Sunday, October 31, 2010


Sunday Reflection: Halloween on Sunday

Halloween is neither satanic nor scary in our culture, anymore than Christmas is very Christian. My experience is mostly opening the door to find some adorable little moppet dressed as a princess looking up at me.

But... perhaps there is some loss in that? Our lives are so sanitized that some real, messy fear might be worthwhile now and then. What would a real Haunted House be like? What would the scary elements be? Probably, if it was really about our worst memories or fears, it would be too terrifying: The death of an innocent child. The room of the elderly alcoholic. The chamber of divorce.

Halloween; that's not scary.

Interestingly, Christ dealt directly and unashamedly with the scariest fears of his time-- leprosy, death, being scorned by society, crucifixion. It might be that a truly scary Halloween would be the most Christian of all, the bringing up of fears to confront hard truths through faith.

Saturday, October 30, 2010



Someone told me that the writer Anne Rice had noted last week's HuffPo piece on her Facebook page... and so she had... and she liked it!

It's weird when someone like that reads what you put out there-- I guess there is a vulnerability to having those who are better than you at something check out what you are doing in their field of expertise. The internet has done some strange things in blurring the lines between writer and reader, and perhaps that is a good thing.


IPLawGuy 25: The Intern and DiaDelKendall ride Amtrak to Princeton Junction

See the video here.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Haiku Friday: TV Party Tonight

Today we will haiku about my favorite music video ever (or, you can in the alternative haiku about some other, inferior, music video):

Here is mine:

Some generic beer
Old-school TV knob turning:
That is Brooks College?

Now, you go. Make it good, or Henry Rollins will beat you up... or make you drink generic beer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: What happened to President Obama?

From the end-days of the election through his inauguration, Barack Obama largely held the nation in thrall. I certainly was, I realize, when I look back at what I wrote at that time.

Things are very different now. Regardless of whether you agree with his policies or not, it seems that he simply does not have the public's attention-- he has lost the gravitas, the heroic persona, that he had two years ago. In fact, that magnetism seemed to fade almost as soon as he took office.

What happened? He has signed significant legislation, largely because of the big majorities the Democrats have had in both houses of Congress, but somehow that legislation has never seemed to tie into a convincing vision. Even the health care bill was a half-measure.

Perhaps he is a victim of the realities of governing, an enterprise which requires compromise and intense interaction. Lyndon Johnson, for one, thrived on that-- his persona was embodied in that famous photo pictured here. He lived for the back-room negotiation.

President Obama, though, has a different set of tools. His is the gift of a singular vision, of inspiration. Sadly, that is not a useful tool in the daily grind of mundane events. If there were a crisis, an attack, his talents would come to the fore again, but none of us hope for that. Failing that, his sharpest weapons remain sheathed, and we are often left looking at a man who seems slightly puzzled by it all.

In the end, it may be Barack Obama who needs the inspiring.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Sharing a world

Usually when I write in a forum that allows anonymous comments, I avoid reading them. In papers like the Waco Tribune-Herald (back when it allowed comments) or the Dallas Morning News, I usually get attacked from the right. However, in the Huffington Post, I am usually savaged by atheists. (Which raises the question-- why are so many atheists reading the "religion" section of the Huffington Post?).

Huffington Post pieces can generate a lot of commentary. For example, one of my previous posts about a minor note in a Supreme Court opinion generated over 500 comments.

My piece this week got 270+ comments. Some were affirming, and that meant a lot to me. Others were thoughtful disagreement, which I also appreciated. Others however, seemed to stridently condemn people of faith as stupid. For example, here was a comment from "Ascanious001:"

Now all you have to do is get over your need to believe in an imaginary magical sky daddy and you'll have come farther still on the road to becoming a fully functioning, rational human being. As is clear from the hideous, abominable way the church has been instrumental in fomenting and perpetuating homophobia in our culture, Christianity, like Islam, is a blight upon mankind. You need to write a little about that, too.

What do you say to respond to someone who describes your faith, the wellspring that feeds your soul, as a "blight upon mankind?"

I was pondering that today as I walked to my house. It was a rainy, windy day here in Minneapolis, but there is a certain beauty in that. The leaves swirl on the ground, or still speckle the trees with red and yellow. On the ground, beneath me, there was one red leaf, a perfect one, its veins a contrasting yellow and a subtle, gorgeous mix of colors fading from yellow to deep crimson from the center to the sides.

