I feel like that guy. I LOLed. I could go on about the errors relating to equal-protection analysis, and the founding fathers, and the restrictions on international treaties and tribunals, but you’ve probably already left the review by now. I’ll just tell you that this is a completely unreliable source of information about constitutional law. It is incorrect in ways that are both fundamental to the nature of the Constitution and ways that are trivial, but misleading. Completely exasperating.(less)
Another stupendous installment of the madcap adventures of the gang at 62 and 63 New Square! This time, the mystery has the same background story as J...moreAnother stupendous installment of the madcap adventures of the gang at 62 and 63 New Square! This time, the mystery has the same background story as John Grisham’s The Firm, but it is deeeelightful, instead of being kind of dark and boring. Again, what I find wonderful about all of Caudwell’s books is that the unraveling of the stories are so light and fun, but the denouement always has a sense of insight into the depth of misunderstanding and tragedy of which humans are capable. These characters resonate with me, and I love them whether they are slipping on banana peels or prying into the heart and mind of a murderer.
I listened to this one on audio, and I must use the word “splendid” about the audio because it was so British in its greatness. I highly recommend it. This one has more Cantrip than some of the others, which I loved because I think Cantrip is a hilarious character. There is a joke at the beginning about how he learns to use the telex machine (I know, quaint! I am still not positive what a telex machine is, but it seems like sounds kind of like a cross between email and fax), and he suddenly has to send telexes to everyone he can find a number for. He’s, like, one of the original trolls. Brilliant. I love all the lawyers, though. Julia’s wonderful tax planning advice is great, and Selena’s advocacy, and Ragwort’s disapproval of it all. Why do people read stupid Grisham and Ludlum and the like? Sorry, fans, but I cannot abide those people and their boring redundancy. Caudwell kicks their asses.
I guess she does basically hit everything I love in every book: law, literature, gender, slapstick, melodrama. Really the only thing missing is the characters bursting out into a Whedon-esque song and dance. Otherwise, it’s all in there. And she doesn’t really repeat on the sex and gender stuff, either. It seems different and new in every book. I’m going to copy for you this really wonderful exchange that Caudwell uses with artistry that I think is genius in this book:
”There is nothing to worry about,” said Julia, with an excess of confidence which I found in itself alarming. “I have worked out a strategy for dealing with him. I intend to model my behaviour in all respects on that of my Aunt Regina. My Aunt Regina, so far as I can discover, doesn’t believe that men progress much morally or intellectually after the age of six, and she treats them accordingly. She always gets on splendidly with men like the Colonel – two of her husbands were of just the same type.”
“My dear Julia,” said Ragwort, “your ambition to deal with men in the same manner as your Aunt Regina is very laudable. From the point of view of realism, however, it is somewhat similar to your deciding to play tennis in the style of Miss Martina Navratilova.”
“The trouble is,” said Selena, with a certain wistfulness, “that you and I, Julia, have been brought up in an era of emancipation and enlightenment, and we have got into the habit of treating men as if they were normal, responsible, grown-up people. We engage them in discussion; we treat their opinions as worthy of quite serious consideration; we seek to influence their behavior by rational argument rather than by some simple system of rewards and punishments. It’s all a great mistake, of course, and only makes them confused and miserable – especially men like the Colonel, who have grown up with the idea that women will tell them what they ought to do without their having to think about it for themselves. But I’m afraid it’s too late to put the clock back.”
Incidentally, if you listen to the audio of these books, you realize that Julia’s Aunt Regina’s name rhymes with vagina. . . . So, that was a pleasant surprise. Last night, inspired by this book and the Oregon legal community, I spent some delightful hours with friends talking about the potential of someone named Regina Sarcombe sizing us up.
Anyway, I love the way this book both lightheartedly and tragically shows relationships between men and women. It shows how people are very silly and very passionate, in just the way I see people as silly and passionate. I read something on wikipedia about the series - that it suffers from being too detached, or something? I agree that there is a beautifully British ironical detachment in the right places, but where the stories should be compassionate and touching, they are that as well. These are wonderful books, and I’m a little sad that I gave the first two to a friend. I will have to find new copies so that I can have a complete set. Oh, but it looks like there are some very tempting hardcovers out there. I resolve that I shall wait until I get paid, but after that there are no guaranties that my hardcover collection won’t get a little fatter. (less)
Possibly this was my favorite of the Tamar series. It is lovely how this series gets better and better. I had to go back and give them all five stars...morePossibly this was my favorite of the Tamar series. It is lovely how this series gets better and better. I had to go back and give them all five stars just because they don't drop off and get terrible by the end. This one has hokum and euphemistic professions and an evilly helpful girl, and finally we meet Julia’s dear Aunt Regina (pronounced . . . well, you know). And, of course, murrrrderrrrr. I listened to half of it on audio, but then I was so impatient to read the rest that I sat down and read it in my room on a beautiful, rainy evening with candles and soup and peonies blooming just outside my window.
