what fresh hell is this?

Some bishops apparently think that a priest paying a teenage boy for sex isn't serious, as long as the boy is not a parishioner.

I am just dying to read the depo transcript on this one, of which the Associated Press scored a copy, but I haven't found a website yet with the materials in full. The Globe's too busy now, I suppose.

happy to be proven wrong

It looks like the RCAB (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston to the uninitiated) did not file for bankruptcy today after all. God bless us, everyone.


a kinder, gentler goddess

The headers in all caps were starting to remind me too much of the briefs I write, six at last count this week alone. Bah, humbug. So I have decreed a style change.

I've also just signed up to get email Boston Globe headlines every morning. Their coverage really can't be beat.

It's really a pity that the Boston Herald isn't a little more web-savvy. In order to get its headlines mailed to me, I have to become a "subscriber," that is, it appears, pay money. I suppose they made a business decision not to set up a competing portal site to the Globe's fabulous abuse portal (I can't believe I just used that adjective to modify that noun), which I have praised before. But it's unfortunate that almost nobody has picked up on the Herald's three month's of sifting through records to cull out the current real estate holdings of the Roman Catholic Archbishop Of Boston, A Corporation Sole (not Law now, but the new guy, Peace Be Unto Him). So I'll publicize it again, and maybe my six readers will spread the message, just like the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement.


vow of poverty? i don't think so!

Nate Oman blogged recently, in response to my comments on Cardinal Law's mortgage, that my suspicions about bankruptcy were probably unfounded because of the priestly requirement of a vow of poverty, and that Cardinal Law probably didn't own any property of the archdiocese.

Interesting observation, but not entirely correct on either count. Not all priests take vows of poverty; only "religious" priests, as opposed to "diocesan" ones, do. I do not believe that Cardinal law is a "religious" priest, that is, a member of a religious order, judging by this biography/obituary-in-a-can that the Boston Globe lifted from the New York TImes (with proper attribution, of course). Furthermore, there is an entire chapter of canon law devoted to "religious raised to the episcopacy" which basically says that he could wiggle out of former obligations "that he prudently judges are not compatible with his condition." And under Massacusetts law, The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston basically owns the entire archdiocese as a corporation sole, one of those marvelously arcane legal entities they certainly didn't teach me about in law school. As an entity it appears to be much beloved of earnest but indiscriminate laypeople.

But that got me wondering--how much information about the Archdiocese of Boston's finances, and the assets held by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, A Corporation Sole, can be sussed out by one researcher in Seattle, even if she is a Dark Goddess of research as well as replevin? Well, here's another suggestion that under civil law the cardinal owns at least the real estate of the archdiocese personally. And it looks like a great deal of the legwork on this one has already been done by the Boston Herald. And here's an oddity--the most detailed description of the Herald article, which is not easily accessible on line, though there seems to be a reprint here--appears in the Pilot, the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper. Somehow I don't think there's full financial disclosure on the Archdiocese's website.

Stay tuned.


expected or intended?

On the one hand, it's great that Goodwin Proctor LLP has reviewed the insurance coverage of the Archdiocese of Boston and determined that it has at least ninety mil in coverage.

On the other hand, in another lifetime I used to do coverage litigation for polluters ::cough:: policyholders.

Now, I have not read these policies, but there's usually an exclusion when the policyholder is reckless or otherwise substantially at fault in the events that are occurring. The documents that are now being released are so bad that they may impair the possibililty of coverage. And as I understand it, Goodwin Proctor has just reviewed the policies, not all the evidence of Law, et alia, in their management of rogue priests.

a modest proposal

Most lawyers who have been using email for a while cherish the virtual legal communities that legal listservs cultivate.

These communities should be protected from the terminally stupid.

Therefore, I propose that legal listserve participation be limited to those who can demonstrate a minimum required level of intellligence.

Specifically, any lawyer who uses an out-of-the-office autorespond message to reply to mailing list messages should not be allowed to post to a list. I even question whether they should be trusted with a computer.

update 1-15-2003

It is not true that I have made serious death threats against lawyers who misuse their autoresponders in this fashion. It was a joke, I swear it.


how appalling

In all the furor about the Archdiocese of Boston threatening to file for bankruptcy, there's a piece that's been missing from the discussion.

Back on September 27, 2002, Cardinal Law mortgaged his house to pay off the Archdiocese's line of credit.

Why am I in a lather about this? Well, it smacks of bankruptcy planning to me. A person can exempt from distribution to creditors in a bankruptcy generally only a limited amout of home equity (except in bankruptcy havens like Texas and Florida, where one has an unlimited exemption). So usually, if you have a valuable house, you have to give it up to your creditors to pay your debts. But if you take out a mortgage on the house before your bankruptcy to extract and use up the equity, say by paying current operating expenses for an archdiocese (there's a preference issue if you retire old debts with the money, or make payments within 90 days of the bankruptcy), you get to keep your mortgaged house, 'cause there's no equity. And as debtor-in-possession you get to make your big mortgage payments.

Are you thinking, who lends money to institutions on the brink of bankruptcy? Well, if you're a Catholic archdiocese, the answer to that question is the Knights of Columbus. The Knights' website says that "For more than 100 years the Knights of Columbus has provided financing for church development projects. The loans are available to dioceses, parishes, catholic schools and hospitals or any other Catholic facility. Once a loan is approved it can be used to replace a bank construction loan. These loans not only offer attractive rates, but also feature maturities up to 20 years. There are no points and no hidden charges. You will need the following prior to the application process: approval and guarantee of the loan by your diocese or religious order and sufficient real estate so that the loan-to-value amount does not exceed 75%. The Knights will also consider unsecured loans."