Last weekend, with Henry Wright and Matt Johnson, our friend Drew caught a speckled trout that was as resplendent as that leaf. Not large, but achingly perfect in its form, a collage of life's colors on the strong side of that fish. The guide held it out before we threw it back, so we could see the green and pink and cream of it, and then it slipped back into the water, effortlessly, that collage disappearing in the matching glint of ocean and light. It was a still, small moment.

Whoever you are, Ascanious001, we share a hauntingly beautiful place, surrounded by people whose lives we can imbue with meaning and love-- our family, our friends, our students, and those we have not yet met. It may (to me) be a Creation, or (to you) a happy accident, but it simply is, and that is larger than either of us. This world forces humility upon us, and that is consistent with my faith. The resonance of a creator deepens and broadens my experience in what I see and touch and taste. You do not have to share my view, but we do get to share this world.

We are both blessed, a bounty neither of us deserves.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


What I'm up to...

I've been lucky enough to enjoy a few months without much travel (other than my wonderful trip back to Texas last week), but that's about to end. On Thursday, I'm heading out to the big law school hiring conference in DC, since I'm on the hiring committee here at St. Thomas.

Then, on November 15-17, I'll be out in Atlanta as one of the speakers at the Kairos Death Penalty Conference in Atlanta. I've never spoken to that group, but it seems like a good fit!

Of course, between these two is Halloween. I'm open to costume ideas...


Seen in the sky in Texas

Taken Sunday night south of Rosebud on Highway 77. Any guesses?

Monday, October 25, 2010


Well... that headline might be a problem...

A version of my Razor post from Sunday last week is now up (at the top!) of the religion section over at the Huffington Post. That should be an interesting comments section!

Maybe I should have had them consider these alternatives for the headline:

"Jerk of the Year Reflects on His Misdeeds"
"Big Dummy Fathead Blunders Through Life"
"Stinky McStinko Regrets His Errors"

[In fairness, I did come up with with the headline myself. That should promote my "humility project" quite nicely, eh?]

At any rate, I would urge you, no matter what you think, to contribute to the comments section over at HuffPo. If you have a story about me, good or bad, put it out there-- it couldn't be much worse that the headline!


Where Goest Thou, Razor?

Razorites, advise me. I'm having fun with the IPLawGuy cartoons, but they are slowing down the Razor for a lot of people. I'm thinking of moving them off to youtube (most are already there) and ending the series.

1) What do you think?
2) How should I tie up the plot?

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Guys on a dirt road

I was walking down a dirt road with some guys yesterday, and thought about Jesus walking down a dirt road with some guys. It is a repeating motif in the Gospels, and a compelling image.

When I think of that, though, I often also think about the fact that they were, well, all guys. A few years ago, I read the recovered fragments of the Gospel of Judas, and a lot of the story there seemed to involve not just a bunch of guys walking, but a bunch of guys who were often having a good time. They laugh a lot. I’m not giving a lot of credence to the authenticity of the Gospel of Judas, but it did make me think—were they often not so somber? There is joy in this faith, and there was joy for many in being near Jesus, so I would think… yeah, there was some laughter.

Of course, there are also the awkward results within the church stemming from the fact that they were all guys. For the Southern Baptist Convention and the Catholic Church, that is one basis for barring women from the priesthood, for example. I’m not a Catholic or a Southern Baptist (I am a Baptist who was never part of an SBC church), so I can’t claim much expertise on that doctrine, but it is not one I adhere to. I have no problem with women in any leadership role in the church, and think that it is important to have women leaders in the congregations I am a part of.

I’m not sure that Jesus could have traveled with a woman and had a ministry. Because of the restrictions of the time, that simply would not have been allowed. Perhaps the fact that his closest followers were men reflected the world’s rules, not His. It is one of the dilemmas of God’s power interacting with us so directly—that Jesus could not, in human form, challenge all that was wrong by breaking rules, or his teaching and life would have been cut even shorter.

So we are left with some guys walking down a dirt road…

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I'm on a boat!

I'm wearing floppy floppies.
However, I forgot my nautical-themed pashmina afghan.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Haiku Friday: The Aqua Buddha

You can see the video here.

Really... don't we have to do this? Let's haiku about the Aqua Buddha.

You can mess with the form this week-- just make it three short lines. I don't care about the syllables.

Here is mine:

Don't you sorta wish
There really was an Aqua Buddha?
Baylor needs one.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: Is there a problem with electing Senators who aren't very smart?

