Monday, June 29, 2009

Real World-Probate Challenge

For those of you looking for more essays to study for the bar:

Michael Jackson apparently died intestate with a purported will. You're the probate judge. Discuss.

For those of you looking for a distraction:

I must confess cracking a very wide grin at the news that MTV's director of programming is stepping down and that its ratings were down 20% last year. I've wrestled with the thought that maybe, just maybe, I'm outgrowing the network and nothing more. But I really think it's the network that's leaving me. Like a Greek cabdriver asked me on the Island of Rhodes, "Where is today's Pericles?", I ask, where is today's Beavis & Butthead, Daria, Singled Out, Road Rules, Celebrity Deathmatch, even TRL under Carson Daly? Am I just an old crank or has MTV gone down the toilet by constantly featuring those human vermin--I'm talking about you Mr. Creepy Flesh-colored Beard.* I don't even want to discuss VH1 for fear of getting a STD just at the mere mention of the network, but I'll just say three words: Pop-up Video.

* Credit: Joel McHale, who is my only source of MTV programming these days.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kent Work?

Convicted felon and I guess now former Judge Samuel Kent was the first sitting federal judge to be impeached by the House in something like 20 years.* Naturally I was excited for the upcoming Senate trial. But by resigning Kent is hoping to avoid a Senate conviction, which brings us to obscure constitutional question time.

For those of you studying for the bar, the July 2007 exam had a MBE question on the Bill of Attainder clause, so pay attention. Can the Senate continue with the trial and convict? The punishment upon conviction is: "removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States." U.S. const. art. I, sec. 3. Removal is moot. But may the Senate convict just to keep him out of a federal gig? Isn't the felony conviction enough to do that? I want my trial damn it!!!

*The previous judge to have that honor was Chief Judge Walter Nixon of S.D. Miss. who according to a Boalt Prof drew the largest paralegal salary in the State of Mississippi following his conviction and disbarrment.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Obviously you've all heard the news of the passing of Michael Jackson. I don't know how to feel exactly. First, I'm naturally saddened by the loss of any life, especially one as iconic and influential as his. But there's that other part of me. The one that remembers a more umm, erratic, Michael Jackson? I guess, I don't want to be seen as badmouthing the dead especially so close to the tragedy. But am I alone in having this hint of mixed emotions? I'm not even sure I can properly frame it.

And I assume there must be a debate of the Top 3 MJ songs. I'll think about my choices a bit, but roughly something like: Beat It, Billie Jean; I'll Be There (Jackson 5).

Prodigal y Daughter

From the Volokh Conspiracy, via google alerts and an anonymous tipster:
Congratulations to Recent Boalt Hall [g]raduate Carolyn Zabrycki, whose student article (Toward a Definition of "Testimonial": How Autopsy Reports Do Not Embody the Qualities of a Testimonial Statement, 96 Cal. L. Rev. 1093 (2008)) was cited three times -- and seemingly significantly relied on -- by Justice Kennedy's dissent in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (pdf).
Congratulations, indeed!

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Paging IP Nerds

I know it's not one of the bar exam topics, but I have an IP question that someone might be able to answer. In short, Friend T asked me about this situation and it struck me as an interesting legal question worth exploring, so here it is.

Friend T recently held an engagement party at some Armenian banquet hall (if you're Armenian, you know the routine: lots of food and envelopes stuffed with cash as gifts...yes, it's a bit like the wedding scene from Goodfellas, but we're not all named Paulie). She hired a certain videographer to forever memorialize the event. Said videographer also freelances as an ad producer. Much to her shock, videos of her celebration are now being used for ads for a different banquet hall. She has no K or other agreement with the videographer. Who owns the copyright in the video? Is there fair use defense?


For those studying for the Bar, late-June and July are the best times to seek out distractions. Please nominate how you are taking your mind off "Gooooooood ideaaaaaaaaaaaaa????"

UPDATE: First off, big thanks for the quick responses. Now, this story in today's LAT cracks me up. Smoking's such an addiction, that the very banquet halls I mentioned in the original post are almost always filled with cigarette smoke and riddled with ash trays for the convenience of the smokers. On the one hand, no proprietor wants to confront drunks who are addicted to cigarettes or lose their property when someone puts the cigarette down on table cloth. On the other hand, you're violating the law. Personally, if I were the Glendale F.D. or the LAFD, I'd make it a "habit" of crashing Armenian weddings to enforce the smoking ban. In 3 weeks, you'll have a budget surplus from all the fines.


Help is Nigh on the Student Loan Front

Do I understand all of this? No, to be honest, I don't.

But undoubtedly many students will find the article, which features various boalties in its summary of changes in law school loan forgiveness and repayment programs, helpful.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Does anyone else see a strong parallel between TJ's recent photo of the excavation at Boalt and the conclusion of the famous children's story, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel?

I mean, how are they going to get the excavators out? It will take either a wrench or a crane.

[Update, September 04, 2009: the answer is here.]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Budget Update

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Christopher Edley
Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2009 17:05:29 -0700
Subject: Budget update
To: Students - 1L; Students - 2L

Dear Berkeley Law Student:

I write to update you on the financial situation at the Law School in
light of the on-going budget crisis in California and the consequent
challenges for UC Berkeley. My central message is one of reassurance:
We will continue to offer the best education of any law school on this
or any nearby planet. At this point I foresee few if any budget cuts
that will have material near-term effects on students.