Of course, all this assumes that Bernard Cardinal Law files for personal bankruptcy, and not the Archdiocese of Boston, but it is not clear to me yet--probably because I (1) haven't researched it; (2) am not hip to canon law--to what extent an archdiocese owns property separately from the cardinal, archibishop or other sentient mammal in leadership, and the effect of the corporation sole. My readership--at last count, six--is urged to check back as I research this further. Constance Sweeney--peace be unto her!!--appears to think that canon law is irrelevant when it comes to sheltering the AD.

What's the link to technology here? Well, back in the day when the Paula Jones complaint was passed around in xerox copy, which is how I read it months later, the information from which the reasonably informed can draw inferences is available much faster. And the truth--but what is truth?--must out all the faster.

So my hunch is that the thought of bankruptcy is NOT a new one for Cardinal Law...lessee...ninety days from 9/27/2002 is... 12/26/2002. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Do not go gentle.


how appealling

In some random googling this morning (for which I expect to receive a bill from myself for fifty bucks) I stumbled on a superlative blog on appellate matters across the country. Howard Bashman combines humor and heavy-duty substance in a manner that looks effortless, but I know it isn't, because I try.

I think that blogs will ultimately prove to be much more effective marketing devices for individual lawyers and their firms, in that order, than websites, at least for litigators and trial lawyers, because of their dynamic (in the literal sense) nature. One problem with hiring professional services is that it's hard to kick the tires, so to speak, of a lawyer. Their work is intangible. Websites are somewhat static, and the graphics are usually hired done and the content copywritten.

A blog, on the other hand, is real time, and so you can evaluate, at least in a limited sense, how the lawyer can actually respond to events as they evolve. And that's what you need to know when you're hiring a lawyer.

The Goddess of Philosophy

i can't afford myself

It's a sobering thought.

Obviously, the time I spend blogging is time that I could, theoretically, be devoting to paying clients. So, for that matter, is time spent doing housework. I suppose I should say, theoretically doing housework. I long ago learned to rationalize not picking up the living room after the kids when I realized that I wouldn't pay someone $500 to do it, so why should I?

The extension of this thought is that I would be in a world of hurt financially if I started billing myself for the time spent generating this blog. Hey, stranger things have been done with billing in my day. For example, the classic "Programmable Elevator Messages--Why Bother?" of 10/8/2002 will cost me $675.

And you're reading it for free.


pacific third

It sounds like a B-movie title, but it's really a horrifying mark of the passage of time.

When I was in law school, diligently learning the rules of legal citation, life was simple. There were the Federal Reporters. The old cases were in the series abbeviated "F.," the new cases were abbreviated "F.2d."

Similar rules followed for the Pacific series of reporters.

I feel vaguely uneasy when I see cases cited as "__ F.3d ___" and "___ P.3d ___". When did a third series of both these reporters sneak up on me? At my back I always hear Time's winged chariot running near.


why you can't rely on the "word of the day" in elevators

You probably don't need me to tell you this, but the definitions are not very good.

Yesterday's Skyline Tower Word of the Day was "bell-wether," which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as:

1. The leading sheep of a flock, on whose neck a bell is hung.

c1440 Promp. Parv. 30/1 Belwedyr, shepe, titurus. 1549 Compl. Scot. vi. 66 The bel veddir for blythtnes bleyttit rycht fast. 1591 SPENSER M. Hubberd 296 To follow after their Belwether. 1718 MOTTEUX Quix. (1733) I. 237 He that steals a Bell-weather, shall be discover'd by the Bell. 1847 LEWES Hist. Philos. (1867) II. 254 Men are for the most part like sheep, who always follow the bell-wether.

2. fig. A chief or leader. (Mostly contemptuous.)

c1430 LYDG. Bochas (1554) 224a, I was cleped in my countrey The belweather. 1577 HOLINSHED Chron. II. 40/2 Thomas being the ring-leader of the one sect, and Scotus the belweadder of the other. 1687 T. BROWN Saints in Upr. Wks. 1730 I. 73 The principal bell-weathers of this mutiny. 1794 SOUTHEY Wat Tyler III. i. Wks. II. 50 You bell-wether of the mob. 1848 LOWELL Biglow P. i, 'Taint afollerin' your bell-wethers Will excuse ye in His sight.

3. fig. a. A clamorous person, one ready to give mouth. b. (Used opprobriously.)

c1460 Towneley Myst. 86 Go now, belleweder. 1598 SHAKES. Merry W. III. v. 111 To be detected with a iealious rotten Bell-weather. 1620 SHELTON Quix. IV. xiii. 109 She made me weep, that am no Bell-weather. 1847 HALLIWELL, Bell-wedder, a fretful child. North.

Hence bell-wethering, the fact of leading and being led ‘like sheep.’ bell-wetherishness, tendency to follow one who takes the lead.

1882 Spectator 25 Mar. 388 But for the bell-wethering, there could have been no crinoline at all. Ibid. 387 The gregariousness, and bell-wetherishness of the English people, who must all do the same thing at once.

The Skyline Tower English Dictionary defined bellwether as: "the leader of a group or movement." Well, yes, but, there's no nuance in that. On the other hand, the building is not tall enough to scroll the OED definition past the idle reader's eyes (are there any other kinds of readers of an elevator marquee?).

I should point out that the online OED is, in my opinion, one of the greatest hybrids of old and new technology birthed by the late twentieth century, compared to, say, the 1984 Compact Edition of the OED, which happens to be holding up my computer monitor even as I write. It is much easier to search online, and easier to search the updates.An annual subscription to the OED online costs US$ 550, but I have free, yes, free access to this marvel as a card-holder of the King County Library System, one of the great bargains of all time.