It sure looks like Republicans are going to clean up in the coming elections. At this point, the question seems only to be the degree of the victory.

One thing that happens when a party wins big is that some of their fringe elements get carried along for the ride. 2006, for example-- that guy from Orleans got carried in with the Democratic tide.

This year, the Republican fringe is along for the ride. One of the more interesting people on that fringe is Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell of Delaware. There is a controversy over a debate in which she denied that separation of church and state is in the Constitution. She is right, of course: The First Amendment does not literally use those words, only that the government cannot establish a religion. Subsequently, Supreme Court opinions have said that there is some measure of separation of church and state required by that Establishment Clause. However, many people think that is a mistake-- that separation isn't really what the framers of the Constitution intended.

There are some legal fine points there which politicians often gloss over. O'Donnell, though, (who has claimed to be a Constitutional scholar) seems to have gotten to that conclusion without the intermediate muckety-muck. Her conclusion may be legitimate; what isn't clear is whether she ever sorted things out to get to that conclusion, but rather just bought into a sound bite.

Is it important to have smart people in elected office-- who can come to the conclusion, and go through the reasoning process that gets you from here to there?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


IPLawGuy 22: The intern gets new instructions

You can see the video here.


Pickles gets advice from RRL

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Mirror of Justice/

I used to have the wonderful group blog, Mirror of Justice, on my blogroll, but it fell off accidentally during one of my recent heartless purges of dead blogs. Sorry, guys! It is back, and heartily recommended.

Several of my St. Thomas colleagues contribute to Mirror of Justice, and one of them, Susan Stabile, also maintains her own blog, Creo En Dios, which I am adding now, too. Susan is a great writer who writes daily, and my discussions with her (which always include both agreement and disagreements) have led to some new and important thoughts for me.

Check out both of these blogs!



I was at Baylor for ten years. There are some messed up things there, like at any school, but I remain a fan of the place, and think it is getting better all the time.

But... now this! Apparently, Rand Paul's opponent in the Kentucky Senate race is running an ad claiming that while at Baylor as an undergrad, Paul was part of a secret cult which worshipped the "Aqua Buddha!"

There are some obvious holes in this story:

1) Waco is a lousy place to be either (a) aquatic, or (b) Buddhist. Thus, a really lousy place for an Aqua Buddha.

2) The claim, specifically, is that Paul tied a woman up and forced her to worship the "Aqua Buddha." This seems like behavior that would really stick out at a place like Baylor, and have been raised before this.

3) Wait a minute... Rand Paul went to Baylor? Hoo boy...

Monday, October 18, 2010


Minnesota Monday: Slow Food

In Waco, I lived just off Valley Mills Drive, which was loaded with fast food places-- I was with in a few miles of four kinds of fried chicken, several burger joints (including McDonald's, BK, Jack-In-The-Box, Wendy's, and Backyard Burgers), both a Taco Bell and a Taco Bueno, a Subway, a Quizno's, a Little Caesar's, a Papa John's, Chik-Fil-A, Luby's, a chicken finger place, Long John Silver's, Sonic, Baskin-Robbins, Wild Wings, Double Dave's, and an Arby's (among others-- those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head). Here there is... nothing. Well, nothing I have seen yet, within the same distance from my house.

Instead, there is an amazing variety of grocery stores. Nearby I have Byerly's (gorgeous; kind of a food museum), Lund's (much like Byerly's but a little cheaper), the amazing new Linden Hills food co-op, Jerry's (which is kind of stuck in the 70's), Cub Food, and a Super Target. This is a sharp contrast from Waco, which offered only H.E.B. stores and a Wal-Mart.

Believe me, I miss my fried chicken. I have looked and looked for some. In Waco, my neighborhood smelled like chicken, and to me that was a good thing!

Still... I am learning to live with this slow food thing. It has its advantages, I suppose. I wonder, though-- why is there this inverse proportionality between fast food and grocery stores?

I was at Lund's recently, looking at cheeses, and one of the very pleasant employees came over to help. On a whim, I asked her if there was a KFC nearby.

She looked at me for a second, then gravely told me she would be right back. I waited, wondering what would happen next-- were they going to throw me out of the store?

A few minutes later, she returned, looking relieved. "There isn't one in Edina," she said, shaking her head, "but my manager has seen one on Cleveland Street in St. Paul." St. Paul is on the other side of the Mississippi River, on the far side of Minneapolis.

