Monday, June 28, 2004


The decision came out today and it's a bit of a let down. The general consensus seems to be that the Court punted once again. The Court decided that Padilla's attorney filed the writ of habeas in the wrong district and against the wrong person.
This means that Padilla gets to sit in jail without proper contact with his attorney until a new habeas petition is filed in the right district, which will be the district that the naval brig is in, and against the correct person, which is not Rumsfeld who ordered the detention and took Padilla into custody but the commander of the naval brig.
Prof Leiter posits that the Court may have made this decision in light of Hamdi. I haven't read it yet so I can't tell you. But the idea is that the Court handed the administration two defeats already today, Hamdi and Rasul. Now that the writing is on the wall they'll let the government do the right thing and charge Padilla so they don't have to further sully the President's handling of the war on terror.
I think this is an interesting idea, and after I read Hamdi I'll talk about it some more. What I wonder though is will the administration do this? The evidence that they've been willing to provide so far has been weak at best, the methods they used to get the evidence are the exact reasons the exclusionary rule was established. The administration would almost certainly lose any civilian trial. If they try to proceed in a military court that will create huge new issues and Rasul, which I also will read later, seemed to imply that Congress needed to pass a law to establish proper military tribunals.
The administration's cases rested solely on the President's powers during war and over all that argument seems to be rejected almost completely by the court. This may cause the administration to wake up and work with Congress, to stop being so secretive, but this doesn't seem likely to me.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

State Quarters

I think I mentioned this before, but a couple of years ago my grandmother gave me a quarter map of the U.S. Every State has a little slot to stick that state's quarter in. I unfortunately started sticking quarters in the damn thing and now I have to finish it. That means I have to haul this thing around until at least 2008.
Anyway I finally got Florida. It's an ugly quarter, but what would one really expect. After inserting Florida I checked the legend and found out Texas was next.
This is exciting. My roommate and I thought that instead of designing a quarter for Texas they should just enlarge a regular one. About the size of a can of skoal would be sufficient, then you'd have some place to put your laundry money. I sent emails to the President and to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, but they didn't email me back. Now that it's almost out I'll content my self to it being regular size, but I still might cut the hole in my state quarter map bigger, just on principle.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Punk Rock Show

I went and saw a couple bands last night. The local punk dive isn't charging a cover and they sell Pabst pounders for a buck-'n-a-half. The first band was The Sweethearts from Austin. They were a good little pop-garage outfit, think Bobby Teens but mostly guys and notch up on the bubblegum. The've got a record out on Mortville and they're a lot of fun with plenty of Oo Oo Oos and Na Na Nas. The lead singer is also wicked cute.
The second band was The Straight Jackets. They did a passable Stitches style gig. First, I don't dislike the Stitches, I think they do a decent '77 kind of deal, but I do not understand why there are any, let alone so many, Stitches clones. The Blanks were more interesting, but if you really dig the Stitches why wouldn't you just go back and do more of a Sex Pistols style thing? There really only needs to be one Stitches band, of course people say that about the Ramones and I love Ramones clones.
Second the band tried to be political and it was just funny. The bassist was so worked up about George Bush he threatened to, hold your breath now, Vote. "Man, that George Bush is a real piece of shit. I mean he makes me want to go out and Vote!" Now that's a band with a principled stand, watch out George.
To sum up, my back is strong, go see The Sweethearts, hang out for The Straight Jackets unless you have somewhere to be or there's a cooler bar somewhere else.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Legislative History

We're trying to show that the legislature intended a certain statute to apply extraterritorially. To do this we had to research the legislative history. Seeing as I am the lowest paid employee on the premises (But paid nonetheless) it was assigned to me.
I've read all the case law and there is no case on point, or even around the area of the point. That means I had to go and read amendments, do a legislative tracing, look up committee meetings, etc. None of this stuff is what would generally be classified as fun.
I did it, I found all the forms of the bill. None of the amendments speak to the point. I also read a bunch of CLE material hoping it would provide a short cut. I must stress reading the CLE materials, it can instantly make the research assignment from hell a snap. Anyway I looked up the House and Senate journals that were relevant, one was no help and the other was missing.
I called the research librarian today and asked her what I should do. She was really helpful and retraced my path to make sure I didn't screw up and then agreed that there was jack shit in the way of useful material. She recommended I call the state archivist.
I called the state archivist and was informed that the material I need is probably nonexistent due to a fire in the state archives in the forties.
This is an interesting development, it means there is no legislative intent now, but there used to be and no one knows what it is in regards to the issue I'm interested in. So we can't really just make legislative intent however we want it.
Anyway, as an aside, when I was at school researching the bejesus out of the statute I found some intercampus mail in my mail box. I missed a blank on some paperwork. I might not get my pay check after all. It looks like a day labor weekend, woohoo.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


