January 2006 Archives
The semester and I started off on friendly terms. I love my classes and I love my job(s). There's plenty of opportunity to do some fun things like get some summer work, law review (at our school, any 2L may apply to the ed. board position), fun with friends, all that jazz.
I don't know what I said to piss it off, but the semester just sort of went postal on me. It snapped and attacked. I wasn't prepared. I thought we were friends. It started poking me in the ribs, which was annoying, but then it just punched me in the face. I was a little stunned, but before I could recover, it threw me to the ground and started the kicking.
At this point, I'm sort of hoping I can make strategic use of the fetal position to protect my most sensitive bits until it's all over.
Posting will probably be light this week. I have 164 things to do, and all of them annoying.
A: It's like I'm being nibbled to death by . . . what are those Earth creatures? Feathers and beaks?
B: Uhh . . . Cats!
A: Yes, it's like I'm being nibbled to death by cats.
(Bonus to the commenter that can get the proper sci-fi reference (which is paraphrased from memory). That's a big hint, right there.)
I like the case books published by Foundation Press, apparently a division of West-Thompson publishing. I suppose the contents are fine, I haven't really thought about it. I like that the margins are really wide. I can write more in them.
I know, it's about a 8.7 on the ol' geek-o-meter.
OK, not really. Still, it's the next best thing.
I recently had a meeting with the supervising attorney of a legal internship with a government entity. I've been working on various legal projects for the last few months, with some time off during the winter break. The range of issues is pretty astounding, from property work to due process to freedom of information-ish things. That's pretty interesting, already, to have that great variety in doing these things.
But I realized something else: it's exciting to know that a government entity is taking what I wrote, in some cases explaining the legal consequences of actions or whatever, and actually based on the information I provided. Of course, I'm supervised by an actual, licensed attorney, but it is still humbling to look at how important the work is turning out to be. Lives are potentially changed based on what I am doing. Hopefully, the community is a better place because of what I'm doing.
Basically, I get to be a lawyer before I'm actually a lawyer. I have to admit, I really love it. As much as I love law school and will hate to leave (I know, my geek-o-meter just overloaded), I think getting out there to do actual practical work full-time will be even better.
Here we are, everybody's favorite, Friday Catblogging. This week I have two photos. One is from the kittens my mother was attempting to persuade people to adopt during her forced hiatus from New Orleans during the evacuation. The other is a hold-over from my 2004 NOLA visit. As usual, the quote of the week has also changed.
Just to resolve a burning question, it's time for the reveal.
That was Friday's (today) assignment. The F was for Friday, and we were expected to read the bits on admission to the bar. Now I know a little more than I did about the level of inquiry a bar association can make into mental illness during the character and fitness portion.
Each year, the University of Wyoming puts on an entire week of events for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. There is a march on Monday, speakers throughout the week, art displays, all sorts of things. I missed the march on Monday and a speaker I really wanted on Tuesday. The speaker was Ret. Rear Admiral John Hutson, and his talk was "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: The Best Worst Policy." I had dinner with some old friends I don't see often enough.
Last night was the premier event, a talk by Angela Davis. It was really powerful and inspiring to those of us who have activist tendencies. I know there has been some talk about holding Bush accountable for his probably-illegal phone tapping actions. Ms. Davis, like ai, brought up the idea of impeachment. It seems pretty clear to me: FISA violations, particularly since there were many of them, seem much more serious than a few perjured answers to conceal an illicit relationship.
Anyway, Ms. Davis discussed a lot of other things as well, including the death penalty, the prison-industrial complex, the invasion of Iraq, and, most notably, the effects of Hurricane Katrina. I don't think I'm nearly where she is on the political spectrum, but for activists it was a call to action. I've wanted to create social change for a long time, and I've worked to do that. Of course, practical concerns require that I can't be absolutely devoted to every cause I have interest in. I've chosen gender issues, for whatever reason. I'm looking forward to finishing law school and getting back into it, no matter what my job is. I'm glad to still be involved with the shelter program here (it has been part of my life for seven years!), but I'm ready to take it to the next level. I would like to see whatever city I move to become another San Diego when it comes to how it handles family violence.