I must have looked a little shaken, because she gently offered to get me a recipe to fry my own chicken, but I declined. At some point, after all, ya gotta take the hint.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Sunday Reflection: Sometimes, the Rest of Us Get Better, Too-- Gays, Lesbians, Bullies, and God

In the wake of the suicides of gay teenagers, there has been a new project called It Gets Better, which tells the stories of gay and lesbian teenagers who have a story of hope-- one in which things get better.

That's not my story. I am straight, and never faced the teasing, the bullying, or the violence gay and lesbian kids did and do. In fact, I was a bigot. I don't specifically remember being a bully to anyone, but I may well have been, given my attitude towards gays when I was young. At the very least, I know that I did not do anything to stop others from teasing or bullying, and in that way was complicit in what happened.

Why would I do that?

In short, as a kid I thought that gays and lesbians were "weird" and even deviants. My bigotry was consistent with what the culture, the church, and my friends thought and said, and was not countered by those who knew better.

I was one of those guys who described certain clothes or things as "gay," and it was not a positive description.

But... I got better. Not perfect (I am still a work in progress), but better.

What changed? That is simple-- a handful of brave men and women changed me, people who were willing to challenge my bigotry through leadership, friendship, and warmth.

The first person who did this has no idea who I am, and has never met me. His name is George Greenia, and he is a professor of Hispanic Studies at William and Mary. While I did get a great education, when I was there (1981-1985) William and Mary was much like Baylor is now-- a place that was generally homophobic, an attitude which was maintained largely through a complete lack of public discussion of anything remotely related to the topic of homosexuality.

That changed because of Prof. Greenia. He, very publicly, began a support group on campus for gays and lesbians. It was a brave, bold, and risky thing to do in Williamsburg, which is essentially a small, conservative southern town. I never went to the support group, but that bold move began to change the way I thought. It was the first time that I had been part of a culture that in any way whatsoever reflected a positive view of gays and lesbians. I began to re-examine my beliefs, and to realize I had been wrong.

That process continued in law school. There, I had three friends who were gay, and who were out. I didn't become friends with them because they were gay, or probably even realize it until after the friendship had been formed. Here is the key thing, though-- at the time they met me, this man and two women must have realized that I was a bigot, and they befriended me anyway. There is something extraordinary and wonderful in that, and I am still grateful to them. The experience changed me in some specific ways. I stopped thinking about gays and lesbians as sinners or deviants, and began to think of them as people, complex people, diverse people, who were in the mix of this fascinating, wonderful life we all share.

Christ did not command me to go out into the world and judge sinners, change people, or separate some people from others. His command was to love. Are gays and lesbians sinners? It doesn't seem that way to me (apart from the way in which we are all sinners), but at some level I don't care and have not carefully evaluated this-- if it is a sin, it is not my sin, and the sin I need to discern, identify and root out is my own. One of those sins has been bigotry and senseless hurt, and I atone for that now, and here.

Readers-- don't leave me hanging here. Please comment with support, or revulsion, or your own thoughts. I dearly want a real discussion about this, and hope you will join me in it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


IPLawGuy 20: The intern faces unreasonable demands


IPLawGuy 19: Back to the Pod in Space

Friday, October 15, 2010


Haiku Friday: Best superheroes ever

Since turning IPLawGuy into a superhero, I'm starting to realize the significance of some of the challenges one faces when coming up with such stories. Success varies... I suppose that is why everyone knows about Superman, but most of us can't quite remember what it is the Green Lantern does, or anything about Aquaman other than he lived underwater.

Let's haiku about superheroes today. Here is mine:

Huh? What's a "Green Lantern"
It sounds like a guy who could
Just illuminate.

Now it is your turn. five syllables for the first line, seven for the second, and five for the last...

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Episode 18: Turncoat Intern!


Political Mayhem Thursday: Law Enforcement

My friends over at the Washington Legal Foundation are featuring a piece I wrote for them on the DOJ, Guidelines, and Natural Law-- you can see it here. That's a little much for political mayhem Thursday, though, so I am going to focus things a little more.

Generally, what should law enforcement be doing right now? As I made clear earlier this week, I think it would be a great time to take a realistic and focused approach to curtailing drug trafficking.

Here are some other possible priorities:

-- White collar crime
-- RRL-related crimes
-- Immigration crimes
-- Domestic violence
-- Drunk driving
-- Hamburgling
-- Medical Industry fraud
-- Environmental crimes
-- Sexual predators
-- property crimes

If you think that topic is boring, feel free to comment on the somewhat strange fact that nearly all violent criminals are men.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


IPLawGuy Takes Amtrak... and gets a surprise.