The most significant program consequences to you will likely be some modest reduction in the number of small-enrollment offerings by adjunct lecturers, some slowing of the rapid expansion of the faculty we have pursued in recent years, perhaps some limitations on the scope of technical support on computer issues, and perhaps a slight reduction in the caloric content of the free lunches at speaking events.

On the positive side, it now appears likely that we will be able to follow through with the announcements I made earlier this spring concerning expansions in the Loan Repayment Assistance Program, more summer public interest fellowship grants, expansion of career services counseling, and several other measures. We will continue and expand the Boalt in D.C. program for a semester of study in Washington, D.C. We will continue our program of classroom renovations and construction.

The West Terrace will be completed before classes begin. Excavation for the South Addition will be complete in a few days. Eight new core faculty members join us this summer, which gets us three-quarters of the way toward the goal set when I arrived five years ago of a 40% net
increase in the faculty.

Please be clear, however, that the budget situation remains fluid. The Chancellor and Provost have not yet finalized the campus plans, in part because the Legislature remains tied in knots. Gordian, it seems. The Law School is in remarkably sound shape compared with most other campus units, and compared with most of our peer institutions. There are several reasons: our strategy of steadily raising tuition closer towards a benchmark of about 10% below the average of top-10 schools; the $125 million capital campaign has produced successive years of record alumni contributions; our low dependence on state appropriations, relative to other campus units, because the state support for the Law School was disproportionately cut during the recession earlier in the decade; the relatively small contribution of endowment income in our revenue stream, relative to other top-10 schools. The last two points mean we are more insulated than we would otherwise be from sharp state budget cuts and the Wall Street meltdown. Make no mistake, times will be tight. However, I simply do not expect that we will face the extraordinary budget reductions hitting many of our peer schools.

I hope the balance of your summer is both productive and restful.


Christopher Edley
Dean and Orrick Professor of Law
Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley

Christopher Edley, Jr.
The Honorable William H. Orrick, Jr. Distinguished Chair and Dean
Berkeley Law
University of California

(Via BlackBerry)


Monday, June 15, 2009

Won't Somebody Please Think of the 2Ls?

At the gentle urging of the folks at the Clerkship Notification Blog, I figured I'd remind Boalties about that invaluable resource for those pursuing the clerkship path. I'd also point out the many clerkship threads on this blog can be found in the formerly "Kevin Smith" label. Otherwise consider this an open-thread to try to top the neuroticism of the 3Ls.

Oh and Go Lakers. Do Bay Area sports fans have ANYTHING to look forward to other than Moneyball the Movie?



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Uighurs Relocate to New Beachfront Property

Some very good news indeed: the Obama administration has finally found a country willing to accept 17 of Guantanamo's Uighur detainees.

And now the funny bit: that country is...the tiny island of Palau. Of course, Micronesian hospitality isn't free. Per HuffPo, "the U.S. was prepared to give Palau up to $200 million in development, budget support and other assistance in return for accepting the Uighurs and as part of a mutual defense and cooperation treaty that is due to be renegotiated this year."

The population of Palau is just over 20,000 people. So we may be effectively paying each resident $10,000. Thank God we didn't pay to settle the detainees in Germany. (Anyone have a spare $800 billion?).

Or maybe we should think of it as a per-detainee payment; it's a steal at only $12 million. Of course, the resettlement is only "temporary," so maybe that's a bit high for a one year lease.

Of course, that $200 million isn't just to accept the Uighurs. It's also for "mutual defense." I'm kind of interested to hear how that would work out if the US was invaded.

All kidding aside, it's a good thing, regardless of cost.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Hang on to Your Handgun

As you may know, the Ninth Circuit recently held in Nordyke that the Second Amendment is incorporated into the 14th Amendment's due process clause. Last week the Seventh Circuit held exactly the opposite in National Rifle Association v. City of Chicago (pdf). On Wednesday the NRA filed a petition for certiorari (pdf), which raises one question:
Whether the right of the people to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is incorporated into the Due Process Clause or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment so as to be applicable to the states, thereby invalidating ordinances prohibiting possession of handguns in the home.
Incorporation cuts both ways, doesn't it?

Query: if the Court grants cert, what are the strangest amici bedfellows this case could produce?


Thursday, June 04, 2009

It Begins [for the rest of us]...

Barbri began for the rest of us today (CA Berkeley location - EDIT: NY Berkeley location is tomorrow). Gotta love that overwhelmed look on everyone's face this morning.

In true Berkeley fashion, things got off to a rocky start - notably, tech problems with the video sound. But once the first subject video started rolling, I think many of us decided that this may not be fun but might be manageable after all.

However, I suppose the better test for collective mood will come tomorrow after we've started to get a feeling of what the homework is going to be like.

Any other thoughts? Hoping to reboot this as an open forum...


Again bumping up to encourage more discussion. End of our second (or third in some cases) week - how's everyone feeling?


Grades Open Forum

Loathe the idea of this thread, but providing in response to a comment request below.

One question I had earlier is how can a 3L get a grade before a 2L in the very same class - aren't we on the same curve?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Kimberly Guilfoyle Suitor Watch

Not Sotomayor, but the other Mayor.

Commenter with the wittiest/funniest proposed title for this post wins that honor.