Friday's professional responsibility (PR) assignment.
My CrimPro Professor is having a baby, I think as I write this. I'm pretty sure his wife is doing all the work, of course. I think that's great, congratulations to them both.
Unfortunately this means no CrimPro today.
That disappoints me. I'm sure I'll get over it.
This week we'll show a few photos brought back from New Orleans:
Finally, this is the other orange one, which I simply call the Fat One. He's not allowed inside the house, but he wants to be. There's an wrought iron door outside the regular back door leading to the porch, and he has climbed up to express his wishes.
That's it for this week. I'll try to put my last two batches of flood photos from my trip over the next two days. Have a great weekend!
I'm coming to terms with my prior post. Those who have completed CrimPro are almost certainly aware of a "special needs" exception to the warrant requirement for searches. That basically means where a search is necessary to preserve safety, the government may engage in such a search without a warrant. That's apparently how you can have the drunk-checkpoints and the TSA searches.
Of course, this brings up another question: If the TSA searches my bag for weapons or explosives or something and they find a brick of cocaine, could they still charge me with possession? In other words, is non-safety-related information from the search admissible when the exception to the warrant requirement is solely to preserve public safety? Must the TSA simply confiscate my cocaine and let me go because they can't use it for evidence? Does that mean that they can't charge me for explosives, should they find some, if the reason for the search is to protect safety, not investigate crime? What is the logical difference between using the explosives for evidence versus using the cocaine? Or may the government use any evidence discovered in a special needs search, and if so, doesn't this sort of abrogate the 4th Amendment in these situations? If that's true, and given the dog sniff cases, what is to stop the police from setting up a dog unit at the drunk driving checkpoint to see if those stopped have drugs?
Man, this class will be fun. I'm sure most if not all of these questions will be answered. Or at least answered to the extent case law allows.
I've just finished a bunch of CrimPro reading encompassing the section in the casebook relating to the definition of a 'search' for 4th Amendment purposes. I come away from it as I do from a bad Chinese restaurant: dissatisfied, and maybe a little queasy.
My problem comes because the definitions are all over the map, and it defies logic to really put the cases together and come up with a coherent meaning for what a search is. More importantly, those tests used in the past and now seem to lack logical foundation. For example, a police helicopter 400 ft in the air taking pictures of your back yard is ok, but presumably leaving the window curtains open doesn't necessarily allow police to take zoom pictures of the inside of your house. Actually, thinking about it, maybe it does. After all, cameras with strong zoom lenses are definitely "in general public use." Kyllo v. U.S.
So much of the current law has to do with whether a person expects privacy and whether the society views that as acceptable. A point was made, though, that if this was a hard rule, the government could abrogate the 4th Amendment by simply announcing that everyone should just be ready to be searched. Smith v. Maryland, n.5. The Court mentions in its footnote that in this and other unusual circumstances "a normative inquiry would be proper."
But wait a second, isn't that exactly what the TSA does? Airline passengers (such as myself) expect our bags to be searched. It is announced quite clearly that they will be at any time. Even those bags that are not opened go through extensive testing with a strong X-Ray machine and a chemical detector. I can buy that the chemical detector is ok (based on dog sniff cases), but what about the X-Rays or the physical opening and inspection of a bag? Are we trading our 4th Amendment rights for the convenience of air travel? Do we really have a choice in today's global world? Am I just independently reasoning along paths that many others already have traveled?
Maybe class discussion on these matters will clear everything up. Maybe I'll find the answer with a little research. Maybe every airline passenger - especially those with the little TSA search notices (like me) - have viable 1983 actions.
How happy am I that the newest episode of Battlestar Galactica showed up pretty much right away in iTunes? Pretty damn happy.
