Thursday, December 03, 2009

Straight From The Horse's Mouth: Fall 2009

Welcome to the semi-annual professor quotes thread. I'll post mine in the comments, but these two may be my favorites. The first is from Federal Courts and the second is from Administrative Law:
Here is the SCRAP case in a nutshell: Plaintiffs are a bunch of law students. And I do not mean this disrespectfully, but law students as litigants are a royal pain in the ass. Give a man a hammer, and everything is a nail.

Professor: Can someone give me a summary of the basic worry about the administrative state without reference to the Constitution or to Chevron, and with passion and feeling and angst?
Student: Death panels.

Contributions welcome!



Blogger Patrick said...

Overheard at a Moot Court Competition

Student 1: The Hastings team takes this SO seriously. No wonder they beat us.
Student 2: Yeah, well, let's go congratulate them and then ask if they have a job.

Intro to IP (Professor VH)

Professor: The other way to fix a work is to publicly perform it – but this does not work with all types of copyrightable subject matter. Who was the computer programmer in this class again? Mr ____? Can you please publicly perform some computer source code?
Mr. ____ : Huh?
Professor: Can you do a little public performance for us?
Mr. ____ : Of computer source code?
Professor: Yes!
Mr. ____ : Um, you mean like, read it to you?
Professor: Sure, if that’s how you guys usually do it.
Mr. ____ : Um, can I look something up?
Professor: Can you just make it up?
Mr. ____: It won’t be Very good
Professor: I wont know
Mr. ____: . . . Hash exclamation mark for slash user slash hid slash . . .
Professor: Oh, very good! Was that source code? Is it now copyrighted?

12/03/2009 11:16 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Civil Trial Practice (Professor J.W.)

A student from about ten years ago came up to me and said, “This is the best class I have ever taken . . . and I got a double H!” And I said, “Oh? In that order?”

Professor to visiting juror: I'm sorry, I don't know your name.
Visiting juror: That's because I'm not in your class -- I'm just visiting.
Professor: Oh, that explains it.
Visiting juror: Not really. You might not know my name anyway.
Professor: [slanty look] Well, actually, that's true.

12/03/2009 11:18 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Administrative Law (Professor B)

Please fill up the seats in the front, folks. I promise if you sit there I will not call on you . . . [brief surge of students to the front of the room] . . . today.”

One of the reasons 1L’s are now required to take Con Law during their second semester is so that I do not have to talk about Marbury v. Madison.

To student: That’s a good argument, except the conclusion, in which your firm kicks you out for arguing the other side’s case.

Professor: Can someone give me a summary of the basic worry about the administrative state without reference to the Constitution or to Chevron, and with passion and feeling and angst?
Student: Death panels.

Congress does not have the expertise to perfectly craft every single piece of legislation, and so they delegate. We should all get behind that - we don’t want Diane Feinstein figuring out the length of bathroom breaks.

Professor: Does my chart make sense?
Student: [joking] No. We miss private school . . .
Professor: [only mildly amused] You what? You miss private school? Well how about that big hole in the ground? Is that private enough for you?

Let nobody walk out of this room and tell anyone that I likened the regulator/regulated relationship as parent and child – no regulator or regulated party will ever talk to me again. But if you think about it, being in a power struggle with a five year old takes a lot of time, and a power struggle with a bunch of well-funded lawyers would probably take even longer.

Professor: Come up with an argument for why the department of defense might justify exempting images of caskets coming back from Iraq from a FOIA request?
Student: I’m sorry. I was busy trying to preempt what I thought you were going to ask and I did not listen to what you were saying.
Professor: That’s mighty honest of you. Okay, come up with --- look at me, now --- come up with an argument for rejecting FOIA requests for casket photos from Iraq.

12/03/2009 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

G*mage, Income Tax:

"Tax planning is trying to see what courts are doing but not saying. Tax litigation is seeing what courts are saying and yell about it."

"We don't tax you extra, usually, for being a miserable failure."

"How about you do the Smith case? ["Could you give me the page number?"] Uh, what, are you serious?"

"But, if you fill the board with cronies, pay your doctors high salaries, you're more likely to be challenged. [BZZT! Someone's computer buzzes.] Apparently I said that wrong."

"Today's class covers the tax issues most likely to affect to you in your real life. [re: divorce]"

"Normally I don't believe in majority rule, but because I don't want to make a decision it's an easy cop-out for me."

P*rter, Bankruptcy:

"One of the good things about being a bankruptcy attorney is you get to use all these badass terms, you know? CRAM DOWN."

Rough quote: "So if you're in trouble, you're likely to suck your family down with you. This is the beauty of family."

"I'm not doing it to you, I'm just doing it. Familiar with this one? You will be."

"Not gonna stop crazy" [later that class] "Just like it's very hard to stop crazy, it's also very hard to stop crooked."

"Having a family dinner around the family boiler, and then it blows up and they all die. Hundreds and hundreds of people, or something."

V*n H*uweling, Intro to Intellectual Property:

"People think their juice is coming from here [pointing to top], but in fact it's coming from the secret juice chamber." [Ref:]

12/03/2009 11:23 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Federal Courts

When you get to the third year, there are very few courses that are actually interesting.

If you capture the enemy’s fort, you can do two things: you can destroy it, or you can use it. That’s what the progressives and Roosevelt tried to do, and did do, with the Supreme Court in the early 20th century.

From an economic/substantive due process point of view, there is still a progressive streak in the Supreme Court . . . depending on what Justice Kennedy had for breakfast.

I’m actually very unhappy about the state of confirmation hearings, because we have gotten to the point where justices have to lie about what justices do, in order to be confirmed. The last to try to tell the truth was would-be-Justice Bork. He proved that being truthful sometimes gets you in trouble. Now, he had other problems besides his habit of telling the truth. But that was a big one.

Justice Scalia, always with a weakness for a catchy phrase, wrote: the Framers, “having lived among the ruins of a system of intermingled legislative and judicial powers” wanted to insulate final judgments from legislative review. What is he talking about? I understand that we had a revolution. I understand it was a close thing. But was the premise for the Revolution really that the English system of rights wrong? NO. We drew or government upon the English system – we wanted the same rights as Englishmen already had. We did not regard the Revolution as trying to escape from the ruins of an old structure – they wanted the old structure to apply to them. The way you say this is, “with all due respect to Scalia, this is nonsense.”

Remember as you go forward and find Scalia invoking history, remember what kind of historian Scalia is: he is not a historian. He is a Supreme Court justice. And that is fine. Just something to keep in mind.

[Quizzing student about a standing hypothetical] But what does that do to your 8th Amendment claim? Why would that rule apply to the mother of the accused, but not to the prosecutor of the accused? [Loooooooooonnnnngggg silence.] . . .. it’s an acceptable answer to say, “Because.”

Here is the SCRAP case in a nutshell: Plaintiffs are a bunch of law students. And I do not mean this disrespectfully, but law students as litigants are a royal pain in the ass. Give a man a hammer, and everything is a nail.

I have to admit, I was pretty persuaded by the majority until I read the dissent.

I want to start today by giving an account of the standing doctrine different from the one I gave yesterday. Yesterday’s was true, but it was also odd, irresponsible, cynical, and discouraging.

12/03/2009 11:37 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

More Federal Courts

Professor: As an aside, this [famous civil rights case] was brought by the Heller law firm, as a pro bono case, all the way from a housing complex here in San Francisco. I must say, I wish that firm was still around because they did many very wonderful things. I was greatly sorry to see it go.
Student: So are we.

If you go to work for a firm after law school, you will make more in your first year than I do. During my interview for the judgeship, I was asked “can you live on the salary of a federal judge?”

