When is enough, enough?

Possibly never? Or way too late? When a person has been involved in a profession, business, public service, or elected office is it possible to fall into that infamous slot similar to fish or company overstaying a welcome? Of course it is. Do we all know someone who should have hung it up sooner? You betcha. 

Avoiding that possibility was, of course, one of the reasons that I decided to retire from the active bench at the end of this term. The other reason for (semi) retirement at this point is that had I served another term I would have been almost 73 at then end of that one and that is getting a little late to start into something else. What sort of something else? Stay tuned …. And then there are the hobbies … more time needed there and with family.

Let’s be clear:  I still enjoy my work and continue to be grateful for this opportunity at public service. I cannot state my reasons and rationale any more clearly than in my recent press conference/announcement so that will be repeated here. Continue reading “When is enough, enough?”

How to avoid becoming a lawyer

University of Texas School of Law
Image via Wikipedia

As you may know, it did not work out that way. But it was not due to a lack of trying on my part. I think subconsciously that since my dad was a lawyer, I wanted to “do my own thing.”  I had taken a passing interest in electronics and my maternal grandfather, Ernest A. Moritz, was a rather famous engineer so, therefore, I set off to the University of Texas in 1962 to become an electrical engineer. Made sense, right? Continue reading “How to avoid becoming a lawyer”

Pres. Obama’s Ice Cream lie

This from a former law school lecturer in constitutional law:

“You can imagine, if you are a Hispanic American in Arizona …” the president said Tuesday at a campaign-style appearance in Iowa, “suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed.” On the same day, Attorney General Eric Holder said he was considering a court challenge.

(emphasis added)  via How Obama could lose Arizona immigration battle | Washington Examiner.

That is a scare tactic, class warfare engendering statement and one that is totally irresponsible.  Is it possible that the President simply misspoke?  It’s hard to imagine that by late April when this statement was made that both he and the Attorney General (see YouTube link below) did not know the language and meaning of the AZ law.  If not, then both of their statements were tantamount to gross negligence.  If they DID, then those statements were made purely for political scare tactic purposes, and tantamount to a fraudulent misrepresentation.

Look at my analysis and tell me if the President and Attorney General could justify the “ice cream” statement based on that law.  No way.  It’s quite clear that there first must be a lawful contact with the citizen.  So, if you and your kid just robbed the ice cream store, then upon police contact you might be asked for ID — no matter where it appears you might be from.

(edit 5/15/2010) Just discovered this video where AG Holder acknowledges that he has not read the AZ immigration law, but still has an opinion on it. It thus becomes indelibly clear that his remarks about the bill are simply politically motivated.  The United States Attorney General is not a position where you want politics to motivate. He is the top law enforcement official in the country and there is no room for politics in the types of decisions the AG has to make.

The Will of Herman Obelweiss

Why you should be nice to your relatives, especially the older ones …

I am writing of my will
mineselluf that dam lawyer want
he should have too much money,
he asked to many answers about
family. first thing i want i dont
want my brother oscar have a
dam ting what i got. he done me
out of forty dollars fourteen years

I want it that hilda my sister
she gets the north sixtie akers of
at where i am homing it now. i bet
she dont get that loafer husband
of hers to broke twenty akers next
plowing time. she cant have it if
she lets oscar live on it i want it i
should have it back if she does.

Tell mamma that six hundred
dollars she been looking for for
twenty years is berried from the
backhouse behind about ten feet
down. she better let little frederick
do the digging and count it
when he comes up.

Pastor lucknitz can have three
hundred dollars ifhe kiss the book
he wont preach no more dumhead
polotics. he should have a roof put
on the meetinghouse with (it) and
the elders should the bills look at.

Momma the rest should get but i
want it that adolph shud tell her
what not she do so no more slick
irishers sell her vokum cleaners
dy noise like hell and a broom dont
cost so much.

I want it that mine brother
adolph should be my execter and i
want it that the jedge make
adolph plenty bond put up and
watch him like hell.

