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Thursday, March 31, 2005

My Prayer

May Terri find more comfort in the next life than she was given in this one.

May Terri find more peace in the next life than she had in this one.

May Terri find more goodness in the next life than there is in this one.

May We never forget her and always remember her destination.

God Bless You, Terri. You are in a far better place than I.

The Strangest of Bedfellows

Two days ago the Reverend Jesse Jackson visited the parents of Terri Schiavo, prayed with them, and lobbied the Florida State Senate's Black Caucus to help save Terri's life.

Until that time, the mainstream media had done an overwhelmingly good job at painting this struggle along the lines of traditional politics:

Evil Conservative Christians versus Glorious ACLU (and Liberal Establishment)

At the beginning of this now final two-week-long battle over Terri's life, Republican politicians were portrayed as skulking in to do the bidding of these sanctimonious "Right-to-lifers."

Lo-and-behold, however, along comes the ACLU to take up the cause for the defenseless Michael Schiavo and his poor, poor wife Terri -- who was being forced to live!!

"Why, they can't do that! The evil bastards! Always trying to take away our freedoms . . ."

News reports ended with, "Terri has been in a persistent vegitative state for a decade now, doctors believe she is completely nonresponsive and has absolutely no hope of improving."

Polls were taken asking nearly this identical question: "Terri Schiavo has been in a persistent vegitative state for 14 years now with no signs of improving. Before having her accident she told her husband she would not want to be kept alive in this manner. Should Terri's wishes be carried out?"

And the results were dutifully reported: "87% of Americans believe Terri should be allowed to die and the U.S. Congress has overstepped its bounds in becoming involved in the manner."

Person-by-Person I have attempted to relay the entire truth about Terri's struggle: about how she was abused and neglected; about how there is very little evidence that Terri would have wanted this fate and it conflicts with evidence that she would have wanted to live; about how Terri is responsive and is not in a persistent vegitative state; and about the questionable motives of Michael Schiavo.

Person-by-Person, perhaps it has changed a few hearts on the matter . . . but it could never save her life. If only more people had been aware earlier . . .

I have an immense amount of respect for Jesse Jackson's involvement as of late. If anything, it makes one question why a figure as polarizing as Jackson would step in to aid what the media has been portraying as Jackson's political enemy.

Today I find the Village Voice Newsletter, a well-known liberal publication, is speaking up.

With an article published on-line, they are quietly joining Jesse Jackson, Conservative Christians, and the Republican Congress . . .

in opposing Michael Schiavo and the involvement of the ACLU.

The article, written by Nat Hentoff, includes the following passage:

For all the world to see, a 41-year-old woman, who has committed no crime, will die of dehydration and starvation in the longest public execution in American history. . .

While lawyers and judges have engaged in a minuet of death, the American Civil Liberties Union, which would be passionately criticizing state court decisions and demanding due process if Terri were a convict on death row, has shamefully served as co-counsel for her husband, Michael Schiavo, in his insistent desire to have her die.

Months ago, in discussing this case with ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, and later reading ACLU statements, I saw no sign that this bastion of the Bill of Rights has ever examined the facts concerning the egregious conflicts of interest of her husband and guardian Michael Schiavo, who has been living with another woman for years, with whom he has two children, and has violated a long list of his legal responsibilities as her guardian, some of them directly preventing her chances for improvement. Judge Greer has ignored all of them.

In February, Florida's Department of Children and Families presented Judge Greer with a 34-page document listing charges of neglect, abuse, and exploitation of Terri by her husband, with a request for 60 days to fully investigate the charges. Judge Greer, soon to remove Terri's feeding tube for the third time, rejected the 60-day extension. (The media have ignored these charges, and much of what follows in this article.)

Michael Schiavo, who says he loves and continues to be devoted to Terri, has provided no therapy or rehabilitation for his wife (the legal one) since 1993. He did have her tested for a time, but stopped all testing in 1993. He insists she once told him she didn't want to survive by artificial means, but he didn't mention her alleged wishes for years after her brain damage, while saying he would care for her for the rest of his life. . .

Thank you, Village Voice --

For not playing politics, for acknowledging the truth, and for respecting Life.

The rest of this excellent article can be found at the following link:,hentoff,62489,6.html

And for those who think I am just a Conservative Christian Kook, well, you may be right -- but you could still benefit from reading this article in its entirety.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Terri Schiavo's Hero

The Reverend Jesse Jackson.


Very rarely will I ever stand beside Jesse Jackson on an issue as controversial as this.

He deserves some respect and gratitude for his efforts in this matter; He has nothing to gain. In fact, he is speaking up where a very many others of his political persuasion have remained all too quiet.

The label "civil rights leader" is his.

. . . but, oh no, where have the Bushes gone? I don't know!

Please someone help me,

I feel as if I have slipped into Wonderland--

And the good Reverend Jackson is the talking chesire cat.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Employment Wanted

For Interested Employers:

BRIGHT AND BOUNCY GO-GETTER SEEKS SUMMER EMPLOYMENT. Prefer Researching and Writing Brilliant Legal Arguments that will make you ask, "THAT came from HIM?" But also willing to Fetch Coffee, Shine Shoes, Wash Windows, and Walk Dogs as needed. No job to big; No task to small. Please reply to Mr. Misery at the "Comment" link below. Hurry, offer good for a limited time only. First Come, First Served. One coupon per customer. Sorry, competitors coupons can no longer be honored.

