Thursday, April 30, 2009


Bar results out!

And it's lookin' pretty good:

February, 2009 Texas Bar Examination Results

1. Baylor 97.06% (33 of 34)
2. U of H 89.19% (33 of 37)
3. Tex. Tech 88.57% (31 of 35)
4. St. Mary’s 87.50% (28 of 32)
5. SMU 83.61% (51 of 61)
6. UT 83.33% (20 of 24)
7. South Texas 80.67% (96 of 119)
8. Texas Wesleyan 77.36% (41 of 53)
9. Texas Southern 40.74% (11 of 27)


Political Mayhem Thursday: Crack and Sen. Specter

What a week in DC!

Yesterday, the Assistant Attorney General submitted testimony to Congress asserting that the DOJ now supports equalizing sentences between crack and powder cocaine. This makes a radical change in the law a sure thing-- no more 100:1 ratio or anything like it. The DOJ's argument even relied heavily upon our win in the Supreme Court's Spears decision, which held that courts have the ability to create their own quantity ratio in crack cases:

"We will continue to ask federal courts to calculate the guidelines in crack cocaine cases, as required by Supreme Court decisions. However, we recognize that federal courts have the authority to sentence outside the guidelines in crack cases or even to create their own quantity ratio. Our prosecutors will inform courts that they should act within their discretion to fashion a sentence that is consistent with the objectives of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and our prosecutors will bring the relevant case-specific facts to the courts’ attention." [emphasis added] [See Doug Berman's astute take on things here]

U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Also, on Monday Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced that he is switching to the Democratic party, virtually assuring them of a filibuster-proof majority once Al Franken is seated.

I have often said that divided government is a good thing, but now I am in the awkward position of having a big Dem majority make all of my policy dreams come true. I'm not sure what to make of that.

What do you think about either issue?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Programming Notes From DC, Utah, and Waco

I received two bits of good news last week. First, I found out that my article Seeking Justice Below the Guidelines: Sentencing as an Expression of Natural Law (available in draft form here) has been accepted by the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, which is the perfect place for it. It will run in the Winter 2009 issue of the Journal.

Also, the 2d issue of the 2009 volume of the BYU Law Review has hit the mail, which contains my article Policy, Uniformity, Discretion, and Congress's Sentencing Acid Trip. You can download that one here, or probably it will be the only result if you google "BYU acid trip." At least I hope it is.

Today I'm putting the finishing touches on a third article which ties together these two, titled After the Implosion: Guidelines for a New Era. So, all in all, I will have a book and two major articles in top-tier journals come out this year, with another on the way, and that's not bad.

One benefit of getting these things placed is that I haven't had to turn to porn for my livelihood, unlike Baylor's local PBS TV station. KWBU in Waco was apparently splicing adult movies into Sunday evening's showing of "My Music: 50's Pop Parade."


Chinese/American Summit

One of my meetings in DC was with Argbf, who spent the whole time slumped down against a wall and eating bamboo. It was odd, but apparently that is pretty much all she has done since winning the election. She had bamboo detritus all over her stomach, and at one point walked over to the corner of her office and pooped. Once again I found that politics is a world I do not understand, and which does not follow normal rules.

Well, maybe I understand it a little. Later today, I expect that there will be a fairly amazing announcement in an area I have been working on for a while-- something I did not think possible for many years. Stay tuned.

Update: Here's the news. Lanny Breuer of the Department of Justice today submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, and stated very plainly that the DOJ now supports equalizing the powder/crack ratio in mandatory minimums and the guidelines. This is a huge change, and makes it very likely that legislation will pass making this change.

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! This democracy thing really does work.


A little-too-close-to-reality show

Autoworkers Compete to Keep Jobs, Livelihoods on New Reality Show

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Swanburg Without Garfield

Sadly, I think this Garfield without Garfield strip represents fellow blogger J. Swanburg's law school career. You have the delirious first year, the second year diversion to business school, then the third year disappearance into Practice Court.

Which makes me wonder-- what would it have been like with Garfield?


They made it!

