Monday, July 30, 2007


Hiatus now on Razor Osler!

Allo! It is me, Marc Osler, runner of Razor this. I am busy with many thing, and now will take break on razor until August 20. Hello to many friends and people! Now Razor will have new flavors and coloring for people who enjoy Razor, when after hiatus August 20. Please to come back then for such thing as recommendation on the food and the wine and poem of the Jesus.

Please to understand that need to have time to make better all of the Razors for more content better scent and color.

Au Revoir!


Sunday, July 29, 2007


Help me, Tyd!

Tyd, quick, pick a winner of the haiku contest! I'm not sure how much longer I can hold off the French... here is a picture of the group that has been threatening me. They are pretty determined and vicious.

Mmmm, pastry. Is that apricot in there? Yum.


Maintenant que nous avons conquis Bob L'eponge, Poseur est prochain !

Il y a beaucoup de choses belles et bon dans la nation de la France, et que beaucoup d'occasions pour toi reçoit un diplôme d'une école de droit fine comme Baylor! Par exemple, vous pourriez vendre le chocolat, ou soyez une épée-swallower.
Quant à notre conflit avec Osler, nous avons maintenu IPLawGuy pour manipuler nos questions de propriété intellectuelle. La victoire sera bientôt à nous!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Legal entanglements

People, I'm having some real issues here at the Razor; at first I made a deal with the French to use some of their photos here, but now they are threatening to take over the entire blog. It's my belief this would be a disaster, given what a "great" job they have done running the Tour de France. Anyways, please have some patience as I try to work this all out, or you all might be driving tiny little cars and walking on cobblestones before you know it.


Quel est le lien entre Bob L'eponge et Pantera?

Ceux de toi ce qui sont des ventilateurs de Bob L'eponge savent qu'un de ses amis, Sandy l'écureuil, est un indigène de Waco, et retournent à la maison périodiquement dans une fusée écureuil-actionnée spéciale. Récemment, Sandy a apporté certains de ses amis du Texas au monde sous-marin Pantera! Comment l'exciter doit avoir été d'avoir ses amis de tels différents secteurs se réunissent et deviennent des amis.


A successful, terrible teacher

Meanwhile, back in my hometown, the local choir teacher is in big trouble. She is remarkably successful in some respects; her choirs win championships, and many of her students pursue singing careers. Many of her former students really adore her. There is a dark side, though-- she has had a serious history of stepping over the line when she gets angry with them. Over the years, she has sworn at them repeatedly, and thrown things at them at times, according to the newspapers. Most recently, she was convicted of assault after hitting a former student with her car.

I'm still a new teacher, really, and I still have a lot to learn. I am careful who I learn from, though. I really don't want to learn how to teach from that choir teacher. Maybe it is possible to untie the teaching intensity from the destruction, maybe not. But what I don't want any part of is the element of disrespect that seems a part of her actions. It is a tough thing to be demanding and not disrespectful at times, and that balance is one that everyone (including me) struggle with. Nonetheless, I will not choose a role model who does what she did. There are, after all, plenty of others I can look to as an example, many of them even at a demanding place like Baylor Law School where someone like Jim Wren seems to have a wonderful ability to both demand a lot and respect his students.

To learn to teach, you have to choose your heroes wisely.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Haiku Day-- Friday! Friday! Ooooohhhh... Friday!

Canby Telecom.
We'll clean your kitchen Faster.
Higher. Farther. BOOOOM!!!!!

That was last week's winner, from Tydwbleach. It's hard to wrap up all the complexities of a house explosion in three lines, but there you go... excellent job. Now you get to pick this week's winner.

And now, the topics for the contest:

1) Spider-pig!
2) The bar exam
3) Summer
4) Harry Potter
5) What I plan to do this weekend
6) Food
7) Socks
8) Electricity

Or, just pick your own. Here's my haiku:

Spider-pig! Splendid!
See him walk on the ceiling!
I love you, Homer.

Now, you go-- (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables)

Thursday, July 26, 2007



Check out the comment thread on the last post for two job opportunities. Though, to be honest, one of them sounds like a living hell, since it involves trying to keep Donut in line.


Bar Exam, Day Two

The reports from the bar takers on day two were very upbeat; people said it was "fun," "well-paced," and "the perfect summer diversion!" The following topics were covered:

Torts (part 2)
Civil Procedure
Celebrity Justice
Oil & Gas
Manga drawing
Poise & posture (bathing suit)
Line dancing
Secured transactions

Some of these topics, I'm pretty sure, are only on the Texas exam, and go uncovered in other states. Good luck on day three, bar takers!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Um, why is she famous again?

I didn't know that Lindsey Lohan was arrested again until I watched Leno last night. In fact, I wasn't even that sure who she was at all. Celebrity Luvr covers that stuff for me, after all. It seems that she is a film star (ironically enough, she recently made a movie called "Fully Loaded") who drinks and drives and does a lot of drugs. Huh.

Like a lot of other people, my reaction is mostly "so what?" By that, I mean that she should be treated like other drunk drivers, and I think drunk driving is pretty serious and deserves jail time in many cases. At the same time, I wonder why we care so much about this one drunk driver.

We are really messed up in identifying heroes, and celebrity culture has a lot to do with it. If someone really is an extraordinary actress (and there are some, like Meryl Streep), then that person should be famous the same way people who excel in other fields should be. But, Lindsey Lohan? A movie she is in will be good or not because of the writing, because of the direction, because of the people around her, but not because of her. She's just not so talented or so untalented that it will be the major factor in a piece of art. I actually saw "Herbie: Fully Loaded" and didn't remember her.