Oh, and the OED's Word of the Day (yes, they have one too, although if they're going to emulate the Skyline Tower they really should have the Muzak Annoying Tune of The Day) for Tuesday, October 22, 2002? Meridian quadrant. Take that, Skyline Tower!


jane's addiction

It started with Dope Wars. At first, I was obsessed. I burned through AAA batteries on my trusty IIIxe.

I was never comfortable with the idea of shooting cops, so I moved on to a clone called Solar Wars, a sanitized version of the same thing.

Eventually it started to seem a little too simple-minded, so I moved on to Space Trader, which has just been updated as of several days ago. This is an intricate strategy game that, when I am too tired to concentrate on law, I will play for hours and hours. Occasionally I will turn pirate, but I still can't bring myself to fire on the police ships.

When I'm too tired to play Space Trader, or when I'm in court, I will play Bejeweled. I have to turn the sound off in court. It's really quite beautiful on a color PDA. Then there's Glom, which is kind of a 21st century Tetris.

If you have no idea what this entry is about, count your lucky stars.


programmable elevator messages--why bother?

I found myself briefly today in the very fancy elevators of the very fancy Skyline Tower in Bellevue to drop in on a Very Fancy Law Firm, which shall remain nameless as it is guiltless in this episode.

While ascending, I happened to glance up at the elevator message line, which displays information like a stock ticker machine. Now, the stock ticker machine is an interesting piece of outmoded technology in and of itself, but what caught my eye is that this particular ticker was saying, "Glorify...Praise..." as my eye fell upon it.

For a giddy moment I thought that perhaps the elevator's microchips had a Goddess Detection Meter, then came to my senses and kept watching the ticker for the Rest of the Story, as Paul Harvey might abjure. The Skyline Tower ticker cycled around, mundanely enough, through the time and date (conveniently provided for those not already alert and oriented x 2) the outside temperature, and, strangely enough, the elevator's Word of the Day (I am not making this up): "exalt." Glorify and praise were simply part of the definition of exalt.

When I returned to the office, having made in my estimation enough money for the day, I began investigating the waste of technology that overly customizable elevator messages appear to constitute. What possible use is a "Word of the Day" in an elevator, unless it's something truly obscure, like usufructuary? Now that's a word.

I was interested to be informed that custom written messages are not ADA-compliant. Those bings that an elevator makes are called "floor passing tones" and are intended for the visually-impaired who cannot read the floor number display (which appeared in Skyline Tower directly above the customized ticker display). I wonder if the Very Fancy Law Firm knows (or cares) that its building is not ADA-compliant?

It turns out that providing supplementary elevator content is, unfortunately, a trend. In the vanguard of elevator information overload is an enterprising company in Westford, Massachusetts, that puts flat-screen monitors with local content in high rise elevators. This is going well beyond the ticker tape information I originally set forth to find.

By the way, I looked up Otis Elevator Co., expecting them to be a voice of reason, to discover that it is now a subsidiary of United Technologies, which seems to own every company that General Electric doesn't. Perhaps not coincidentally, Otis provided no information about elevator media. Are they lagging behind--or using technology sensibly?


report from the dark ages

Your Goddess is pleased to report that, after months of styling herself a "Goddess of Replevin" without any real credentials to back it up, she was actually able to obtain a Writ of Replevin in King County Superior Court.

She also needs to take a deep centering breath and stop referring to herself in the third person.

::coughs:: It should be clear to both my readers by now that I absolutely adore technology and what it can do for law.

There comes a time, however, when there is no substitute for having a guy with a big neck break a door down.

That's exactly what my newly-minted writ buys me, as long as a sheriff's indemnity bond is in place--which bond, the Court of Appeals has helpfully pointed out, is not waivable, though the filing fee to obtain the writ is waivable. Oh, those giddy days of the late sixties and early seventies (well before I went to law school), the prime of Miss Jean Boddie v. Connecticut, when the cost of public access to the courts was still a matter of intense judicial concern!

P.S.: with replevin, as with the prejudgment attachment I did a few years ago, I walked out of the courthouse with the original signed writ in my briefcase. Which is a very strange feeling after twenty years of vigilance to make sure that I don't accidentally walk out of the courthouse with an original order.


cute, very cute

The scene: downtown Seattle, 3:30 p.m. Friday. I am hurtling down 2nd Avenue towards the inception of I-90 to get to my daughter's dance class in Bellevue before it is over.

The sighting: an inexpensive-model BMW in the lane next to mine with vanity plates that say "JEDIESQ"("Jedi, Esq." with punctuation--cute, very cute).

I blink in disbelief, because I think advertising that your car is a lawyer's car is a fine way to get yourself keyed in the parking lot--myself, I drive what looks like an unmarked WSP vehicle--and further observe that the vanity plate has a custom frame that says "Your FORCE for social justice" and www.lawgrp.com.

I discovered later that the website offers "highly experienced litigators" but the firm, as far as I can see, consists of one lawyer, albeit with a nice car.

But I wonder--is it more egocentric to call yourself a "Jedi" on your vanity license plate or a "Goddess" on your vanity blog? Well, there's a good argument that at least in theory you are promoting yourself to a wider audience with a blog than with a vanity plate, even in Seattle at rush hour. As a practical matter, however, because as far as I know I have only two readers (my mom won't even read this), my friend the Jedi is getting a wider audience for his harmless fantasies than I am for mine.