I like the word "bouncy." I'm not sure it describes me, though. Perhaps I should have used the word "rolly" instead.
Anyways . . .

I have yet to find summer work.

With one firm, I was competing against 2Ls for a very limited number of positions and, unfortunately, I believe this is what "done me in."

With another prospect, he was wasting all of our time. I have heard through the grapevine that he had made his choices based entirely on the fact that they were former military. This occured, one can surmise, before I even dressed up and stressed over this non-interview which he would subject me to.

I have no problem with his choices. However, wouldn't it be nice if he had not bothered calling me in just so he could "put a face to a name," not even mention my resume, and not even have so much as a thought that he might hire me? That would have been nice.

My wife reminds me that I didn't really want those jobs to begin with based upon the length of the employment, the character of the employment, and/or the job requirements.

So? It isn't good for the ego to get rejected for a job you didn't even want.

Dean Career-Services sadly reports that this is an absolutely abysmal Spring for finding 1L employment in the great city of Lubbock. Ah yes, I can see . . .

Oh well, something will turn up. Right?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Is Her Life Worth Living?

I answered a comment left on my last entry with another comment . . . for the most part.

However, I have to address the idea that Terri's life is worthless. And I would like to address it here, where I know it is more likely to be read.

I do not believe that ANY life is worthless.


Nearly two years ago I married into a wonderful family that has learned this lesson in a very difficult way. I first approached this with trepidation and some sorrow for the "hand" they had been "dealt" in life.

My sister-in-law is my age. She is a very beautiful and wonderful person who never fails to smile. Whenever we visit, I can guarantee that each morning I wake up to find her mulling around the kitchen or living room she will greet my presence with a very animated: "Good Morning!"

It is the best way to wake up.

But, you see, my sister-in-law has the mental level of a toddler. She will never experience love or life as I or my wife have. She will never drive a car, know the joy of having her own family or career, or even be able to live on her own for that matter.

Most of us pity her. We are so glad we are "normal." After all, the worst thing we could possibly imagine is to live with a handicap such as this. Oh, and we would naturally pity her family. "Those poor, poor parents," right?

Wrong. One of the most wonderful people I have ever met is a 26 year-old child. By the standard's applied to Terri, how much "quality" is there in her life? I don't care. To me, her life is filled with worth beyond all possible measure. And my life would be all that much poorer had I never met her.

My uncle-in-law is in his mid-forties. Truthfully, it is a miracle of God that he has lived this long. Nearly every friend he has come to know over the past 20 years has passed on ahead of him, leaving him with a loving family and his Church.

This man has multiple schlerosis (please forgive the spelling) and as long as I know he has been confined to a wheelchair. He has no motor function whatsoever. He lives every minute of his life at the mercy and under the care of others. Until two months ago, he only ate when he was fed. In January, this man was hospitalized and it was feared he would not last the night. Two months later, he lives. Only now he can barely talk and he can only be fed by a tube which delivers to him, "artificially," the means to stay alive.

Of course, he will never recover. But he doesn't complain. He doesn't plead for death. He is a Saint, an Angel, an Inspiration. Living much life Terri-- confined to a wheelchair, unable to move, fed through a tube, finding it difficult to communicate -- he still LIVES!

And while NONE of us would change positions in life with him, for any person that takes a minute to get to know him -- your life will forever be enriched by the experience.

Of course, what is his "quality of life?" "Very little," Judge Greer would say. "Kill him!" screams the attorney Felos.

But I still believe, as I said in my original post on Terri, that there is meaning in his life.

There IS MEANING in the lives of EACH AND EVERY person for which you might shake your head and whisper: "But for the grace of God go I"

There is meaning in the life of Terri, and my uncle, and my sister-in-law. . .

There is more meaning in there lives than mine.

I only pray that one day I might inspire and uplift and love only the way they can. I can only pray.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Since becoming a Christian, I find myself growing quite introspective each year as Good Friday and Easter approach.

This year is no different.

Actually, with Terri's struggle weighing so heavily upon me I am made intensely aware of the sacrifice finished nearly 2000 years ago. For what was this sacrifice made?


Mel Gibson's contribution to Christianity was a stark reminder of the bare humanity of the events that occurred in Jerusalem during that Passover. For five years I had read and re-read about the trials of my Christ, but I had never truly known the pain; I couldn't feel his tears.

So, then, what has become of OUR humanity?

I know many of you that trip across this entry on this little blog, you become immediately hostile at even the mention of Christianity. That is your prerogative.

All I want you to understand is that my faith instructs me that humanity, our humanity, is to be respected and cherished. It is to be esteemed and cared for. The essence of humanity is tenderness and compassion. That is what I have learned from the Easter story.

When we become hardened and callous . . . When we become so self-interested that we are unwilling to traverse the barriers we've constructed around us, unwilling to reach out, unwilling to care . . .

When we neglect the weakest amongst us and colour their struggles with our prejudices . . .

Our humanity slips away.

Now this weekend, in the absence of any action by Jeb Bush, Terri will slowly slip away with it.

All I ask is that we keep her in mind.