Waco attorney Stuart Smith and his two fellow travelers made it successfully to the North Pole, on foot from Ellesmere Island! According to their remarkable blog, it was clear that the polar ice is disappearing. If I'm going to believe it from anyone, it is these guys...

Monday, April 27, 2009


Do rankings punish law schools at religiously-affiliated institutions?

Maybe. See the intriguing discussion here. Rick Garnett (who comments there) is an especially astute law prof. at Notre Dame who has always impressed me.


U.C- Irvine Law starting with a bang!

I've reported before on the intriguing developments around Dean Erwin Chemerinsky's efforts at the brand-new U.C.-Irvine law school. Now Brian Leiter reports that the qualifications of their very first class are outstanding-- a median of 167 LSAT and 3.65 GPA. (In contrast, Harvard/Yale/Stanford numbers are a little above 170 and 3.85).

The draws for the new students at Irvine include a stellar faculty and free tuition. The latter, of course, is something no other law school can match for all of its students.

It seemed pretty unlikely when Dean Chemerinsky hoped that Irvine would start out as a Top-20 school, but it is starting to seem like much more of a possibility as things progress.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Sunday Reflection: Prescience and Reversal

1) James Dunn signed a book for me-- Brent Walker's biography of him. On the inside he wrote "Galations 5," which means he either loves that verse (most likely), is extraordinarily prescient, or he reads the Razor, since that is what I wrote about last week.

2) At one of the services on Saturday, a men's chorus from a local prison sang, and did so extraordinarily well. It made me remember Jesus's admonition to "visit those in prison," and realize that now the prisoners were visiting us. Not only that, but leading us. So, I sat there, the prosecutor, as the prisoners led the service. There is something profoundly Christian about that. Also something a little scary, but the most profoundly Christian things are very often like that.

Saturday, April 25, 2009



Here's some good news, law school: Both Rory Ryan and Jim Underwood were named outstanding professors by the University, and will get well-deserved kudos at the University Commencement.

If you see them, feel free to share a Terrorist Fist Bump or something. Just accompany it with some sincere congratulations, since they both deserve it.


JD in the NC

I'm out in North Carolina now, for a meeting of the New Baptist Covenant. The conference is being hosted by Bill Leonard, the founding dean of the Wake Forest Divinity School (who also wrote the jacket blurb for my book). Last night there was a big dinner put on by Baptist Today magazine in honor of James Dunn, who has been a strong voice for the separation of church and state, among other issues. It was special to me because it was James Dunn who (at a Cracker Barrel in Hilton Head SC) told me to take the job at Baylor. I listened to him.

Dunn, in his excellent acceptance speech, gave a big shout-out to fellow blogger Big Daddy Weave, who I very much hope was there to hear it. I'm adding Weave's blog to my list here, something I should have done a long time ago... so there's James Dunn, telling me what to do once again.


The bounce

On Thursday, I got to have lunch with an old friend, someone I have known for 22 years. We both had great news to share, news that could not yet be public. Nothing that will make us rich, or famous, or much different-- just things that involve the type of sacrifice that is worth it. I suppose we have gotten to that age where, if you are lucky, you find yourself in some interesting places where you might do some good.

When we were in school, someone once told me that this friend and I both bounced when we walked. We still did, walking opposite ways down K Street.

Bounce bounce.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Haiku Friday of baseball food

It's an amazing thing, this sport of baseball. I've seen a lot of things happen in pro games, but it still has a way of surprising you.

So, on Wednesday I go over to the new Nationals' ballpark to see DC play the Atlanta Braves. It figures to be a high-scoring game, since both teams are strong at the plate and weak on the mound.

So what happens? Of course, it is a 0-0 tie going into the ninth. The Braves get two men on, so the Nationals put in a new reliever. The guy loads the bases with a walk and then... walks in the winning run. Incredible. Even the normally unflappable Washington Post struggled to find a way to describe this weirdness.

My brother and I once went to a Tiger's game with a brand-new immigrant from Poland who had never seen or heard of baseball, and didn't know much English. We struggled to explain the game, and finally she seemed to grasp the concept of "three strikes and you are out." Just then, of course, the batter stole first base on a called third strike. Sheesh.