So, am I missing something here?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Bar exam, day one

Day one is over. Long live the first day! For those not taking the exam, these topics were covered:

Criminal Procedure
Defense against the dark arts
Consumer Protection
Life Skills

Monday, July 23, 2007


How freaked out are you about taking the bar exam?

Outragous Baylor People (who are taking the bar exam tomorrow): How freaked out are you?

The answer, from what I can see, is "pretty darn freaked out." I saw an audio-animotronic Martha May wandering the hall on the first floor muttering to herself maniacally this morning, and she didn't respond to me until I knocked some notes out of her hand. She then told me she "studies better while walking" and then continued her strange and disturbing journey. Meanwhile, Ginger Hunter was standing in the hallway of the 3d floor for no apparent reason, unless she was waiting to appear in an ad for some kind of anxiety-curing social services agency (as the "before-treatment" photo). Odd, because Ginger is a lock. That's just true.

You guys are going to do great, really. The trick is just to remember to FOCUS when you get in there-- that matters 500% more than what you do tonight.

So just go to bed, already.


How Good a Reader are You?

I received this heartbreaking email from Ajide Duaka, a deaf deaf boy in an African refuge camp. Following the email is a reading comprehension test. [It goes without saying that I immediately contacted Mr. Duaka to see how I could help him. It appears from our conversations that he mostly needs credit information and bank numbers!]


My name is Ajide Duaka,the only son of Mr and Mrs Danda Duaka. It's my pleasure to contact you for a business venture, which I intend to establish with you and in your country.I'm a deaf deaf boy for your information.

Though I have not met with you before but I believe, one has to risk confiding in someone to succeed sometimes in life. I am the son of the Late Danda Duaka, from Nshili District of Gikomgoro Province in the Republic of Rwanda. My father before his death was a successful Gold marchant. Barely a week my Father returned from his usual Europe business trips, on Wednesday 14th March 2006, he was attacked and killed by some unknown assassins.

The Police could not trace the killers till today, and because i do not know those behind his brutal killing and their reasons i decide to run for my life, I felt out of fear that my safety is not guaranteed, that is the reason why I decided to relocate to the Refugees Camp here in Zaire D.R.Congo.

My mother died immidiately after given my birth according to my late father, before the untimely death of my father, we were very close to each other, which made him to give me informations on a very huge amount of US$8.6,000,000.00 (Eigth Point Six Million United States Dollars only), which he kept for me in a Bank in another Country (full informations to be disclosed later to you on confirmation of your acceptance to assist me).

I have decided to invest this money in your country or anywhere safe enough outside Africa for security purposes. I want you to help me to invest the money after transferrin the money from the Bank to your account or anywhere trusted account as you may advise, as I cannot be able to do the transaction alone here in another Country and in Refugees Camp that is why I contact you for helping me contact the Bank and submitt to them your Banking information that they may needs for the transfer.


1) What was Ajide Duaka's father's job?
a) He was an unknown assassin
b) He was Governor of Nshili District
c) He was a successful gold marchent
d) He worked for a Bank in Another Country

2) How much money does Ajide Duaka have (only)?
a) No money
b) $8,600,000
c) $8.60
d) -$8.60

3) Why does Ajide Duaka live in the Refugees Camp in Eastern Part of Zaire D.R. Congo?
a) He is scared of unknown assassins
b) He is scared of his father
c) Top-flight internet service is available there
d) Good place to be if you are deaf deaf


Correction! Oops on the photo...

It appears that due to a poor job of cropping the photo Tyd sent me, in the last post I identified a stuffed "Opus The Penguin" as her new dog. Sorry about that. A fuller view of the photo, shown above, shows not only that penguin, but the real Booger the dog, who now gets to live with Tydwbleach and Tyd2Bleach and Spencer and Donut in their minivan. The name "Booger," of course, is a sly reference to a character in Revenge of the Nerds played by fellow Detroiter Curtis Armstrong. Michigan, represent! Yeah!

The whole Tyd-House-Explosion saga deserves a tv series, I think.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Bi-Coastal Reader News...

Having caught up with the East Coast Razor Reader gossip in the post below, I received this photo from Tydwbleach of their new dog, Boogie. Apparently, they sold their old dog, Riley, to some dog farmers. This new dog certainly is interesting-- I'm not sure what breed that is, exactly. And is that how you are supposed to carry a dog in a car, just kind of tossed back there with the old Cheerios and cigarette butts? Is that dog asleep, or just kind of stunned?

So, congrats to Tyd and brood on the new addition! (And don't let Donut feed him)


Monty Python - Camelot In Lego!

Thank you to Ginger Hunter for digging up this chestnut. The liner notes on the dvd say this demonstrates "how much more cheaply the entire movie [Monty Python and the Holy Grail] could have been made."


IPLawFamily vs. The Celebrity Luvrs!

If this photo is real, it appears that the IPLawFamily met up with the Celebrity Luvrs today in Washington D.C.

Is it just me, or is IPLawGuy not wearing a shirt??? What all was going on out there, and shouldn't this really be reported on by Swanburg, if shirtlessness is involved?

Saturday, July 21, 2007


The Fall TV Shows Sound Great!