The ultimate level of egocentricity, though, is probably better measured by grandiosity of the self-characterization not the number of people exposed to the fantasy. So I guess that makes me the blowhard here.

jedi update 11-23-2002

One of my newer readers (I think the count is up to six now) is a friend of Jedi, Esq. and assures me that he actually is a highly experienced litigator, and a very good one, too. He apparently uses that moniker a lot. I stand by my point that it's a dumb idea, given our society's general view of lawyers, to put anything with "Esq." on it anywhere near your physical car.

I personally, however, would sign up in a flash for plates that said "804(B)(3)" if I could get the sovereign state of Washington to issue parentheses. It's the perfect inside joke for 'gators, like the plate saying "LIC UNK" I saw on a pickup down at the courthouse that has to belong to a badge. Parentheses, however, appear to beyond the power of our state to control.


midnight confession

Hah! You can put a link in a title! No, that's not the confession.

Here's the confession.

I just used the word "wont "in a brief. Not won't, not want, but wont.

Obscure one-syllable words are even better than obscure long words.


it was kenner--it was fun

My mom never throws anything out.

This is usually a bad thing. Occasionally, it is a good thing.This post reflects on one of the rare latter times.

I discovered over the weekend that she had lovingly preserved my girlhood Spirograph, still in its original box. The three smallest gears are missing, and of course the original pens are long gone, but the beautiful spirals this clever toy faithfully still generates hold their fascination for me. We all learned as children, of course, that if the radius of fixed circle is R, the radius of moving circle is r, and the offset of the pen point in the moving circle is O, then the equation of the resulting curve is defined by:

x = (R+r)*cos(t) - (r+O)*cos(((R+r)/r)*t)

y = (R+r)*sin(t) - (r+O)*sin(((R+r)/r)*t)

Now, Kenner, the original distributor of the Spirograph in the US, has a corporate history like those so deftly sent up in Toy Story, with Hasbro, the final surviving corporate toy entity, finally putting the Kenner name to sleep when it closed Cincinnati operations in 2000.

Hasbro now manufactures a box of flimsy plastic with the Spirograph name on the box, one of which I bought because my mom won't give me my original Spirograph back. I suspect her of playing with it when I'm not there.

After spending yesterday evening playing with my new Spirograph, er, conducting historical and sociological research for my website using my kids' new Spirograph, that is, I must report that Hasbro has not improved on the original product.

It is possible, however, to make spirograph doodles on your computer now.

I find this more satisfactory than the flimsy new version but not quite as much fun as taking pen in hand.

An inspired poster to Halfbakery proposed the creation of a Food Spirograph, which has a lot of late night appeal.

What's the connection with lawyers and technology here? Oh, it's just as flimsy as my new Spirograph, I guess, just a cautionary reminder that as in toys, so in technology, newer is not always better unless sufficient thought is put into the new product.


replevin countdown: day 26

My last post cleverly snuck in a reference to Fuentes v. Shevin, which y'all must remember from law school was a due process case about replevin which is making my job to retrieve the eighteen-wheeler much harder. Damned 14th amendment.

I love the fact that my Fuentes link will send you to the website for the National Pawnbrokers Association. Not the most conventional research site but hey, they had a copy of the case and a marginally adequate summary there, and this is only a blog and not a brief to SCOTUS. I was charmed to learn from the National Pawnbrokers Association, by the way, that "Working with law enforcement has always been an important part of operating a pawnshop" and "[w]hen visiting a pawnshop you're likely to find bright, sophisticated lighting and modern merchandising programs to rival the major discount stores."

As I have said before, who needs parody?

a mystifying gap

A document such as the Hague Convention of 1 March 1954 on Civil Procedure is just the sort of thing that ought to be available on the Internet in all sorts of languages.

That is what I thought. But I was wrong.

The most recent English translation of this particular Hague Convention is apparently the Journal du Droit international (Clunet), 1960, p. 590, back before Al Gore was even a typist in Saigon.

My conclusion from this, since civil procedure has certainly evolved in the US of A since 1952--class, can you say Fuentes v. Shevin?--is that this particular convention is probably fairly useless, unlike the Hague Convention on Service Abroad, which our very own State Department has thoughtfully provided for us. In fact, State's web site is pretty good, though it won't win any prizes for its looks. The Hague people should take a leaf from State's book, although the Hague Conventions are drafted as far as I know by mysterious and shifting committees that do not stick around long enough to erect websites. I think that's another research project for another evening.


replevin countdown: day 27

As a refreshing break from my life on the cutting edge of using technology in law, I am working on getting a writ of replevin (hence my nom de guerre). Of course there have been interesting technical wrinkles along the way, such as: getting the $120 filing fee waived for my client, per a state Supreme Court case that I literally took in hand and waved at the commissioner to get his attention on this issue, and getting permission to serve the defendant by certified mail after demonstrating that he could not be found (probably because of the warrant out for his arrest). I did search for him over the 'Net but the fellow is keeping a very low profile.

In less than a month I get to see whether I can talk my way into the issuance of the writ based solely on notice to the last known address by certified mail. Now, I did attach a condo once--it was pretty fun--but this time I am hoping to replevy an 18-wheel snub-nose cab.


steal this link!

Whatever you do, Don't Link To Us! I love it. Another reason I think the Web is more anarchic than Larry Lessig fears.


pierce county clerk's office is way cool

It's been years since I've been down there. Have I ever been missing something. They have something now in the Clerk's Office called Law Information Network Exchange, or LINX, that actually lets you look up court calendars online by using your bar number. Wow.

And confirm hearings by email. Zowie.



I had to review a jurisdictional issue today that led me to consider in turn the PKPA, and FFCCSOA. Fortunately the UPA and ICARA did not apply.

