Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Friday, May 30, 2008

Women's Lib Arrived on Bicycles.

I'm sure he was more surprised than anyone, but once he became governor David Paterson seems to have had a pretty clear notion of how he wanted to run things. Here is an interesting piece on his judicial appointments to date.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

How much discomfort would you go through rather than see Sex and the City?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

At Lawyers, Guns & Money, a discussion on the perils of an elected judiciary.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

We had a party for the board and staff of SqueakyWheel at Big Pink last week, which turned out rather well, I think. I didn't really have a clear vision of the menu until a couple of days before-- all I knew I was that I wanted to smoke a bunch of salmon, because that could tend to itself pretty much, while I did other stuff. A. was pretty much out of the picture-- she'd been on the left coast, and got in Saturday morning, jet lagged and turned around. I ended up doing the salmon, a pasta salad with hazelnut and green olive pesto, and a spinach salad with strawberries, pecans and a sherry vinegar vinaigrette. LCA made a orange chocolate tarte, and CLA made a walnut tart, and I made a tarte tatin, and it all came together rather well, I think. Come to find out that we were right at the outside edge of what Kevin Weeks reckons is workable, so I feel pretty good about that. Weeks' plan for a party looks pretty good-- I may try that next.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I despise Surrogate's Court, and never go there. I have said for years that it exists to concentrate graft and to steal the pennies from dead men's eyes, but my witticism pales compared with Robert F. Kennedy's remark. He called Surrogates "a political toll booth exacting tribute from widows and orphans."

I cannot think of a single reason to retain the office-- the function could easily be taken over by state Supreme Court Justices. The sole benefit to retaining the "widows and orphan's court" is that in some places (Erie County is one) the staff is helpful to people with relatives who died intestate or left small estates that lawyers won't take on. Of course, in other places (list on request) the court staff constantly has their hands out, looking for a little graft. And in other places everybody wants in on the action.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

When I worked for Elinore Klein she would sometimes teasingly mock my efforts at legal research on those occasions when I cited a case that was ten or twenty years old. "Where'd you find this?" she'd scoff, "One Hun?". New York's legal reporters-- the books that decisions were published in-- used to be named for the editor that compiled them. Nowadays the "official" volumes have a volume number, a name which reflects the court the decisions it contains came from, and a page number, but in the 18th and 19th centuries they did it different. The volumes that predate the numbered sets are called "the nominals", which is kinda nice. Mr. Hun was the reporter, and this case, from 1888, was in volume XLVII (although it is cited as "47 Hun 429"). It wasn't available online, so I had to go to the Bar Association library, which had it on microfiche. Too bad they didn't keep the actual paper books, which are a superior information technology.

I owe a lot to Ms. Klein, including the geeky ability to laugh at outdated legal authority. How can you not love a career that expands the number of things you can joke about in such a fine, obscure way?

Although I have one ("26.2") I have come to think in recent days that the white oval country tag that has become ubiquitous has past its sell-by date. Nine times out of ten I can't figure out where they are supposed to be from, or what they are supposed to mean and while I suppose that's part of the game when I see one it is a little like being confronted by a rebus. It's distracting, and I can't say I like being confronted with a rebus-- it is too much like drinking Rolling Rock.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

EGA has observed that when you ask someone about their tattoo they can tell you a long story about the significance of whatever it is, but they can't tell you why they went and got inked in the first place. "Because it's awesome" doesn't count, and "Because I think it's pretty" is ridiculous. Nobody believes that, so who are you kidding? These are from a gallery for a book called "No Regrets: The Best, Worst, & Most #$%*ing Ridiculous Tattoos Ever", and you should totally check out the rest. (Via BoingBoing.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Congratulations to CLA, who learned this morning that she has been accepted into the Edgar Fellows Honors Program at Geneseo. It's pretty impressive to pull that off on top of a challenging first year-- the program admits twenty students a year, ten as incoming freshman and ten as rising sophomores. I also think it's cool that the program was created by, and is named after, Professor William Edgar, because I'm a big Bill Edgar fan.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Interesting article on what went wrong with the Clinton campaign. "Running as the incumbent" and not having a start to finish plan in place are probably two different ways of saying the same thing, but it is still surprising that someone with her experience-- and detail oriented background-- would approach the project in that way. They had the money, they had the experience. How odd that they would get it wrong in that way.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I'm not a huge fan of Steve Banko, who is one of those guys that reckons that because he was in the military his opinion has greater value than it would otherwise, but from time to time he makes a valid point. His "My View" column in yesterday's Buffalo News is one of those times.

