Professor Farnsworth performed what may have been the only act of kindness toward me that I experienced in three years of law school by writing a fine letter of recommendation for my judicial clerkship applications. The rest, as they say, is history. Without that single act of kindness, leading to my clerkship, who knows where I'd be?
Amazingly enough, he was on the faculty for fifty years, and was full-time faculty up to the day he died. He still had the same secretary that he did in 1981. I am sorry to report that my generation of students regarded him as a pompous jerk. As one of his squadron of research assistants I got to know him better than I did my other professors; he was quite funny in private, but I accepted more or less the popular belief that he was, in public, a stuffed shirt. It is only as I look at his list of credentials, and reflect on his demeanor, that looking back I regard him as simply assured, rather than pompous. I misjudged him owing to my own lack of experience at the time. He saw me far more clearly than I saw him.
The moral of this story? Look back sooner.
I was disappointed that the original article didn't give more details on the Logic Learner, billed as a module that "teaches litigants how to construct consistent arguments." I want to order several: one to install at my local courthouse, one to install at my local bar association for the edification of my learned colleagues and myself, and one to install on my home computer for my children's use.
Such is my enthusiasm for them that I bought the new edition of their book as soon as it came out, even though they appear to have only the vaguest idea of how computers could be used to aid in the mastery of the evidence that is at the heart of their method. Computers in litigation aren't just about scanning a gazillion documents in some mondo class action lawsuit or something. I've got an outlining function in my practice management tools that is extremely handy for linking lists to sublists, which is what "page" preparation for the "chapter" method is all about.
Moreover, with the price of technology plummeting, I don't think scanning your discovery is just for the big boys now. I am handling a case now with about five thousand pages of financial documentation, not horrendously complex, but filling three banker's boxes. It's a pain to be digging through all the time as I get ready for trial. These docs were also copied and Bates-numbered in the order in which the client maintained them, which was not, you understand, a logical order. But that's another rant for another day. Sigh.
Okay, okay, I know the links above don't really describe page preparation and the chapter method. A "page" is a line of questions with the admission of a single fact as their goal. A "chapter" is a series of pages, that is, facts, that make a single point. Just go read the book. I can't do it justice unless I retype the whole damn thing here, and this is a book that is worth study. Even if they use their computers as paperweights.
"Internet users are extremely positive about search engines and the experiences they have when searching the internet. But these same satisfied internet users are generally unsophisticated about why and how they use search engines. They are also strikingly unaware of how search engines operate and how they present their results. "
Well, in that case, kids, let's work on googling better.
Then again, perhaps deep web research is called for.
"It shall be a misdemeanor for any judge or justice of any court not of record, during the hearing of any cause or proceeding therein, to address any person in his [sic] presence in unfit, unseemly or improper language." (emphasis added)
Enacted in 1911, never repealed.
So imagine my delight to discover today to find that the crime of slander of woman is still on the books in my adopted state. Not surprisingly, the publication rule generally necessary to prove damages for slander is a necessary element of the crime as well. The last, in fact the only reported decision addressing this statute is State v. Paysse, decided in 1914. Also not surprisingly, there is a bill in the Legislature this year to repeal the Slander of Woman Act.
Despite my relish for the archaic in law, however, I think it's best for this law to be put to rest (although why on earth anyone in the legislature is fretting about this when the entire system of elections appears to be broken is beyond me) . First of all, this law specifically offers no protection to "common prostitutes"; the logical end to that line of thinking is Gary Ridgway. Second, I don't like the idea that our law preserves a notion that a woman's primary asset is a public perception of her sexual conformity. When reputation matters in today's world, it matters equally to both genders, and sexual integrity only a part of the larger whole.
I take three elevators to work every morning (shades of the late lamented World Trade Center near my old firm in New York City). Garage elevator to lobby, lobby to 40th floor "sky lobby," sky lobby to my office. When I reach the lobby, the first monitor shows me a schematic of the traffic. Fairly uninteresting when I'm coming from the garage, of course, but useful when I 'm going home.
The latest addition to Elevator Madness, however, is screens in the main elevators with mixed ads and news that cycle through like the ads in movie theatres. It's seductive in a way. On the right of the elevator is the date and time in green letters, while on the left I can contemplate the deeper implications of the factoid that Julia Roberts is buying land from Donald Rumsfeld. Why does my elevator think I need to know this? Is this why things are so screwed up in the Middle East? Is Rummy selling land to anyone else? My God, this is even worse than programmable elevator messages.
Appropriately enough, the company providing content, and I use that term very loosely, to these screens is called Captivate Network. When the Revolution comes, they' ll be the second to go (I figure I'll be the first, for mouthing off so much).
