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Nathan Van Sell
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In the Agora
Jelly Beans & Corduroy
The Sleepy Sage
Waiting for the Punchline
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letters from babylon
Letters of Marque
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Three Years of Hell
D. Gordon Smith
The Volokh Conspiracy
White Collar Crime prof blog
Andrew R. Cline
Daniel W. Drezner
Mark A. R. Kleiman
History News Network
Program for Judicial Awareness
Howard J. Bashman
Tech Law Advisor
Math Class for Poets
Statutory Construction Zone
Indiana Law Blog
Stop the Bleating
CNN - Law
Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Monday, January 31, 2005
It's going to get ugly. Here's a blurb from today's Washington Times:
Supporters of President Bush's judicial nominees have hired the same media firm used by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth for their efforts to defend the next nominee for any upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. The aggressive media style of Creative Response Concepts (CRC) will be met by a "war room" already set up by the liberal People For the American Way (PFAW) on the other side, indicating that the next Supreme Court fight is likely to be one of the nastiest in history.Splendid.
Weyco Inc. drew national attention last week when the Okemos, MI. based medical benefits administrator terminated four employees after they refused to submit to a smoking breath test in light of the company's new policy that bans tobacco use during work and even when they are off the clock and work-site. Such increasingly common workplace polices are raising the issue of what other personal behaviors employers may seek to limit, even outside the workplace.
The policy is praised by non-smoking advocates, while smokers ponder how else their rights will be restricted, and "others questioned what group will be the next target."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has decided not to challenge the move by Weyco, a medical benefits administrator, because there is no state law prohibiting employers from controlling behavior outside the workplace, said ACLU spokeswoman Wendy Wagenheim. "At least two dozen other states prevent lifestyle discrimination, and that's possible in Michigan as well if people are concerned about their privacy, as well they should be," she said. "To think a company is trying to control off-site behavior when it doesn't affect their job will really bring people out in real numbers to address what's happening to privacy in this country."
I don't smoke, but either the right to privacy, one of the penumbra of rights found in between the cracks of our Constitution, stands for something or it doesn't. I can understand a desire to prevent illegal behavior such as drug use, but the last time I checked cigarettes were legal and you could smoke them on your property such as your car or home. Usually at least. What's next? Will Weyco hire a private investigator to monitor how often you eat a Hardees Thickburger?
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Prof. Orin Kerr offers a few thoughts on first year grades, their importance, and whether they're random. Some of the comments after it are interesting, too.
The Indianapolis Star features an article detailing a new "business friendly" legislature. The Indiana Law Blog offers a list of specific pro-business bills.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Welcome to the new IndyLaw Net. The staple of the site, the blog, remains as the default page, but above it notice the new navigation bar. From there you can select other sections of the site with useful features.
On the left is the "Book Forum." The book forum is a simple message board to be used for books sales. How annoying are the multitude of e-mails we receive in our inboxes every day, offering to sell this book or that book? Simply post a topic in the book forum if you are selling a book, or if somebody has already done so, reply to that topic.
To the right of that are links to IU's OnCourse and WebMail pages. The pages will seemlessly load into the ILN site, leaving the navigation bar on top, so you can easily switch between the two. No more headache sifting through IU Law's homepage to switch between these sites.
To the far right is the "Store." Buy t-shirts and sweatshirts with funny law-related sayings on them. As of now I have one design added, with a classic lawyer versus doctor joke on it, but look for more designs in the future. Profits will go to a law-related charity. More on the store later.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
A fellow 1L alerted me to this class action lawsuit against MGM for allegedly improperly formatted widescreen DVDs. If your DVD is on their elgible list, you can exchange it for a new one or for cash.
I have 2 DVDs on their list, but personally I am not going to join the class action. My DVDs look fine to me, and I see no reason to hassle myself with this. Plus, I have taken a vow to discourage excessive litigation.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
I've been saying for years that some people need a serious smackdown. I guess I have the right personality.
take the WHAT INTENTIONAL TORT ARE YOU test.
and go to mewing.net. because law school made laura do this.
