Sunday, May 31, 2020


Reading assignment

In my last post, I mentioned the piece I wrote with my former student, Leslie Redmond. There is a great interview with her up at the New Yorker right now, which you can read here.


Sunday Reflection: Pray now

Things are pretty bad here in Minneapolis right now. But they are in a lot of places: looting of the Nike store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, people walking on the interstate in Little Rock, disturbances all over.  And this is the epicenter.

I know this: in the end, the crucial analysis is not going to be about rioting. Instead, it needs to be on what happened to get us to this point: the racial disparities, the policing disasters, the income inequality that bedevil our society. It will not be sufficient to seek more training for the police and pretend that addresses the question.

Back in December, I wrote a piece about racial injustice with Leslie Redmond, the president of the Minneapolis NAACP. You can read it here. I tried to get a number of secular and religious media outlets to run it, and no one would (Leslie finally got that done). It was something I have been reflecting on-- that people don't want to think about those issues until there is an explosion.

Saturday, May 30, 2020



In July, 1967, 24-year-old Willie Horton was already a star of the Detroit Tigers. He was one of 21 children, and grew up in Detroit. He went straight to the Tigers only two years after leaving high school.

He hit a homer in a double-header, and in the locker room he heard about the destruction of the riots on the west side of town. He went straight there, still in his uniform, and tried to stop the damage. It didn't work.

That uprising, like the one here right now, was born of police violence in black communities. I was only four years old, but I loved our family and my friends and our little house on the east side of the city on Harvard Rd.

The damage of 1967 was still there when I moved back to the city of Detroit after law school and a clerkship in 1991. By that, I mean that the damage was literally still visible-- you could go see buildings that were boarded up in the summer of 1967 that were still boarded up and vacant, and others that were the same burned ruins, a few charred walls in a grown-over field. I was there for nine years that second time, always in the shadow of those dark days.

That's why my walk at lunch yesterday was so hard. I work in downtown Minneapolis, and what I found was stores, restaurants, and entire office buildings being boarded up.

Maybe the boards will come down next week. Or maybe they will come down later in the year, when the pandemic subsides. Or maybe after that. But, please, please, not never. I can only take that once.

To fix it all, we have to address the underlying racial problem-- and it's about time we finally took that task seriously.

Friday, May 29, 2020


Haiku Friday: Dark Times

Well, this is quite a time to be living in Minneapolis.

I was four and we lived in the City of Detroit during the 1967 riots. They left a hard legacy. Importantly, that uprising was born of police violence in black communities. I have seen this before. I am so sad that the cycle is repeating. 

So, all this, during a pandemic. It's a hard time. But maybe we still need to haiku about it.

Arc of history
Only bends if we push hard
We have all failed.

Now it is your turn. Just use the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and have... well, just do it.

Thursday, May 28, 2020


Political Mayhem Thursday: 100,000

We have crossed a threshold: 100,000 deaths to COVID-19, in just a few months. 

It is a grim milestone. 

The United States has less than 5% of the world's population, but over 25% of the world's deaths to COVID-- and this in an industrialized nation that so often boasts of having "the world's best health care." Maybe now people will stop telling that particular lie-- the truth is that the United States ranks number one in the cost of health care, and I'm not sure that is anything to brag about.

"What went wrong?" is an important question, but I think it needs to have a particular focus. Specifically, we need to analyze what happened and make changes based on actual data as we anticipate a second wave of COVID in the fall. I am sensing that people see this as the end of the pandemic--numbers of infections and deaths are falling-- but that ignores what the experts are saying about a second wave. 

That analysis, too, needs to be held away from our political divide. The key question for this purpose isn't who made mistakes, but what the mistakes were and how we can avoid them in the future. I got the chance to talk to decision-makers and advisors from all over the country via the National Governor's Association this week on a call, and this is what I urged in terms of COVID and prisons: we must learn from what has happened, and act in anticipation of a second wave.

Of course, who made mistakes is relevant to the elections we have in the fall. But I hope that we can have both discussions at the same time.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Death in Minneapolis

Lately, I've been using Wednesdays for profiling my law school classmates, but I need to take a break from that this week. Something sad and deeply troubling has happened, not that far from where I sit as I write this. And it is an indictment of my generation of lawyers-- the privileged and powerful group I graduated with from Yale Law-- that this is still happening. We have not addressed the problems of race in our society in a way that conscience demands.