This is a subject about which I have discovered I am terribly out-of-date. I had no idea. There is clearly no time to lose.
I can earn six hours of CLE credit, and, should I want it, credit for something called "industrial hygiene," which sounds suspiciously like scrubbing factory toilets, but isn't. Snacks (blue cheese, perhaps?) and refreshments will be provided during discussion of the science behind the mold problem, the different causes and types of mold and their health ramifications, the types of claims that can be brought as a result of mold infestations, the present state of mold litigation, and devising an "action plan" for handling a water intrusion and mold infestation scenario.
But where's the controversy? After all, "some health effects from mold exposure remain controversial because of the potentially significant consequences; yet crucial and legitimate scientific questions remain unanswered. Our incomplete knowledge of noninfectious health effects related to mold exposure is due to limited research support and lack of documented health effects in the context of well-defined exposures. "
Yeah. Let's debate mold, or at least vote for more funding for it.
I have a document. It is a Word document. It is 150 pages long, single-spaced. (You know where this is leading can't be good). This document is an index of sorts, and has been around for some years. It has a number of different fonts and colors in it.
Now, to my way of thinking, this document shouldn't be a Word document. This document should be, oh, an Access database.
I saved this document as a text document to strip out what I can of the formatting that ails it. Now, I want to ship the contents of the document to Access (which is usually not the direction that data goes with Access and Word, I admit). Even I know that the document should be comma-delimited or tab-delimited so that the data will pigeonhole itself in the db that I just created to receive it.
Now, the original author of this document, PBUH, in his or her exuberance, liberally sprinkled this document with a number of commas AND tabs. AND slashes where there should be a delimiting mark, comma or tab, pick one. AND slashes as well where there must not be a delimiting mark of any sort, so I can't do a global search-and-replace on the slashes.
I speculate that this is because no one thought enough about the function of the original document when it was created to understand that the information in the document was a database, and not simple text.
And that is why I am still working at 11 p.m. thinking evil thoughts about the original author of this document.
In 1999, or so I judge by the dated graphics and the copyright notice on the control panel page, Findlaw stopped handing out little corners of the Internet free for the asking, probably at the time of one of their mergers with--or into--bigger and bigger fish. I remember cynically thinking, when they announced that they weren't handing out new sites, and were offering paid site design, that my little free site was not long for this (virtual) world.
By April 2003, I was in the process of designing a more ambitious site, having outgrown FindLaw in the same way I outgrew my first database program, when I had the opportunity to join a larger firm, which meant eliminating the content of my old site. Although I have screen shots of every change in content that I made in that site over the years (a New York state ethics requirement), it pained me to take it down. I didn't want to eliminate it completely because, well, because.
Now here's the funny thing. It is now 2005 and my little ghost of a site is still here. And on a page that contains a "copyright 2005" statement, FindLaw says: "Currently, FindLaw is not offering free Firms Online web sites. However, we will continue to host existing web sites." And so my dusty little site still bravely offers my updated resume to the the world, where prospective clients stumble upon it when they google me (in fact . . . I apparently have some current clients who google me, or read my blog, from time to time. Guys. I know who you are). Who would have thought that electrons could be so persistent?
Another pic courtesy of my law partner.
Her comment? "Coolness. Now get back to work." Is this the time to mention that this same partner amuses herself by deleting and restoring the software on her Blackberry in her spare moments? I thought not.
An aside. What is it about law and the Internet that brings out delusions of Satanic grandeur in us all? The above-referenced blog is called "Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil," I style myself the Dark Goddess of Replevin, and one of my friends posts to a mailing list as the Daemon Empress.
Another aside to clueless educational institutions: my undergraduate college has had an index of alumnae websites up since around 1998 or so, although it's not accessible to the public. On the downside, on the other hand, their current format has the most putrid color combination I have stumbled across in several years.
"Personally, I recommend Enterprise for all but the smallest firms because running on SQL makes it so rock solid. Because Enterprise does more of the computing on the server than Pro, you need to have a decently spec'd file server."
So. What are the "smallest firms"? And do I have a "decently spec'd file server"? I have no idea. Appalling.
As I post from time to time, I've been using practice management software for some time now. The brand I use comes in three basic flavors that I privately think of as Baby Bear, Mama Bear, and Papa Bear, or in more technical terms, Professional, Enterprise, and World Server. World Server in turn is broken down into Levels 1 through 4, with Level 4 providing " 1-2,000 concurrent users, may be Distributed or Non-Distributed, Fault-Tolerant Cluster [capital letters in original]." I don't even know what that very last bit means, but it sounds impressive, like this one goes to 11 or something. Aside from costing $19,500 for Level 4. Eek. Because I don't have much use for remote access right now, which seems to be the biggest appeal of World Server, I don't think I need that powerful (and expensive) a version right now. At this point I am trundling along using the Baby Bear entry level software.