Adolph is a good business man
but only a dumkoph would trust
him with a busted pfenning. i
want dam sure that schlemic
oscar dont nothing get. tell adolph
he can have a hundred dollars if
he prove to jedje oscar dont get
nothing. that dam sure fix oscar.

(signed) Herman Obelweiss.

I’ve had this piece for my entire legal career and have used it many times in speeches. It’s cute, and is reported to be an actual Will filed in Anderson County, Texas.  Don’t let it be said that the law is totally dry.

7 Trials, But He Was Innocent — Jesus under the law

This day, Maundy Thursday 2009, may be an interesting point in the Christian calendar to remember not only the facts of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, but to analyze the extensive perversion of the legal system that was required to put him to death. The linked file is an analysis of those events from the viewpoint of a lawyer and judge and may give you a different perspective of this Easter season. The preamble in the paper:

About 2,000 years ago, there occurred the central events of Christian history which we observe and celebrate during the Easter season, events which principally exist in our minds as the cornerstone of our Christian faith:  the death and resurrection of a man called Jesus.  For a trial lawyer or judge however, these events are foreshadowed, though not overshadowed, by the trial that took place before his execution.

We talk about the trial of Christ — in fact, he was tried within both the Roman and Hebrew judicial systems and scholars debate whether there were in fact two full trials. I believe that there were no full trials because of the subversion of all the rules, and that there were seven trials in all.

I hope that you find this paper to be interesting whether your faith is Christian, Jewish or otherwise.

PDF file:  Trial of Christ from a Judge’s Point of View

Sources and influences of religion in modern law

As a Christian and a judge of 12 years and lawyer licensed since 1973 (gee, that sounds like a long time ago), it is no surprise that, as with many lawyers, I have an interest in the influence of religious principles and history on the law.  I was asked to talk in our adult forum at church tomorrow about religion and the law and put together a written piece to guide the discussion. Besides, everyone likes a party favor. The PDF of the document is in my shared files and you’re welcome to read it and I invite your comments here.

I briefly discuss what is undoubtedly the earliest recorded roots of our modern jurisprudence, the Code of Hammurabi — an early king of Babylonia. The Ten Commandments are briefly compared. There then follows an outline of some of the principles of our modern procedural rules that existed during the trials of Christ — all of which were broken in order to ensure his conviction and crucifixion.


Let’s not forget the “rule of law”

I fear it has been forgotten, or perhaps was not finely ingrained in some who should know better.

Just today I heard a commentator talking about “BlogoGate” where Governor Blogojevich had appointed Mr. Burris to the Illinois senate seat. The comment was in essence that since “Blogo” was such a despicable person he had no right to appoint someone to that seat.

Let’s be clear: if Blogojevich is guilty of what is alleged, then he is despicable. It’s easy to assume that the allegations are in large part true. But he is still the Governor of the State of Illinois and until removed, he has every legal right to make the appointment. Should he? Politically or morally, should he? I think not, but that’s not the test.

We have laws which we all should follow. Just because one believes that Gov. Blogojevich has broken the law and should be impeached does not justify ignoring what he apparently has the legal right to do. Impeachment is for the Illinois legislative body and until impeached and convicted, or indicted and convicted, he is still the Governor with all the powers attendant to that office.

This is a constitutional matter, not just a choice or matter of preference.  The issue is fundamental to our personal liberties.  It’s all too easy to blast a now-unpopular politician, but the same principle applies to the ordinary citizen accused of a wrong-doing.

Again, to be clear, I in no way condone or defend his alleged actions but I wish we could defend the notion and knowledge of the rule of law.

Bibliography of Philosophical Works

I found this on a blog that looks interesting, if deep. It’s Punishment Theory which is touted as a group blog on criminal law and philosophy. Leans left, which means it should at a minimum be thought-provoking. Below are  links to online versions of philosophical works, some blogs, and then a lexicon from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  If this isn’t enough reading for a long winter then nothing is.

Here is a list of links to various philosophical works, mostly (I think) listed for its relationship to the law: