Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Two interesting questions: how should jurors be charged with respect to social media and wireless device usage; and should jurors be advised during voir dire that their social media presence may be viewed by the attorneys?

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Five Thirty Eight reports that "Trump won 39 percent of the vote among Iowans who decided on their candidate more than a month ago. But he took just 13 percent of voters who had decided in the last few days, with Rubio instead winning the plurality of those voters."

One could read that as meaning that Trump peaked too early. I think it means that the narrative shifted on him, and that Iowa caucus-goers were hedging. I did not know that there is a difference in procedure between the Republican Party and the Democrats: it turns out that the Republicans vote in secret, while the Democrats huddle and are counted in groups. I suspect that this has an impact on outcomes.

Monday, February 01, 2016

You don't hear enough about Jessie Jackson these days, but as Pierce points out Jessie was as close as it gets to winning twice.

The Glory That Was Grease. Oddly enough, I was thinking about the invention of the Fifties the other day, specifically in the context of how the term "Punk Rock" came into being. Before the Ramones, before the Stooges, before the New York Dolls or the Velvet Underground a punk was a young sexual subordinate in a homosexual relationship. (Wilmer, in The Maltese Falcon is referred to as a punk, and takes considerable umbrage at the designation.) A punk has the veneer of toughness, but is only really tough because he enjoys the protection of his patron. An actual tough guy would have been called a "hood". And where did the idea that rock musicians were tough guys come from? Musicians aren't hanging out on street corners looking for trouble: they have piano lessons to get to. Blues musicians are a different story: a blues man will mess you up....

Thursday, January 28, 2016

This teaching Constitutional Law thing is proving to be an interesting challenge, because I am making a conscientious effort to teach it as a class about how the US government functions rather than a course about law per se. I suppose it's a fine distinction, and one that may only matter to me, but as I have geared up for this course one of the things that I think I have come to realize is that there is a distinct lawyerly bias to the way that we approach the subject. The American jurisprudential tradition is common law, and common law is at its root based in storytelling, anecdotage, parables about disputes and how they were resolved. "The life of the law has not been logic, but experience."

That's fine, and certainly it is an important and useful way for lawyers to understand the Constitution, but since I am not-- in this class-- training lawyers, I want to do it differently. The textbooks and hornbooks and commentaries all start with Marbury v. Madison, because, I think, Marbury established the concept of judicial review of constitutionality, and thus establishes that the proper methodology for the study of constitutionality is through the filter of the judicial decision making process. I see several problems with this. First, it seems to elevate the courts, and particularly the Supreme Court, to a level of superiority over the other two branches that the text of the Constitution certainly does not support. More notably, because the federal courts in our system can only resolve cases and controversies they are necessarily involved exclusively in examining and deciding situations that are, virtually by definition, outliers. Life on the edges may be more interesting-- I'd be a fool to dispute that-- but the frontier is not where most of us live or work or interact with our government. I think that if my goal is to teach how government operates I need to be starting in a place that is different from the way I was taught Constitutional Law.

Monday, January 25, 2016

I don't like the Designated Hitter, and I don't want the National League to adopt it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Thinking about the NFL, the Rams and Los Angeles I have to wonder if perhaps the league hasn't over-played its hand. We are told that the NFL has wanted a team in "the second largest media market in the country", but does it really? Obviously TV revenue is what makes the NFL so profitable, but the teams share that money equally, so why do they care if there is a team in that television market? Anybody in LA who wants to watch an NFL game can turn on their TV-- I've done it myself. And hasn't the history of pro football in the City of Angels shown us that it is not a great market for teams? San Diego struggles with attendance (and may move to LA) because the climate is so great that there are loads and loads of other things to do there. Seems to me that LA is the same deal. Los Angeles worked well as a feint-- something to threaten the rubes with. Rubes is the right word-- one of the things that is the most appalling about the deal St Louis had with the Rams is that the city promised that its stadium would be "top tier". Isn't that just lovely? A few years back Tank McNamara ran a strip about two baseball players whose contracts each provided that they would be the highest paid player in the sport, resulting in a serious of escalating contracts. (As I recall at some point the contract amounts started increasing a dollar at a time. Seems to me something like that would make a baseball fan out of Zeno.)

Aren't the owners sacrificing a useful negotiating tool here? There don't seem to me to be too many places in the US that are going to be thought of as good markets left. We have established, I think, that Toronto isn't going to be an NFL team any time soon-- maybe they just hated watching the Bills, but any team that moves to Toronto is either going to be an expansion team or a team that just sucks, so that doesn't seem like a good play. You know what the largest US city is without any major league team? You can win bar bets with this one: San Juan. You think San Juan is aching for NFL? One hears about placing a franchise in Mexico City. You know what kind of football they like in Mexico City? The kind that Carlos Vela plays. London? You know what kind of football they like in London? Does the name Wayne Rooney mean anything to you?

It may be that the move to LA by the Rams represents Peak NFL, and if that's the case it makes a sort of sense. The sport is in danger of seeing its popularity wane-- it may not be possible to make it safe to play much longer. Maybe this is the moment-- push all the chips into the middle and then walk away with the whole pot.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Watched the Democrats debate for a while on Sunday, and at this point I'd have to say that HRC isn't even my second choice. Bernie Sanders is pretty much right about everything-- the United States lags behind the industrialized world because the system is set up to preserve the status quo, through the manipulation of the gullible financed by the 1%-- and it doesn't have to be that way. Secretary Clinton is arguing that she represents the best chance for holding our ground; Senator Sanders says we can have universal health care and an educational system that makes opportunity available to all-- just as they do in Western Europe, and Japan, and everywhere else where they value those things. Robert Reich explains how.

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