We are getting a nice new federal courthouse in Buffalo, and there is some discussion about who should be honored when it is dedicated. There is considerable sentiment in favor of naming it for either Matt Urban or Wild Bill Donovan, but Banko thinks, and I agree, that a courthouse should be named for someone whose life was dedicated to the cause of justice. He proposes John Granville, who worked for the United States Agency for International Development in Kenya and Sudan; and Father Joe Bissonette, a local priest, and Sister Karen Klimczak, his successor-- a priest and a nun who worked with the poor and the dispossessed and were murdered in the course of their ministry.

We could all benefit by thinking about the lives of these people, I reckon, but it seems to me that Banko passes over the name of an individual whose life and work has centered on justice in our community, and who worked to bring about justice from the building that the new courthouse is replacing for over 40 years. The Hon. John T. Curtin is probably the greatest contributor to racial equality in Buffalo's history-- the guy who brought about the desegregation of the schools, and presided over and ruled on landmark cases over his entire time on the bench. Beyond that, he has been a hallmark of civility, and a lawyer's judge. Naming a courthouse for after Judge Curtin might encourage those of us who go to work in the building to think about the notion of seeking justice when we walk through the doors, empty our pockets, show our ID, pass through the magnetometer, pat our pockets, empty them again, go through the magnetometer again, and then proceed into the courtroom.

He deserves the honor.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bob Dylan's "Theme Time Radio Hour" has an old-timey sound- hardly surprising when you consider that 50% of the material was recorded before 1960. Makes sense in the context of his life and work, too. What did Bob listen to when he was growing up, after all? Buddy Holly was the fresh new sound on the radio, and the airwaves would have been filled with a lot of the country sounds he still favors. Tom Petty, nine years Dylan's junior, features material that is more late 50s to mid 60s-- again, not surprising when you think about what he was listening to as a kid, or what his music sounds like today. Now comes word that Lou Reed is joining the ranks of the satellite DJs. He'll be on the satellite I don't get, which is too bad, because I'd like to hear what he and producer Hal Wilner (whose work I've admired for years) come up with. Reed is a year younger than Dylan, but I think that geography will be the more significant defining quality to the sorts of things that formed Reed's taste. He was a child of the post-WWII New York suburbs, and, according to Wikipedia, the last time he had a radio show, when he was a student at Syracuse, he played doo wop, rhythm and blues and jazz, particularly free jazz, including Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor. That would be some interesting radio.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The bench and bar in Britain want to update their look. This is a very bad plan, as the illustration accompanying this post demonstrates. It is true that the horsehair wig Brit barristers wear resembles a dead cat. It is also true that the English legal tradition, and the quality of English lawyering in general have a legendary status that gives them the sort of brand name recognition that is unique in the world. Only American lawyers enjoy anything approaching the same sort of prestige in the world, and since we are unique in that we perform our legerdemain before juries our prowess is seen as somewhat suspect elsewhere. English lawyers and English judges have a look that works-- they should stick with it.

"If humanizing the judicial profession was the aim of this makeover, it is interesting that Betty Jackson decided that the outfit best suited for this would be one that looks like something an alien android with menacing religious undertones would wear when waging war with Doctor Who," sniffed the Guardian’s deputy fashion editor, Hadley Freeman." Exactly. The robes and the other acquirements, like the purse that is worn in the back, so that the advocate is not influenced by the size of his fee-- this stuff has the weight of tradition that should not be lightly disposed of.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

David Remnick's list of the top 100 jazz sides. 28 are on my shelves, in part because Remnick over-relies on box sets; more notably, there are 20 artists that aren't represented as leaders on the list but not in my collection. The nice thing about music is that there are always subjects for further research.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Champions League final is May 21, Chelsea v. Man U, the first time the match will feature two English teams. Because I am a proud American, any reference to Manchester United must include a comparison to the New York Yankees, and this article presents Chelsea as scrappy underdogs in the tradition of the Mets. I'm conflicted. On the one hand, supporting Man U seems like a bandwagon reaction. I don't want to be like those people who suddenly decided they are Red Sox fans, but on the other hand, Manchester is a gritty post-industrial town, and I could rationalize pulling for them on the basis that their city is more like my city than snooty Chelsea is-- Chelsea is like if the Yankees played in Yorkville. And Manchester really is storied-- how can you hate a team with a history like theirs?