"LBJ took the IRT down to 4th Street, USA
When he got there what did he see?
The youth of America on LSD."

Interstate family law work is FUBAR.


another sign that i'm working too hard

I used the word swivet in a brief that I served on OC and filed with the court. I was referring to the local economy. We'll see if the commissioner snarls at me on Wednesday.


as long as i'm criticizing gr 17 . . .

I noticed this morning that GR 17(b)(5) says, "The clerk shall neither accept nor file a document unless it is on bond paper." Now, much as I love the feel of crackling stiff bond paper, it would jam up my trusty HP 3100 something awful. I have been flouting the law for years by filing pleadings printed on laser paper. Recycled, of course. This is the Northwest.

But look a little closer at the rule. It says the clerk may not FILE documents if they're not on bond paper. Now, they FILE the faxed pleadings they receive, right?

I certainly understand why they wouldn't want to file slimy-paper faxes (okay, technically it's thermal transfer paper, okay?). But the thought of the county clerks of this state dutifully stocking their fax machines with bond paper strikes me in my current exhausted state as bizarre beyond belief.

service by telegraph

It hasn't been a very good evening for the Goddess. I have a brief due in three places in Everett--opposing counsel's office, the Clerk's Office, and the Motions Coordinator-- tomorrow by noon. Everett is 40 miles away from my office. I am due in court in Seattle tomorrow at nine on a different matter, so the brief in Everett had to be sent off tonight to all three locations. How did I do this? By the miracle of remarkably primitive technology.

At the beginning of this case in Everett, I negotiated with opposing counsel the right to serve him with papers by fax, in return for accepting service by fax. In Prisoner's Dilemma terms, we have chosen to cooperate rather than defect in this round.

This did have to be expressly negotiated. Oddly enough, although Washington state's Civil Rule 5(h) expressly provides for service of pleadings by telegraph, Civil Rule 5(j) reserves the issue of service by fax, which would actually be useful, for when the courts get around to editing their rules. In 1989, the Washington State Bar Association considered a proposal to recommend to the Supreme Court adoption of a rule allowing service by facsimile. The proposal was defeated by a tie vote. See O'Neill v. Jacobs, 77 Wash. App. 366, 890 P.2d 1092 (1995), fn 2.

And General Rule 17(a)(6) says that no attorney in this state can be required to have a fax machine. No attorney in this state can be required to have a brain in their head, either, apparently.

I am old enough to remember the days of Telex before faxing really caught on. Shockingly superficial research on my part suggests that the first fax system was established in Germany in 1982, but those Telex and cable addresses have been around since the 1920's. Telex, unfortunately, is the Betamax of telecommunications, and you rarely see those addresses anymore. And telegraphy has totally dropped off the map. But fax machines are ubiquitous. Nonetheless, Washington caselaw as recent as May of this year says that service by fax is insufficient to give notice to the other side. Wallace v. Kuehner, __ Wn. App. __, 46 P.3d 823 (2002). Bizarre.

At any rate, step one was to fax my brief to OC a full twelve hours before it is due, which I could do because of our agreement.

Step two was to file my brief by fax in the Snohomish County Clerk's Office in Everett. Fax filing in Washington state can be a little tricky (the rules are mysteriously silent on court filings by telegraph). The same rule, GR 17(a)(6), that says that attorneys can't be required to have fax machines also says that county clerk's offices can't be required to have fax machines, a rule that makes absolutely no sense to me given the role of the Clerk's Office and the cost of a fax machine nowadays. So every county in this state has different rules and forms for fax filing. I love the fact that these madly varying rules are posted on the subpage of the Court Improvement Committee of the WSBA. Why don't they change the rule to make fax machines mandatory in clerk's offices? That would improve the courts. But I digress.

Now, Snohomish County doesn't exactly encourage people to file by fax. The Superior Court website contains nary a mention of this service, although they do let you confirm motions by email (remarkably civilized!), and you have to register in advance to use fax filing. Also, you get charged $3 for the first page, and $1 for every page thereafter, for each separate document that you send. There are also page limitations during the day, but none for Midnight Faxers like me.

Step three was to fax the working papers, with instructions for delivery tomorrow, to the messenger service office in Everett, but that required no forethought. They're pros, they can handle it. No word on whether they know Morse Code.


on the other hand, who needs parody?

We have the deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law in the matter of the Reverend Paul Shanley, day 1 and day 2.

I just couldn't make this stuff up. His Eminence starts interrupting the lawyers again right away. Within a page or two of the transcript, Law denies ever having reviewed the complaint in the case, or the answer filed on his behalf:

"Q. Could you look at Exhibit 2, please, which is the answer that has been filed in this case, and let me ask first whether you've ever seen that answer that was filed on your behalf?

A. Well, let me go through it.

Q. Sure. Absolutely. Please take your time.

A. (Witness reviewing document.)

The answer to this is that I have not seen this document."

And then the deposing attorney proceeds to gently but firmly pin the unhappy cardinal to the wall on the subject of the contributory negligence of the then-six-year-old victim that is alleged in the answer.

Sorry, Bernie. You're the client. Ignorance of your lawyer is no excuse.


why i love the internet

Maybe I should have titled this Why I Love The First Amendment Of The United States Constitution, Well, Let Me Be More Specific, Right Now I'm Thinking About The Freedom Of The Press Clause, Not The Free Exercise Or The Establishment Clauses, Both Of Which Are Pretty Loveable Too. But that was too cumbersome.

