[O]ne of the central recurring assertions in Washington’s pleadings is that his genitals are shrinking and prison officials are responsible for this process. Indeed, Washington’s prior complaints have, inter alia, requested that we reverse the process and restore him to his former stature, something that is plainly beyond the power of any court to achieve.
Washington v. Grace, Civ. No. 4:08-CV-1283, slip op. at 4 n.1 (M.D. Penn. Feb. 7, 2012) (explaining one of the reasons the court had decided not to grant further leave to amend).
Here's a remarkable letter that was posted yesterday at the very interesting blog Letters of Note.
The letter was written in August of 1865 to Col. P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, by Jourdon Anderson, one of his former slaves. At the time, Jourdon was living in Ohio, where he had gone after gaining his freedom in 1864. Based on the letter, it's pretty clear he was not freed by Col. Anderson, but rather by Union forces, which controlled most of Tennessee by that time. (There are towns called "Big Spring" or "Big Springs" all over Tennessee, so it's hard to say where exactly this was.) Anyway, Col. Anderson had apparently written Jourdon to ask him to come back to work for him on his farm.
That may seem remarkable, but it was not too uncommon for freed slaves to do this, or at least to stay where they were after being freed. Although they were free, many of them unfortunately had no better options. But many went north, including Jourdon. His response to Col. Anderson's letter, according to the 1865 newspaper in which it appeared, was dictated by him but "contains his ideas and forms of expression."
If that's true, he was quite a guy.
The letter starts like this:
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living.
This is already a great piece of work. You aren't quite sure at this point how Jourdon feels. He does drop in the comment about Anderson going out of his way to kill a presumably wounded prisoner, and notes that Anderson took two shots at him personally, and yet he still says he's glad Anderson survived. That must be sincere, because he really has no other motive to say it, and that says something about his ability to forgive (at least a little).
The letter (I won't quote more of it, because it's very much worth reading the whole thing) goes on to ask what sort of deal Anderson is offering, and especially what wages he'd be willing to pay. (Funny, Anderson must have left that out of the letter.) Is he serious about going back? Probably not, based on the next paragraph, in which he says he and his family "have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you." Thirty-two years of back pay, he calculates (plus 20 for his wife), would come to $11,680. That's actually more than reasonable -- it comes out to just under $170,000 in today's dollars. Anderson would have to add interest, of course, but could deduct what he had paid for their clothing and his three doctor's visits (in 32 years). Again, very reasonable.
Again, the whole letter is definitely worth reading, and has a fantastic closing line that I won't give away.
Letters of Note currently has 661 items posted, including some that are law-related (in case the legal content of the above was not sufficient for you). There's one from the makers of South Park to the MPAA, explaining what they had and had not agreed to cut from the first movie ... well, I guess that's not really law-related either, but it is hilarious (but also filthy, be warned).
Okay, how about this one - it's the rejection letter that Harvey Wax got after applying to Princeton Law School in 1957:
Dear Mr. Wax:
In reply to your recent letter, I regret that we must inform you that Princeton University has no Law School.
Joseph L. Bolster, Jr.
Despite this apparent evidence that he did not always do his homework, Mr. Wax did later manage to get into Harvard (which does have a law school). He even graduated (in 1967, with distinction) and is still practicing law today.
I will now deliberately avoid any attempt to tie things up here by making some analogy between the practice of law and slavery, which would be ridiculous, and will instead just stop.
"I am a lawyer. You can Google me."
These may both be 100% true statements (they were in this case), but they still aren't likely to keep you from getting arrested. Also, the odds of that are reduced greatly if they follow the statement, "You are going to die."
Trying to kick out the window of a police cruiser will knock off a few additional points.
According to the report, the lawyer in question was charged with public intoxication, a charge that might be justified based on the allegations, and with "terroristic threatening," which surely isn't. I haven't looked up the elements of this claim under Kentucky law, but I'm going to object to anything that applies the label "terrorism" (or "terroristic") to words that came out of the mouth of a drunk 30-year-old woman under these circumstances, even if out of context they sound like threats. Or any drunk person, for that matter, or actually just anything somebody says. Please. Can we cheapen that word any further?
Just FYI, any claim to a high Google rank is not likely to impress anyone, even if you can legitimately claim that you exclusively occupy the first page of results for your name. In this case, that may not have been true. Although maybe I shouldn't mention that, in case they decide to charge her with fraud, too.