There’s a lot of things I do, but one thing I don’t do very often is watch television. It’s time to change that! The new fall tv season sounds super-exciting (if perhaps just a little derivative)! Celebrity Luvr has recommended the following shows slated to start in September:

1) Emergency Blondes! (CBS) Three attractive blonde women rescue people and animals from emergencies. They work for a mysterious employer who communicates with them through an employee named Crowley (played by Tom Bosley, Jr.).

2) Reagan Baby (Fox) Political scientists make a startling discovery when they find an infant who articulates Ronald Reagan’s political philosophies when she is seated near a photo of the late president. Queen Latifah plays the kindly, wise-cracking daycare provider who protects the Reagan Baby from those who would use her powers for evil.

3) Walleye Lake (Minnesota Public Television) This reality show pits several diverse anglers against one another as they catch, fillet, beer-batter, and eat some walleye.

4) Tyd! (Oxygen) I don't know what this one will involve. Any guess?

Friday, July 20, 2007


Happy Happy Fun Fun Haiku!

Last week’s haikus were very impressive, but this week will be even better… look at this impressive list of topics!

1) The test question I can’t forget
2) The Bar Exam
3) Partyin’ with Dick Cheney and Britney
4) IPLawBaby (conveniently, already 5 syllables)
5) 40 days until foot ball season!
F) Golf
7) Beach reading
8) Tang
9) Harry Potter
10) Tyd’s creased brow

Here is my own effort:

The clerk asked me
About the slumber party
No, Harry Potter!

Now it is your turn—

5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables

And the winner this week gets a prize—the ability to choose the winner of next week’s haiku Friday!

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I'm just sayin'-- that's a good baby!

I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with IPLawBaby. She is an incredibly good-natured child. She only cried once the whole time I was there, and then only for a little while (when she was hit in the arm during a DC drive-by shooting). She seemed very content at the baseball game, and even drank enthusiastically out of a Washington Nationals bottle. She now knows three words: "Up," "dog," and "infringement," though she has not yet strung them into a sentence.

Plus, she's really cute.


The best song in history, ever... really.

This is the song our nation's 11-year-olds need to hear. Well, this and that one Monty Python song.

Bill Murray Sings Star Wars - Click here for funny video clips

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Meanwhile, an exciting update from New York!

If you only watch one television show all year, make sure it's tonight's Letterman!

I received a very exciting update from Mr. & Mrs. Celebrity Luvr, who are having a fan-tabulous time visiting New York. Unlike my expeditions to New York, which mostly consist of burrowing into books and writing, The CL's have (not surprisingly) been on the hunt for celebrities. The more I get to know him, the more I realize that Mr. CL is like some kind of bizarre cross between Perez Hilton and Learned Hand.

Thus far, the CL's have met the following celebrities:

Darrell Hammond
Queen Latifah
Umar Baziyani
Chris Rock

More excitingly, though, as they were headed out of town they were waylaid by a strange man asking about the hair color of the announcer for David Letterman. That sounds to me like the usual kind of person one might meet in the Port Authority bus station, but this turned out to be a guy from the Letterman show, who recruited them to be in the audience tonight and, I suspect, is lining up some special role for them. At last report (a few minutes ago) they were sent over with a few select others to McGee's pub and asked to do some drinking. Hmmm. My employer never asks for that.


Capacity Almost Full

The past few months, something really wonderful has happened. Every once in a while a student (Nathanial Kummerfeld, Aaron Mutnick, Sean Crandall, and some others) will bring a book to me and suggest I read it. They have all been right, too—they have been great books. It’s funny—from what I can remember of being a student, I can’t imagine stopping Stephen Carter or Guido Calebresi or Catherine McKinnon in the hall and lending them a book, but maybe that is something unfortunate about my law school experience. I think it’s great that students would lend me a book, that they trust me with that. To my mind (because I love books so much), it is a very generous act—you are giving someone not only a thing, but something more personal, the sharing of ideas. This new development makes me feel like I must be doing something right as a teacher. It also makes me think that maybe I need to start showing the same trust and lend out some books.

On the plane back to Texas, I read Leaper, which is a novel by Geoffrey Wood, who apparently is a barista in Memphis. I’ve really loved it, too. It is, in a way, a story about faith, but most of the words in the story are really about a bad relationship, being a barista, awkward conversations, feeling bad about being rude to someone, and suddenly appearing somewhere different by looking at your watch funny. But for the last of these, Wood is describing things that we all kind of know about, and the faith lies in the structure, in the pores, in the beams behind the walls. I suppose it might be Christian fiction, but importantly, crucially, it is a very good story.

Now, the bad thing about Leaper is that I can’t remember how I got it. One thing about me is that if my head is totally involved in something, it won’t accept any new inputs. If I’m working hard on a syllabus, for example, trying to get an idea to work, and someone comes in for career advice and suggests that they are thinking of becoming an Eastern European dictator, I probably nod vacantly and say, “Huh, yeah, interesting; good, good.” All I can remember about “Leaper” is that I was walking out of the building with someone else and my mind was deep in some complexity (Guideline 2D1.1(c), travel time to DFW, etc.), and this book was kindly pressed into my hand by a student. But, I can’t remember who it was, sadly.

And I feel bad about that.


You had to figure it would come to this.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I felt so bad that I bought two...

IPLawGuy and I went back to creaky old RFK stadium again tonight to watch the Nationals lose to the Astros. It was a beautiful evening, and a great time. Actually, it was a great day all around. My meeting was fascinating, and the conference call went well. I have to say that it is great to work with Henry Bemporad and the others at the Federal Defenders. If you are going to have clients for an appellate brief, a group of exceptional appellate lawyers is a pretty good draw.

