Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fun With Numbers (9th Circuit Edition)

Who cares about the 9th Circuit, anyway? Well...Boalties, I guess, especially since they refuse to apply for clerkships outside California. So I thought N&Bers might be interested to see how their home team fared in the Supreme Court this past year.
  • SCOTUS released 84 opinions this term. 26 of these, or 30%, arose from the 9th Circuit. 18 of these were reversed. (To be fair, that's not so bad. SCOTUS doesn't grant cert. because it wants to affirm. I've heard that the last 17 cases from the Sixth Circuit have been reversed.)

  • What about the circuit's liberal bad boy, Stephen Reinhardt? He was on the panel of 6 cases and wrote the majority opinion on 3. The Supreme Court reversed all 6.

  • Actually, all 3 majority decisions written by Judge Reinhardt were reversed unanimously. Of the 3 others, 1 was reversed unanimously and 2 were reversed by a 5-4 (conservative) split.

  • Judge Bybee--Judge Reinhardt's ideological opposite--was on the panel on 2 of the 3 cases where Reinhardt wrote the court's opinion and dissented in both. The Supreme Court did not grant certiorari on any case in which Judge Reinhardt wrote a dissenting opinion.

  • 7 of the cases where the Supreme Court granted certiorari contained dissenting opinions: 2 by Judge Bybee, 2 by Judge Kozinski, and 1 each by Judges Bea, Ikuta, W. Fletcher, and Cudahy (7th Cir.). (Judges Ikuta and Kozinski both wrote dissents on the same en banc case.) With the exception of Judges Fletcher and Cudahy, those are all "conservative" judges.
I doubt Judge Reinhardt is worried about getting reversed; he's claimed that it's not because he has moved to the left, but rather because the Supreme Court has moved to the right. That may be true, but the argument is weakened when even the so-called liberal judges are voting to reverse.

Is it unseemly to point out Judge Reinhardt's reversals--without name-hiding asterisks, no less? After all, he was on the panel in Plata v. Brown, the controversial California prison decision that the Supreme Court affirmed. But technically, the Supreme Court was reviewing a decision of a 3-judge district court panel, not a 9th Circuit opinion. And besides, Judge Reinhardt has apparently never hired a Boaltie as a clerk only hired about 2 clerks in the last decade, so he deserves some ribbing.

Labels: , ,

Say it Ain't So!

Notice anything wrong with the photo caption above? A missing comma, perhaps?

Full disclosure: I am a staunch supporter of the serial comma (also called the “Oxford comma,” though I don’t use that phrase because I don’t want to contribute to Oxford’s appropriation of what should be common sense) and I tend to agree with Carbolic, who once remarked that "People who refuse to insert a serial comma would steal sheep." In case you haven't been sucked into this particular debate, the serial comma is the comma that real writers insert before the conjunction (usually “and”) when setting forth a list. Much ink has been spilled, and many brave young serial commas lost, no doubt, in the war over whether the serial comma is mandatory, desirable, or superfluous. For my part, it's near-mandatory, pretty much for the reasons the caption above is so funny.

Today is a sad day for those who share my news. Today’s sad news is that Oxford has officially dropped the “Oxford” comma from its detailed, lengthy, and at times snooty style guide. See here for a brief article and a highly distressing pie chart. Oxford’s new guidance provides:
As a general rule, do not use the serial/Oxford comma: so write ‘a, b and c’ not ‘a, b, and c’. But when a comma would assist in the meaning of the sentence or helps to resolve ambiguity, it can be used – especially where one of the items in the list is already joined by ‘and’ . . . .
Oxford be damned, I’m leaving my comma right where put them. I don’t have a devil-may-care attitude toward ambiguities (especially in legal writing), nor do I trust myself to catch every two-faced in every sentence I write. I view the serial as a tiny, curved insurance policy against situations – like the caption above – that could leave the reader wondering if I am aware of what I am saying. I will keep, like, and defend my serial comma. To the bitter end.

*Hat tip to Boalt's handsomest, dashingest Latin scholar for the tip.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hot Coffee

I watched the HBO documentary "Hot Coffee" last night and wanted to flag it for anyone interested.  Pretty good, I have to say.  If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I'd say it's a good look at how voters' ignorance is exposed to pass laws that severely restrict consumers' access to the civil courts.  Just ask your relatives if they know what tort means.

My one small gripe is that it really ignores the flip side.  It paints jury trials as an ideal.  But there's no mention of the cost of conducting a jury trial and the enormous pressure to settle even when facing frivolous claims.  Anyway, watch it, it's good.  And if you're studying for the bar, there's plenty of issue spotting for you. 

As an aside, am I the only one in love with HBO:Go?

EDIT:  And during my morning reading I see that ATL has a rather lengthy post about the documentary as well. So an ex post H/T to them, I guess.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let's Be Marines

Further to my thoughts that the issue of gay rights, although very, very far from ideal, has come a long way in the past few years, is this story about the Command Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps addressing the topic.  What really caught my eye:
“Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty simple,” he told a group of Marines at a base in South Korea. “It says, ‘Raise an army.’ It says absolutely nothing about race, color, creed, sexual orientation.
 Take that, originalists/textualists!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shorter GOP Debate

Tim Pawlenty:  Why can't we have a strong, heavily government regulated / socialist / Communist / bubble-based economy like China or Brazil?

Michelle Bachman:  I have secret, breaking news:  I'm running for president. 

Newt Gingrich:  We need to return to the good times of banks lending indiscriminately and Enron lying through its teeth.  Things were great back then. 

We're not a developed country because of NASA.

Mitt Romney:  I hate myself for implementing a successful policy.  If Obama asked, I'd tell him not to do what Mitt Romney did.  The following words polled well so I'll just throw them out:  States. Power grab.  Repeal.

Ron Paul:  This country has been declining since 1933.

Herman Cain:  I have 0 qualifications for this office.

Rick Santorum:   ...


I'm done listening.  If you want to indulge yourself feel free to add your own summary of the debate in the comments. 


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dewey Defeats Truman

I just grabbed this screen shot from the LA Times homepage.  Someone hit the publish button too early.  Of course, this is not unique to the publishing industry as I've had my own terrifying moment of hitting send on an email that was mistakenly reply-all.  Happens to everyone at least once.  C'est la vie. 

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Arrivaderci Academia

It occurred to me that there are no longer any current Boalties who were around when Dean Ortiz (she'll always be Dean O to me) was our Dean of Student Services.  I don't know the current Dean of Student Services, but I just simply cannot imagine anyone filling the big shoes that Dean O left behind when she became the inaugural Dean of Admissions at UCI.  I can write a very lengthy, gushing letter about all the greatness of Dean O (not to mention the institutional memory she brought to the law school), but this is not the place. 

This post is simply to congratulate her on her new venture, a law school application consultancy.  So three cheers to Dean O's new gig, and if there are any law school applicants out there, I can't think of any one better equipped to advise on the admissions process. 

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

But I Want My Grades NOW! NOW NOW NOW!

It is June, and as such all of you anonymous commentors now may have a place in which to complain about grades (or the lack thereof). As a benchmark, the deadline for exams to be scored is June 7th, and the deadline for final grades to be submitted is June 15th. Of course, it is common for professors not to comply with these deadlines, so take those dates with a grain of salt. I hope everyone is having an excellent summer thus far, and that preoccupation with grades is not preventing anyone from enjoying not needing to be preoccupied with school!

Labels: ,