Anyways, it is not just the game that draws us in. Maybe it is the race of the presidents (pictured here) or the food. So, let's write about the food this week. Here is mine:

Fenway Frank debate--
Is this the bun? Slice of bread?
Colloquial dog.

Now it is your turn...

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Political Mayhem Thursday: Prosecuting the Bush lawyers?

I'm in Washington, DC, today, the perfect place for political mayhem Thursday. For what it is worth, my meetings yesterday went really well-- the new project is shaping up quite nicely. Last night, I went to see the Nationals lose to Atlanta with IPLawGuy, and they did a great job-- by walking in a run in the 9th after eight scoreless innings on both sides. Whew!

Now for the mayhem... As you probably know, the Obama administration appears to be open to prosecuting Bush administration figures who authorized torture techniques. If they do, it will be a very difficult case to make. The larger question is whether it should be initiated at all, if justified.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


American Airlines

Urgh. They cancelled my flight yesterday. Just when I start to trust them again... and on a beautiful day, too.

Does it seem like this happens more than it used to?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Why we need Clark Kent more than Superman

I've been thinking a lot about the apparent demise of newspapers recently, and have had some sobering conversations with Bob Darden and Carl Hoover (two of my heroes of writing) about this sad topic. The economy right now seems like a bullet headed for the heart of print journalism, and many papers are failing or headed that way.

Unfortunately, the newspaper no longer seems to be a viable financial model, but no other model (internet or otherwise) has arisen that will support active, engaged reporting that fulfills the duties of the fourth estate in our free-speech democracy. I won't recite the ways in which newspapers have addressed hidden problems-- simply citing Watergate does the trick, and that is the tip of the iceberg.

The fact is that Superman may have done more good as Clark Kent than as a superhero, in terms of making the world a better place. Superheroes have two drawbacks: First, they only address short-term problems, often with violence. Second, they are fictional. Print journalists, on the other hand, are more likely to identify a problem and hold it up to public scrutiny, leading to broad and deep societal changes. Print journalists and photographers sold the American public on the value of World Wars I and II, and played a major role in revealing truths in each subsequent conflict, shaping pubic support. Nearly every political scandal in this nation's history was uncovered by print journalists, and they deserve credit for the changes that followed.

A Clark Kent can uncover building code violations and urge reforms that prevent a fire. All Superman can do is save a few people from the flames once the destruction has begun.

I'll take Clark, thanks.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Narrative, love and grace

There seems to be a lot of things stressing people out right now, with finals being at the top of the list. If you seek a sense of proportion, I recommend this.


Don't panic! (US News law school ranking leak)

Douglas Adams was right about a lot of things.

Today there were several internet rumors about the US news rankings, and now I see that at least one leaked ranking has hit the Baylor blogs. That report had Baylor falling several spots. However, I noticed that the site that was reporting that has taken the report down. I would suggest two things.

First, wait until the actual rankings come out. Second, don't mistake the rankings for any true valuation of the education you are getting at Baylor or anywhere else. People I respect, such as Brian Leiter, have done a great job breaking down the many problems with these rankings, and I think the US News rankings especially and unfairly disfavor programs like ours.


Life in Reviews

American Violet (you have to check it out, the national reviews are GREAT):

New York Observer
New York Times
Washington Post
Washington Times
Los Angeles Times
Entertainment Weekly
Roger Ebert

Jesus on Death Row:

MTL Magazine
United Methodeviations
Publishers Weekly
Between Sundays
Hearts and Minds
W & M

Spears v. United States:

Baylor Line
Waco Trib
Simple Justice
Sentencing Law and Policy
Fifth Circuit blog
Supreme Court blog

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Sunday Reflection: Called to Freedom, brothers and sisters!

In Sunday School this morning we moved on to the surprising and revolutionary words of Paul in Galatians 5. There, he takes a stand: The law can be the enemy of the spirit. That is, our adherence to a canon can rob us of the freedom Christ offers. It is a specific freedom-- the freedom of the intellect-- that he is talking about. Moreover, the argues it is a freedom that comes with a responsibility, and not the responsibility preachers often go to, the responsibility to, er, follow rules. Instead, Paul asserts that our intellectual freedom from the law should lead us to serve one another:

"For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another." Gal. 5:13.