Here is a joke for you. Two law professors are caught for speeding in rural area. Say, Alabama. They go before justice of the peace. The law professors ask, “how are you paid?” He responds, "I’m paid by the proceeds of the ticket." The professors cite a United States Supreme Court case that says it’s a violation of due process. And the judge says, “that’s a court without jurisdiction over me.” Truer than you think.

Professor [to bewildered, lost student who wandered into the room halfway through class, and then hurried out]: “You’re welcome to stay . . . ”

[to student] You are making a terrible mistake – you are taking Justice Kennedy at his word.
Student: Well, what is a lower court supposed to do when it encounters that language?
Professor: Oh, ignore it. Pretend you did not see it. Say ‘I don’t understand this.’ Award damages and wait for the United States Supreme Court to reverse. Any of the above will do.

12/03/2009 11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Torts Prof: The first time you're lead counsel in a trial it's like being on cocaine.

Torts Prof: Yeah, those lawyers blew their wad about halfway through the case, so they just had to start making up whatever they could.

12/03/2009 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best part of Federal Courts didn't come from the professor, but from the guy who set up a fan in front of the class, then interrupted Willy with "I heard someone was blowing hot air in here." And then he was gone, as quick as he came. Didn't even stick around for the laughter that followed.

12/03/2009 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Criminal Procedure

In trying to get a sense of prevailing social norms, the professor asked if someone would share a recent experience with an "overnight social guest" so that he could quiz them about their expectations.

12/03/2009 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Patent:

[discussing a patent dispute over production of omega-3 fish oil supplements]

"It might say 'all natural' on the label, but there is some serious high technology being used here to produce these omega-3 oils. You don't just go down to the beach, do some yoga, and dip your hand in the ocean and pull out some omega-3s."

12/03/2009 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fed Courts (today):

I know you're not really a pirate, you're just the kid from across the street!

12/03/2009 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


MSVH: "Can you please tell us the issue in the next patent case"?

Student: "Yes. The inventor of a device sought a patent. The issue was whether the device was in public use, given that it was inside his wife's underwear."

Student, you know who you are. (cough-patrick-cough)

12/03/2009 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Copyright Law - Professor S*muels*n

Student: On the exam, is it alright if we reference cases that we studied in Intro to IP but not this class?
PS: Yes, I suppose that is okay. I mean, I will probably know the cases.

12/03/2009 6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Civ Pro - V*tter

The Professor tries to leave us by reciting a poem.

No one can understand what the hell he is saying.

We all applaud.

He just peaces the fuck out while we applaud and walks out-- not saying a word, and taking his microphone with him.

A nervous gunner chases after him.

Most bizarre day ever.

12/03/2009 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Torts:

If you’re handling fish meal, be careful if there is a flood.

Often in torts, exploitation is the marketplace.

My teaching career is old enough to drink beer.

Professor CivPro:

This is yet another example of the disorderly behavior of words.

12/03/2009 10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

L*vy in Torts:

"Has there ever been a person who didn't go to a shrink and say, 'I'm going to kill that spouse!?' That's what you do, you vent, and then you go home and say 'Hello sweetheart.'"

“How much is a dead baby worth?! Negative!”

“Don’t ever get killed in Nebraska.”

12/04/2009 12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

V*tter does that EVERY year. He hates the clapping it seems.

12/04/2009 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prof G*rgen: "Please don't write this down."

He said plenty of other funny stuff but this is the only one I remember (he said it a lot).

12/04/2009 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(c) (Prof. S.)

Re: Perfect 10 v. Visa:
"Artistic expression isn't really the point."

Review Session:
"I promise that I'll only grade your exams when I'm in a good mood."

12/05/2009 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paraphrasing, because I don't remember verbatim...

On the strike/walkout: "For once there's a protest and it's not against me" --Prof. Y*o

12/09/2009 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Income Tax (Prof. G*rgen):

So this is pretty cool stuff. I mean, not cool like you're going to run out and tell all your friends about it, but tax cool.

12/11/2009 11:33 AM  

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