Bad High School Poetry Contest

I'm thinking it is time for another bad high-school poetry contest. To get a sense of the genre, check out these prior posts from 2006 and 2008. In short, it needs to be unbelievably depressing and full of awkward phrases and/or embarrassing situations. Please bring me your best. The winner will become a character in the IPLawGuy video saga!

This idea came from the discovery, as I was unpacking boxes, of a really horrible poem I wrote in 10th grade, which is awful, dark, awkward AND involves sentencing issues. Over time, my poems became less tortured than this one. (you can click on the image to enlarge it, but I can't imagine why you would want to):

So give it your best shot!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I meet my arch-nemesis!


Writing and Thinking in the Minnesota Autumn

This morning, I had this piece on the op-ed page of The Minneapolis Star Tribune, my new hometown paper. Check out the comments-- very different than the type of responses I get in the Dallas Daily News or the Huffington Post (which are often wise and insightful, but also often pretty harsh). Here is a tidbit:

We may need to make minor personal sacrifices if we want drug abuse to go down. For example, the most promising effort in combating meth is what we have seen in Oregon. In 2004, there were about 400 incidents involving illegal meth labs in that state. In 2008, there were 20. Oregon made the cold medication pseudoephedrine, which is a key ingredient in illegal meth, available by prescription only. This kind of regulatory approach doesn't fill the prisons, but it does solve the problem. So why don't other states follow Oregon's lead? In part, because people don't want the hassle of getting a prescription for a cold medication.

Through former student Jim Dedman, I also had an interview on the Abnormal Use Blog yesterday. Jim was in my very first class on Criminal Practice, along with David Moore. Interestingly, Jim went on to make an excellent movie about the Baylor Law experience ("Pleadings"), while David became the subject of a major motion picture which was set in part at Baylor Law ("American Violet," which I mention in the interview). Here is an excerpt:

5. If you could offer young lawyers beginning their careers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Pick the right mentor. Find someone with enthusiasm for what they do, who views his or her work as a calling of some kind. Do not accept a jaded mentor, or cynicism about the practice of law. If there is no one like that in your firm, you are not in a good place. If that’s where you are, well, we have room for you in criminal law, where there are plenty of true believers on both sides of the bar.

Monday, October 11, 2010


A poor television design, and a surprise...

As you may remember, IPLawGuy and I left the intern in charge and went to a tavern to watch football. Once we were gone, Pickles the Demon Cat snuck in and kidnapped the intern, forcing him to write term papers for her class in world domination. After they have left, the Spanish Medievalist returns to the Pod in Space looking for a lost article, and meets a mysterious stranger...


Minnesota Monday: Politics

One thing I am learning about Minnesota is how profoundly the culture and social institutions here are influenced by the state's Scandanavian heritage. There are many ways it seems more like Europe than Texas, and politics is one of them.

Unlike the rest of the country, Minnesota has an effective three-party system, and only one of the parties is very familiar.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party is a descendant of the strong progressive history in this state. It seems, in general, to be pretty darn liberal-- very different than the Democrats in Texas.

The Independence Party, which came out of the Ross Perot campaign in 1992,has had major party status in Minnesota continuously since 1994, and in 1998 elected the governor (Jesse Ventura). This time around, they are running the sensible-seeming Tom Horner (who is my neighbor, apparently).

In a more familiar vein, we also have a strong Republican party. The current governor, Tim Pawlenty, is a Republican, though he seems to be focused more on running for President than running the state right now.

Since we are in the middle of an election season, one fascinating thing I am seeing is how much substantive discourse there is about actual issues. The three candidates for governor seem to be debating each other nearly every day, and when they do they seem to focus on policy issues. The Republicans do call the DFL candidate a "liberal," but he seems to shrug and admit it. The DFLers say that the Republican candidate is supported by Newt Gingrich, which is true. Mostly, they talk about tax policy in concrete terms. This seems fairly unique these days-- in most other states, we see games played over having debates, and a lot more name-calling.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


An eventful evening

Meanwhile, back at IPLawGuy's pod in space...


Sunday Reflection: Escape

I know that when things seem at their worst, people fantasize about escape. I will often ask people what they would do if they were not in this place/job/life, and I am often surprised by the specificity of the answers-- people have thought this through. When I was interviewing at law firms, this seemed to be a very productive question, as firms full of people with fully-formed escape fantasies seemed to be places I did not want to be.