Wow. It is an entire world view in a sentence-- that Christ offers us freedom of the mind, with the commandment we use it to serve one another. There is great beauty and challenge in that idea, and a real threat to the idea that faith is defined by adherence to any one set of rules.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Hockey rules!

Courtesy of Philley:

Apparently, bruins will hit you with a fish for fashion faux pas:

Friday, April 17, 2009


Haiku Friday at The Movies

Last night for reasons I can't explain I stayed up late watching "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," which has to be one of the most interesting kinda-bad movies ever. The story is just so wrong in so many ways-- teens doing all kinds of things they shouldn't, with no consequences-- but you still like them.

The cast is astounding. One strange thing is that the two male leads (Brian Backer and Robert Romanus) had careers after that, but nothing like many of the people who played other characters. Besides people you wouldn't expect, like Bruce Springsteen's sister Pamela, Nancy Wilson of the band Heart, and Lana Clarkson (the woman Phil Spector was just convicted of killing), the film features all of the following in roles large and small (mostly small):

Sean Penn
Phoebe Cates
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Nicholas Cage
Judge Reinhold
Forest Whitaker
Eric Stoltz
Anthony Edwards

So there you have it-- a stupid stoner sex movie that includes three Oscar winners for best actor (Penn, Cage, and Whitaker). Wow!

So, here's the haiku:

America calls
To you, Spicoli! We need
You (and your bagel).

Now, it is your turn...
[And while you are thinking of movies, if you saw American Violet in Hearne feel free to hop over to Yahoo movies and give it a review]

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Art, Maggie Weaver, and Austin

I have written before about Baylor Law graduateMaggie Weaver's battle with cancer, and linked to her blog that has described the experience. If you have been following that blog, you have seen not only the hard days of late, but the incredible job her husband has done of chronicling it.

On Wednesday of next week (April 22), Maggie's friends are having an art sale in her honor at Soigne Boutique, 4800 Burnet Road, Suite 420 in Austin. The festivities start at 5 and go until about 8:30. It will be a great event. I would be there if I wasn't going to be in DC, starting my next big legal adventure.

But, no adventure will keep Maggie far from my thoughts and prayers, and I'm sure many many others will be there in person. And... if there was a Nobel Prize for friendship, I think Maggie's friend Flo Rueda would win.


Political Mayhem Thursday: Taxing and Spending

As many of you know, I'm not strictly a conservative or liberal. I will admit that on the bedrock conservative principle of favoring a small, less costly government, I am very conservative, largely owing to my own experiences within the federal government as an employee. I am also a federalist-- I think that the federal government should allow states to exercise their own policies in nearly all areas.

What I don't care about so much is lower taxes. That's because I don't believe lower taxes on the rich help the economy much, and I also don't believe the ridiculous notion that lowering taxes will reduce the size of government so long as we allow deficit spending-- the Bush years should have exploded both those myths. Rather, I think the reverse. First, you shrink government and then (once the debt is paid down) you can lower taxes. You have to have the horse come before the cart-- that is, expenses must come down before taxes come down.

I think Bush and Obama have made a terrible decision in spending so much money on "stimulus." Sadly, it is money that largely will be spent on things that have little role in the recovery, and won't hit the pipeline until after a recovery has begun.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a meeting with the ACLU.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


NPR story on American Violet

As I've mentioned a bazillion times before, American Violet is opening on Friday in many cities (though sadly not in Waco or Detroit). This morning, there was a very good story on NPR about the showing in Hearne (the full story is at the audio link; the print version is highly annotated).

The movie was made, of course, because the writer (Bill Haney) originally heard about the case on NPR, so this is just things going full circle.


Baseball is not eternal

There's a lot to love about Waco, but sometimes there are things I dearly miss. One of them is major league baseball.

The last years in Tiger Stadium, before the move, I shared season tickets with some people from work. I sat in a section full of old-timers, the people who bought a scorecard and brought their own pencil, and genuinely cared what happened. Lou Whitaker would fall, maybe hurt, and a lady behind me would gasp. Ernie Harwell would lean out of the broadcast booth and wave, and they would tell a story about the day they met him, when he was walking out of the park with Al Kaline. People bought the same thing to eat every time, and I did, too-- a bag of peanuts from the corner outside Nemo's bar. The Tigers were good and bad, but the experience was the same, with dusk coming down at the edge of downtown in the old city.