And for those out there who share my faith, please don't miss the principle of this weekend. Spend some time thinking about the Passion, think about His humanity and use it to reflect upon ours.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Where Things Stand

Earlier this afternoon, Gov. Bush spoke and urged Florida senators to pass a bill which would amend current Florida law as to the care of incapacitated persons.

The Bill passed by the Florida House made it illegal to deny an incapacitated person food and water unless one of four exceptions could be met. Of those four exceptions, included was that death would be allowed if the person had a living will or the person expressly made it clear they would not want to be kept alive by the use of food and water.

Of course, Terri had neither. And the poor excuse for what Michael Schiavo claims was Terri's "expressed intent" (her casual remark during the course of a movie) would hardly satisfy.

The Senate had a bill which said it would be illegal to withdraw food and water if: (a) it was to kill the person; (b) the guardian parties couldn't agree; and (c) there was no living will to the contrary. The Senate's version was actually much simpler and straitforward, with fewer possible loopholes.

Unfortunately, the Florida Senate has disappointed us all.

Now we wait and watch Gov. Jeb Bush. He also announced earlier that a respected Nobel-prize winning physician believed Terri was not in a "persistent vegetative state" and she could be rehabilitated. Furthermore, the Department for Children and Families announced an investigation of the facts surrounding Terri's care and her condition.

Governor Bush seemed to indicate that it was within his authority to take protective custody of Terri during the course of the DCF's investigation into the matter.

However, Blogs For Terri (link to the side) reports that CNN is reporting Judge Greer denied a motion to open court records to the DCF's investigators. Furthermore, they report that Greer has expressly ordered that DCF investigators be blocked from access to Terri herself.

Please do not tell me this is not personal for Judge Greer. He has been anything but an impartial jurist in this matter and his latest attempt to block the State's investigation into Terri's care is another strong example of this. Judge Greer is a poor, poor example of those that don the black robe.

Speaking of judges, I have reviewed the 11th Circuit's decision, as well as the decision handed down at the District Court level. This also led me on a chase through the case history at the Florida Supreme Court level.

After exchanging e-mails and speaking with several law professors, there is very little consensus on WHY the district court denied the Shindler's motion for a TRO.

(a) The statute passed by the U.S. Congress was too narrow in its application that the attorneys for the Schindlers could not make a claim upon which they could be reasonably expected to prevail;
(b) The statute passed was not narrow and the Congress intended that Judge Whittemore conduct a new trial but Whittemore interpreted the statute so narrowly that he could deny the motion; OR
(c) The statute passed intended a new trial but Whittemore was not asked by the Shindler attorneys for a new trial and, thus, he was limited to ruling upon the claims they did make.

From a reading of Whittemore's opinion, I believe it is either (b) or (c). While I have not seen the motion and brief filed with the Federal district court, Whittemore argues that his hands were tied by the limited claims made by the Shindler attorneys.

Judge Whittemore points out that he was only asked to review Judge Greer’s actions implicating:
(a) Terri’s 14th Amendment due process right to a fair and impartial trial and how this may have been impaired by Greer’s dual-role as her surrogate and as an impartial decision maker;
(b) Terri’s procedural due process rights and the fact that she was denied access to
independent representation by Greer;
(c) Terri’s right to equal protection which, I surmise, has something to do with differing standards of reviewing a choice made “by competent person” as opposed to one made “for an incompetent person”; and
(d) Terri’s right to free exercise of religion (which Whittemore ruled was inapplicable due to the fact that the Hospice and Michael are not state actors)

Given Whittemore's decision, the 11th Circuit was not given much to work with either. The dissent, however, makes an excellent point -- the ability for the Court to order the feeding tube be replaced is entirely within their discretion. Equity would argue that this is the only reasonable action as there is really no interest being harmed by the temporary reinsertion while the Shindler's claims were fairly adjudicated.

Finally, he also argues what I feel to be the most important point:

It seems clear the U.S. Congress intended for the Federal Courts to completely re-adjudicate this issue based upon U.S. laws applicable to the question of depriving a person of food or water. Having this in mind, they believed that the Court would HAVE to issue an injunction. There would be no other way to fully and fairly hear the issue. The congressional record quoted by the majority has Senator Frist saying very nearly that exact same thing.

What more can be done now?

Pray. Wait. And Pray.

And I need to get some sleep.

Shiavo's Last Appeal

As most people are aware this morning, the 11th Circuit court of appeals ruled 2-1 late last night not to give Terri a temporary reprieve.

I am not surprised.

I have just found the appellate brief submitted on behalf of Terri's parents. They have yet to put any text of the decision on Lexis or Westlaw.

As soon as I get a chance to read both, I will post a few thoughts on the argument and opinion.

In the meantime, I have to say:

I can't overlook the irony of the chance that Terri might pass away on Good Friday. I just hope it doesn't drag on any longer than that, for Terri's sake.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Voice of Terri Shindler-Shiavo

"Family Research Council has just received an exclusive audio recording of Terri Schiavo's verbal interaction with her father on Friday, March 18, 2005, immediately following the removal of her feeding tube."

You listen to this. You listen to her. Tell me she’s a vegetable now.

They are lying about Terri's condition.

She is NOT a vegetable. She is handicapped. And we are not living in 1930's NAZI GERMANY!