To quote the Motards "I need a paycheck." Not too deep, but neither were the Motards. I got an email saying I'd get my first paycheck on Wednesday. I got excited and ran to the kitchen. I counted out the packets of Ramen and Totinos pizzas (Totinos. Toxic but Tasty!) I've got enough to make it.
I'm excited because this is the first paycheck I'll have earned in about a year. I get to reenter the world of grownups. The most stressful and distressing aspect of law school was the lack of a job. You're a total leech for a year, you don't contribute to anything and live off the state/parents/loans.
Everyone kept telling me, "Don't get a job, it'll take up too much of your time." I don't think it would have mattered as far as time for studying. It might have been a little stressful when a memo was due, but it would have made me feel better about myself. I would have been happier knowing I could pay my own rent and feed myself.
I've got to say the most important thing I'm taking away from my first year of law school is that I don't like not working. I don't count school as real work and I'll never not have a job again if I can help it.

PS Can anyone think of any other rap songs from the early 90s that talked about body odor? I can remember Biz Markie's Dragon and De La Soul's Little Bit of Soap.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Rumsfeld of Scotland Yard, special flying division

Here is a great summation of the "Torture Memo" that I came across on The Leiter Reports.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Memo Assignments

I get a couple memo assignments a week. They're usually not a big deal. Almost all the work I do involves a couple of acts and I think I'm getting to know them pretty well. I can navigate through the code, the administrative rules, and the cases pretty quickly now.
However, a few memo's have been outside of this small range of statutes and are significantly harder. One of the most disconcerting things I've found when working on these memo's is that the faster I find an answer, and the more definite the answer is, the more likely it is that I don't understand the question.
This is another one of the small aspects of your day to day work that gnaws on your self confidence. The more you feel you understand what's going on the more cautious and self critical you need to be.
I was given a memo and found a piece of statute that seemed dead on point and in our favor within 30 minutes of logging on to Lexis. Instead of thinking "Yeah, I'm an awesome researcher, fear my shepardizing prowess!" I thought, "I fucked up, I must not have understood the question."
At this point you have two options. First you can believe that you found the right answer, write up the memo, and hand the finished product to the attorney while beaming proudly at your work. This is a bad idea. Most likely he'll read it and say "This isn't what I was looking for at all, this is going to kill our case. Did you understand what I was asking? How long did you spend on this?"
The second option is to email, or take the statute, you found to the attorney and say "I must have misunderstood the question because I found this right away and it seems on point." The reaction is most likely to be, "Yes, this statute doesn't help because of X,Y, and Z. You could reshape your search to incorporate N, or look at the administrative rules under state statute O." There is even the slim possibility, and this happened to me once, that the attorney says "This is perfect, where did you find it? Alright, the defendant's day just got a lot worse."
The second option seems easy enough, but I have a really hard time doing it. I respect the attorney's I work with. Usually the cases I use as authority in my memos are cases that they worked on. These guys have been practicing for a long time and they're experts in the field. Their work has defined most of this area of the law. They recognize I've got one whoppin' year of law school under my belt and that's all my experience. They know I'm going to screw up. But it is still embarrassing to walk up and say, "I just wasted the last hour you paid me for because I don't understand your question. Thank you for hiring me even though I'm a waste of scarce resources."

Friday, June 18, 2004

ID Card

My job issues ID Cards. Part of my job is outreach to farm worker housing to make sure they get information about their rights and community resources. Generally we help them with wage claims and try and get small stuff fixed in their cabins/trailers or bathrooms.
A lot of the farmers don't like us, especially when we're on their property. They'll scream and curse us and threaten to call the cops. By law,ORS 659.253(1) specifically, we have a right to go on the property and talk to the workers. This is exactly the kind of stuff we learned in Property. (Remember State v Shack, man I'm living the bundle of sticks theory of property. Just try to enforce your right to exclude. Hah! You can't because that stick is short and limited.) So we always invite them to calm down and call the police if that's what they would like to do. If we have to we can go get a warrant to enter the premises and come back later.
The ID Card informs the farmer of who I am, who I work for, my legal right to enter the premises and the statutory authority for that right. So when a farmer comes up to me screaming "Get the fuck off my property mutherfucker, I'll call the cops!" I say please do, whip out my ID, and explain my right. That doesn't really calm them down, but usually they storm off and leave me alone.
I'm pretty thrilled, I'm an "authorized person", so don't even try to restrict my access. It's empowering and the ID looks official. I can also see how you could get a big head as an attorney.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Random Updates