I did see Mark Fidrych pitch once, in 1976. I was thirteen years old. He was having an amazing year, acting like he didn't care what anyone thought. He patted the mound, he talked to the ball, he said crazy happy things to the press. You could tell what was going on by looking at the batters-- Carl Yastrzemski, looking at the mound like he was watching a river flow backwards. And then, a few minutes later, Yaz was walking back to the dugout with a little half-smile on his face as Fidrych smoothed out the mound. At that moment I jumped up when I saw that my Dad did, reached up to slap his hand and happy to be next to him, still a child just like The Bird.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Dorks and Newspapers

Am I the only one that looked at the big picture on the front page of the New York Times today and thought that maybe Thailand was being attacked by AT-AT Walkers from the ice planet of Hoth? [You can click on the paper to make the AT-AT Walkers larger]

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Brian McKinney?


Student Loan Reform

President Obama has proposed some sweeping reforms of the student loan system that seem to make a lot of sense. In short, he wants to cut down on the role of the banks, who reap big profits while taking little risk under the federal system.

I'm sure that one reaction will be that this is creating a big new federal program, but I'm not sure that is fair. There already is a big federal program, it just creates a lot of unearned profit for banks. I'm not sure that eliminating student loans is something anybody wants, and reform is the better solution.

I am willing to reconsider, though, if someone can tell me what value the private lenders add to the system...

Monday, April 13, 2009


Live at 5....

I really can't stand my own voice (I think I sound like an 12-year-old with a cold), so I'll never watch it, but someone else might want to see this interview I did this evening with Julie Hays at KWTX, our CBS station here in Waco. Julie always impresses me-- she not only read the book but really understood it.


An incredible expedition

Local Waco attorney Stuart Smith has done some amazing things, including a successful climb of Mt. Everest and four 50-mile ultramarathons. Now he is on perhaps his most dangerous adventure of all, a trip on foot from Ellesmere Island to the North Pole with Arctic legend Lonnie Dupre. The sponsoring organization appears to be based in the best little town in the world, Grand Marais, Minnesota.

It's a fascinating adventure, and you can follow it on their blog, which provides a daily update on their progress.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Easter Sunday Reflection: Miracles

It has been a wonderful and whole Easter so far. I love this holiday, and the rhythm that exists between Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. It is an emotional roller coaster.

Easter celebrates rebirth. The resurrection of Christ, certainly, but also the hope each of us have for rebirth because of Christ, should we choose that. Spring of the soul is possible.

One part of Easter, though, has never resounded with me. It is that part of the story that is used as a proof of Christ's divinity-- that his resurrection tells us he really was the Messiah. It is the ultimate miracle. My problem is that it seems like a faith which rests on such a specific miracle is vulnerable, tall and thin. What if that single miracle is challenged?

My problem isn't that I don't believe in that miracle. Rather, it is that I can't say that my faith rests on that miracle alone, or principally. My beliefs are rooted in Jesus's life-- the teachings, which resound within me as true in a real and unshakable way. It is all a miracle, his life, from the start to the finish, and the resurrection is only a part of it.

To me, the resurrection that matters isn't so much Christ's as ours-- the rebirth that is offered in the whole of his life, the guidance and meaning and love.

It is a wonderful day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Razor Q & A: The Easter Bunny

Oddly, the back story on the Easter Bunny is almost completely unknown. To help fill in the gaps, you can count on the Razor (the only blog to explain what happened to Frosty).

Q: Where does the Easter Bunny live?

A: The bunny has a secret underground lair deep beneath the Naval Observatory in Washington DC, a location he was able to secure through his political alliances with the Bush Administration. In fact, neighbors in the area complained bitterly about the construction noise before they were were relocated to new homes in Anacostia.

Q: If the bunny is a mammal, why does it deliver eggs?