Escape fantasies seem wrong to me in many ways. They represent withdrawal from a challenge, in a sense, even quitting.

But what to make of Jesus's retreats? We know that he would withdraw alone from everyone at times, to pray and reflect. Were these escapes?

Perhaps, in a way. He removed himself from a place and role for a time to regenerate himself, to become stronger. Importantly, though, he then returned to the challenge.

This example seems a good one for those who despair and fantasize about a very different life. It could be that the temporary retreat is worthwhile-- an in-between that exists as an alternative to both continued immersion in troubles and flight.


A brief recap and F.A.Q.

Q: Osler, where did Pickles the Cat come in?
A: As explained in this live-action video, Pickles broke my ankle back in August.

Q: What kind of superpowers do these people have?
A: IPLawGuy has broccoli power, as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of intellectual property law and access to a wide variety of power tools. The Spanish Medievalist has unusual protection against groin injuries, while CTL is motivated by a poor job market for college graduates. Tydwbleach, meanwhile, has the ability to handle hot objects safely, and Hair Cut Guy is able to fly.

Q: Where can I see some of the older things that have been removed from the blog?
A: They are available over on YouTube. Just type in IPLawGuy, and they will appear (albeit, out of order).

[video removed-- but you can see it here]

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Superheroes and the sentencing guidelines

Video Removed-- but you can see it here.

Friday, October 08, 2010


Haiku Friday: Interns

Look! IPLawGuy got an intern:
[Video removed-- but you can see it here]

There are days where everyone could use an intern-- someone to do those little tasks that we don't quite have time for.

If you could be an intern for anyone, anywhere, at any time, who would you pick?

That is our haiku topic.

This week, I will relax the formula. Stick to two short lines, or three if you must. Do not worry about the syllables.

Here is mine:

My dream internship:
With James Buchanan.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: John Yoo, Akhil Amar, and a little unrest

Today at St. Thomas, we are having a great forum on presidential powers featuring a number of great speakers which include not only St. Thomas's Michael Paulsen (shown here teaching outside today) and Robert Delahunty, but Akhil Amar from Yale Law and John Yoo from Berkeley.

Because Profs. Yoo and Delahunty worked in the Bush administration and wrote some of the controversial memos on presidential power, we expect that protesters will appear at the school in the morning. Their point, as far as I can gather, is that the two professors were wrong and even criminal in their actions within the Bush administration, and should not be allowed to speak.

I agree with their right to protest. I do not agree with their point, though.

One of the reasons we have an academy is to allow divergent views to be heard. If people disagree about important issues, we debate them in classrooms and on stages, rather than in the streets. It's an amazing and wonderful process, a way of getting to truth. Within this process, it is most important that we hear from those we disagree with the most, and that the most sensitive issues be raised.

There is something just sad about such protesters who clearly want to silence someone. I went out to talk to some of the protesters last month, actually. One of their frustrations is that they are not allowed on the stage with people like Yoo and Delahunty.

Of course they aren't allowed on that stage! I'm not on that stage, either, because I am not an expert on presidential powers (I get to be an expert on Friday). In fact, for those who oppose Yoo and Delahunty, there WILL be someone on that stage who is a wonderful expert and ideological opposite to Profs. Yoo and Delahunty-- Akhil Amar.

I'm kind of an iconoclast, and I understand the urge to shout. However, the love of ideas leads me to favor my urge to listen and discern. Shouting at an exchange like this one comes off not as a protest at one side's ideas, but at the process itself (which, in fact is what will literally be protested and yelled at). I love this process, and I hate to see it debased by those who prefer to hear neither Yoo nor Amar, nor, in time, me and those with whom I disagree.

There are things to rage at. Civil discussion is not one of them.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Introducing Pickles new sidekick: It's Tyd! [Updated]

Video removed... but you can see it here.


Episode 8, in which DiaDelKendall appears as my arch nemesis

You have to admit... this guy looks a lot like DiaDelKendall.
[Video removed-- but you can see it here]


Moot Court Finals Completed!

The Drama-Free St. Thomas Moot Court Tournament had a great conclusion tonight with the final round, in which Alison Ovenden narrowly out-pointed Nathan Gallus.

It was a very impressive showing, too, by both finalists, who were as good as anyone I have seen recently in moot court.