The one down note was this very sad sight at the baseball game. The Nationals are in last place, and there are a lot of empty seats these days (even with tickets at five bucks a crack). Plus, it was Tuesday night, never great for attendance. Our section was about 1/5 full. Standing in front of me was a morose young man glumly holding a tray full of souvenirs and muttering "Foam fingers... get your foam fingers." I'm not sure, exactly, how deluded a last-place Nationals fan would have to be to wave a foam finger that says "#1," but it appeared that no one in the stadium was quite that mentally disturbed. The poor vendor became so listless that he didn't even walk to other sections; he just kind of stood in front of ours hoping someone would have a brain seizure or some other mental break resulting in the purchase of a National's "#1" foam finger. Then, just when things couldn't get any worse, a second vendor arrived, also laden down with surplus foam fingers and robotically intoning "foam fingers... foam fingers....."


Who am I today?

Sunday at about 5, I finished writing my book. I struggled with the last paragraph. if you walked by, you might have seen me in full lather, pacing, talking to myself, and then POP the end was there and I typed the last word and it was done. I took off my thinking hat and breathed out and watched the river go by for a while.

In New York, I was a writer. I put on a dark t-shirt and jeans, lugged a lot of books to the public library, and sat at the long tables with all the other writers, musing and typing and reading. It smelled like books and thinking. At the end of the day, we all packed up our laptops and walked down the big stone steps onto 5th, and dispersed to the laughter in restaurants and bars and coffeehouses and bookstores, and I found that pace.

But, that was so May, 2007. Today, I am someone else entirely. Not that writer, not that guy in class in the polo shirt with the hole in it. Today, I'm a lawyer in DC-- I have a meeting, and at 5 there will be a conference call where I will sit at a marble table in a law firm tower and talk about the Supreme Court brief. Today, I have a firm handshake and combed hair and a tie from Brooks Brothers. I'm in a coffehouse on Capital Hill (Ebeneezer's) down the street from where my meeting will be. I took the subway from Holland & Knight to Union Station.

The train pulled up, the doors opened, and we all walked out. Black, white, asian, men & women; we almost all wore suits and had a sober, serious demeanor. We walked to the escalators and stood as the stairs carried us up to the street. Near the top, the sunlight came down on us, and we reached for sunglasses, in the left pocket of our suit coats. My stair came to the top, and I strode off with purpose, not looking down or left or right, and so did everyone else. We had things to do, because today we are lawyers in Washington.

Monday, July 16, 2007


I'm Having a Great Time in DC With IPLawGuy!

I made it here to Washington, our nation's capitol, and so far things are going great! IPlawGuy, IPLawWife, and IPLawBaby went to see the Washington Nationals beat the Astros tonight down at RFK stadium. Poseur told me it was a kind of low-key goofy place, and he was right. The stadium is an old-school concrete bowl which is equally poor in lay-out for soccer, football, or baseball, and it looks like chunks will fall off at any moment. What makes any stadium, though, is the character of the place, and RFK actually has some of that. Plus, in the fourth inning they had the "Race of Presidents" (video below) in which George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson run down the basepaths. Roosevelt always loses, though he came in second tonight and might have done even better if he hadn't gotten in a little shoving match with Lincoln right before turning for home.

Celebrity Luvr & Mrs. CL will be visiting with IPLawFamily this coming Sunday, and apparently will get to see an equally exciting game against Colorado.


President's Race 9/29/2006


Good jobs, bad jobs, rated by personal enjoyment

Over the years, I've had a lot of different jobs. I have enjoyed all of them-- I'm one of those people who enjoys working, and I can't imagine life without it. However, some jobs have been more enjoyable than others. Below is a list of my jobs since age 15, in rank order from most enjoyable down to the least enjoyable. Please remember that this is a PERSONAL list, and the fact that (for example) I did not rank law firm associate very high reflects my own interests and background-- I know very well that for others that job would be at the top of the list.

Professor (Baylor)
Law clerk to U.S. Dist. Ct. Judge (Philly)
Flower delivery guy (Detroit)
Assistant U.S. Attorney (Detroit)
Pub barman (London)
Process server (Detroit)
Financial aid worker (Boston)
Farm worker/pea harvesting (Bellingham, WA)
Oyster shucker (Rehobeth Beach DE)
Middle school janitor (Grosse Pointe)
Associate, large law firm (Detroit)

What's your list?

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Mr. Crim Prac Goes to Washington...

Tomorrow morning I'm headed to our nation's capital for this meeting. I also get to visit with IPLawGuy AND go to a Washington Nationals game. I think they are playing the Harlem Globetrotters. Or is that the New Jersey Generals? Hmmm....


The Test of Creating a Test That Works

Like a lot of other profs, I struggle with writing tests. It's a hard task, and not one that anything else really prepares you for. From my background as a prosecutor, there was a precurser experience for teaching (presenting a trial), scholarship (writing briefs), and counseling students (putting together an investigation plan), but nothing relating to tests. I made some notes when I started, though, including some simple rules for what a test should be:

1) It should cover material that was important in the class, not tangential
2) If possible, it should continue the process of learning
3) It should be challenging enough that it creates a range of scores
4) In a skills class, it should test the skills taught more than simply memorization

I'm still not very good at meeting all these goals at the same time, though I haven't changed my mind about these things being important.