Friday, May 09, 2008

I like cartoons, but what I really like is the over-analyzation of cartoons. I also like comics that are waaaay too over-analyzing, like this fine example, from Living Between Wednesdays.. Of course, what makes this panel so terrifically great is that it shows Cyclops doing what Cyclops does better than almost anything: being consumed with self-pity. "Boo-hoo-hoo, I have to wear glasses. I wish I had wings. Stupid rays that shoot from my eyes and almost killed Warren. He sure is lucky he doesn't have rays that shoot out of his eyes."

And with that, I think I have officially announced that I am pretty much useless for the rest of the day.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

From Esquire, The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master. 75 is a lot, but I think I'm okay. (Via Flutterby.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I'm not seeing the breakdown by district, but if Lake County isn't in, I don't think HRC can claim to have won Indiana. As I write this I am listening to her speech, and I think she knows she has lost. She's running for VP right now.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I'm not sure how to categorize this. Don't read it if your laughing will disturb anyone.

Friday, May 02, 2008

When I saw this picture on the front page of the NYTimes Arts section today I knew I was lost. The trailer was great, but great trailers for comic book movies don't always mean that I'm there for the opening night-- sometimes I want to share the experience with my daughters, sometimes I'm traveling and my faithless family sees the movie without me-- what I'm saying is, circumstances can intervene, but for "Iron Man" I was going to be there.

"Well, it was funny, and explode-y," said A. when we walked out tonight. I'm not sure how she ranks comic book movies, because she never really read the source texts. "Iron Man" is certainly funny, and explode-y. It is a terrific piece of acting by Robert Downey, Jr., and it has some mighty nice work by Gwyneth Paltrow as well. It's funny to think that a character like Iron Man might be make coolest Marvel movie-- Shellhead is not really as iconic as Spiderman, or the Fantastic Four, but that is part of what makes the movie work. The mistakes most superhero movies make are things that "Iron Man" skates by. Is it true to the canonical text? No, it is not, but who cares? You really have to be way more into comics than anyone should be to think that the best way to make a movie about Iron Man would be to have Tony Stark captured by the Red Chinese-- having him held prisoner in a cave in Afghanistan works fine. The shrapnel near the heart thing-- about as subtle as Stan Lee or Jack Kirby ever got-- is beautifully done here, and if the advanced armor Stark invents once he is home doesn't fit into a briefcase, well, who ever thought that was "realistic"? There are loads of other details that don't really fir into what the strict frame of the comic books, but they get the main stuff right-- Stark is kind of an asshole, but he's trying to do do the right thing, too. Also, the tin suit is cool, and there are many explosions. There are also a lot of good jokes-- A. didn't catch it, but I laughed aloud when I heard Stark's ringtone. And even though he was a big idea stealer, at this point watching for Stan Lee has become like watching for Alfred Hitchcock, and Stan's cameo is a good joke in this one.

It's funny-- in order to make Iron Make work as a movie I think you really do need to have an actor with the ability of Robert Downey, Jr.-- you just wouldn't care otherwise. Iron Man is an impassive appearing suit of armor without that-- it would be a movie about a robot. The other thing that is interesting to think about is that in a lot of ways a charater that looks like a robot is more interesting to us than a lot of other superhero characters because the armor is, in a funny way, more realistic than what most superheros wear. As a fantasy the idea of climbing into a kind of space suit is a lot more appealing than getting a special ring and wearing a spandex unitard, even if the unitard is mostly slimming black. We may never see a good movie about the Hulk-- there is a new one coming this summer, and it looks like it is probably going to make the same mistakes as the last one-- but Iron Man, for all that he's probably not anyone's real favorite, works well in the movies. In a way he is sort of the ultimate James Bond.

"Iron Man" is explode-y and good. Go see it.

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