The rest of the week will be exciting, too-- with the arrival tomorrow morning of a crack panel on presidential powers, followed by Friday's panel on crack.


An arrest in Waco

Baylor's best basketball player, Lacedarius Dunn, was arrested yesterday on charges of aggravated assault for breaking the jaw of his girlfriend.

It's a sad and complex story. Dunn is one of those players who could soon be playing in the NBA, a prospect which could make himself, his family, and his girlfriend very affluent. Those prospects will dim (though not be extinguished) if he is convicted of this charge.

There are some strange developments. The victim denies she was hit and says she will not "press charges," but that is a moot point-- prosecutors, not victims, decide if charges will be pursued, and Dunn has already made an initial appearance on those charges. Jurisdictions vary in their deferrence to victims in domestic violence cases-- The approach of some prosecutors changed after women who declined to press charges later turned up hurt or dead.

This is part of Tommy Witherspoon's excellent report in the Waco Trib (Ms. Edwards is Dunn's girlfriend):

Waco police were called to Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, where they found Edwards bleeding from the mouth and holding a towel to her face.

She declined to provide a written statement to police and would confirm only that Dunn was the one who hit her, according to the arrest affidavit.

Waco attorney Jason Darling, who said he was hired by Edwards because she didn’t want to face the media, said the couple, who have known each other since junior high school in Monroe, La., got into an argument during her visit last week.

Edwards has since returned to Louisiana with their son, Dillon, Darling said.

“She wants people to know that she didn’t want him arrested on this offense,” Darling said. “She is doing fine, health-wise, and didn’t think it should rise to the level of felony aggravated assault. She never gave a statement and is going to sign an affidavit requesting nonprosecution in the case.”

The argument that led to the alleged incident concerned “typical boyfriend-girlfriend kinds of things,” Darling said. Dunn started to walk away and Edwards grabbed his arm, he said.

“That’s when she was struck. They were just arguing. Things had never escalated to this extent before,” Darling said.

Both sides of Edwards’ jaw were fractured, according to police reports. She underwent surgery, and doctors used six screws and a plate to repair the right side and eight screws and a plate to repair the left side of her jaw, reports indicate.

A doctor told Waco police Detective Byron Combs that there had to have been an extreme amount of force used to break both sides of her jaw with one punch, Combs wrote in an affidavit to support Dunn’s arrest.

Dunn has a great lawyer (and someone I'm glad to call a friend)-- Vik Deivanayagam. In looking at the situation as a whole, I am not pronouncing any judgment other than that there is a great tragedy here, and (as is often true in criminal law) perhaps more than one.


What's going on here?

First, hits at the Razor have spiked for some reason-- nearly 500 a day over the past few days.
Second, some people are telling me that the blog is loading up slowly. Let me know if this is happening to you.

Also, Baylor football is 4-1. Hmmmm....

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Pickles + The Spanish Medievalist: Could this be the end of IPLawGuy?


The Spanish Medievalist is disgruntled...

Video removed-- but you can see it here


This week at St. Thomas

I'm already amazed at the level of intellectual activity I am finding here at St. Thomas. Many people here are linked into the national debate on important issues, and that's exciting. Here is a snapshot of what is going on this week:

1) On Wednesday, we will have the final round of our moot court tournament, which has been completely student-run and drama-free. The finals will be presided over by two local judges and the Dean of St. Thomas Law.

2) On Thursday, there will be an amazing forum on the Constitutional powers of the President which will include Akhil Amar from Yale, John Yoo from Berkeley, Michael Paulsen and Robert Delahunty from St. Thomas, and others.

3) Finally, on Friday we will have a symposium on sentencing, with federal judges Ralph Erickson, Patrick Schiltz, and myself.

That's a busy (and interesting) week!

Monday, October 04, 2010


The Spanish Medievalist Gets a Special Lawyer Suit!

[video removed-- but you can see it here]


IPLawGuy vs. Pickles the Cat!

[video removed- but you can see it here]


Minnesota Monday: Under the Bridge

This weekend, I tested out the ankle and rode my bike to Minnehaha Falls, pictured here. Minnehaha Creek runs right by my house, so it was a blast to trace its path through the city all the way to the Falls, which are close to the Mississippi River. This seems to be a great place for adventure of all types (I will describe a little of this week's intellectual adventure at St. Thomas tomorrow morning).

What's amazing is that you can do that at all. There is a bike path, though, which runs along the creek through a series of parks. It's remarkable-- you are in the middle of the city, but it feels like rural Vermont. The Twin Cities Marathon followed this same route on Sunday, and I can see why runners love that route.