So, what makes for a good test in law school? Or a bad test?

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Confirming my confidence in Public Defenders

This New York Times article, which I noticed over on Doug Berman's blog, confirms something I have thought for a while: Public defenders do an excellent job, and a system which relies primarily on defenders rather than hired lawyers is often both cheaper for the government to fund and more effective for clients. In part, within the federal system, this is pretty understandable; the defenders focus their efforts entirely on federal law, and know the guidelines better than panel attorneys, for whom often the majority of their work is in state courts. In my experience, as a prosecutor and defense attorney within the federal system, knowledge of the guidelines is probably the most important asset an attorney can bring to bear in a case (in combination with negotiating skills and doggedness).

[Right now, the brief I am writing for the Supreme Court in the Kimbrough case is on behalf of the Federal Public and Community Defenders and the National Association of Federal Defenders, but I can't say that is swaying my opinion here-- they aren't paying me, after all; rather, they are right on the issue I care about and very skilled at advocacy.]


Hey, that reflective tape is a great idea!

IPLawWife sent along this odd story about some guy in Michigan who went jogging in just shoes and reflective tape.

About the reflective tape-- if he was jogging at night, what's with being nude? Hmmm. I'll have to ask Swanburg.


Proctoring the PC exam

I'm here at work this Saturday morning, giving the gigantic Practice Court examination. I have to say the students seem to have a pretty good attitude about it-- better than I would expect for any event scheduled at 8 am on a Saturday.

The funny thing is, it kind of made me nervous, and all I had to do was hand out the exam.


Oooh! A fun new item found in my inbox!

For some reason I don't totally understand, Haikuist Tydwbleach sent me the photo of her forehead. Nice! It's the most I've ever seen of Tyd, actually.

UPDATE: Apparently, she sent this to me to show that she looks a little like Bill Bonds, a longtime stalwart of Detroit television. I disagree, based on this photo of Bill Bonds:

Friday, July 13, 2007


Friday, Haiku Friday!

It's Finals-Time Haiku Friday! For those of us in Waco, it's an exhilarating time of scribbling, thinking, and cursing, while the rest of the nation takes it easy! Still, there is always time for Haiku...

Themes for this week:

A) Rory Ryan, ConLaw Temp of Excellence
2) The worst final question ever
3) My dream about Larry Bates
D) My date with Donut
E) What I do all day
F) Hey! That's my cat!
7) The class I wish they offered at Baylor Law School
8) Pres. George W. Bush (Rep.)
J) The Nuge
10) My other car is a...

Here's mine:

Back at my law school,
There was a class called "Blood Feuds,"
Icelandic sagas!

Enter your own haiku in the comments section below-- 5 syllables/7 syllables/5 syllables...


Two More Razor Heros!

Huzzahs to two new Razor heroes, Judge Reggie Walton, and BLS Prof Rory Ryan!

1) United States District Court Judge Reggie Walton

D.C.'s Judge Walton issued his opinion resentencing Lewis Libby today. You can access it (via Doug Berman's blog) here. It's a great opinion, and among other things it convinces me that my earlier post on the issue was wrong, as a matter of law if not policy. He relies on the Supreme Court's decision in Schick v. Reed (1974) to justify the ability of president to resentence a defendant as part of a commutation. Schick involved the commutation of a death penalty to life without parole-- the situation is far different, but the principle is probably the same. I still think as a matter of policy I agree with Justice Marshall's dissent in Schick, but Judge Walton got it dead right about the precedent. Thanks to Brian Portugal for sending me the opinion and highlighting the amazing footnote 1.

2) Baylor Law Prof. Rory Ryan

This summer, Prof. Ryan picked up Constitutional Law, one of the most important and difficult classes to teach in law school. It's a ton of work to take over a class like that short term, but he did it with gusto and a wonderful attitude. By what I see over at the blog de Swanburg, the students appreciated it, too. I'm glad we have the guy.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


A day in the life of Sleepy Walleye

I think everyone else did a much better job of describing their day than I did, but my favorite was Sleepy Walleye's, which makes a good segue to Haiku Friday tomorrow:

A Day in the Life of Sleepy Walleye

I get up, get out of bed
Drag a comb across my head
(jaunty piano riff here)

Make my way downstairs and drink a cup
Looking up
I'll notice I am late
(pant pant pant pant)

Cycling shoes and hard-shell hat
I hit the trail in seconds flat
Twenty miles down the pike
I pedal my bike
Then I fall into a dream


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


What Does Osler Do All Day?

Recently, a student who was interested in teaching someday asked me what, exactly, professors do all day. It was a pretty good question, and made me realize that much of what we do is unseen by our students.

What follows is a rough breakdown of what I do as a professor. It does not include the usual church/family/community things. It also does not include the various hobbies I have, like growing mis-shapen tomatoes, or skiing. Nor does it include various frolics and detours—for example I have published two articles in the Wittenberg Door, a Christian satire magazine, under the pseudonym “Phyllis N. Lewis” (this is true—it was before I had tenure).

1) Teaching

The greatest part of my time, of course, is taken up with teaching class and preparing for class. I have a very heavy teaching load at times—in the Spring, for example, I was teaching four different classes. My teaching has two aspects; first, traditional classroom teachings, and second, critiquing student performances in practice court exercises. During large parts of the year, I am spending 25-40 hours a week just doing that. Baylor, unlike most law schools, has a summer quarter, so I teach nearly the entire year.