But today's burning question is: save Karyn? Or don't save Karyn? And the answer in my mind has little to do with whether a candid twenty-something has learned her lesson about Prada shoes, and who should bail her out, but the continued viability of original work, and original parody, in an era when conventional publishing has gone corporate.

Now, I freely admit that Larry Lessig is much smarter than I can ever hope to be, but I have some faith that the individual spirit reflected in both of these sites will overcome government intervention. Yes, the example is trivial, but political parody websites abound on the Web, and then there's always The Onion. Truly we are living in days akin to those of the Tatler and the Spectator (which now can be studied interactively online, by the way).

update 8-13-2002

Morris Fortmann insists that Save Karyn and Don't Save Karyn are written by one person, a man who delights in getting one over on the media every few years. I am shocked, shocked to hear such a suggestion.


death, taxes, and hewlett-packard

Without laser printers, life as I now know it could not exist.

I will leave for another day a discussion whether or not my professional life as I now know it should exist in this form, and say that I love my Hewlett-Packard Laser Jet 3100. I'm not sure they even make this first-generation multifunction peripheral (MFP, or "Mighty Fine Product" as the Colgate people used to say), but it scans! it copies! it sends and receives faxes!

I also managed to flash upgrade its ROM all by my lonesome, so good are the instructions on its website, which considering how hard I am on hardware is a flippin' miracle. I am the Goddess, after all, who melted a motherboard trying to flash my BIOS two years ago and slightly maimed my former main hard drive (now a slave HD). Ugly, ugly.

Buying HP products is what buying blue-chip stocks used to be, back in the days when investing seemed fun (like, until a year or two ago...). Rock solid, proven performers, can't be improved upon. I bought a used HP IIP in 1992 and used it until 1998 or 1999 with only one repair, for a paper jam that was at least partly my fault.

I have brand loyalty to very few companies, but HP still gets my small business dollar. It's unfortunate that their stock sucks as an investment.


what i really want for christmas

It looks like the Samsung Scurry won't be out by Christmas, so I've revised my Christmas wishlist (Josh and Morris, take note).

I require Heavy Armor 2000 by Otter Products. For a mere $49.95 plus shipping and handling, less than I paid for my Rhinoskin Ti Slider hardcase for my dearly departed Palm IIIxe, you get a product that is airtight, floats, and can be used without removing the cover, none of which was true of the Ti Slider.

From Otter's website:

"The Heavy Armor is designed for the professional that uses their Handheld device in less than ideal conditions. The applications range from military, industrial, emergency services, outdoor sports, airline, automotive, hunting, or any other harsh environment where the device could be subject to dirt, water, shock, or impact. The transparent screen allows the full use of the touch screen without having to remove the device. The bottom portion of the case is made from clear polycarbonate so the infrared beaming of information and data can still be done while the device is enclosed."

Sounds about right for my practice.


our bar numbers are liegion

I've been trying to figure out how the Washington State Bar Association, which is a mandatory bar, assigns the number to each lawyer that s/he needs to put on all pleadings, as, for example, required by Civil Rule 11.

The current numbering scheme is alphabetical according to the day you were admitted--there being frequent swearings in en masse, in my case in the Opera House well before the fat lady sang there for the last time. I was once on a case with the nice fellow who has the number immediately before mine, which was neat in a minor sort of way, though we never filed any joint pleadings.

But there are some attorneys older than me who have really low numbers out of sequence. I sent an email to the State Bar asking them how the numbers are assigned, but have yet to receive the favor of a reply. Do some Washington lawyers have the recycled numbers of dead lawyers? How Gogolian. Don't try to tell me that lawyers don't have souls, now.


Ms. 17279

update: 8-20-2002

The state bar unhelpfully informed me today, "Once a number is assigned to an attorney it is never used again. It belongs to that one attorney." That was the entire email. No sense of history! No sense of the evolution of technology!


carbonless forms--work of the devil?

To understand this rant, you have to know that Washington state has just enacted a variation of the Uniform Parentage Act. Yes, that's right, a non-uniform uniform act that no lawyer I know pretends to understand. Among other things, the new statute dictates that the form used to acknowledge paternity of a child must change significantly.

Considering that the State has a vested interest in making sure that little babies all get walking wallets, er, fathers, attached to them, in order to reduce the likelihood that welfare paid on their behalf can't be recouped from the absent parent (not always, of course, the dad!), you would expect that the new paternity acknowledgement form would be all over every website in the state that has anything to do with kids, and that it would be as easy as pie to download.

You would expect that, but you would be wrong.

The form is a CARBONLESS form, folks, needs to be filled out in quadruplicate, and hence available at warm-and-fuzzy places like hospitals and DCS offices. Over the Internet? Available conveniently? Bite your tongue. No Internet-ready carbonless forms.

Of course, at the King County Recorder's Office you can download a PDF form for your Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit that replaces the clunky 8 1/2" x 14" carbonless form used until very recently. The KC Recorder has actually done wonderful things lately to bring themselves into the Internet age. You can look up deeds from your desktop, even if they do print out with "UNOFFICIAL" blazoned across them like the Scarlet Letter (although it's the Halftone Grey Letter on my printer, which doesn't have the same literary ring). The Recorder solved the carbonless form conundrum by--are you ready for this stroke of genius?--having the user print four copies of the form.

Obviously, there is more money in real estate than in the orderly establishment of parentage for small children. And that, my friends, is why the KC Recorder's website is so much better than that of DCS. Sigh. Happy Friday, all.


time matters as demon lover

Now, what do I mean by this?

DATATEXT.com, the Time Matters case management people, has souped up TM's email management capabilities in Service Release 3 to ver. 4.0, which I whiled away an indolent evening downloading @ 56K two nights ago.