Yesterday, a man named George Floyd--pictured above-- was arrested outside a Minneapolis grocery store. He was accused of using a counterfeit bill at the store, which is forgery under state law (it has its own counterfeiting statute in federal law). At any rate, it is not a very serious crime in the larger picture. 

When Mr. Floyd was taken into custody, a Minneapolis police officer punished him until he died, by pressing a knee to his neck as he gasped for breath on the pavement. 

Often with these incidents I wait to opine or write about them-- I am very cautious about having a position until all the evidence is out. On this one, though, based on the video available, it is hard to imagine any justification for the killing. The officers involved have been fired, and I expect at least one of them to be charged with murder.

This is troubling on many levels. The racial injustice is clear-- this is yet another incident with a white police officer and a dead black man. And where does that degree of malice come from in one empowered to act in the public interest? 

Something is very much wrong in our culture of law enforcement. Part of what a new administration at the federal level must do is take that seriously. If Joe Biden wants to be a president who is distinct from his predecessor, he must commit not just to study, but to action. 

We do not treat black and white in the same way.
We incarcerate too many people.
We have made too many things illegal.
We have chosen retribution over freedom and even safety, and this has harmed our culture.

Those in law enforcement can no longer be the only ones given a legitimized voice in evaluating our criminal justice structure and practice.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Memorial Day Memorial

"HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!" one prominent American tweeted yesterday, apparently unaware of what Memorial Day is for. In fact, gauging by what I saw online yesterday (which is pretty much where social discourse happens now), some people believe it is one of the following things:

-- A day to thank our service members!
-- A day to celebrate America!
-- A day to thank a vet!

It's really not that. You can thank a service member whenever you want. The Fourth of July is the holiday for celebrating America, and Veterans Day is the day to thank a vet. Memorial day has a very different and important purpose: to remember those who have died in war.  It only became a federal holiday in 1971, though it grew out of a "decoration day" tradition in many states that had its roots in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Of course, many communities do recognize the true meaning of the day with solemn ceremonies that honor those who lost their lives in war.

Perhaps the reason we struggle with Memorial Day being about death and loss is because we don't want to think about those things. It is odd how the idea of sacrifice is being so thoroughly driven from the American identity; increasingly (as I argued this past Sunday) selfishness is celebrated as "freedom."  

The veteran I knew best, who lost the most friends in war, was my Grandfather, Millard "Ben" Hodges. He was a big influence on me, and many of the things I believe come from his devotion to his family, his church, his community, and his country. I spent a lot of time, including a full summer, with my mother's parents, so I had the chance to learn a lot from them.  My grandfather signed up to serve in the Army at age 37, during World War II, and served as a transportation officer in Europe during the war. By the time the war in Europe had ended, he had been promoted to the rank of Major. 

What struck me about his time in the service wasn't heroism or valor or glory. In fact, he rarely talked about it, and when he did it was usually by deflecting to a funny story or succumbing to a dark quiet. He wrote a memoir that I re-read occasionally, and in it he notes that one of those who died was the musician Glenn Miller, last seen flying from the air base where my Grandfather worked. 

In a case in the front room of my house is a folded flag, from my Grandfather's funeral. I'm not sure why I was the one who ended up with it--perhaps because I was the grandchild who was closest to him-- but it is deeply meaningful to me. Yesterday, I stopped to ponder it and the realities of war. It is good that we have a Memorial Day, but I long for it to serve its true purpose.

Monday, May 25, 2020


Summer Travels

Well, those haiku covered a lot of ground! First, my dad took me back to a great childhood memory:

First night Holiday 
Inn in Hurley Wisconson
pool salad bar smiles.

Then Christine posted her own hopes:

Bought a paddle board
Plan to spend time on the lake
being by myself.

While IPLawGuy registered a memory:

Long rides in a car
Showing kids America
Learning new myself.

Jill Scoggins brought us right back to this moment:

Going to Texas.
Fearful but also eager
to see family.

We live in a time
where trav’ling to see those we
love most, scares us most.

Steve hit close to home:

Canoe in water.
Hup. Dip. Dip. Dip. Dip. Dip. Hup.
Repeat and Repeat.

While Anonymous George looked further away:

Palm Springs, O, Palm Springs.
One hundred and eleven high.
Glad my trip is off.

I'm not sure whether the Medievalist is here or there:

Now leaving Waco,
Planes wheels on the runway go,
Touchdown in Madrid.

But, boy, I would like to see what Desiree is seeing (or remembering):

Walking at midnight 
Watching sea turtles lay eggs
Magic on the beach.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


Sunday Reflection: What comes next?