We are not supposed to starve to death a handicapped woman simply because she can not function as the rest of us . . . especially when that woman was never given the chance to recover.

We are not in the business of picking and choosing what innocent life is worthy of seeing tomorrow.

We are Americans: compassionate, caring, and respectful of life.

At least we ought to be . . .

She can’t speak, but she desperately wants to. It is painfully obvious. It is SUCH a shame she’s missed a DECADE of medical treatment and attention which could have helped her regain the ability to form those precious words.


She has been without food or water for four days now. If you don't know why . . . or you only think you know why . . . please read my post below from last Friday.

Coming Soon from Miramax Entertainment!


I must have a screw loose.

Last semester it was Civil Procedure. This semester it is Property.

While it would seem that most of my classmates are developing a keen dislike for a particular subject, I couldn't be happier.

While they all speak with such great fondness of Prof. CrimLaw and our escapades into the world of criminal intent, action, and insanity . . .

I am completely content and fascinated by, what one might consider, the most inane and mundane of subjects.

I feel like . . . well, uh . . . I'm not exactly sure what I feel like. Perhaps I feel like I'm back in high school where everyone groans when the teacher mentions Shakespeare but I am giddy over the study of . . . Richard, III

"A horse, a horse . . . my kingdom for a horse!"

I need help, perhaps. I am not entirely sure how long I can delude myself into thinking that it is "geek chic" to be enthralled by the concepts of Estates in Land.

"O to A and his heirs, so long as A doesn't bore us all to death with a discussion of the archaic history of English property law in 1573, to revert to O if he does."

See? You see what I mean??

I can't even claim it's like the "Velma Principle."

You know Velma, from Scooby-Doo? Put Daphne and Velma in a room together with one drunken frat boy and, 10 times out of 10, he'll pick Daphne.

HOWEVER, we all know that those thick glasses, the frumpy sweater and that nasally voice is a facade. Underneath it all, Velma is a firecracker! (The Catholic school-girl skirt is actually a dead give-away).

I've known Daphnes and I've known Velmas. At Fitzgeralds, in Houston, on any given Saturday night, 7-8 years ago, you could have met plenty of both. Believe me, the keepers are the Velmas.

That is the "Velma Principle." And it doesn't apply here.

I mean, c'mon . . . have YOU ever seen a thriller about a PROPERTY LAWYER?? Hmm? Not a lot of danger to be had in the game of Estates, Wills, and Trusts?

I wonder if this is how law professors are born?

Please shoot me if I ever start donning a bow tie.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Why I Want to Be a Judge

Because you get to have cool conversations like this:

Lawyer: How tall would you say this person was?

Witness: Tall.

Lawyer: How tall are you?

Witness: During the summer five-foot-two, during the winter I'm five-foot-one.

Lawyer: This was winter time?

Witness: February.

Lawyer: You were five-foot-one at the time?

Witness: Okay.

JUDGE: How do you do that?

Witness: I don't know, Judge, it just happens.

JUDGE: That's remarkable.

Witness: I know.

-- from Lawyers Daily Calendar, March 18,

Friday, March 18, 2005

What Ever Happened to Terri?

I know I have spent far too much time lately writing from the top of a soapbox. Perhaps I would better spend my time by marching down to the "free-speech" area of the university campus and blowing on a bull-horn for an afternoon? Would I get anyone's attention?

Probably not.

Most people would simply duck past me, avert their eyes, pick up their pace . . .

But, for those of you who choose to read this little blog, -- continue or not -- you choose whether you want to give a second of thought to my little ideas. You choose whether you care enough to agree or disagree.

You choose. You have that power, that right.

Hmmph, and what an appropriate transition to the topic weighing upon me today . . .


Because, for those who rely upon the mainstream media to inform and educate, your choice has been largely circumscribed. A debate has been fashioned under the guise of the "Right to Death" topic without any explanation of WHY Terri Shindler-Shiavo lives as she does or WHY she ought to die as her husband would have it . . .

One night in 1990, Terri collapsed in her home due, in part, to her secret battle with bulemia. Her husband discovered her hours later and she was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that a lack of oxygen during the time since her collapse was responsible for brain damage. She was left in a largely comatose state.

Later that year, Michael Shiavo took Terri to California for some experimental treatment in hopes that she would improve. After rehabilitative work and treatment, doctors reported that she was improving. Michael took Terri home and enrolled in nursing school so that he could learn to take care of her.

During this time, a medical malpractice suit worked its way to a conclusion with Michael Shiavo claiming Terri's condition was attributable to the incompetence of her physician. At the trial he declared to the jury his UNDYING love for his wife, Terri, and pleaded for a large jury verdict so that he would be able to care for her.

Many doctors testified that in her present state Terri wouldn't live even 20 years. Michael Shiavo and his attorney claimed she could and would live another 40 years. He needed that money to help her.

The jury returned a verdict for over a Million Dollars . . .

Three months after receiving the money, Michael Shiavo placed Terri in a nursing home and signed a "Do Not Resuscitate" order. He forbid anyone from doing any rehabilitative work with Terri. He refused, on her behalf, the treatment of antibiotics for various infections that would follow. He banned the doctors from providing any medical information to Terri's parents. Signs were placed upon the television in Terri's room declaring that it was not to be played. No one was even allowed to brush Terri's teeth.