MackenzieMom gave me a $2/episode addiction for Christmas. I'm not so happy about that.
I had a short discussion with a friend of mine about grades and, more particularly, rank. I've previously mentioned that I don't really see grades as all that important, personally.* I will admit that they can be helpful in finding a job. We said a few sentences about rank, but I don't think I did a particularly good job articulating my position.
Rank is a different animal because it is so intimately connected with everyone else in your (in this case my) class. This is a problem for me becomes that I sort of divorce the number from the meaning. I don't like to think about it. I want my "rank to go up" in terms of the number, but I avoid thinking about the fact that for that to happen, someone else's rank must go down. I'm not stupid,** I know that's how it works, but that's an aspect I take no pleasure in.
Maybe it's different in other schools. Lots of schools have many more students than we do, and maybe things are less personal. Besides that, our school (or maybe just my class) is particularly non-competitive. I think we're extremely studious, on average, but we just don't feel like smashing each other. Couple that with the fact that I like nearly everyone in my class, and you can see why I have a certain distaste for the whole rank thing.
There's no help for it for now, I suppose, but to keep the cognitive dissonance rolling. I still hope for higher numbers, mainly because I want to find a decent job out of state and that means I have some unwarranted prejudice of my school to overcome. Why bring it up at all? Well, our grades came in and I had my best semester yet, better even than my very first semester. It seems so arbitrary, though. In ConLaw, for example, the professor just happened to ask a question on something I had very much paid attention to in class, so I had good notes in my outline. It could have been very different.
* Of course, I must admit to feeling happy and proud when I get good ones, but when it comes down to it, lasting happiness is in our relationships, not our transcripts.
** On average.
Dear Gang Members: You are not particularly threatening or intimidating when you must use one hand to keep your baggy pants from falling down around your ankles. Be innovative. Perhaps you could conceal suspenders under your shirt? Just a thought.
I don't mind flying, and while I'm pretty far from a world traveler, I've managed to get pretty good at it. I think about what I pack, and what I'm going to check. I strip down to my "airport outfit," consisting of warmup pants, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt. I also have a jacket in which I put all my metal things. I can strip and tray in no time flat.
Of course, not everyone can have the opportunity to fly and practice these skills. I expect there will be a few hangups at the security check point.
At the same time, the guy in line in front of me who went through the metal detector not once (took off his METAL WATCH!), not twice (this time it was his BELT BUCKLE and GLASSES), but three times (FRIGGIN' SPARE CHANGE!) before he got through on the fourth.
Come on, people, the requirements are pretty clear. Get it together.
[NOTE: I also accidentally may have smuggled my fingernail clippers with my carry-on. Sh.]
[ANOTHER NOTE: I've recently been informed that fingernail clippers have been off the contraband list for some time. I suppose I'll have to start my life of crime some other way.]
Here are some photos from the pretty-much-obliterated 9th Ward. When looking at these, try to remember that it is not just a house here and there that suffers, it is entire neighborhoods, whole swaths of the city. To see a few pictures, one might think, "Wow, that's pretty bad." To see the whole thing is indescribably powerful.
I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of resolutions. Hell, this year I'm not even going to bother with suggestions, I'm just going to do what seems appropriate, as usual. Of course, I think any chance to reflect on the world should be capitalized on, so year in review posts are generally a good idea.
This year is a bit different. I have remained relatively unscathed, but those around me, the people I care for deeply have had some pretty crappy events happen. Obviously, there have been some good things, but it has also been a pretty rough year. I won't get into it because their lives are not mine to talk about. They are managing or have managed all these things with admirable fortitude. Some of their struggles are pretty wrapped up, some are still ongoing.
I have a certain guarded optimism that things will go better in the next year for them. I hope the ongoing struggles will be won and there will be few additional ones. So, for the next year, I just want you (at least those of you who read the blog) to know that I'm thinking of you and wish the best.