Things are changing.

States are opening up, and so are the doors to homes and businesses. I see some people being careful, and others being careless as they venture out of isolation. I am probably somewhere in between.

The United States never pursued the route some other countries did (with varying degrees of success). While they sought to stamp out the Coronavirus with stringent isolation and tracing, we simply wanted to "flatten the curve"-- lots of people would still get the disease, but the medical system would better be able to handle it. In some places, that seems to be working. The problem with this model, of course, is that many people-- nearly 100,000 already-- die of the illness.

It's going to be a long, cruel year. I don't know how school will work in the fall (and I teach school). I do know that we have a long way to go in this fight. 

There is this basic human conundrum we face in so many ways: the tension between what we want to do and what we should do. Often, people finesse this by pretending that these two are the same-- that what they want to do is also what is morally right. For example, people who ignore safety precautions and venture out into the mall without a mask are casting their decision as morally right because it is a blow for "freedom." Which... it's not. We always have the freedom to do harmful things within the bounds of the law, but that doesn't expand freedom any. That freedom already existed. 

Politics has pushed some Americans to conflate selfishness with patriotism, when for all of American history the opposite has been true: patriotism is rooted in sacrifice and selflessness. What a sad corner to have turned....

Saturday, May 23, 2020


Archie Williams sings

Friday, May 22, 2020


Haiku Friday: Summer Travels, Real and Imagined

The days are getting longer-- here in Minnesota, dusk stretches until nine at night, this soft lift through pines.

If you are like me, you are thinking about summer travels-- trips that may not be possible this year, at least not in the way we might hope.  Everything is on hold, it seems.

But let's haiku about summer travel, if only in our imaginations. Here, I will go first:

Warm water, gentle waves
A lifeguard in a Speedo
One bird flies past, low.

Now it is your turn! Just use the 5/7/5 syllable plan, and have some fun!

Thursday, May 21, 2020


PMT: We will feel our way through the dark

I looked and looked for this video, of a song and a scene that I love. It hid from me for a while, and then I found it the way a spy spots the opposing army, with a leaping heart.

And then I watched it again, and all I wanted to do was immediately go directly to Ireland and rent a car and go to Dick Mack's pub in Dingle and talk to people (which is something my family tends to do). Well, I might need a time machine forward or backwards for that, of course, but you get my heart, right? The joy of small spaces full of warmth and people is lost to us for a too-long moment.

And that may be why people just aren't doing it anymore-- aren't staying at home, aren't avoiding everyone else, aren't following the rules. It's wrong, but we are social animals. That balance, that tension, is always there, between the urge to do something and the rules and reasons to not do it. It's what criminal law is all about. Also, mercy.

But in the moment...
If you walk my way
I could keep my head
We will feel our way
Through the dark.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


YLS '90: Michele Baker Richardson

I've been devoting Wednesdays on the blog to profiling my classmates from the Yale Law Class of 1990.

I have a very clear memory of Michele Baker Richardson from the first year of law school: that she seemed like she was already a lawyer, just masquerading as a student as some kind of research project or something.

She came to YLS after getting a degree from Brown and then working in advertising for several years-- that probably accounted for her poise amidst the rest of us. 

After law school, she had a number of fascinating jobs (like an awful lot of my other classmates). At one time or another she was a writing instructor at Stanford, the Dean of Students at the University of Chicago's law school, and a professor  at two other law schools in the Chicago area.  Then she founded--and now runs--Higher Education Advocates, an organization that helps people go through the confusing process of applying to college and graduate school.

It makes me happy that so many of us have gone into work where we help students in one way or another-- it's deeply fulfilling work that makes a very real difference in the lives of others. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


New release dates for movies

I really miss going to see movies in a theater! Yes, we can watch them at home slumped down on the couch, but it just isn't the same for me. It's not quite the difference between seeing a baseball game at the park vs. watching it on TV, but it's the same kind of thing.

According to Vulture, here are the new release dates for movies:


Moved from Aril 24, 2020 to a date TBD.


Moved from April 17, 2020 to a date TBD.

Artemis Fowl

Moved from May 29, 2020 to June 12, 2020, and it will premiere on Disney+ instead of in theaters.

The Artist’s Wife

Moved from April 3, 2020 to a date TBD.

The Batman

Moved from June 25, 2021, to October 1, 2021.

Black Widow

Moved from May 11, 2020 to November 6, 2020.