A: Traditionally, rabbits and chickens are mortal barnyard enemies. The Easter Bunny, as a giant Goliath-type rabbit, personally slaughtered thousands of chickens and looted their nests. Needing something to do with all those eggs that would be consistent with his political beliefs, he decided to distribute them to wealthy children.

Q: Does the Easter Bunny have a wife?

A: Yes, he has several. Their names are Princess, Fluffy, Gladys, Zonker, Princess (2), Tiffy, Princess (3), and Gordona.

Please feel free to forward any additional questions you might have.


New blog!

Check it out here.


That Saturday

The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is kind of a mystery. There are services on three of these four days, and this is the odd day out.

Still, there is something deeply disturbing about this day. Jesus has been crucified, but not yet risen. How grim would that have been? I can relate it in a shallow way to that sinking, awful feeling you get when you realize something has gone very wrong, but before you figure out what to do about it-- that terrible slough between realization and action.

What if we were in that time, though, and we did not know that Easter was coming?

Friday, April 10, 2009


Haiku Good Friday


A kernal inside
All of us, draws us to be
A part of the mob.


Thursday, April 09, 2009


Political Mayhem Thursday: Church and State

Some activists for an active division between church and state are troubled by the fact that President Obama's beliefs about government support for religious groups are not that different than President Bush's. I suppose this shouldn't be a surprise; when Sarah Palin derided Obama's work as a "community organizer," she was mocking his very serious and successful work in housing for a Catholic charity. (I have to say, making fun of that, and the delirious cheering it received, was one of those things that really drives me away from the Republican party-- just stupid nastiness).

Are Bush and Obama right in thinking that federal tax dollars should go to religious organizations for work on social problems? For example, which of the following social programs by a church do you think the government should be allowed to fund?:

1) Work on providing affordable housing
2) Work on reducing the number of abortions
3) Work on rehabilitating criminal offenders
4) Work to prevent stores from selling pornography

Where do we draw the line?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Why Brady Matters

In class, I often tell my students about the importance to prosecutors of thinking broadly when considering whether or not to turn over material which may help the defense (which we call Brady material after the Supreme Court case that announced the duty to do so). It is always better to err on the side of disclosure.

Another example of why this is important is now on the front pages. The conviction of Senator Ted Stevens has now not only been undone, but the judge who presided over the case has named a special prosecutor to investigate the prosecutors. Troublingly, the targets of the new investigation include the chief and deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.

I certainly understand the desire not to turn over exculpatory material (I've been there), but it often surprises me how often prosecutors make this mistake when they probably would have won the trial anyways-- it reflects a clubhouse mentality that emphasizes gaining an advantage, when prosecutors above all others should avoid that mindset.

There is a true irony here, too. The Bush administration was often criticized for politicizing prosecutions, and now Bush-era DOJ officials are going to have their careers likely ended-- for their actions in taking down a Republican senator. Probably the more important critique of the Bush DOJ would not have been that it created a culture of politicization, but one of overzealousness. Some glimpses of that DOJ show a dominant group that embraced an unfortunate conception of the prosecutorial vocation that rests on winning, not justice, with the underlying assumption that if our side (DOJ) wins, justice is done.

Once again, we find that such an assumption just is not true.


The beauty that is... Garfield without Garfield.

Garfield without Garfield; there's nothing else like it. You start with the comic strip, remove the dumb cat, and focus on Jon, the hapless law student portrayed in the strip. It's just beautiful, man.


Congratulations, ADA Lane!

I'm very happy to report that Razor regular Lane is now properly employed in a job where his conscience and skills can go to good use, and apparently living on South Padre Island. It occurs to me that RRL, as a private attorney who could conceivably represent criminal defendants, may possibly face Lane in an appellate court some day. And, if that happens, I will be there.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


The odometer is going to flip...

To 300,000 hits in Razor history, sometime this evening. How weird that we care about stuff like that, but... somehow, we do, right?


A new job for a great coach

Baylor men's basketball coach Scott Drew's top assistant, Matt Driscoll, is leaving us to become the head coach at the University of North Florida. While this is a great thing for Coach Driscoll and for North Florida, it's a sad day for Baylor. Coach Driscoll is incredibly hard-working and engaging, and has played an important role in the resuscitation of Baylor basketball the past several years.