It has had an email client as part of the program for, oh, about a year, and it's gotten to the point where it almost works.

However, after several days of intense experimentation, I conclude that it is still only a fancy front-end kludge to Outlook. And lousy as Outlook is, it does more than Time Matters in its email aspect. Funny, I just expected more from the nice people at DATATEXT.


o bernie, where art thou?

I have been waiting impatiently for the next batch of transcripts of Bernard Cardinal Law's deposition. Wouldn't you know it, his minions obtained another order blocking their release for the moment. However, I note that this order was, of course, immediately appealed.

The Boston Globe, by the way, which seems to be owned by the New York Times, has turned itself into quite the portal on American priest pedophilia. Well, we all have our niche. I suppose they're looking to get a Pulitzer, and the 'Net is a nice way for them to display a portfolio of their work. All this, by the way, despite a visually dreadful home page with a violently oscillating lavender column on the right that I get a migraine just describing. Geez. The New York Times on the Web has the right idea--make the page look like a physical newspaper, white is so soothing--but what's a parent company to do?


pacer lags behind?


I tried to access my PACER account (federal court bankruptcy electronic access to information) for the first time ever, without success. The elves at the Bankruptcy Court emailed me and said that PACER was compatible with Internet Explorer 5.0 and 5.5. Well, shucky darn, I am using IE 6.0. They had no solution. Do I have to downgrade my browser in order to access the bankruptcy courts? This is not good.


but not a fork, i bet

The tip of a chopstick makes an excellent emergency stylus. Not recommended for when one is actually eating.

air keyboard?

According to Handheld Computing Enterprise Weekly, and also reported in PC World, no less than three companies are working on "virtual keyboarding," to be released for the PDA later on this year. What "virtual keyboarding" means in its new definition is that you wear a device on your hands that interprets your finger movements (in mid-air, on the back of the airline seat in front of you in its upright and locked position, etc.) as if they were taps on a keyboard in front of you.
What absolutely amazed me is that both articles I read expressed concern that users would worry about looking "weird." Geez. My immediate reaction upon reading about the Samsung Scurry, for example, was: I must obtain this product RIGHT NOW.. After several years of walking down the street appearing to talk to myself (while actually using a cellular hands-free headset, of course), I have lost all possible self-consciousness about looking weird. Everyone around me is too preoccupied with their own problems anyway to notice me. And although I like my PDA's fold-up keyboard well enough, and tolerate Graffiti, I would leap at the chance to type more freely. Hey, dictating into the thing would be pretty special too.

My main concern about a virtual keyboard is whether it is trainable to my usual hand position, or whether I have to hold my hands in a certain way. I am hopelessly devoted to my Kinesis Classic Contoured Keyboard, which allows me to hold my hands in a natural position and has undoubtedly forestalled the onset of the otherwise inevitable case of repetitive stress injury from the amount of keyboarding I do (not to mention the castanet use). Note to folks in Puget Sound: Kinesis is headquartered, or was, in Kirkland, and you can buy refurbished units from the showroom for half the (considerable) cost of one of these things. If I have to hold my hands a certain way, there's not much advantage to a Scurry over the Stowaway, other than the Cool Factor, which admittedly fades. But if I can truly type with my hands in any position, why, I'm sold.

So if you see me walking down the street in Seattle, talking to myself and typing in the air, don't pity me. Admire me. I've figured out a way to make walking billable.


batteries not included

I really long for the old days, when my wind-up traveler's clock took me around the world without batteries at all.

Then came my first Palm, and it used AAAs, but that was okay, because it only ate them at the rate of two or so per month.

Now I have an m515, and a cellular phone, and they both have rechargeable batteries with absolutely no gumption. Sigh.

What's a Goddess to do? If I spend a whole day doing business in my car, which is not unusual, I can drain both the cell and the Palm by the end of the day, and they both plug into the single cigarette lighter that my car possesses. I shudder to think that there may be a USB hub for a cigarette lighter off which I could daisy-chain all my chargers. Even with a Mercury Grand Marquis, it could spell engine trouble.


so i'm an idiot, too

After spending one hour and twenty-three minutes babysitting a download--on dial-up access--mind you, of an 11.9MB Service Release 2.0A, (not 2.0 mind you, which I already have), of my beloved TimeMatters, what else would you call me?

Too short-sighted to have broadband? Guess that's the same thing. I can't point you to a specific functionality that I just gained by wasting an hour and a half of billable time on a holiday Sunday. Even a Goddess has her off moments, I suppose.


why i hate westlaw

I have had a seemingly irrational dislike for Westlaw for the last twenty years.

More rationally, I have found that Westlaw's vaunted keyword system is imprecise enough to be useless. The points I want to research always seem to have a keyword which runs to four decimal places.

As I think of it, the fundamental problem with the keyword system is that it was built a long time ago, not unlike Roget's Thesaurus, which acquired its basic structure in 1852. Distinctions and categories which once made sense no longer do, and new distinctions and categories come to be, but the old superstructure has to remain. In that respect, Westlaw is a directory system, like Yahoo!, going up against a Boolean system, like Lexis-Nexis.

In the hands of a reasonably skilled user, Boolean searches work better every time, another reason I love google. My issues, as they say, with Reed-Elsevier a/k/a the Borg are another rant for another day. Suffice it to say it's not their databases I dislike.