Blue Story

Moved from March 20, 2020 to a date TBD.


Moved from March 20, 2020 to a VOD release date of May 1, 2020.


Moved from June 12, 2020 to September 25, 2020.

Charm City Kings

The opening was shifted from April 10, 2020 to August 14, 2020 and then to August 21, 2020.

The Climb

Moved from March 20, 2020 to a date TBD.


Moved from March 20, 2020 to a date TBD.

Doctor Strange Into The Multiverse of Madness

Moved from May 7, 2021 to March 25, 2022.

Dungeons & Dragons

Moved from Nov. 19, 2021 to May 27, 2022.

The Eternals

Moved from November 6, 2020 to February 12, 2021.


Moved from May 22, 2020 to April 2, 2021.


This Kevin Hart movie has actually been moved up from January 15, 2021 to October 23, 2020.

First Cow

Although the new Kelly Reichardt film did start its limited release on March 6, 2020 A24 announced that they will re-release the film theatrically later on in 2020.

The Flash

Moved from July 1, 2022, to June 3, 2022.

Free Guy

Moved from July 3, 2020 to December 11, 2020.

The French Dispatch

Moved from July 24, 2020 to October 16, 2020.

The Forever Purge

Moved from July 10, 2020 to a date TBD.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Moved from July 10, 2020 to March 5, 2021.


Moved from June 12, 2020 to a date TBD.

In the Heights

Moved from June 26, 2020 to June 18, 2021.

Jungle Cruise

Moved from July 24, 2020 to July 30, 2021.

King Richards

Moved from November 21, 2020, to November 25, 2021.

The Lovebirds

Moved from April 3, 2020 to a TBD date when it will debut on Netflix.


Moved from August 14, 2020 to a date TBD.

The Many Saints of Newark

Moved from September 25, 2020, to March 12, 2021.

Minions: Rise of Gru

Moved from July 3, 2020 to July 2, 2021.

Mission Impossible: 7

Moved from July 23, 2021 to November 19, 2021

Mission Impossible: 8

Moved from August. 5, 2022 to November 4, 2022.


Moved from July 31, 2020 to March 19, 2021.


Moved from March 27, 2020 to July 24, 2020.

My Spy

Moved from April 17, 2020 to a date TBD when it will premiere digitally on Amazon.

The New Mutants

Moved from April 3, 2020 to a date TBD.

The Nightingale

Moved from December 25, 2020 to December 22, 2021.

No Time to Die

Moved from April 10, 2020 to November 25, 2020.


Moved from August 14, 2020 to February 26, 2021.

The Personal History of David Copperfield

Moved from May 8, 2020 to a date TBD.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Moved from August 7, 2020 to January 15, 2021.

Praise This

Moved from September 25, 2020 to date TBD.

Raya and The Last Dragon

Moved from November 25, 2020 to March 12, 2021.


Moved from May 8, 2020 to a release date TBD.


Moved from May 15, 2020 to a date TBD.

The Secret Garden

Moved from April 17, 2020 to August 14, 2020.

Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings

Moved from February 21, 2021 to May 7, 2021.

Shazam! 2

Moved from April 1, 2022, to November 4, 2022.

Spiral: From The Book of Saw

Moved from May 15, 2020 to a date TBD.


Moved from June 19, 2020 to November 20, 2020.

Thor: Love and Thunder

Moved from November 5, 2021 to February 18, 2022.

The Tomorrow War

Moved from December 25, 2020 to July 23, 2021.

Top Gun: Maverick

Moved from June 24, 2020 to December 23, 2020.

The Truth

Moved from March 20, 2020 to a date TBD.


Moved from March 5, 2021 to August 8, 2021.

Untitled Elvis Movie

Moved from October 1, 2021, to November 5, 2021.

Untitled Indiana Jones Movie

Moved from July 9, 2021 to July 29, 2022.

Untitled Spider-Man: Far From Home Sequel

Moved from July 16, 2021, to November 5, 2021.

Untitled Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Sequel

Moved from April 8, 2022, to October 7, 2022.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Moved from October 2, 2020 to June 25, 2021.

Without Remorse

Moved from September 18, 2020 to October 2, 2020.

The Woman in the Window

Moved from May 15, 2020 to a date TBD.

Wonder Woman 1984

Moved from June 5, 2020 to August 14, 2020.

Working Man

Moved from a theatrical release on March 27, 2020 to a VOD release on May 5, 2020.

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