One of the consultants in the moderated forum about the software that the manufacturer sponsors recently posted the following explanation of the difference between the Professional and Enterprise versions:
Now. I have little knowledge of the finer points of database engine selection, management, and maintenance. Since I am in effect my own IT person, my lack of knowledge troubles me when I read stuff like this from someone who seems to know more than I do.
"Time Matters Professional uses a database engine called Topspeed. This is what I refer to as a 'Desktop Database Solution' since all of the processing actually occurs on your desktop and NOT on the server. In other words, to your server, the Time Matters database is just like any other file on its system. Your application (Time Matters) requests data from the database and the server sends you ALL of the data and then sorts it on your desktop.
The Enterprise version of Time Matters runs with a SQL database. What this means is that there is an "engine" running on your server which performs all of the sorting of the data on the server and then sends your application (Time Matters) only enough information to fill the screen. (Okay, techies, this is not entirely accurate but the analogy works.)
So, Enterprise is MUCH more efficient, not because of Time Matters but, instead, because of the realities of database applications."
A quick surf around the Net led me to The TopSpeed Legend, which has an ominous sound to me somehow. It was also alarming that I couldn't find much else on TopSpeed anywhere. I hadn't heard of it before I started doing this research (not, admittedly, that this means all that much).
If I am reading between the lines properly here, if the "TopSpeed line of compilers * * * proved superior to all other compiler technology" in 1989, isn't that a heckuva long time ago for one's technology to have been superior? Why is it that, when I read reviews of different practice management software, no one ever talks about the reliability of the database engines on which they are built? Is this something I should be worried about?
Well, if I'm worrying, I suppose I could worry about the fact that my WinXP machine is based on a DOS foundation, and it's been so long since I've had XCOPY I forget who gets tied up.
But I digress. If I switch to the Enterprise version of my software, I get a SQL database. But is that a good thing, or not? I mean, I first heard of this database because of its association with a famous worm.
I'm afraid that my frustration with databases is a bit like my long-standing frustration with cars. When I rode a bicycle, it was clear how it worked. The force of my feet on the pedals made the wheels go round. My car is like a black box. I turn the key and off it goes. Or doesn't, but the reasons are never clear in either case.
When I had a manual typewriter, it was also clear how it worked. The force of my fingers on the keys made the keys hit the paper. Now, my computer, and my database that is a repository of my knowledge for at least the last seven years, is a similar black box.
That really bothers me because, when you come right down to it, my database as it is currently cross-referenced is the most potent distillation imaginable of those seven years of experience. The more time I spend exploiting the power of this database, the more value it has to me. I would hate to have to reconstruct it. And at some level, perhaps having to do with the infamous Flash Upgrading BIOS Incident of July 2000, I am truly afraid that my box will go irretrievably dark and take all my data with it.
Yeah, I've got a jump drive (512 MB) on my keychain, and I carry my database backups in my purse at all times (Monday through Friday, five separate backups in fact). I'm going to add a universal document backup when the price of the 1 GB jump drives comes down a bit more. But I can't shake that lurking fear that, at heart, is the native's fear of the magical search function of the database brought by the conquistador. My reptilian brain takes over. I'm hopeless.
Just to make things more interesting I used the Bouvier's Law Dictionary definition from the 1850's or so.
If you google the word replevin my site is the second hit on the list. And I didn't even pay money to sponsor a link.
You just can't make this stuff up.
The only thing disappointing about this site was its brevity, though I suspect the author is emphasizing quality over quantity, and it is, after all, a new launch into the blogosphere. Blog on, please.
Interestingly enough--and perhaps this is the underlying purpose of the site--in noodling around this site I have found some beautifully written sites that I otherwise would not have, not to mention stumbled across a number of blawgs that I surely should have noticed before now, but just hadn't. It's a big electronic tent out there.
My favorite category of blog stocks: Internet/weird.
Now, let's see. If Poor Beautiful Shawnna's lawyer had served the dirtbag husband with an amended petition alleging the pregnancy on November 4, the day Judge Bastine vacated the decree of dissolution, the decree could have been entered on...November 29! To enter a default, it's twenty days from the date of service, not counting the day of service, plus three days for mailing (he didn't need to be personally served because jurisdiction over him was already established with the service of the original petition). So the fact that it is January 12, and the husband has not been served with an amended petition that started the clock running again is the fault of...? Not Judge Bastine.