At one point, the path ran directly under I-35. I stopped for a minute right under that massive freeway, the one that connects this place in one unbroken strand to Waco.

The shocking thing was how quiet it was there. You couldn't hear the traffic, just an occasional distant thump from an expansion joint. It was peaceful. After a moment just pondering that, I remembered the other time I have been under a freeway bridge-- in fact, under this same freeway, 1100 miles South.

If you have been to the Church Under the Bridge in Waco, then you, too, perhaps have found a moment of peace directly under I-35.

It is a small world, with long roads.


IPLawGuy wants to design your Special Lawyer Suit!

[Video removed - but you can see it here]

Sunday, October 03, 2010


Sunday Reflection: Christian Hate?

I was appalled this week at the story about Andrew Shirvell, the Assistant Attorney General in Michigan who has been waging a one-man hate war against a 21-year-old student at the University of Michigan. Referring to his Christian faith several times, Shirvell defended the things he had done to the student (who Shirvell apparently hates because he is both gay and president of the student body at Michigan): Starting a blog to vilify the student, drawing a swastika with an arrow pointing to the student's face, protesting in front of the student's home, and publicly describing the student as an "Satan's representative." Whew.

I think there are principled arguments on both sides of, say, the issue of gay marriage. That is a legitimate debate in the public sphere.

However, I really deplore hatred in the name of Christianity. It simply isn't in keeping with what Christ taught. It saddens me that my own faith is used this way by people like Andrew Shirvell, and saddens me more that he is a lawyer. I'm currently the head of the association of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools, and we often discuss and debate the meaning of what should happen at the intersection of faith and law. What should not happen at that crossroads, we probably would all agree, is the type of actions taken by Andrew Shirvell.

What's obvious is that Shirvell's training has been in a particularly nasty kind of Christianized politics, which is far more political than it is Christian. What that kind of blowhard, polarizing politics lacks is the exact characteristic that Christ most strongly urged on us: humility.

Is there, could there be, such a thing as "Christian hate?"

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Competence is good.

I'm the faculty advisor for the the Board of Advocates at St. Thomas, a student organization which runs both the intramural moot court tournament and the trial advocacy and moot court teams. This morning was the big first round of the intramural tournament, and it went incredibly well. No drama. No panicking. No angry people stalking around.

That, my friends, is competence and hard work in action (and, to be sure, it wasn't me being competent). The students did a fabulous job with the whole thing, and I'm really impressed with that part of my new home (among many other things). Christy Botts and Rita Berg seemed to handle the most tasks, but there were plenty of others who also made something complex seem simple-- which is the hardest of tasks.


A new law school ranking...

[Note: Cross-posted at Law School Innovation]

Some of my colleagues here at St. Thomas, led by Greg Sisk, have come up with an intriguing new measurement of scholarly impact. Actually, the method itself-- counting citations in law review articles-- was pioneered by Brian Leiter at the University of Chicago, who has done this to rank-order the top 25 law schools. Greg and the others used Brian's methodology to expand the list to 70 schools. In short, what they did was count the law review citations to work by tenured faculty at a school, then divide by the number of tenured faculty to get an average citation count per faculty member.

There is no perfect measure of something like scholarly impact, and I agree with many others that the focus by law schools on rankings has had a negative impact on legal education. However, if the rankings are with us, those of us who vote should have as many objective measures as possible to rely on, and citation counts are a pretty good objective measure of how much the work of a faculty is being noticed by peers.

It would be interesting to see a similar listing of how often courts-- both state and federal-- cite to the work of the faculties at different schools. This would give an advantage to scholarship that is practical and focused on legal issues that matter to courts. Again, such an objective measure would not be perfect... but it still would be a better basis for evaluation than the guestimates or gamesmanship that seem to dictate the votes on too many survey forms.

Friday, October 01, 2010


Haiku Friday: Barbecue

I have learned that haiku often works best when the subject is something that people feel passionate about, and there appears to be little that Razorites are quite as passionate about as... barbecue (as this previous exchange demonstrates). The topic comes up in part because one of my favorite former students, Nick, has begun a new blog devoted to barbecue which you can see here (I am also adding it to my blogroll).

Here is mine:

Do I miss Texas?
Mmmm, the sweet and tender taste...
Texas, yes I do.

Now it is your turn... five syllables for the first line, seven for the second, and five for the last.

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