Caudwell tells her readers just the right amount of things. She’s not always going off about the wood somebody made a cabinet with, or the clothes everybody is wearing, unless I actually want to know about those things. I mean, there is that hilarious part in one of these – I think it’s in the Sirens – where Ragwort tells Julia that he thinks her dress was made for someone with broader shoulders. That gives you just the information you need to know about Julia’s dress, and it establishes Ragwort’s talent for euphemism at the same time. Anyway, the clothes and furniture and whatnot that Caudwell describes establish the characters, unlike some books, where the author is just taking up my precious time to prove she researched what the kids were wearing and storing their dishes in back in the day. So annoying.
This one also had some interesting stuff about insider trading and inheritance. Mostly, the characters were once again brilliant. The only tragedy (other than the story) is that I have no more of these to read. I will have to start the series from the beginning again. (less)
This book totally rules. There were parts of it that even gave me chills. No kidding. That’s how nerdy it’s getting around here right now. The author...moreThis book totally rules. There were parts of it that even gave me chills. No kidding. That’s how nerdy it’s getting around here right now. The author did this study as a PhD dissertation in history at the University of Virginia, and at the beginning, there is a dedication that says, “For Kay, for all the reasons.” Awwww! I totally ♥ this book. Not that I would necessarily recommend it to you, unless you have a particular hankering for knowing about Virginia’s early-nineteenth-century protests of Supreme Court review of state court decisions. I know, you’re probably asleep already. But it is so interesting, I’m telling you! Also! The “Cohens” in the title are referred to as the Cohen brothers! I’m pretty sure they’re related to the Coen brothers.
So, when the People first agreed to the Constitution, there was some talk of judicial review, but nobody put anything specifically into the Constitution about it. That is to say, the Constitution says that the Supreme Court can hear certain types of cases, but the Constitution doesn’t say that the Court can tell everyone what the Constitution means. Later, the Court itself decided that it could tell everyone what the Constitution means. Then, during the same time that the Court decided that, it also decided that it could hear appeals from state courts if the appeal related to some kind of federal law.
This was a really big deal and is all prequel to this book. It is also a really cool exchange between the Virginia courts and the Supreme Court over the Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee case. It’s not the most fascinating case to read, but the exchange is so fun. So, the case got appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court said, “We can decide on this case, and Virginia is wrong.” Then, they sent the case back to Virginia to correct the errors, and Virginia said, “That’s nice that you think that, Supreme Court, but luckily for us, we don’t have to listen to you.” The Virginia opinion is so great. So, then the case went back to the Supreme Court, and they said, “Oh yes we can.” And, then, Virginia did like they were told.
At the risk of spoilering this book for you (because I’m sure you’re going to run out and read it right away), I’ll tell you what it’s about. The Cohens v. Virginia case came after three other decisions where the Court had given itself and Congress a lot of power to “say what the law is.” In Cohens v. Virginia, the Court said it could review state court decisions on criminal matters where they related to the Constitution or other federal law. The Court also said that Virginia was right in the way it had decided the case.
Virginia kind of freaked out, and there was talk of passing a state law saying that anyone who enforced a Supreme Court decision that conflicted with a state supreme court decision would be fined $1,000. There was a lot of talk. Ultimately, no one did anything, and the decision goes down in history as one of Justice John Marshall’s genius political moves. While he had taken a big chunk of power for the Supreme Court, he had upheld what the state court had done, so they didn’t really have anything to complain about.
I’m going to write about how that time in the history of judicial review is similar to the relationship between the Supreme Court and the International Court of Justice in relation to international lawsuits over the death penalty. The ICJ has ruled that state procedure in the U.S. violates an international treaty. The Supreme Court has basically said what Virginia said in ye olden days, “That’s nice, but luckily for us we don’t have to listen to you.” And in relation to this law, the ICJ has basically agreed. And I think it's true, too. But, what if, suddenly, the ICJ was like, "No, you do have to listen to us"? It's interesting to speculate about what kind of enforcement power they would have.
Reading about all the fights that the bloggers newspapers had back in the day was one of those reminders that people basically stay the same, and the Supreme Court ends up with the power to say what the law is in the way that most meaningfully affects the People. It does make me wonder, though, how often it retains that power just by reaffirming the power of the states. Anyway, good book. If you ever write a paper on judicial review, I highly recommend it. (less)