Yesterday's post sounds kind of bitter, I didn't mean it to sound that way. I guess what I was trying to focus on is that the big firms have a lot of perks, but the image they project is that it is not much fun to work there. Most of the attorneys I meet reinforce that. Then clients get charged for these perks, to make the work bearable, instead of letting everyone have a few more hours off a week and lowering the hourly. Nothing is that simple in the real world, if it was firms would already be doing it. And some people are only motivated to wake up and go to work every morning by a paycheck.
Anyway, in other news, grades finally came out. I might go out and have a beer. I didn't do good enough to merit celebrating but I didn't do bad enough to deserve to go out and blow off some steam. I didn't flunk my Civ Pro exam, which really surprised me and doesn't speak well on how bad the rest of the class did on that exam.
If you get a chance point your browser over to Elena Mary's blog. She calls herself Mirish. Coincidentally I may also have a large amount of Irish on my mom's side of the family. Half the family happily admits it, the other half deny it up and down but then slug away the Jameson's like it was Kool Aid. The only substantial evidence I have are two spots of bright red hair in my otherwise jet black beard.
She asked me to expound more on what I learned about bathrooms. Basically it depends on what state you live in and how much OSHA that state has adopted. Generally there will be requirements of X number of toilets to Y people. Oregon has a little chart, it's roughly 1 to 20, but gets more complicated if there's a significant number of women. There needs to be toilet paper and water and soap to wash your hands. That alcohol gel stuff is not an acceptable substitute for soap and water. Soap and water are necessary to wash off pesticide residue. There also has to be potable water and individual drinking cups, those little paper cones will work. The bathrooms have to be reasonably accessible, within a 15 minute walk, and you have the right to use the restrooms frequently to urinate. They can't make you wait until your ten minute break every four hours. Fascinating, I know, there's more on how often they have to be emptied and so on, but I'm done regaling you with tales of OR-OSHA toilet statutes for tonight.
Finally, I heard from my friend P who moved to Boston recently. She hasn't seen a New Kid on the Block, nor shared a bucket of Chivas with a Kennedy, but she has seen two drunken Irish men get in a fight in Dorchester Heights. Keep livin' the dream P.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Firm Job v Non Profit

One thing I realized recently, and this is really stupid, is that I'm not a "big firm" person. I started law school and it was kind of a joke that I was there to sell out and be "The Man". My goal was to move up to the middle class. I shouldn't have had to "realize" that I'm not a big firm person. I have a very classist world view, I do not like the wealthy, I don't like privilege and I don't like people who treat the working class like crap.
Law school isn't exactly the place for people like me. Most of the goals of the career center and the other law students are in direct opposition to mine. However there are quite a lot of people, at least at this stage, who want to help the disenfranchised, further women's rights, protect the environment, or hang up their own shingle and never have a boss again. These are the kids I respect the most and I hope that they, and myself, will be able to ignore the pressure of gigantic student loans and pursue their real goals.
Anyway, in keeping with my views and the realistic opportunities I was presented with, I got a job working at a non profit. I make a good wage by my standards, not by firm standards, and I help people that work hard and need the help. Walmart doesn't need another fucking lawyer, my paisano in the field needs one and his wife back at the maquiladora needs one and their kids in the campo need one. I'm doing something that is useful to real people.
This summer I've been reading the other blawgs and it is weird to me how different things are at the big firms than at my place. They have offices, fancy computers, secretaries, paid lunches, and this and the other thing. We have almost none of this. I actually use my own laptop at work because we don't have any extra computers. I share an office, which is actually much cooler because I've always got someone there to help me out. They bought me lunch twice last week and that was great, but normally I brown bag it. I don't have a secretary, which is cool because I would be embarrassed to ask someone else to type something or fax something for me. I'm not ten years old, I can type and work the fax machine.
The thing I'm most interested in is the free lunch at the big firms. All that money comes from their clients. Our clients don't have any money so it's not a temptation to charge things to anyone's account. But big firms offer opulent lunches, secretaries for their clerks, outings to baseball games and everything else because they charge their clients so much. The clients take the big billing fees as a sign that the firm is "The Best".
It kind of stuns me, but it also makes sense. The client knows he's getting bilked to pay for a bunch of kids in their first year to go eat $150 lunches in Manhattan, and that proves that their firm is the best. It's kind of like the thing. If your company can waste the most money, you obviously have the most talented workers. Therefore if your employees spend all day playing with nerf toys and your website has yet to generate any income everyone should invest a lot of money in it. If it costs more it must be better.
What a jury is going to look at is whether or not the plaintiff got the short end of the stick and if the defendant should pay for it. Maybe a guy billing $300 an hour can prove that Farm Owner Smith purposely screwed Field Worker Rudolfo out of minimum wage better than the lawyers at our place, but I have a hard time believing he can do it so well that it justifies that billing. These lawyers go up against government attorneys all the time, they don't win enough to justify their billing. That's a natural fact.
The up side of this for me is that even if I feel like I did something that was kind of dull, the toilet memo for example, I know that it helped someone who works hard and it's not being used only to generate billing and pay for televisions in the elevators. I can be proud of that. I don't think I could be proud of myself at if I write a memo on how Walmart hasn't violated employer law because it contracted with someone else who worked the janitorial staff 50 hours a week but only paid them $250 a week, even if I got to go eat lunch at Chez whatever.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Job stuff

So far this week I've been at a training session for my new job. Between what I learned there and research I've done on my own, I can proudly say that I am the foremost expert on toilets at farm worker work sites in this county.
Man, can it get more glamorous?