The woman who had been improving through treatment and rehabilitation . . . the woman to whom Michael Shiavo had declared his undying love and desire to care for . . . the woman on whose behalf he had pleaded with a jury to give him the money to care for her over the next 40 years of her life . . .

The woman began to decline.

What motor skills she had begun to rediscover vanished. Left alone with no stimulation from the nursing staff or television, no rehabilitative work with medical professionals . . . she slipped into what would appear to be a vegetative state.

And then Michael Shiavo remembered.

He began to recall an evening years earlier when he, his wife & his sister had been together watching a movie about a woman in a coma. According to Michael, during this movie Terri had made a comment upon which her death would be based. During the course of this movie about a comatose woman unable to exist without the help of a respirator . . . during the course of this movie Terri shook her head and commented, "I wouldn't want to live like that."

And because Michael Shiavo remembered, he began to fight . . . to kill her.

In 1995, a Florida judge handed down a ruling that would allow Michael to remove Terri's feeding tube, starving her to death. The learned judge declared that since Terri could not eat without a feeding tube, (though hooked up to no life-sustaining machine otherwise) Terri could be starved. He based this on the opinions of some doctors that she could not swallow on her own.

Terri's parents countered with the statements of other doctors that Terri COULD swallow. She just needed to be given the chance, they begged. Her parents asked the judge that they at least be allowed the opportunity to attempt feeding her with a spoon.

The judge, however, fearing that Terri would choke and die . . . said no. It is better she slowly starve to death than give her the opportunity to quickly choke to death in an attempt to live.

Michael had been dating several women since Terri's accident. Shortly after the 1995 ruling, he became engaged.

Of course, Terri survived that first attempt upon her life else I would not be dwelling on this today. Terri, her life, would be nothing but a memory. I would not know her name.

By 2002, Terri had survived several more judicial attempts to take her life. It was then that I learned of her story. And Michael was still fighting to kill her (although it is debatable whether the impetus came from Michael or his fees-collecting attorney by this point).

The Governor of Florida, after many calls from constituents, began to look into the matter and spoke to both sides. He viewed a video-tape which Terri's parents claim to show that she could be capable of recovery if given treatment. And he reversed his position.

Gov. Bush introduced a bill before the Florida legislature which would save Terri's life. It was passed and soon signed into law. Michael and his attorneys switched gears and began challenging the constitutionality of the law. In 2004 the matter went before the Florida Supreme Court and the law was struck down as unconstitutional. The bill, you see, was only intended to cover and protect Terri. The Court said the legislature could not do this.

And now, 15 years later, Terri sits silent and alone in her hospice room. Instead of 15 years of treatment and attention, Terri has silently endured 15 long years of neglect. And she has fought and survived it all.

The final order was given recently to kill Terri Shindler-Shiavo and her feeding tube was scheduled for removal at 1:00 pm Eastern today.

Michael recently claimed during an interview that her death would be painless. Of course I am not a physician, but as I understand it this is a lie. Due to the lack of food and water, the fluid around Terri's brain will dry up and her brain will also dry up and began to crack. Her lips will do the same. Her tongue will dry and split open. Terri will be in an excruciating amount of pain.

Due, however, to her silence . . . we will be spared her screams. We may only guess what her slow death will feel like.

The U.S. Congress, for Terri's sake, issued a temporary reprieve exactly one hour ago. The House of Representatives issued a subpeona to Terri Shindler-Shiavo, requiring her to testify before the Congress. For now, she is protected. One can not kill a Congressional witness when she has yet to "testify."

Also, the House and the Senate are working out the details of a bill which would allow the removal to Federal Courts any case such as Terri's, dealing with a life such as her's. This would give her parent's another step for appealing the state judge's decision. (Unfortunately, it would also put more money into the pockets of Michael's attorney).

This is not a "Right to Death" issue. This is about the ability of one man to get away with his crime by his use of the judicial system. This is about asking, "What is a life-sustaining measure?" This is about protecting Terri's life and giving her a voice.

One can only guess what Terri would be had she been treated properly. In the meantime, however, we must decide if simply administering "food and water" equates to the artificial life given by a respirator. Where do we draw the line?

And, more importantly, how much should be required to show Terri's will? Is a flippant remark during the viewing of one made-for-television movie enough to decide a person's fate? Shouldn't more be required? If it was you, wouldn't you want your life to rest upon more than a casual remark you make during the course of your day??

Finally, when the Florida Governor, the Florida Legislature, the people of Florida and now even the United States Congress gets involved to save this woman's life . . . should the judiciary be allowed the power to kill her? And all of this happens without Terri even having a voice in the proceedings for there was never an attorney appointed to represent her.

You might say Terri has no "quality of life."

I contend that there is more quality in the life of Terri Shindler-Shiavo than the lives of thousands that walk and talk and waste each day of their lives doing nothing.

Perhaps even mine.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Last Juror

Revisiting the troubled seat of Ford County-- Clanton, Mississippi -- John Grisham uses this colorful little city to tell a story rivaled only by his first novel set in Clanton: A TIME TO KILL.

After THE FIRM it began to seem as if all of his novels were based upon the same tired recipe:
Main character (usually a lawyer) gets involved in something bad; the bad guys and possibly police find out and chase main character; main character runs, changes appearance, escapes several close-calls; main character devises a clever way to settle things; main character arranges a meeting with pursuers; main character sails off into sunset with a lot of money . . .

