I ate my wafer...


A modest proposal to lawyers, journalists, and drug dealers

I'm certain that I've seen at least a few police officers lie on the stand on search and seizure issues. Not to mention the occasionally questionable, and/or extremely illegal search inflicted on my friends, most recently Christopher. This has been bothering me for a while, and I think I've come up with a reasonable solution: surruptious taping. As everyone that's watched C.O.P.S. is aware, its completely acceptable to video and audio tape traffic stops: there is no reasonable expectation of privacy at the side of the highway.

Interestingly, the most questionable searches that I'm aware of were not recorded, even in departments that usually use such equipment. So, I propose that everyone that has a modern enough cell phone to record with, or an ipod in their car, or even a standalone recorder tape ALL traffic stops and similar interactions with the police. Especially in one-party consent states, (*cough* Ohio), this would be completely, absolutely legal, and even in a two party consent state, I think a decent lawyer could still use it to good effect. Among other things, no matter how questionably legal the recording itself would be in some states, I think it would always be admissible to impeach officer reports and testimony. As long as one isn't furtively digging at their recorder when the officer approaches the car, and shot for the nebulous “reaching for a weapon” I can't think of any downside at all.

Finally, I propose the ACLU, or NAACP or similar should consider distributing recorders, or at least encouraging the practice in problem areas. Heck, for that matter, it would be an interesting opportunity for journalists as well. (In a perfect world it would be an perfect opportunity for Internal Affairs investigators to keep tabs on their errant charges) Outfit an old beater with a $100 worth of hidden cameras and microphones, a racially suspect class set of passengers, maybe burn out a single taillight bulb (make sure a spare bulb is available, and the car is otherwise completely legal!), and troll for an illegal search. If one wanted to be extremely cruel to the police involved, and had the time on their hands to do it, some faked drugs would complete the picture, and nothing seems to bring out complete lies from corrupt cops faster than the scent of a drug bust.

Heck it might be even more fun in a big enough city to use a very new and nice car, with well dressed white occupants and make it look like a drug/prostitution buy. Of course there is the minor risk of wasting police resources, but to my mind, its worth the risk to eliminate the phrase “If you don't let me search your car, that would be suspicious behavior so I can search it anyway”. As a tangent, I think if I owned a urban criminal law practice, I'd be tempted to give out very cheap digital recorders (Say a 32mb keychain models) as imprinted advertising items.


Random Mechanical Tip of the Week:

Yesterday I changed the O2 sensor and spark plugs in my car. It had been driving fine, but I had a new O2 sensor already, and the plugs had been in for 40,000+ miles. Anyway, they all removed smoothly except the #6 cylinder, which is always stuck. After applying a pipe to the ratchet, KROIL and some minor profanity I had the plug out. The annoying part is that it would have been really nice to clean up the obviously imperfect threads with a tap, but I don't exactly carry around a 14mm tap, and my car was immobile. Not to mention that it would be at an expensive tap to buy in Hillsdale. So, I took an old spark plug from one of the other cylinders, and filed a v-notch into the threads immediately opposite the start of the first thread. Screwed it in until it slowed down, screwed it out, cleared the gunk out of the notch, and repeated a couple of times. It took less time to do that it does to type it, but I highly recommend it.

At this point, with the plugs and o2 sensor changed, I have my car set up for summer commuting again, with synthetic fluids all around, a slightly leaned fuel trim table, sidewall max tire pressures, and the appropriate throttle valve sleeve in the transmission. With any luck at all, that's good for another summer of ~21 mpg.


So, some time ago, I read Sex and the Civil War: The Stories the soldiers Wouldn't Tell looking for background on military justice. Anyway, its an interesting read with information on a variety of topics, and the information about abortion particularly jumped out at me. The author does a pretty decent job substantiating a ~20% abortion rate (1 in 5 conceptions) in urban areas in the 1860's, which struck me as quite interesting. So, if anyone has seen good journal articles on the topic I'm curious for more information.


Correction. Semester NOT over. Crap.


The semester is over. Archives are slowly coming back over the next couple of days.


Today, without a doubt, I took the most brutal exam of my law school career. Since I have a number of friends who are considering law school, it seems only appropriate to give a brief comment on why it was a particularly painful exam, and offer some reflections on law school in general.

Evidence is an area of the law that is completely codified via the federal rule of evidence. There are one thousand and eight rules in the federal statute. All of them were fair game this morning my lengthy, closed book exam. The interesting problem is that when I've observed lawyers in court deal with esoteric evidence issues, everyone digs out a copy of the rules, so memorizing them is nearly pointless in a practical sense. Not to mention the exam had virtually nothing in common to normal law school exam practice, it was mostly multiple choice with the essay section requiring no analysis at all, only regurgitation of memorized facts. That type of essay is utterly worthless in preparing future lawyers. Let me be blunt: law school essay questions should be analytic "issue-spotters", period. Simple regurgitation doesn't test analytic ability, or consequentially prepare for the real world or the bar exam. This morning’s exam was a complete waste of four hours of my life.

So, despite that horrible exam, and everything else that I don't like about law school, what IS good about it? The answer is simple, I occasionally learn things that help me help other people. There is no way that I could have walked out of this morning's exam, sustained by career motivation and greed. Instead I thought about the times in the last week alone where I did legal research on the side for friends instead of studying. The bottom line: if you go to law school, its fine to be greedy and career oriented, but pro bono stuff will sustain you through the bad times.


You know, its really nice to live in a country where we can make fun of the pope anyway we want to. Or more typically we use our consitutional rights to make fun of Jerry Falwell.

One exam down, three to go: Con. Law. II at 9am Thursday, Evidence at 9am Saturday, and Trademark at 6pm Monday. Then I only need to write about 5,000 words/300 footnotes by the 18th. Sigh. I'm definitely less prepared than ever before for this exam cycle, and Evidence will be particularly brutal with all of the Federal Rules of Evidence as far game...closed book.

So, I'm suriving if not happy, on stimulants, unhealthy food, and panic induced adrenaline. In other words business as ususal for exams.

Notice that I've put a poll in the sidebar about my long disabled archives. Feedback and comments are desired.


"Law school exams are like being molested on holidays as a very young child, it only happens twice a year, and it is traumatic and scaring; you only remember that whenever *that* uncle comes over, your butt hurts and something horrible happens"

Four hour exams do make the butt hurt. And I can't remember much at all afterwards. Nor do I wish to.