What is law? I asked a variety of people with a variety of backgrounds. In the second installment, I give my reaction.
(gender, age, occupation, religious affiliation) [when I have the info]
1. Female, 23, educator, United Church of Christ:
Law is the set of rules and standards set in a society that dictate moral right from wrong and the methods used to enforce those rules.
2. Male, 23, computer trainer/sales, Southern Baptist:
When you say law I think of governments reflecting as close as they can the right and wrong which is built into each of us. We know how we ought to act and yet do not do what we know we should. So government has to impose restrictions to "help us we know how we should act, we don't, therefore we have laws.
3. Male, 21, student, Roman Catholic:
The law can protect a nation's people if and only if the nation's people protect the law.
4. Male, 23, reporter, Reformed Presbyterian:
Law is the rules and enforced ethics that govern the way humans interact in society.
5. Male, 35, computer technician, Christian:
Law is the means by which a society tries to enumerate and enforce certain standards of behavior and interaction.
6. Male, 23, geology grad student, Roman Catholic:
Law is the codification of a set of rules that are needed to govern and maintain a society. Laws serve to discourage behavior that the society deems unacceptable and also restrain the governing body of that society, in order to prevent autocratic behavior.
7. Male, 22, history major, Roman Catholic:
Law is a guideline, which is enforced either strictly or leniently, having been established by the ruling authority of a particular society. It exists as a means of social control, which facilitates the very existence of society. Without the rule of law, human beings would find themselves unable to exist in social groups for fear of murder, theft, etc. from their fellow humans.
8. Male, 54, newspaper columnist, Reformed Presbyterian:
I guess my simple, off-hand answer would be: rules adopted on a more permanent basis. I would distinguish the law of God from the laws of men...
9. Male, engineer, 60, Roman Catholic:
Law is the system we have that forces society, and for the good of society, to live by a set of statutes or rules. The statutes are enacted by our congress; guided by the US constitution, the ten commandants, and the golden rule; enforced by our executive governmental branch and judged for its constitutionality by our supreme court.
10. Male, 31, computer technician, agnostic:
Law, in the sense of what you are studying, is a human conceived set of things to do (and not do), that puts order on the natural chaos of human society. It is also guidelines to protect the well-being of an individual or group that is within a larger group. It is to protect people and create a stable society, independent of a dominant way of thinking. Unfortunately it can get bogged down by religious influence and what one thinks is their own moral high ground (which is a matter of opinion, not rooted in society or how to live in said society).
11. Female, law professor
For me it doesn't work simply to say that law is a statute or rule that society is willing to put its resources into enforcing - as it raises the old chicken and egg problem. Conversely, if you go at it from the natural law perspective - there being laws/truths out there that are in themselves discoverable and absolute and should be governing principles - it is sort of the other end of the same discussion. I tend to err on the practical when the spotlight hits me. So I guess to me law is the body of regulatory principles that are perceived by a given society as authoritative guidelines around which that group of individuals can organize their conduct.
12. Male, 50s, attorney, Roman Catholic:
The law of a political entity is the set of rules by which that entity 1. decrees what is proper and improper conduct; 2. sets out how it will deal with those whose conduct is improper; and 3. resolves disputes between its members who are unable to settle the disputes on their own.
13. Male, 32, newspaper editor:
The way society chooses to rule itself, how it determines what is right and
what is wrong, and how society can provide structure to organize and
operate as a community (locally, regionally and globally).
14. Female, 30s, astronaut in training, Roman Catholic:
The law is a defined set of principles and regulations that are determined by a higher authority, and they are only meaningful if they are enforced.
15. Female, 50s, attorney, Roman Catholic:
The law is a code of conduct agreed to by a community of people. The law sets up acceptable boundaries for human behavior. The law seeks to provide predictability and uniformity in the affairs of people. The law seeks to impose similar consequences for similar behaviors regardless of who the individual may be who transgresses the law. The law is an imperfect system, imposed on imperfect people and situations with imperfect results, but hey, it's a start.