THE BROKER followed nearly the same outline. Yet I keep reading them.

Still, it was nice to read something of his that stays in the South (an area Grisham knows well and is very capable of vividly describing) and does not principally involve the CIA or FBI.

I have nothing more to write for this blog today. 'Scuse me for the pathetic plug. All the same, if anyone enjoyed Grisham's first novel, check out THE LAST JUROR.

"Take a look . . . it's in a book . . .

A Reading Raiiiiiiiiinboooooooow!"

Monday, March 14, 2005

A Mixed Bag

Having survived the weekend, more or less, I now look forward to a week of ease . . .

1. I saw ROBOTS and would highly recommend this movie to everyone.

2. Though it was delivered free-of-charge, The Little Panda is not a restaurant I'd recommend for Chinese in Lubbock, Texas. However, I will admit that there will probably be a time when I am too tired and/or too lazy to hastle with a buffet, though really craving Chinese, and I will order again from there. Is it too much to ask that when you order "fried rice" you get real FRIED rice and not simply flavored steamed stuff??

3. I spent nearly my entire day devouring John Grisham's new book. I bought two last night and will read the other tomorrow. If I have time, I might venture later this week to Barnes&Noble and purchase a cheap copy of a Tolstoi novel. I've read Crime&Punishment till I have it memorized and would really like to try the Brothers Karamov (sp?)

4. Rent MEAN CREEK. Go out and rent it soon. And then will someone correspond with the Writer/Director of this film and ask him what happened to the kids after the movie ended?? As a future-lawyer I spent 45 minutes pondering the complexities of Criminal Law and how it might be applied to what these kids were involved in . . . Negligent Homicide? Perhaps, if that. What do you think?

5. Finally, I also plan to prepare for the Moot Court competiton having printed out the text of each decision we are allowed to use on "Issue One", I will read them and brief each one for my partner. I also need to get ahead in my reading for all of my classes given my free time.

6. Check back with me next Monday . . . see how much of what I need to do, I have actually done.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Back from the Dead~~

My computer is feeling much better now . . .

and I would like to thank all of you wonderful people out there that sent get-well cards, well-wishes, and much much love.

After a major surgery and a couple days rest time, it is up and running.

A few other notes:

1.) I had another interview yesterday. This was, by far, the MOST awkward and uncomfortable. I walked in, was asked to sit and he explained: "This really isn't going to be your typical interview. I just want to put a face with your name. So do you have any questions for me?" And then I proceeded to interview him. After a series of questions, I found out:
(a) he clerked at the same place for 2 years while a student;
(b) he'd written appellate briefs as a student and I took a look at a large 5-issue brief, discovering it was well written;
(c) he has two children;
(d) he is a JAG reserve officer and we discussed his current responsibilities in this position.

Then when I ran out of questions, it got real weird and I completely "geeked-out". Can you think of anything more assinine to say than: "We have a lot of military at Tech. They are nice. I think the military is neat."

UH . . .

"neat" ???

Eh . . . I wasn't really wanting to spend my summer playing golf with a bunch of lawyers anyway. Oh, well. Experience.

2.) I was inducted into the Phi Delta Phi International Legal Fraternity last night. At Tech it acts as an "honors" legal fraternity. We did not have to attend the initiation ceremony, but I'd read about it and it sounded impressive. Well, the general attitude that prevailed seemed to be: "Eh, we gotta do it. Let's get it over with." The most life I saw out of the bench during that 20 minute ceremony was when the last line of the script was read and the "Chancellor" finished with an invitation to go get our "drink" on. I got dressed up for this?

3.) Tonight the In-Laws come in to town. We are going bowling. Woo Hoo! I've gone a couple times in the last week and bowled 8-9 games. (Which is more games than I'd bowled in the first 26 years of my life) Anyway, I bowled a 163. "So?" you say. Hey, it might as well have been a 300 . . . I squealed like a little girl. I think I need my own ball now and one of those wrist braces . . . and a John Deere cap and some skoal. I am on my way.

4.) I have signed up for 1L Moot Court. Prepare to be crushed! (I'm not sure if that is directed at myself or my competitors . . . but I promise, someone will be crushed.)

Have a great Sring Break to all my lovely lovely fellow students!

Monday, March 07, 2005

My World is Crashing

So yesterday morning I wake up briefly at 6am and decide to run scandisk on my computer while I go back to sleep . . .

4 hours later I wake up to the same blue screen. It never would complete.

The problem is, I can't get past Scandisk to boot up Windows. So I run diagnostics and get a couple error messages. I decided to call Technical services.

After 2 hours of being passed around, I hang up and call back and within 10 minutes I am on the phone with a semi-intelligible live person. I give her the error codes. She gives me the bad news.

I have to replace my hard drive.

O, sure they'll send me a new one overnight and just call them back, they'll walk me through the installation.

Of course it is a blank hard drive. So I'll have to reinstall EVERYTHING. But that is not the worst part . . .





. . . MY RESUME?


I trust technology way too much. I'm the idiot who never backed up his files. I can't do that and live, not in law school . . . not now!

For today I need to concentrate on getting back into Windows so I can grab all my files and run.