From yesterday's Huffington Post:
"Our founders intended for [the judicial branch] to be the least consequential of the three branches of government," said Santorum. "How do I know that for a fact? Because it's Article III. Article I is Congress, Article II is the president and Article III is the courts. If it was the most important, they wouldn't have put it third."
It's not impossible that Santorum was joking about this - I couldn't find a clip to evaluate - but if so the report doesn't mention it. It does mention that he "elicited laughter" with another comment (about making a new court in Guam and sending all the Ninth Circuit judges there), but as far as I can tell, he was serious about this one.
Lots of arguments have been made about the relative power of the three branches, but I don't think "we get mentioned earlier" has been one of them. You could certainly argue that the legislative branch is the most important, because (in theory) it makes law that the other two only enforce or interpret. Alexander Hamilton called the judiciary "the weakest of the three departments," but again, that's because it doesn't have real power to enforce its decisions, not because it only shows up third in the table of contents. And since the executive seems to be able to start wars on its own and blow up or detain U.S. citizens if it wants to, those seem like pretty good arguments that it's not currently in second place. So all in all, this argument of Santorum's appears to suck.
To be fair, I did find one authority that seems to argue along these lines:
The judiciary is often called the third branch of government. Why, you might ask, if it's so important, does the Court come in last in the American tri-partite system? In part, this designation is the result of the federal court system having been outlined in Article III of the Constitution. (Article I concerns the legislature, and Article II addresses the executive branch.) But Article III is also remarkably short and makes the judicial branch seem almost like an afterthought.
Source: U.S. Constitution for Dummies.
Santorum went on to note that the Constitution actually only creates the Supreme Court, with "inferior courts" to be created, uncreated, or sent to Guam as Congress sees fit. That one's valid (Art. III, sec. 1), although Santorum's ideas for getting around the fact that Article III judges hold office for life are another story. Hamilton's ultimate point was that "[t]he complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution," precisely because that branch is otherwise so weak. Santorum's approach (and Gingrich's) ignores that.
Granted, Hamilton might have been better off had he not skipped dueling practice to write that Federalist Paper, but we're lucky he did. It's a good one.
Lots of entertainment value in the transcripts of Scott Rothstein's deposition, which was taken in December. As you may recall, Rothstein was one of our nation's top Ponzi schemers until the scam came to light in 2009, whereupon he briefly fled to Morocco before deciding to return and plead guilty. See, e.g., "Wanna Buy a Watch? Asks Man With Golden Toilet," Lowering the Bar (Feb. 19, 2010); see also "Scott Rothstein: Why Go to Morocco?" and "Scott Rothstein: Why Come Back From Morocco?" Lowering the Bar (both Feb. 23, 2010). Rothstein's deposition was taken in a case related to his scheme; he is being as candid as possible, he says, because full cooperation is his only chance to not die in prison.
Hence the entertainment value.
All the transcripts are available at the website of plaintiffs' law firm, Conrad & Scherer, but Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal have been posting some good excerpts. In this one, for example, Rothstein takes offense at being compared to über-Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff, even though Madoff Ponzi-schemed 20 to 50 times as much as Rothstein's lame $1.2 billion. Madoff is a scumbag, according to Rothstein, because he hasn't ratted out his partners. "Madoff should have taken me, and I'm proud to say this, as an example as to what you do when you want to do the right thing.... Because if you think he did that by himself, then you don't know anything about how these crimes work." I'm fine with the guy turning on his co-conspirators, I'm just not sure it raises his moral standing.
The better one, though, is the excerpt in which Rothstein says many of his law partners smoked pot in the office, some on a daily basis:
Q: [T]hat wasn’t incorporated in the rock-star lifestyle, using drugs with any of your investors or co-conspirators?
Rothstein: No, actually, never. Actually, I had a lot of opportunities to because there was a lot of marijuana smoking going on in my office, but it wasn’t something — I prefer to drink vodka.
Q: Actually in the office it was going on?
Rothstein: In the office, in the garage, outside the office, I had some partners that couldn’t come to work without smoking pot.
This is a shocking revelation, of course, because most big-firm partners prefer meth. But even worse, Rothstein says that some were actually dealing drugs from the office. This is where Rothstein claims he tried to draw the line:
Rothstein: I actually tried to put a stop to that.
Q: That was one crime you wouldn’t tolerate?
