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February 24, 2004

Since it's been doing the rounds...

YOU ARE RULE 20(a)!

You are Rule 20, an important part of the Federal
Rules' policy of permissive joinder. You are
designed specifically to allow as many parties
in an action as can be tried efficiently, and
you'll include someone as long as there is some
factual overlap between a claim involving them
and the rest of the case at hand. You are
popular, out-going, and are never far from
friends. However, your overly gregarious
nature and magnanimous approach to all things
cause your closest friends to wonder that, even
when you're surrounded by your compatriots,
there is a part of you that feels cold and very
alone.


Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

December 22, 2003

So... the Civ Pro exam

That excellent novel, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, describes the effects of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster as "likened to having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick."

Take away the lemon, and you'd have about the net effect of that twenty-four hour Civ Pro takehome. I never thought anything would keep me from blogging for almost two days, but that exam did it.

I spent about two hours regretting how poorly prepared I was. Then I spent the next hour getting an outline together, and realizing that a whole other week of studying wouldn't have done me any good: I'd never have felt prepared for this thing. I'm not saying the exam wasn't fair, or suitable to the course, or whatever: it was just very, very hard.

All in all, I got about four hours of sleep in that twenty four hours. By the time I was done, I was reasonably happy that I had something I could hand in. It was the requisite number of words, answered all the questions, and more or less made semi-plausible arguments for whatever it was I'd wanted to assert. I have no idea if it was actually correct, but it was words on paper. That was about the height of my ambitions by the time I finished.

The worst exam I ever sat was my unseen translation final back when I was studying Japanese, in which I was met with a classical Japanese character I couldn't have hoped to meet, and translated it as 'rose.' When I got home, I figured out that this very active rose whose story I'd been translating was actually a hawk. The part of the character that meant 'bird' should have been a dead giveaway, but oddly wasn't. This exam wasn't that bad, but it runs a close second.

Since 4PM on Friday, I've spent the statistical majority of my time in bed recovering. And soon I'm off home for the holidays, to leave all thoughts of law school behind me. Oh, except for the following:

(a) If given the choice, I'm never taking an course with a takehome again.
(b) If there's any second-years reading this who have good ideas on breaktime reading for Con Law, I'd appreciate it. My teacher apparently assigns hideous amounts of reading each night, so I figure reading a hornbook over the break would hurt me.

December 18, 2003

CIV PRO: CODE INFRARED

Yes, that's right, the alert's so far up there, it's off the spectrum. My alarm has risen to such a pitch that dogs blocks away are covering their ears in pain, and bats are falling out of the sky in confusion.

Just another day at the Malebolge. I thought I understood this stuff: I'd put together a reasonable set of notes, compiled tests into an outline, all that good prep stuff. Then I looked at the past papers and commentary.

My only explanation is that Prof. Civ Pro not only teaches civil procedure, but also teaches a course in motorcycle maintenance, and through one of the monumental acts of silliness for which I'm well known, I accidentally showed up at the latter class all semester. I can't honestly be this clueless about the subject, can I?

Anyway, we're not allowed to use internet research on this exam, but I'll probably take the time out to blog some irrelevancies between 4PM tomorrow and 4PM Friday anyway. If you see a post that looks like gibberish (or, indeed, detailed specifications of a 1973 Harley Davidson), you know what's happened.

Update: For the person who just emailed me wondering if Prof. Civ Pro is actually good with motorcycles--no, I really am that clueless. Or who knows, she might be, but it was an attempt at self-depricating humor.

December 16, 2003

Civil Procedure: Other Men's Flowers

'I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers and nothing but the thread that binds them is my own.'
Lord Wavell, author of my favorite collection of poetry, takes from Montaigne both the title of his book and the first line of his preface. I feel substantially the same about my preparation materials for civil procedure. Not having had time to outline properly, they're a Frankensteined mess of my notes, existing senate outlines (written by students in past years), practice hypotheticals and model answers from TA sections, my study group's flow-chart (such as was done of it), and the course materials that my professor put up on the web. All this is divided into six main sections and several subsections, capped at the end by printouts of past exams. In theory, I'll absorb all this in the next thirty or so hours, and thus be ready to roll when the real exam, a twenty-four hour take home, falls into my lap.

I feel badly about this, as if I'm cramming and indexing things that I should have absorbed. Unlike my other two exams, I'm not certain I feel a mastery of the black-letter materials, although policy issues are much more fixed in my mind. Still, maybe I shouldn't feel so badly. After civil procedure, the law seems much more like an accretion of habits and traditions than anything rational or ordered. Rather like a bouquet of flowers bound over and over again by other men's thread, until finally you're left with more twine than greenery.

What an ugly image.


CIVIL PROCEDURE: CODE RED

My brain simply will not focus on Civil Procedure. This is bad, because I'd given Civ Pro the least amount of attention on the grounds that it was my only 24 hour take home exam, and I've barely begun to review.

If any of you see me online, outside of a library, or anywhere without a Civil Procedure book in my hand, shout at me loudly. Please. I just spent an hour looking at the 2001 mock exam, and it might as well have been testing my knowledge of electrical engineering or air conditioner maintenance.

How exactly has Three Years of Hell managed to contract down to Three Days of Hell? And what is the land speed record for developing an ulcer?

October 26, 2003

Legal scholars should not do this to first year students

As part of our reading for tomorrow, we're reading Linda S. Mullenix's Another Easy Case, Some More Bad Law: Carnival Cruise Lines and Contractual Personal Jurisdiction (Texas International Law Journal, Spring, 1992), a rather histrionic account of the Supreme Court's decision in Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Shute 499 U.S. 585 (1991). At first reading, I stumbled over the following passage:

The Shutes had once again prevailed in their efforts to sue Carnival Cruise Lines locally, rather than being haled to Florida.