Okay, in the year 2002 Cadwalader sends personal trainers to attorneys' desks to walk them through generating complex documents. Unfortunately, from this article it sounds as if those attorneys are using primarily word processing software, not HotDocs or other document assembly software. Now, I'm being a little hypocritical here, because I am still getting by with Word 2002 and TimeMatters, when I'm not using my family law document assembly program, but if I had as many lawyers as Cadwalader, I'd be making everyone use HotDocs, and I will buy HotDocs Pro, I will, as soon as another crop comes in on the money tree.



Why doesn't every lawyer in private practice have a PDA? And case management software?

I strongly suspect that a certain percentage of lawyers avoids all computer technology because the computer's legacy input device, the keyboard, reminds them of--gasp!--secretaries, and that percentage has never probed beyond the caste system this attitude perpetuates.

I will admit that I was skeptical in 1983 when the secretary in my federal government outpost in West-by-God-Virginia attempted to teach me word processing so that I could edit my own memos. Now, I was no stranger to keyboarding, having typed my way through college and even taken law school exams by typewriter, but I was suspicious of this woman's motivations and declined the offer of the lesson. Well, she was a lazy so-and-so, and so, perhaps, was I.

By 1986, the Manhattan law firm to which I jumped stopped actively discouraging lawyers from using computers, but did not encourage their use because, as the offical management statement went, the lawyers would lose too much billable time learning to use the systems. My Wang can do wonders, indeed.

By 1988, at this point in Seattle, I found myself participating in a pilot project placing computers with an MS-DOS operating system on the desks of all lawyers on my floor. There I observed two very senior partners take to technology like ducks to water. So what if they couldn't get anyone else on the floor to use our internal e-mail system. I had seen the light.

Fast forward to 2002. I have skipped right over the evolutionary step where I should have bought a laptop. I am on my second Palm OS PDA. After essentially wearing out my trusty IIIxe in fifteen months of very hard use, I recently sprang for an m515. This is a smokin' unit, folks, and the colored screen makes Bejeweled even more fun to play. With my foldup keyboard and cellular phone I can spend a totally productive day away from the mothership (desktop), all day, every day. All because I am man enough (as it were) to be seen using a keyboard. Now, if only my batteries would hold a charge longer...


deposing cardinal law

I had a pretty good rant on this subject on my PDA but it appears to have disappeared in transmission from AvantBlog. So I'll start over.

Thanks to the good auspices of someone presumably sympathetic to the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Boston, Bernard Cardinal Law's deposition transcript is just a click away on an AP wire site. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly has it too. In the old days, just a few short years ago, I had to rely on a friend of a friend to get my hands on a grubby (in several senses) xerox of Paula Jones's complaint against then-president Clinton. Who needs friends anymore? I have google.

In reviewing this transcript, I find myself mulling over Hannah Arendt's proposition about the banality of evil, and wondering if the converse (or is it the contrapositive) applies and what is banal is evil. Rigid corporate hierarchies like those of the Catholic church are certainly banal enough. Maybe that makes them evil. I also find myself wondering whether the Archdiocese of Boston couldn't have rounded up some more dignified counsel for ol' Bernie. Noting a continuing objection to all the questions on first amendment grounds? Maybe in Massachusetts they don't have that silly rule about material being discoverable, whether or not admissible, if it leads to the discovery of admissible evidence? They certainly don't have their rules of civil procedure posted on their court website, so I couldn't confirm that.

Despite their grand speech at the beginning of his depo, Law's lawyers were unable to train the man into the most basic good habit of a witness--wait until the question is complete before you begin answering it. There were so many fragments in the transcript, the court reporter would have been sweating were it not for the comfort of a video feed. Probably no one ever tells a cardinal not to interrupt. Law's habits were certainly not broken by any hasty prep session his lawyers might have undertaken. Of course, Cardinal Law gives the impression of never really listening to anybody, anyway, so why should his own counsel and the opposing lawyers be any exception?

As long as I'm critiquing here, what about plaintiffs' counsel? They haven't given any signs so far of being students of the great Pozner and Dodd on the science of cross-examination. Law's lack of memory of such things as a letter on which the word "urgent" appears in his own handwriting is so legally juicy that it is hard to understand why he wasn't subjected to a punishingly meticulous cross-examination on the subject. His denials were so incredible, in fact, that he stopped the release of additional transcripts for thirty days. What I would really like to cross-examine Law about, myself, is his claim that a group of laypeople had the authority to veto a cardinal's financial decision about settling a case. All sorts of questions of apparent authority and actual authority.

In the era of the Internet it's much harder now for professionals to make mistakes in public. I freely admit to knowledge of several hearings, at least, in my day, in which my participation was either ers and ums, or a pure word salad. I'm lucky that I'm no one in particular and so one has ever ordered up those transcripts and slapped them on the web either because they're of public interest (or even just to embarrass me). But Cardinal Law and this multimillion-dollar renegment is a big deal. You would think the legal talent on both sides would have been closer to the top of their games.


second try

The first was pretty promising. This should be my last content-free post.
This is my first test post using AvantBlog to compose posts on my PDA and then transfer them to my blog. How cool is this?
On two separate law-specific mailing lists that I'm on I got gullibly-forwarded emails yesterday about the same hoax virus. Forwarded by two separate people within a few minutes of one another. It really surprises me how few lawyers appear to use google these days. I mean, come on, you can put the toolbar in your browser. Not to mention more advanced engines like copernic, my favorite. We are missing opportunities to display our superior research skills. End of rant. (I can't use my cute fake-html abbreviations in the blog because they don't show for some reason).


It had never occurred to me to use a blog as an adjunct to my website before, but as usual LLRX.com has its hand firmly on the feeble pulse of the uses of technology in law. After reading an article there, and salon.com's take on the meaning of blogs, I have been inspired to create A Blog Of My Own.