2) Pro Bono Work

The past two years, especially, I have done a large amount of pro bono work (400-600 hours over those two years), mostly on cases involving federal sentencing at the appellate level. I have worked on cases in six U.S. Circuits, and two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Where I can, I include students in this work.

3) Scholarship

I usually write two or three articles a year. Mostly, these fall into two categories: Law Review articles, and pieces for peer-reviewed journals (mostly the Federal Sentencing Reporter, the peer journal in my field). I do lots of this at night, since there is not time in the day to get it done. You can see a list of these articles here. Also, I am just finishing a book called “Jesus Christ, Defendant,” which I have worked on for the past few years. This does get noticed, and has been cited in law reviews from Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago and others, and in court opinions including a Supreme Court case.

4) Coaching Teams

I coach one or two advocacy teams a year. This helps me to get to know students better, and improve their skills one-on-one. My teams usually do pretty well—the last five have all ended up in either third or first in their competitions. More importantly, there are a lot of students who got the chance to get better at the craft of trial advocacy.

5) Committee Stuff

I’m on the admissions and curriculum committees for the law school, and I’m the chair of the University’s Civil Rights Committee. The time these take varies—the admissions committee consumes the most time, since we often review lots of files.

6) Blogging

My blogging almost all relates to my work at Baylor in one way or another. I work on three blogs (this one, Law School Innovation, and Religiously Affiliated Law Schools), and contribute sometimes to others, such as Sentencing Law and Policy and Scotusblog.

7) Giving CLE lectures

Together with Federal Defender (and personal Hero of the Law) Henry Bemporad, I train the panel lawyers who represent indigent clients in federal criminal cases in the Western District of Texas. In the past year or so, I have lectured in Alpine, Midland, San Antonio, Waco, Austin, El Paso, and Del Rio.

8) Singing Karaoke at Scruffy’s

Ok, I don’t do that, and I never will. But, I have been there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


The innovative student

I just posted the following over at Law School Innovation. The thoughts there, of course, largely reflect my experience with students at Baylor, who have created many good things at the school.

Thus far, most of the law school innovations we have discussed have been professor or dean initiated. However, it seems to me that many of the more significant innovations have been initiated by students-- those who demand a certain course, or start a new tradition at a school that connects to the discourse and learning that goes on there. Off the top of my head, I can think of quite a few types of innovations that are largely the creations of students, not faculty:

1) The multitude of new journals that sprout every year, almost always tracking a student interest.
2) The "Free Speech Wall" at Yale Law that plays a large role in nearly every debate that goes on there.
3) Lectures given at many schools, often by controversial figures, at the invitation of student groups.
4) The proliferation of blogs, even, which chronicle and sometimes promote the culture of a school.

There are many other examples, of course. Perhaps the broader lesson is that if we seek innovation, part of the project should be listening to and encouraging the voices of our students.


IPLawGuy = IPLawGod!

Congrats to IPLawGuy for his well-written article in World Trademark Review, which is kind of the Federal Sentencing Reporter for the IP set. Of course, the IPLaw guys way outnumber us sentencing geeks, both in numbers and sheer earning power, so I would guess that the WTR is much more widely read.

The truth is that IPLG is a leading attorney in the field, and IP is an increasingly important field, and one that is at the center of emerging conflicts in technology, publishing, and world trade. IPLG put in a lot of hard work to get to the place where he can lead, and when I look at my own law students I hope that they can do as well in finding their way to a good place.


Will the Baylor blogosphere survive without Swanburg?

Since his announcement that he was going off to business school someplace (I think Wyoming or another square-shaped state), I've been wondering what will happen once Swanburg is gone. Will the Baylor blogosphere be able to fill the void? Many have already fallen by the wayside.

In my view, this is what it takes to be a decent blogger:

1) Regularity. It doesn't have to be every day, but reliable intervals.
2) A halfway interesting life.
3) The ability to talk about something other than yourself.

I realize that I have failed, at times, on all three counts.

So, who is going to step up? Smoke Rockport? Taffy Sunningdale?


Seriously, the Crim. Prac. Final is Not an Exercise in Torture...

I was a little peeved upon reading Ladybird's announcement of a rumor that I was jamming up my criminal practice students by forcing them to take the final on Thursday of this week, when finals are supposed to start on Friday. There are a few problems here:

1) It's not true. The students can take the final on the assigned day (Tuesday of next week) OR on Thursday or Wednesday of this week, if they would prefer.

2) It's a friggin take-home final, with 8 hours to work on it.

3) Even with all that, I gave people flexibility on when on those days they take it-- for example, I am letting some people start at noon.

Monday, July 09, 2007


More on Scooter...

More of the story on the Libby commutation last week is coming out now. Doug Berman linked to this intriguing Newsweek article, which seems to conclude that Bush commuted Libby not under direct pressure from Vice-President Cheney, but because he feared Cheney would be disappointed. This probably won't change any minds about who is really in charge at the White House.

Meanwhile, a blog called "Buck Naked Politics" has a pretty good wrap-up of the reaction by sentencing experts to the Libby commutation. It sort of makes me look like the conservative among the group, too.

The blog, of course, reminds me of the great Seinfeld episode in which Jerry and George agree that "Buck Naked" would be a great stage name in certain industries.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Texas Wildman/Motor City Madman Speaks His Mind

As previously noted, Ted Nugent and I have some stuff in common-- we both are from Detroit and inexplicably moved to Waco in middle age, we both have been anti-drug activists (well, if you count prosecuting narcotics cases, in my case), and we both have been known as "The Motor City Madman." And, of course, we both have marketed our own brand of cologne.

Now that we are both here, I check the local paper, the Waco Tribune Herald, for his column every Sunday. Today's column, available here, was titled "Celebrate so-called 'Summer of Love'? What on Earth for?" I agree with a lot of what he says-- that drugs have been a negative influence on society, destroyed too many lives, and rotted away families in too many instances.

What surprised, me though, was his description of his own role in the drug culture of the 60's: "I was there and remember the decade in vivid, ugly detail in all its toxic underbelly excess because I was caught in the vortex of the music revolution that was sweeping the country and because my radar was fine-tuned due to a clean and sober lifestyle."

I don't doubt that he was not using drugs; I have no reason to not believe him about that. What surprised me, though, was how harsh he was on the culture that encouraged narcotics use, because he was a part of it. His first big hit, with the Amboy Dukes, was 1968's "Journey to the Center of the Mind:"

Come along if you care
Come along if you dare
Take a ride to the land inside of your mind!
Beyond the seas of thought,
Beyond the realm of want,
Across the streams of hopes and dreams
Where things are really not!

But please realize
You'll probably be surprised
For it's the land unknown to man
Where fantasy is fact
So if you can, please understand
You might not come back!

How happy life could be
If all of mankind
Would take the time to journey to the center of the mind..."

Ted Nugent says that he didn't realize this song was about drug use. Again, I'll take him at his word on that. But, if he really did inadvertantly sing (and make lots of money off of) one of the great stoner anthems of all time, I would hope that he would be more forgiving of the young people who heard that song and others like it, dropped acid, and lived to regret it-- or not. Instead, he says they were "despicably selfish"-- a charge that is kind of sad when one considers the drug-users who may have seen encouragement to do so in the words of Nugent's music. He probably kept the money from those record sales, but I'm not going to call that "despicably selfish"-- he was just young and made some choices he didn't think about hard enough. We all have done that, including lots of those people in San Francisco. It doesn't make them (or him, or me) evil.

I'm glad Ted's here, and I hope he stays. I'm thinking of asking him and Shemane over for burgers some night, and we can talk about the beauty of a calm lake and a campfire; we do have a lot in common, after all, including the experience of being the one who didn't use drugs while everyone around was making a different choice.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Swanburg to Attend Business School, Learn How a Business Works

According to Swanburg himself (shown here with Scooter Libby), he's going to attend Business School at Baylor next year rather than go to law school, then switch back to law school at some later date. He's doing this as part of the prurient-sounding "Tuition Remission" program. I think back in middle school I remember a film about tuition remissions, and how they were normal. Anyways, I suppose I should give him some kind of parting gift. Does anyone have an idea for that?


Get ready for some houseguests, IPLawGuy, IPLawWife, and IPLawBaby!

It's going to be a big July in the IPLawHouse! From July 16-18, I'm going to be in DC for a planning meeting for the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant coming up in January. [the other Wacoan on my committee is Baylor Prez John Lilley, so I better wear a tie. And get this hair fixed. Also, it looks like we have some pretty good material to work with.] Then, the next week, Celebrity Luvr & Mrs. CL are going to pop in to see the IP's for a few days. No doubt after that, Tydwbleach and Tyd2Bleach, Spencer, Donut, and their bald cat will stop by.

If I know anything about IPLawGuy & IPLW, the only one they would have a problem with is the bald cat.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Haiku tells me it's Friday...

Hi! My name's Mark, and I'm a Pisces! Or something like that. Today, though, I'm all about the Haiku. Here are this week's themes:

1) People named "Scooter"
2) The disturbing bald cat at Tyd's place of work
3) Transformers destroy Detroit
4) Dinner that makes you feel guilty
5) Prof. Bates and the Order of the Phoenix
6) The Beach
7) America's Worst Barbecue Item
8) Pong
9) 4th of July
10) Pork products

Here's my entry:

Did you all enjoy
The squirrels I barbecued?
Kinda chewy, huh?

Now, you go. The pattern is 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 again.

Thursday, July 05, 2007



I love it when the U.S. is #1 in something like auto production or Nobel prizes, but I'll take winning the hot-dog eating championship. Yesterday in Coney Island, American Joey Chestnut finally defeated Japan's Kobayashi by eating 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Kobayashi had won six of the championships in a row. Things didn't go so well for him this time. Kobayashi, at the end of the competition, blew chunks. I'm not sure this is a competition I want to watch.

Meanwhile, I spent my holiday writing that brief. And I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I'm not alone...

Doug Berman verifies that I am not the only prosecutor type angry about the Libby commutation. As a former prosecutor (as opposed to the current prosecutors quoted by Doug), I can at least make my argument under my own name.

After the scandals, the Gonzalez testimony, the departure of top leadership, and now this, I'm thinking morale must be pretty low in some parts of the DOJ.


Why is it that whenever a film-maker seeks to depict a post-apocalyptic nightmare setting, they film in Detroit?

Actually, I suppose I already know the answer to that.

My barbecue went pretty well. I ended up making salmon sandwiches with dill havarti and a little honey-mustard, with corn on the cob on the side. Mrs. CL made a very nice salad that included tomatoes from my garden (thank you 500 inches of rain!), and a great peach cobbler. After dinner Gordon Davenport, and Mr. & Mrs. Celebrity Luvr and I went to the late show of the Transformers movie, which was also attended, it seemed, by my entire Criminal Practice class.

If you haven't seen the movie yet, it involves aliens who deceptively transform into common objects. For example, the ferocious and gigantic Optimus Prime transforms into the sweet pony depicted here. In the movie, one group of alien robot things fights another group of alien robot things, and this girl's shirt is perilously close to falling off at several points (but doesn't). The star of the movie, Shia LaBouef, was previously best known for his brief appearance as the injured school mascot in the not-quite-a-hit-but-still-great TV show, Freaks and Geeks.

The end of the movie was filmed in Detroit, which kind of fit. The robots even had a fight in front of the federal courthouse, and another inside the abandoned railroad station. The last train left that station on January 5, 1988. I know that because I was on it, headed back to law school. That, of course, was before the robot attacks and everything.

Time for bed-- I have to get motivated to fight the power tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Yes, I do have some thoughts on the commutation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby's sentence!

I get annoyed once in a while, but it is rare for me to get really mad, in-a-rage mad, but that's what happened on January 20, 2001. That's the day that President Bill Clinton pardoned a very wealthy man in Switzerland named Marc Rich.

Rich was a groundbreaking financier, particularly in the area of commodity trading. He also developed a business relationship with Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, and used those contacts to buy crude oil from Iran during an embargo. In 1983 the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rudolph Giuliani (yes, that one) indicted Rich for tax evasion and illegal trading with the enemy. Rich didn't stick around-- he fled to Switzerland rather than appear on the charges. For 15 years Marc Rich was represented by Lewis "Scooter" Libby (yes, that one) in trying to get rid of the arrest warrant. During this time, Rich's wife donated money to both the Democratic Party and the Clinton library.

Clinton pardoned Rich hours before leaving office, and it was one of the most cowardly and unprincipled things a president has done. Why did it make me mad, though? Why take that personally? Because I had spent years in federal court as a prosecutor under Clinton, arguing that justice should apply equally, and fending off arguments for leniency on the grounds of uniform punishment. On January 20, 2001, that all seemed like a sham.

And now we come around again to the same kind of hypocrisy. President Bush commuted the imprisonment portion of Libby's sentence rather than pardon him, but that may only heighten the hypocrisy this time. You see, just two weeks ago the Supreme Court ruled for Bush's DOJ in the case of Rita v. United States, holding that a properly calculated guideline range is presumtively reasonable. Rita and Libby were both sentenced within the guideline range, both were convicted of lying to a grand jury, and both had significant public service (Rita was a Marine for 24 years).

In the Rita case, Bush's government argued that the sentencing guidelines are rational, and that viewing them as presumptively reasonable meant that people committing similar crimes would be treated the same way regardless of race and class. That's a pretty good statement of principle (though it is tension with the Christian principle of mercy). The Libby commutation, which undoes adherence to the Guidelines rather than the conviction, is an afront to that very principle. To simultaneously stick it to a veteran like Rita while letting off a fat cat like Libby or Rich undermines the principle that from the beginning has animated our sense of justice when we are at our best: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal...."

Tomorrow I will not be at a parade or a picnic or the beach. I'm going to be in my office, wearing my thinking hat and pacing around and knocking down words that tie together a challenge to all this. With the help of my amigos Michael O'Hear of Marquette Law School, Dustin Benham of Carrington Coleman, and Matt Acosta of, uh, the student lounge at BLS, I'm writing a U.S. Supreme Court brief for the National Association of Federal Defenders in the case of Kimbrough v. United States. The point is simple: A sentencing judge should be able to vary from the guidelines if she thinks they are too harsh in a given case, even if the defendant isn't very, very rich.

There are a lot of colors of patriotism, and right now I'm seeing red.


One last comic about Tyd's exploding house...

You can click on it to make it bigger...

Monday, July 02, 2007


I have to admit, I can't figure this one out at all...

Other than blatant copyright infringement and the possibility of stiff civil penalties, I have no idea what this one might mean...

UPDATE: Upon reflection, I realized that iHarryPotter was referring to this post of long ago! Hey hey hey!

I also realize that I have had comics before, like the "Underwood Family Circus" (which actually spawned its own blog, which eventually morphed into a blog about dogs) and (once), "Zippy the Pinhead."


More Comix!

I believe this one refers to the incident in which Spencer was kicked out of preschool because of something that his Mom put in his lunch. Or something like that. It might have all been Donut's fault...


Any comic strip with Bates in it has to be great...

Sure, you count on the Razor for breaking news, sports updates, celebrity tidbits, and a daily horoscope, but until now we have been lacking in comics and blatant copyright infringement. Thanks to iHarryPotter for sending me some stuff to fix that deficiency! I think it is supposed to be me talking to Tydwbleach.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Help Me Out!

On Tuesday, I'm having some guests over for dinner. Because of the requirements of the National Association of Guys, of course, I'm required to grill the food outdoors if possible. I'm wondering what to make. Here are my options, with percentage of success listed:

1. Fish 90%

This works pretty well for me. I do especially well with salmon, tuna, and shark. I marinate it first in wine and a little butter and herbs.

2. Burgers 65%

I have two secrets: Only use salt and pepper, and turn the burgers only once.

3. Steaks 50%

Yeah, I'm not from Texas...

4. Chicken 30%

My problem here is the thin line between trichinosis and too dry.

5. Whole squirrels 12%

Worth a try, but a low-percentage bet.

6. Vegetables 3%

Why? Why?

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