I met Coach Driscoll a few years ago. I was running a lecture series at my church on college sports, and Coach agreed to come talk to my class one Sunday morning. Before the class, I was to meet him on the steps of the church at 9:15. Unfortunately, I was late because of something going on at home, and when I got to the church I didn't see Coach on the steps. I was a little panicked, worried that he had given up on waiting for me.

I shouldn't have worried. I shortly found Coach Driscoll, standing inside the foyer greeting people as they walked in. If you know Coach Driscoll, you can imagine him doing this in his intense, focused, and wonderful way, shaking hands, laughing, maybe giving people a coach-slap here and there. Though he had never been to the church before, you would have thought he was a twenty-year deacon, and he might as well have been.

UNF is in good hands.


I'm confused by this video...

First of all, is it by Aggies or Baylor people? And what's with that bear? He looks kind of like the A & W Root Bear.

Monday, April 06, 2009


UNC 213, Michigan State 58

I'm extrapolating, but it seems like that is where things will end up.


Tom n' Ed do great

This weekend was the AAJ mock trial tournament, featuring a team of two great Baylor students Ed Cloutman and Tom Jacob, both of whom I have coached in prior tournaments. According to the Baylor Law Twitter feed (go figure-- who does that?), they came in third. This is a great outcome, as they made the break and then battled their way into the semis.

Still, I know these guys, and they probably feel rotten for having not won the whole thing. They shouldn't. First off, they did very well in a very tough national final. Second, the truth is that these things are pretty hit-or-miss: it is subjective judging by people who sometimes seem swayed by who has the nicest voice or the easiest answers or happens to be the most like they are. Many times, we have won the competitions we should have lost, and lost the ones we should have won.

Here's something else, too-- the thing about mock trial is that it is mock. Moot court is moot. For the rest of their working lives, Tom and Ed will be working on things that are neither mock nor moot-- they are going to doing things that make the world better, that help people, that make us all proud that they are from Baylor. It is with some confidence that I say that these two are among the very best students I have had in recent years, and that if I needed representation in court I would be comfortable counting on them with the skills and talent they can bring to bear right now. I'm proud of the people they are and will become, and that has nothing to do with third or eighth or forty-second.

As with Joel and Eric, if you have the chance to shake Tom or Ed's hand, do so, because in thirty years you can tell people you did.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Atwood, the mischievous Pika!

Someone sent me this link to the William and Mary alumni magazine, which said nice things about my book. What I found really compelling, though, was the first thing discussed, a children's book about "Atwood the mischievous Pika."

When I was at W & M, IPLawguy, TallTenor and I were in Theta Delt, the slightly debauched fraternity which was next door to the somewhat formal and uptight Pi Kappa Alpha (Pika). Intriguingly, many of those guys had names like "Atwood," but they sure as heck were not very mischievous. From what I could tell, they spent a lot of time getting their bow ties done right, discussing the Von Bulow affair, and drinking things that contained fine English gin. But mischievous? That was, er, kind of our territory...


Sunday Reflection: No longer slave or free

This morning in church I enjoyed one of my favorite scenes of the year-- a sea of children coming into the church, waving palms. I wonder what it would have been like to be in that crowd. Somehow, I'll bet that the people greeting Jesus as he entered Jerusalem included those who were not his followers. In that crowd were people who just happened to be nearby and caught up in the spirit, no matter their background.

In Sunday School, we read Galations 3, which includes some of Paul's best writing as he argues for Christianity to be an inclusive religion:

In Jesus Christ you are all children of God through faith... There is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Jesus Christ.

That's pretty stirring stuff, and challenging to a society with sharp divisions between us in so many ways. It is a statement of equality that our society still struggles with, especially in our churches. Too often we dwell on divisions and the heresies of others, and forget about this amazing commonality.

We all get a palm frond, we all are the children, we all welcome Christ, and there is great joy in that if we choose to embrace it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


The unglamorous

It was a great week to be teaching class. First of all, my Oral Ad. students did a wonderful job on their presentations, and it was really a pleasure to hear them. It always amazes me the way that talents emerge in that class. Then, in Crim. Prac. and Pro., I think things worked quite well with Blaine McCormick leading the way as we explored negotiation.