Because my computer is crashing . . . and so is my world, right on my head.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Cold-Blooded Murder of So Much More . . .

At the age of 17, when he was still a junior in high school, Christopher Simmons . . . committed murder. About nine months later, after he had turned 18, he was tried and sentenced to death. There is little doubt that Simmons was the instigator of the crime. Before its commission Simmons said he wanted to murder someone. In chilling, callous terms he talked about his plan, discussing it for the most part with two friends, Charles Benjamin and John Tessmer, then aged 15 and 16 respectively. Simmons proposed to commit burglary and murder by breaking and entering, tying up a victim, and throwing the victim off a bridge. Simmons assured his friends they could "get away with it" because they were minors.

The three met at about 2 a.m. on the night of the murder, but Tessmer left before the other two set out. Simmons and Benjamin entered the home of the victim, Shirley Crook, after reaching through an open window and unlocking the back door. Simmons turned on a hallway light. Awakened, Mrs. Crook called out, "Who's there?" In response Simmons entered Mrs. Crook's bedroom, where he recognized her from a previous car accident involving them both. Simmons later admitted this confirmed his resolve to murder her.

Using duct tape to cover her eyes and mouth and bind her hands, the two perpetrators put Mrs. Crook in her minivan and drove to a state park. They reinforced the bindings, covered her head with a towel, and walked her to a railroad trestle spanning the Meramec River. There they tied her hands and feet together with electrical wire, wrapped her whole face in duct tape and threw her from the bridge, drowning her in the waters below.

By the afternoon of September 9, Steven Crook had returned home from an overnight trip, found his bedroom in disarray, and reported his wife missing. On the same afternoon fishermen recovered the victim's body from the river. Simmons, meanwhile, was bragging about the killing, telling friends he had killed a woman "because the bitch seen my face."

--from Roper v. Simmons, 2005 Lexis 2200 (opinion by Justice Kennedy)

I honestly am at a complete loss for words.

I, of course, was merely kidding when I wrote on Wednesday that a person ought to commit a murder before they turn 18. In fact, I found this to be the worst case scenario possible.

While I support limiting the application of the death penalty to juveniles, it should never allow an otherwise mature and calculating 17 year old to escape the consequences of his actions.

Never never never would I have imagined that the Supreme Court relied upon THOSE VERY SAME FACTS to make this decision.

Kennedy pointed out that 30 states do not allow the death penalty for juveniles. In a UNION of FIFTY STATES, however, I hardly consider 30 a mandate. 30?

The fact that 30 states subscribe to certain principles only evidences a sharp division in national consensus.

That fact should never be used by FIVE LONE INDIVIDUALS to impose on an entire 250 Million People that which they BELIEVE is right.

Perhaps the most worrisome part of the opinion, however, is that Kennedy has effectively negated the will of the Legislatures of 20 States in this Union and the will of the people they represent . . . and replaced it with the will of the "International Community."

By citing a U.N. Resolution calling for the banning of the death penalty for those under 18 and expressing a wish that the US conform itself to the actions of Foreign nations, Kennedy wants to lecture us on individual rights.

Let me tell you, Justice Kennedy: When with one fail swoop of your pen you have effectively silenced me and removed my vote-- and you did it so that we might be more like the "International Community" -- you have NO GROUNDS upon which to conduct a serious dicussion on individual rights.

It is NOT a testament to the strength of the Constitution that you and your four accomplices can apply Foreign Law to change American social policy. That is the weakness of the American judiciary.

I hope you go to bed tonight with the words of 17-year-old Christopher Simmons echoing in your mind: "I killed her because the bitch seen my face," but that's okay because we're only 17.

Again, I say: ConLaw is short for absolutely nothing.

A Shameless Plug

The University Daily is reporting today that, while the number of applicants at most other law schools around the nation have dropped by 3-4%, here at Tech Law applications have increased by 12%.

There are 9 applications for each available seat for the Fall semester. That would equate to between 2115 and 2250 applicants.

The thrust of the story is that people are beginning to realize that Texas Tech is a good law school.

I am not quite so optimistic. With absolutely NO actual knowledge, I am going to say it probably has more to do with the COST of education today. Law School is expensive to begin with. Add in the constantly increasing tuition rates affecting all institutions of higher learning and it becomes outrageous.

Unfortunately, the Government hasn't kept up with these increases by increasing the mandatory maximum one may borrow to finance an education. Without private loans to off-set this (or a very large scholarship) it places the bigger, higher-ranked schools out of the reach of many students whose parents aren't subsidizing their education.

Even without a scholarship, Tech Law is still affordable at around $13,000/year.

This is not to say that this isn't a good school.

I came to Tech because, regardless of the scholarships offered elsewhere, this was the best value in a legal education. I will leave with only the debt incurred from living expenses.

Being here, however, I have realized that Tech is a much better school than what the rankings might indicate.

We are ranked about 114. We would be called Tier 3. To some "anonymous law students" on the east coast, we are considered a part of the "nether regions" of the legal education establishment. (Then again, to these same students, everything between New York and L.A. is "fly over" country and not worth their respect or time.)

Three years ago I did not know this school existed. Then I attended a luncheon one day where I met a retired police chief. He told me that all of the best lawyers he'd ever met, they came from Tech.