Friday, June 04, 2004

More Smoothness

I've been at work for two hours and I just noticed my fly is down. Oh Yeah!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Can of Pozole

My roommate bought a can of pozole. Pozole is a soup made with pork, preferably the pig's head, and hominy. It takes a long time to cook properly and it is the kind of food you shouldn't buy canned, but my roommate thought he would give it a try. When he got home from the grocery store his courage failed. He read the nutritional information and apparently the stuff has 50 grams of saturated fat per can. This was more than any other food item we could find in the house. Look around your pantry, or even at a frozen fried chicken dinner the next time your at the grocery store. 50 grams is a brickload.
The can sat in the pantry for a couple of months and then last Sunday I got hungry. I thought, it can't be that bad. So I opened it and ate it. It was that bad, it smelled like alpo. Anyway, while trying to open it I cut my hand, pretty deep too, on the edge of the lid. I actually cut my hand a few times. I've got these new cuts on my hand and they open whenever I move my knuckles too much or bump my hand on something.
At my new job I spend a lot of time moving my knuckles and bumping my hands into stuff. I left blood smears all over the place. I had to print a document like three times before I got one without smears. It was nasty but I think it will help me to build a good professional image. I'll be the big tough lawyer who bleeds when he has to handle paper because he couldn't open a stupid freakin' can of pozole. Maybe they can call me "La Lata" or "La Lata Peligrosa".

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Padilla News

On this day in 1998 Ginger Spice announced she was leaving the Spice Girls, surely a momentous occasion. I just got a new Holly Golightly CD. I'll review it later. It's a live recording of a show at Gina's At 3 from her tour last fall.
Anyway, on to important stuff. The Justice Department released a document of an apparent confession by Padilla about some apartment bombings. Although I think he is probably guilty of something I do not think the administration has raised any issue that would merit such a gross violation of his due process rights. This new document does little to change my opinion. I have two problems with this document. The first problem deal's with the confessions credibility. The second is whether the confession justifies the violation of Padilla's rights.
First what evidence do we have that Padilla said this besides the Justice Department's word? By releasing a document instead of an audio or video tape we have to take them at their word. There is no independent attorney there to verify these confessions. Padilla's own attorney cannot even see her client, so she cannot verify the confessions. This may be fine for a lot of people, but a significant number of people stopped trusting the administration a long time ago. This case has become a high profile example of the administrations violation of the basic due process rights of U.S. citizens. If the Mobb's Declaration(If this is your first time reading it pay special attention to footnote 1) was all the evidence they could produce it would be a big embarrassment for Ashcroft and the Administration. The lack of any independent verification of the confession damages the credibility of the report.
The next reason the report lacks credibility is because it only identifies Al Queda sources by numbers. How are we supposed to know that these are not the same sources from the Mobb's Declaration that were listed as unreliable and under the influence of drugs?
The most serious reason to question the confession's credibility is because it was obviously coerced. It was coerced because Padilla's due process rights have been completely ignored and after two years in jail he has little reason to believe he will ever be charged or allowed to see his attorney. He may believe that confessing to some conspiracy the administration feeds him is his only possible hope of someday ending his incarceration.
There is also the question of what happened to him while he was in custody. With continuing reports that prisoner abuse was more wide spread than just Abu Ghraib we must ask if it occurred in Padilla's case. Revelations that the administration approved methods such as water boarding indicate that there is a good chance that these techniques were used on Padilla. This raises a legitimate question as to whether Padilla was physically coerced into confessing.
The second issue I have is whether or not this merits violating his due process rights. Padilla could have been held in Chicago because of the $10,000 he did not declare when entering the country. At that point the FBI could probably have got a National Security Letter and tapped his phone, monitored his email account and tailed him. Cell Phones are great tracking devices. It does not appear that he could have rented several apartments and started to rig them to blow up without being caught. He could then have been tried and convicted without any bomb ever going off. He could have been held as a material witness if the list of contacts he was carrying did include the Al Queda operatives listed in the article. There were plenty of ways that the administration could have prevented the attacks that they allege he was going to commit without breaking the law.