Also, sentencing uber-blogger Doug Berman (1 million hits a year) gave me a nice shout-out.

My favorite publication of all time, though, might be this month's Wacoan magazine. The April issue is mostly devoted to a wacky Waco event, the Cotton Palace pageant. For those who haven't heard of it, Cotton Palace is kind of deb ball combined with a history re-enactment. The Wacoan for this month, accordingly, is full of page after page of gorgeously made-up girls, kids, and adults wearing gowns and tuxes. It really is quite a spread. That is, until you get to page 108, which features a half-page picture of me. The picture accompanies a really wonderful story by Mary Darden about Jesus on Death Row-- Mary captured much of what I wanted to do with the book, and now I have another reason to like her.

Still,though, that picture... after all those pages of beautiful people, you get to me. It is picture taken by Larry Bates, who is a super professor but maybe not a stylist. He did capture me perfectly-- hair unkempt, slightly askew, and with half of the collar on my frayed jacket turned up. It really is a great counterpoint to the sartorial splendor in the rest of the magazine. And... don't blame Mary for the photo-- I sent that one over myself, and I think it turned out excellent.

Friday, April 03, 2009


Haiku Friday: Computer Disaster Edition

On Wednesday night, my laptop died. In her last moments, old Bessie became very hot, then emitted a loud whirring and clanking noise before going dark. I tried to restart her, but her screen would only display a picture of a closed folder with a question mark blinking in front of it, which I think must be a metaphor for death (and a pretty good one!). So long, Bessie; we had many happy days together. We worked together as a team, you and I, and accomplished many things together that I never could have done on my own. I will always remember you.

The new one should arrive today. Yippee!

Anyways, let's haiku about something we all know well: Computer disasters. I'll lead:

The blue screen of death
Heralded disaster day,

Now it is your turn. Because of the particular sensitivity many feel on this topic, I will free you from the 5/7/5 straightjacket and you may use any form you like.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Politcal GM Thursday: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Bankruptcy...

The end-game for GM is near. It seems almost certain that bankruptcy awaits. Of course, the horrifying death spiral of General Motors is not news to faithful readers of the Razor, who by now are sick of the photo to the right, as well as the demands for tax money, the merger obsession, the astounding losses, the amazing stock free-fall, the killing-off of the EV-1 only to decide in 2008 that it might be a good idea to build a half-decent small car, and... of course... executives insisting that everything is just fine.

Now it is all coming apart, literally. GM will probably be broken into at least two pieces.

The hot news, of course, is that the federal government fired the chief executive and may offer warranties on future American cars. Is this socialism? And if so, is that bad?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Busting into the New Century!

Today was a real personal breakthrough. I fired up the Commodore 64 (pictured here) and, for the first time, electronically filed motions in a criminal case.

Sure, I was nervous, and fumbled around for a while, but in the end I figured things out. The federal Western District of Texas' ECF system wasn't too tough to decipher-- once I was done with the hour or so it took to figure out my password.

Now that I know how it works, I can see the obvious advantages of electronic filing, and look forward to skipping not only the drive to the courthouse but the printing, collating and stapling, all of which I am bad at.

Come to think of it, is seems like electronic filing would have saved Sharon Keller a lot of trouble. As I understand it, one of the (now many) allegations she faces is that she closed the clerk's office of the Court of Criminal Appeals knowing that lawyers for a man about to be executed were trying to file a motion. The reason they needed the office to stay open? Printer problems.


And now, a new entry into the Bad Customer Relations Hall of Fame

Our winner: Waco's own Hillcrest Hospital.

They called my home to do some pestering about paying a bill. Here's the rub: The bill wasn't due yet. They knew that, too, at the time they called. They just wanted to do some pre-due-date nagging.

Something about that makes me really mad. Obviously, no one likes to get calls from a bill collector, and it takes real gall to make those calls BEFORE the pay-by date on the bill. Urgh. We only have two hospitals here in Waco, and this nonsense is making the other one look pretty good for the next time I have emergency medical needs.

Feel free to jump in with your own hall of fame nominations...

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