16. Male, law professor:
Your question is one over which I have spent thirty-four years puzzling. I have come to believe that a few sentences about what law is would say far too much about the subject and volumes would say far too little. If that seems paradoxical to you, perhaps you have a sense of why it is still a puzzle to me.
17. Male, law professor:
'Law' is the justification for power.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard announced several days ago that the high court plans to expand the pool from which potential jurors are drawn. Previously, jurors were drawn from the rolls of registered voters. The new move was at least partially motivated by the desire to widen the pool of prospective jurors and to reach those residents who don't register to vote in an effort to avoid jury duty.
Shepard indicated there are plans to provide every county with names and addresses from agencies including the BMV and the Indiana Dept of Revenue.
Another jury reform that took effect this month allows jurors to speak about a case among themselves during recesses and other breaks. The longstanding rule forbade this type of communication among jurors.
2 more changes include a requirement that judges instruct jurors they have the right to ask questions of witnesses (the right previously existed, but many jurors were unaware) and an option for judges, when juries report that they are deadlocked, to ask juries what is causing an impasse and to then give lawyers on both sides equal time to address those issues.
These changes seem a positive step toward improving our jury system.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Cindy L. Thompson of the Pacific Legal Foundation announces the following legal writing competition:
Pacific Legal Foundation is awarding $9,500 in its Sixth Annual Program for Judicial Awareness Writing Competition. This year's competition includes three essay questions, regarding the applicability of the Supreme Court's "rough proportionality" takings standard; whether the GDF Realty Investments v. Norton decision can be reconciled with the Court's modern Commerce Clause jurisprudence; and whether the concept of "regulatory givings" is consistent with the purpose and function of the Takings Clause. [Details]
More information can be found at the Program for Judicial Awareness's blog. Let's show them our legal capabilities.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
First, I would like to thank the campus for holding the fire drill yesterday instead of Tuesday. The extra 20 degrees of warmth and lack of wind chill compared to Tuesday was greatly appreciated. My friend in the winter coat was freezing while I in my long sleeve shirt rather enjoyed the brisk chill. Had we spent more time I think a snowball fight would have been required to relax.
Second, please note for the future that a second stairwell is over by the library. Over 400 people went down the main stairwell and that takes time. Time is a luxury you don't have. As near as I can tell only three of us took the other stairwell to avoid the excessive traffic. If you're coming out of Rooms 375 and 245 you might want to take that stairwell instead of the main one. In case of a real fire please stay calm, think clearly, but remember a follow the herd mentality is not a good idea. We do want to clear the building quickly when smoke is rolling in.
Third, a few of us approached a fire door and someone said we shouldn't go down those stairs as it would set off another alarm. Okay, if I thought a real fire was occurring I want it on the record that a big Brian-sized hole will appear in any door, window, or wall between me and safety. The last thing on my mind will be setting off another shrill, high-pitched, and deafening alarm. Follow me to safety!
Is the ringing in my ear normal?
A simple question. A million answers. Or perhaps just one.
This is the topic of an upcoming column of mine, in which I have interviewed several members of the IU law faculty, and other people from varying positions in society.
It's what we are studying so I figured we might try to figure out what it is.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Indy residents may remember Mayor Bart Peterson's attempt a couple years ago to regulate minors' access to video game arcades. He sought to protect minors from violent and otherwise explicit video games.
Now the governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, is seeking to ban stores from selling violent video games to minors under the age of 18.
This proposed law will be struck down by the courts for much the same reason they struck Peterson's arcade regulations down:
But children have 1st Amendment rights. "People are unlikely to become well-functioning, independent-minded adults and responsible citizens if they are raised in an intellectual bubble," Judge Richard Posner wrote in 2001 for the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in a challenge to the Indianapolis ordinance.