Rothstein: No, no, it’s not that. I didn’t want to draw attention. You don’t want to have marijuana dealing from the middle of your law office because I was running a giant Ponzi scheme out of there.
Q: Did you ever have any of the escorts visit the office?
Rothstein: Yeah. Sure.
Q: You had had prostitutes in the office, but you wouldn’t have pot?
Rothstein: You’re missing the point. The police also were sleeping with my escorts…. Pot, not a great idea in the office, I don’t know why, specifically, it bothered me; ... probably because they were actually dealing the pot out of the office while I was in the middle of running a several-hundred-million-dollar Ponzi scheme.
(Emphasis added.) "Hey, guys, could you do me a favor here and not deal drugs out of the office? Your illegal conduct is gonna ruin my giant Ponzi scheme. I'm working my butt off here - can I get just a little cooperation? ... No, the whores are fine."
There are almost certainly other gems in these lengthy transcripts, if anybody has time to do the mining.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - A Carlisle attorney who has joined Jerry Sandusky's defense team says the former Penn State assistant football coach may have showered with young boys because the children lacked basic hygiene skills.
* * *
"Teaching a person to shower at the age of 12 or 14 sounds strange to some people," [said attorney Karl Rominger,] "but people who work with troubled youth will tell you there are a lot of juvenile delinquents and people who are dependent who have to be taught basic life skills like how to put soap on their body."
On Thursday, Rominger issued a statement clarifying his comments earlier in the week about the reasons why an adult might shower with an adolescent.
"When answering why a person might be in a shower with a youth, I proposed one hypothetical, such as an adult leading by example and encouraging a youth with bad or poor hygiene to shower regularly. Some commentators have argued that I am saying that Mr. Sandusky showered with youths and touched them inappropriately for the purpose of teaching them how to shower. That is not what I said. First, there's no evidence of inappropriate touching in a shower, except for discredited statements from the grand jury presentment. Further, Jerry has maintained his innocen[ce] and denies any sexual touching or inappropriate touching in the shower. Therefore, I would like to clarify that I am not suggesting that this is what happened in this case, but was answering questions about possible motivations an individual might have for an adult to shower with a juvenile."
[Rominger] said [Tuesday] he does not disagree with Sandusky's decision to talk to the media. He does, however, believe he could have come across a little better.
Because, although I'm not a criminal-defense attorney, I'm not sure this guy is doing such a great job. To be fair, I guess at least one of these three decisions is not terrible:
See, the problem isn't really the talking itself, it's the content of what you might say, and the longer you talk, the more likely you are to make a mistake. Joe Amendola reportedly talked to the press for almost an hour, which was at least one minute too long: ridiculing the possibility that witnesses saw what they claimed to have seen and yet did nothing, Amendola said that if you believe that, "I suggest you dial 1-800-REALITY."
According to Deadspin.com, if you do that you will hear a message starting with the words, "Hey guys, welcome to the hottest place for triple-X action." Because 1-800-REALITY is reportedly a phone-sex line.
The line apparently costs 99 cents per minute, and I'm starting to think that's what Amendola should be charging, too.
Not quite, but one parent suggested this may be the next step in a Toronto school's stupid, stupid plan. Phase one was to limit the children to "sponge or other soft balls" because things like baseballs, soccer balls, footballs, and tennis balls are just too dangerous to be entrusted to children.
The ban, which Earl Beatty Public School put into effect last week, was not even prompted by an injury to a child, but rather came after a parent suffered a concussion from being hit in the head with a soccer ball. Perhaps due to the trauma of seeing the hapless parent get whacked, some kids expressed fear, claimed principal Alicia Fernandez, who did the only reasonable thing by ordering a complete ban on the thing that caused some kids to express fear.
Officials higher in the bureaucracy did the expected thing by fully "standing behind" their underling's decision to nerf the playground and yet leaving the door open for a complete reversal of that decision if that appeared to be the prudent political move.
"I get the idea of wanting to ensure that kids are safe," said Ontario's Education Minister, assuring voters she "gets" an idea that must be one of the most basic in all human civilization. But, she continued, "I also know that principals know the lay of the land at their schools." So if, let's say, a particular school has a large concentration of Herculean offspring whose thunderous kicks or mighty throws could decapitate an adult human, well then, that principal should have the necessary discretion to act. "I feel confident that the right balance will be found," she said, "and that we will see a community conversation happen with the principal, with the board and with parents at that school."