I did a bit of a double-take, but then figured that maybe it was an ambiguous clause: Carnival was a Panamanian corporation, and so even though its main place of business (and preferred jurisdiction) was Florida, maybe it could still be haled there. But then it happened again:
While it is interesting and true that ships travel to many ports of call, and that their corporate owners have an interest in not being subjected to litigation in multiple forums, these self-evident truths do not suggest why it is any better or fairer to force an injured plaintiff to be haled into some distant court of the defendant's pre-arranged choosing, or forego the right to sue altogether.

[emphasis mine in both quotations]

Have I completely missed the point of several weeks of civil procedure? I was under the impression that a plaintiff (through a complaint) haled the defendant into court, and that a defendant wasn't the one doing the haling. Maybe a forum-selection clause could limit the places in which a plaintiff could summon, but he can't be forced to bring a suit, can he? I thought the whole point of this jurisdiction stuff was that the defendant was the only person being forced to go anywhere, and that jurisdiction was the limitations of his choice.

Mullenix is pretty overwrought in her language, so this might just be another example thereof--but can one of you fill me in if I'm missing something?

Update: Someone tell me this is another howler: "The burdens placed by a state upon an absent plaintiff are similar to and of he same magnitude as those it places on an absent defendant. Where an out-of-state plaintiff is summoned by a defendant through a non-negotiated, nonconsensual forum selection clause, the plaintiff is faced with the full powers of the State to render a judgment against it." True, she's reversing the language of a Supreme Court ruling, but she then states, "This paragraph does not stretch the imagination."

Help! I'm lost!

October 22, 2003

A New Millenium

I did a lot of talking about Millennium Enterprises, Inc. v. Millennium Music, L.P. 33 F.Supp.2d 907 (Ore. 1999) today in Civ Pro. (Apologies to my classmates if I bored them to tears.) The case addresses the issue of whether a company who puts up a website targeted mainly at its local markets may be be required to answer a complaint in a foreign state due to 'purposeful availment.' In the case, Millenium Enterprises sued Millenium Music for trademark infringement, and tried to bring the case in Oregon under the theory that Music's website, being accessible in Oregon, provided a grounds for personal jurisdiction.

I hate it when I have to disagree with a court's opinion: after all, I'm a law student, what do I know? But applying the standard of 'purposeful availment' to a website seems to me to be a serious problem. So much of what is done by a 'real world' defendant occurs automatically online. You don't have to print out advertisements, because a Google spider will list you in a search engine. You don't have to send out advertisements, because your traffic will come to you--they may even link. True, active measures help, and in fact will make the difference between your project being a success or a failure. But if you put a site online, unless you specifically disclaim that you will use it to do business throughout the nation, I think you should be held to personal jurisdiction throughout the United States.

Still, if this case is any indication, courts today disagree with me. Which is, I suppose, a good thing, since it makes it that much less likely that anyone will successfully sue me for Three Years of Hell.

September 28, 2003

Computer-filled productivity

Having checked with Prof. Civ Pro that doing so didn't violate any rules of conduct (there's some funny stuff in that code of conduct about collaboration) my study group now has the first phase of the Civil Procedure flowchart underway.

It's been a long time since I used Visio, and I'm enjoying the experience. If there's one thing I'd advise to anyone who does this after me: find a way to make the things you learned before law school work for you. Not only does it give the process a more familiar feel, but it means that everything you do isn't directly connected to the majesty of the law.

September 16, 2003

Books off topic

I'm going to start recommending fiction books that are slightly off-topic for classes, but raise some of the issues that are brought up in my courses.

Today's suggestion is Iain M. Banks The Player of Games. Prof. CivPro's discussion today of how society has decided to put together a group of rules in order to allocate social burdens, and her discussion over the last week of the roles of the state, reminded me of Bank's view a world in which power is allocated on the basis of skill at a certain game of strategy. Indeed, the clash of two very different views of allocation of power, and the strategies of one view in dealing with the other, reminds me a lot of Civ Pro so far.

September 14, 2003

Legal Templates

Of particular use for those in my section, but the rest of you might find it relevant: there's a wonderful page full of legal templates that work with Microsoft Word on Microsoft's site. For those of you in my Civ Pro class with the legal pleading due on Tuesday, it's pretty helpful.

September 08, 2003

Don't Stress About Exams?

Prof. Civ Pro (I'm using Katherine's system for identifying real people here) is the latest in a line of professors who have said not to stress about the exams until at least halfway through the term. Is this good advice? At the moment, I don't trust it.

When I have an answer to this question, it'll be posted under Letters to Wormwood. (This reference added for the benefit of future JD2B's here.)

Giving The Devil His Due

Since it's been doing the rounds... (2)
Puddles wrote: Damn... I <a href="http://one10.blo... [more]

So... the Civ Pro exam (5)
Kara wrote: For ConLaw, get the two E&E books (... [more]

CIV PRO: CODE INFRARED (1)
Alison wrote: Well, I don't know joinder from a h... [more]

Civil Procedure: Other Men's Flowers (0)
CIVIL PROCEDURE: CODE RED (5)
Brian Pedigo wrote: Civ Pro. It's the worst. My exam is... [more]

Legal scholars should not do this to first year students (10)
Boroson Bram wrote: The function of the artist is to pr... [more]

A New Millenium (3)
Running with the land wrote: I am not familiar with the case but... [more]

Computer-filled productivity (0)
Books off topic (0)
Legal Templates (1)
Lynn wrote: Can't seem to make this template do... [more]

Don't Stress About Exams? (3)
A. Rickey wrote: Thank you for the advice--and the s... [more]

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