Ok, fair enough, but this brings me to a point of public policy. If a film were made of the Odyssey, and that film graphically depicted the violent scenes, that film would be rated R and children would not be permitted in theaters to see the violence. But make a video game out of the Odyssey and suddenly children can not only watch the same cinematics but even participate in the violence.
I realize that movie theaters and not the government enact and enforce the rating system on minors, and I am not an advocate of government censorship, but I think it inevitable that our government try to "fix" this disconnect between exposure to violence from video games and from movies. Expect continued and increasing Constitutional tension on this issue.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
I hope voir dire eliminated these potential jurors from the one that decided the case. My personal favorite is this one.
When the prosecutor asked if anyone had been convicted
If you know about
So please promote IndyLaw Net. We don't have annual fundraisers like PBS or buy ad time to promote this product. It is a fresh beginning for us all so put in a good word please. We'll appreciate it especially we're really here for you.
Nothing worse than being lost at the beginning of the new semester. I've already been asked this twice in 20 minutes so I thought I would help everyone out.
Another semester (my last - woohoo!) begins. I have high hopes for the semester; I always like the idea of starting over from scratch.
Things haven't exactly gone smoothly so far, however. I left the house later than I'd planned, but that turned out not to be too much of a problem. Then, when I arrived at school, the garage door to the service entrance was closed - forcing me to brave the man-made wind tunnel that is the path from the parking lot to the student entrance. When it's 4 degrees outside, as it is, this can be less-than-pleasant.
I made it safely inside and headed for one of the refrigerators so I could stow my lunch. The smell in the student vending/lockers/bathroom was almost unbearable. It was a rotten stench and I honestly couldn't tell if it was coming from the fridges or the bathrooms.
Once in the library, I plugged in my computer and waited patiently for internet service. And waited. And waited. For some reason, I can't get wireless access today. The signal is strong, but the system won't verify my password. I heaved a sigh of frustration and pulled out my cable to gain access. It's working, sort of. I have gotten inexplicably kicked off several times.
But I will persevere!!! I will not let these minor inconveniences get me down. At 9am on the first day of my last semester I still have a positive outlook. Anyone placing bets on how long that will last?
Monday, January 17, 2005
I will admit to some annoyance that I still don't have all my grades, but this person is taking it to an extreme. On a side note now I'm glad I didn't apply there.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
You can watch the "conversation" between Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer through C-SPAN as they discuss "Whether Foreign Court Decisions Should Impact American Constitution Law" (Real Video). The event was co-sponsored by American University Washington College of Law and the U.S. Association of Constitutional Law. It was a highly informative and entertaining discussion.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Kudos to Cindy Viranyi, Jane Handley, Shelley Jackson, Susan Derwin and others for spearheading efforts to raise money for tsunami victims.
Handley is president of the Asian Law Students Association and is coordinating fund raising with members of the International Human Rights Law Society and Equal Justice Works.
The 3 organizations have partnered to encourage and assist the law school community to raise money for victims of the recent tragedy. A story on the local relief effort, along with information on how you can give, can be found in this week's Indiana Lawyer.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Sapere aude has been renamed "IndyLaw Net"
While the old name had a good ring, it also presented some difficulties. The new name is easier to repeat and spell, and is much more amenable to its own domain name, which you can access at http://www.indylawnet.com
I retained "Sapere aude" as a subtitle, to dispel any notion that we have abandoned our motto: dare to be wise.
Also with the new title, it is more clear that this site intends to be a source of information by and for the students of Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.
Along those lines, I plan to work with the administration to market this site in their publications to new and current students-- hopefully increasing readership and participation in this exciting forum.
Supreme Court makes Federal Sentencing guideline voluntary
In a 5-4 vote, the Court didn't throw out the guidelines altogether but did rule that judges could look at them merely on an advisory basis.
Experts expect there to be a flood of new litigation by inmates sentenced under the guidelines.
Congress will likely respond by drafting legislation to create new guidelines.
Two men tell a lawyer joke in a court. Real lawyer overhears, has them arrested for "disorderly conduct". Please, upon passing the bar, never do this.