She left out the kids, who have already decided.
"We want our balls back! We want our balls back!" they chanted in a demonstration last Wednesday.
Honestly, could they really not foresee that middle-schoolers would seize any opportunity to chant about their balls? Is that not part of "the lay of the land" in middle school?
"You can take our balls," one boy reportedly shouted, "but you cannot take our freedom!" This outstanding quote in particular at least partly restores my faith in humanity, as does the fact that their parents also appear to be part of the human race.
"I wasn't surprised," one said, but "[m]y husband freaked right out. He thought, this is absolutely insane." Another parent said he was "disgusted" by the ban. "A lot of things could happen," said Chris Stateski. "A child could trip on the asphalt, a child could fall off the monkey bars and break their arm. So many things could happen. What are they going to do - cover the schoolyard in pillows and take all the doors off the hinges? It's just too much." Taking the doors off the hinges seems dangerous, though - better to just nail them shut.
In an (unscientific) poll on the CBC's site, opinion was divided on whether the nerfing of Earl Beatty was an appropriate response. Specifically, it was divided into 96 percent no and about 3.5 percent yes, with 0.37 percent stating they were not sure. This is a phenomenon that always fascinates me: somebody took the time to vote in a nonbinding, unscientific Internet poll, and yet could not muster sufficent interest to take a position. Really? You can't decide where you stand on this? You need your balls back.
If you are in the legal profession, may you never be required to utter the following sentence:
"[My client] has excreted 25 times."
Bamidele Aturu had the opportunity to say these words, though I suppose he was not required to, because his client had been falsely accused of ingesting drug packages in order to smuggle them into Europe. Babatunde Omidina, a popular Nigerian actor and comedian who goes by the stage name of "Baba Suwe," was arrested last month at the Lagos airport while waiting for a flight to France, after one of those infallible body scanners indicated that he had drugs in his stomach.
Last Friday, after "25 closely monitored bowel movements produced nothing suspicious," Omidina was freed.
Because of Omidina's popularity in Nigeria, his arrest was big news. The drama only escalated over the next 24 days, "during which his bowel movements were earnestly followed by authorities and the media." The remarkable thing about that -- other than the fact that a celebrity's bowel movements were being "earnestly followed," and Baba Suwe's evident regularity -- was that after 23 days of negative bowel movements they apparently still kept him one more day just to see what might come of it. Did they think he was hiding all the heroin in his appendix until the heat was off?
Personally I'd start agitating for my client's release after the first two or three productions of evidence, but maybe I am unclear on the medical realities here. According to an article in the Nigeria Tribune, the government claimed that some suspects had excreted evidence only after one to two weeks of incarceration, but is that even possible? I'm guessing that in those cases "excreted" meant the cops got tired of waiting and put it in there themselves.
The Tribune's coverage of the story is quite extensive, and it at least appears to be a reputable source despite the headline chosen for that particular article, "Baba Suwe Yet to Pooh Suspected Drug."
And that was back on October 15, just three days after the arrest and so before it would have become entirely farcical. On October 16, the Tribune confirmed ("Baba Suwe Excretes Again Without Any Drug") that Omidina had indeed completed a repeat performance. Evidently, there had been "conflicting reports on the true position of things" at that time, "with a section of the media reporting on Saturday that Baba Suwe made the first excretion on Friday while others said he was yet to." Kudos to the Tribune for setting the record straight.
On the 19th, the Tribune reported ("Baba Suwe Excretes Again, Yet No Drug Found") that Omidina had negatively excreted for the third time in seven days, and quoted a doctor as saying that there was already reason to doubt the smuggling claim. The packages should have appeared after a week, he said, and if they had not appeared because they had ruptured, Omidina would have been in serious medical trouble rather than continuing to deposit proof of his innocence. Instead of releasing him, however, the agency asked for and got permission to hold Omidina for two more weeks.
At some point thereafter, agency spokesmen stopped discussing "how many times Baba Suwe had excreted," saying they could not comment on an ongoing investigation.
On Friday, at long last, the agency finally admitted defeat. The judge apologized to Omidina, wished him well, and said he was free to go. Fans and supporters cheered as he and his vindicated bowels left the building in triumph. Unsurprisingly, he is said to be considering a lawsuit, but one report said he may also make a movie about his experience. I don't know - if I wanted to see a movie with that much crap in it, I'd just watch "Armageddon" again, but at least this one might be a comedy.