To this man, and others, Texas Tech School of Law has an unrecognized reputation for turning out the most prepared, ethical attorneys. Though I am not really in a position to agree with this statement yet, nothing I have seen would indicate otherwise.

I have joked (and warned) about the competitive behavior of law students before. This would include my fellow students. And yet I recognize that this behavior pales in comparison with the lack of ethics shown by students elsewhere.

At Tech, a great many of the students are seeking an education so that they might be able to contribute to society-- and not just their pocketbooks. Of course we want to be comfortable, but who doesn't? Yet "pro bono," to us, isn't what you do to "get ahead" or simply maintain your certification. We have been given something-- Knowledge of the Law -- that the majority of people don't have . . . and don't have access to, either. It is only appropriate that we give this back, ungrudgingly, to those who otherwise would be mere fodder under the wheels of the American Justice System.

Without people like these, their would be no "justice" in our system at all.

The East Coast schools will create brilliant attorneys, powerful in many respects. What they create will become the heads of major law firms, Supreme Court Justices, and the leaders of our representative government.

What Tech creates-- and schools like it-- through the instruction of excellent professors and with the help of an amazing staff, is a group of attorneys that will become the backbone, the balance, the foundation upon which these "leaders" will stand.

They study the theory; we apply it to life.

They make the law; we make it accessible.

So these students who are applying for a place in the Class of '08 -- I really think that many do so because Tech is affordable. However, as they are winnowed down and enter law school, they become a class that by its character and through its development will prove what I believe . . . and will come to believe it themselves.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Supremes Say "No" to Killing Kids

Yesterday the Supreme Court handed down a decision which will ban the death penalty for anyone under the age of 18.

Just another reason 17 is such a freakin' awesome age!!

From a Texan's point of view I have to say: "C'mon, though, Suup-remies -- we weren't ACTUALLY killing kids. Naw . . . we are totally humane!! They may have gone to jail at 12, but we DO WAIT. We keep 'em alive 'til they are adults . . . THEN we shoot 'em full a juice."

From a Future Attorney's point of view I say: "Kiddos, if you're thinking of going on a killing spree . . . Make sure you do it before your 18th birthday. It'll make my job a whole lot easier!"

In my serene opinion, the whole discussion is ridiculous. Of course it is inhumane and cruel to sentence a TWELVE YEAR OLD CHILD to death (and I don't care how heinous the crime was). Yet how can we so arbitrarily decide that at 12:01 AM on your 18th birthday, you are an adult and capable of facing an adult punishment-- but at 11:59PM, 2 minutes prior, you were not.


In reverence to the Supreme Court's decision, I am including a thought from "Well, Duh: Everything You Always Wanted to Know but Were Too Smart to Ask":

Why is cruel and unusual punishment against the law?

Who are we kidding? All punishment is cruel. If they locked you up in a nice hotel suite with room service, cable TV, and a swimming pool, that wouldn't be punishment. It would be the Holiday Inn. And, we've been punishing people for so long, it's pretty hard to find an unusual way to do it. "First, we're going to put this bag of gum-drops on your foot, the 500-pound bag. Also, you have to watch OPRAH reruns for the next ten to twenty years." Now that would be unusual punishment.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Evil Dr. Comma and Obligatory Challenges

We (meaning law students) recently received the following e-mail:

"Dear Students,

As the Academy Awards have just finished, I want to remind you that you all are invited to another event, one celebrating my favorite performer: the comma. The second workshop of this spring semester will be Wed., March 2, with the following rooms and choice of times. I look forward to seeing you. –Dr. Comma"

It seems harmless enough, right?

O, but my fine naive friend, you would be so wrong! Never forget that in Law School nothing is quite as it seems.

"Why?" you ask. "How can a letter from Dr. Comma announcing what would appear to be as mundane as a writing workshop involving punctuation . . . How can that be evil?"

Yes, Dr. Comma is helpful. Yes, Dr. Comma is essential. And YES, Dr. Comma seems to be a very nice person. A writing teacher for law students-- what could be more right!? (with the exception, of course, of an ethics teacher)

There is one big catch, though. It came with the e-mail that followed Dr. Comma's:

"I will give 10 points extra professionalism points for those who attend the comma workshop. --Prof. Legal Practice"

O NO, huh uh, nada, nyet, non, zippo, zero, zilch . . .


Now, therefore, that Dr. Comma's "Wild Workshops of Wonder" tour is being pimped with extra class points in Legal Practice, it is no longer an optional "go-if-you-want-come-as-you-are" affair.

It is now mandatory.

Legal Practice is a class where there is only ONE "A" GIVEN each semester. Therefore, 10 extra points can mean the difference between that "A" and a "B" . . . or a "B" and a "C". (Depending upon your perspective.)

These points, having been offered, are no longer "extra". They are a precious commodity to be lost-- not to be gained.

People will go and they will leave and they will be no wiser for Dr. Comma's learned lectures. All we will care about is having our names added to THE LIST. For it is now that LIST which may separate us from our classmates. If I don't do as well on the negotiation assignment, much better on the trial brief and miss a few more points on the appeals brief than another classmate . . . What will we be doing?

Praying upon the LIST.

Dr. Comma's LIST.

The Evil Dr. Comma and our Obligatory Challenges.

That is, after all, what makes Law School, law school.
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