Oh, and if you've misplaced your Bulfinch, the original Echidne was a half-woman, half-speckled-serpent who gave birth to six other notable creatures: Orthrus, Cerberus, Hydra, the Chimaera, the Sphinx, and the Nemean Lion.
As a former student of irregular nouns and verbs, I'm fascinated to see the hoof=>hooves transformation when the noun turns into a verb. As a current student of clear writing, I'm disappointed to see that a statute in existence in 2005 still uses a word like "behoof" that adds no clarity to the preceding noun string in the sentence.
As someone who speaks for a living, albeit not on radio, I certainly have developed a voice. Can the Internet absorb one more lawyer who speaks entertainingly? Sure it can. And my followers don't need expensive equipment to tune in to my frequency.
Thanks be to Denise Howell for alerting me to the fact that podcasting even exists.
What is particularly interesting to me is that the works offered on site are created specifically for the digital format. Although most of the art in my office was created by my daughter and me, I'm tempted to spring for one of these and commander a color printer here. Other digitally savvy alternatives apparently considered yet by artocracy would be to offer artists' work specifically in black-and-white or for display on a single computer monitor. We'll see if this business evolves or dies.
"All works of art on Artocracy.org are made up of print-ready PDF files. Purchasing art is simple. Once you've decided on a piece to purchase, you will be directed through the e-commerce system. When the purchase is finalized you will receive a link to a downloadable PDF. We leave it to user discretion as to how and where the final piece is printed."
My personal preference, when I am annoyed at someone, is to morph his or her name. One can do this manually anywhere, for example, when sitting waiting to be heard on the motion calendar, but I like the ability to set Anagram Genius to "rude."
The interesting thing is that this quote first appeared on an amazon.com Listmania list on Becoming a Swan. Which is not associated with my full Real Name, including my middle name.
Interesting. Someone had to kind of piece my background together. I do that kind of stuff all the time, but it's kind of sweet that someone is doing it on me.
Content rating: Too early to judge, given the length of time since rollout. Already, however, it shows potential for an 8, although I don't care for the number of posts pointing to sources which require subscriptions for access.
Style points: zero. Dry, dry, dry. The posts vary depending on the tone of the topics summarized. The posts on news articles are punchier than those summarizing reports on rule changes. That tells me that these posts are simple summaries rather than independent content.
The site lacks permalinks to individual posts, so I can't give examples by direct link, but compare the 1/7/2005 post "Microsoft Corporation Comments on Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure" (can't you feel your eyelids drooping?) to the 12/27/2004 post "Taking The Fear Factor Out Of E-Mail" (eyelids pop back open).
Extra credit for: knowing what RSS is.
Could be improved by: matrix code wallpaper.
Here's the deal.
- Washington state doesn't have "divisible divorce:" that is, you have to deal with everything all at once, property, kids, child support, debt, the whole meal deal. There are limited exceptions but you have to follow procedures that PBS's lawyer didn't.
- Washington state has a presumption that a child born within a couple of hundred days after the conclusion of the marriage is a child born OF THAT MARRIAGE. Proving otherwise takes more than commonsense assumptions.
- Judge Bastine's actual oral decision, the transcript of which I'm still trying to snag, indicates that he addressed the following issues:
- when you obtain a default decree or judgment you cannot be granted relief different than that sought in the petition. Civil Rule 54(c). The petition recited that PBS was not pregnant. In order to finalize a decree that dealt with the new baby, she'd have to reserve the husband with a new petition alleging the pregnancy. He needs to be put on notice that there may be a child that, his or not, is still presumptively his. No indication that this PBS's attorney did this, though she's had plenty of time since the pregnancy became known. This is important because, absent taking some court action with respect to this dissolution, the husband could find himself down the road paying child support for a child that is not his and as to which he received no notice when he got the divorce petition in the first place. This is not a Good Thing.
- Washington's statute on disestablishing paternity of a child (remember the presumption I cited a moment ago?), RCW 26.26.550, allows the action to be commenced before birth, but specifically states that the action cannot be completed until after the birth of the child.
- Therefore, in this case PBS was unknowingly trying to disestablish paternity in direct contravention to the statute.
Now, the Stranger article, waxing somewhat hysterical, says that "the Dissolution Act doesn't say anything about pregnancy." Um, no, but every first-year law student learns about a doctrine of statutory interpretation called in pari materia, which just means that different statutes on the same subject have to be considered together, even if they're enacted at different times. The Stranger is a great publication but they don't know dick about family law.
Oh, and what makes me think I do? Well, I'm a Washington attorney who has practiced family law for a number of years. And it's not just me who thinks this.
Let the flames begin.