Recently in Humor Category

A Wall That Does WHAT Back?

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When I saw this in my paper this morning, I thought at first that it was an Onion story mistakenly picked up as real.

Thank God for Editing

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I often find the book reviews in the WSJ to be entertaining reading over Saturday breakfast, even when I have no intention of ever reading the books reviewed.

Real Life Overtakes Satire, Again

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I have noted several times on this blog how satirists sometimes imagine preposterous things and later someone really does or says what was once so absurd as to be funny.  Chief Justice Roberts gave us an example today in the health care decision, although he did not explicitly state the last part, instead expecting that everyone knows it.  He was explaining why some of the usual canons of statutory interpretation do not apply to this law because it is written so very badly.

The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting. (To cite just one, the Act creates three separate Section 1563s. See 124 Stat. 270, 911, 912.) Several features of the Act's passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through "the traditional legislative process." ... And Congress passed much of the Act using a complicated budgetary procedure known as "reconciliation," which limited opportunities for debate and amendment, and bypassed the Senate's normal 60-vote filibuster requirement. ...  As a result, the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation. Cf. Frankfurter, Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, 47 Colum. L.Rev. 527, 545 (1947) (describing a cartoon "in which a senator tells his colleagues 'I admit this new bill is too complicated to understand. We'll just have to pass it to find out what it means.'").
In the 1940s, that fictional senator's statement was so absurd that a cartoonist made it up for laughs, but in 2010 the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said it for real. 
Alexandra Petri at the WaPo weighs in on the controversy of who should be ejected to make room for a woman on US currency.
Alexandra Petri has this column in the WaPo on what crooked soccer executive Chuck Blazer (who has already pleaded guilty) chose to do with his ill-gotten gains.  For background on the more general story, see this article in the WSJ.

These international stories often involve questions of the reach of U.S. law.  Devlin Barrett, Christopher Matthews, and Aruna Viswanatha have this story in the WSJ.

The Soccer Indictments

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I know little about soccer and even less about the FIFA indictments announced yesterday by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  This story in the NYT suggests that DOJ saw rampant graft and is determined to impose criminal penalties.

This is not a conventional case to say the least, and undoubtedly warrants thinking about, both in terms of what the Department is doing and what is failing to do while it pursues this case. But I thought one cartoon in the New Yorker was pretty funny one way or the other.

The Case Against PowerPoint

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Off-topic but priceless, Katrin Park has this modest proposal in the WaPo.  My favorite slide from this presentation is the Gettysburg one, copied after the break.

Judge Alcee Hastings, Living in Sackcloth

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In his ten years (1979-1989) as a federal District Judge, Alcee Hastings did "sentencing reform" the old-fashioned way:  He accepted bribes for lower sentences. This is the story in a nutshell:

In 1981, Hastings was charged with accepting a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence and a return of seized assets for 21 counts of racketeering by Frank and Thomas Romano, and of perjury in his testimony about the case. In 1983, he was acquitted by a jury after his alleged co-conspirator, William Borders, refused to testify in court (resulting in a jail sentence for Borders).

In 1988, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives took up the case, and Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413-3. He was then convicted in 1989 by the United States Senate (also controlled by the Democrats), becoming the sixth federal judge in the history of the United States to be removed from office by the Senate.

But Judge Hastings is a superb politician, and got himself elected to Congress in 1992.  He's still there  --  but as he tells us, just getting by.

The Supreme Court of La Mancha, in a decision announced by Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, found that Don Quixote, alias Alonso Quixana, does not require a guardian. Kali Borkowski reports for SCOTUSblog on the proceedings at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Rey v. Quixote

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Don Quixote goes on trial tonight at the Annual Mock Trial & Dinner of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington.  Justice Ginsburg presides with a five-judge panel including Justice Breyer.  Thomas Goldstein represents the schizophrenic knight in shining armor.  Carter Phillips is listed as Counsel for the Family Court.

Update:  Turns out this was a guardianship case, not a criminal case, so the caption above isn't strictly correct.  See follow-up post.

Rob Your Bank with Instagram

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In a world where the Justice Department is on a tear against the police, and "scientists" want us to believe that a college student has insufficient brain development to understand that it's wrong to blow up little boys, we can all use some amusement.

Here it is.

I have often said that the real reason suspects give statements to the police is not coercion, either explicit or subtle.  Mostly it's that they think they can talk their way out of it. A significant portion, however, is just the old stand-by:  Human beings like to talk about themselves, and criminals are human beings.

The advent of social media has made this tendency even more pronounced, so now we have bank robbers essentially doing selfies.
There are reasons to vote for, and reasons to vote against, the confirmation of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General.  Kent and I have discussed the question in several places.  

Kent has noted that Ms. Lynch, while not an ideal candidate from the perspective of those favoring resolute enforcement of criminal law, is about the best we can expect from this Administration.  I have expressed more than a little concern about Ms. Lynch's complicity is what she could not help knowing was perverse, and  -- much more troubling  --  unethical behavior by Judge John Gleeson.  On the other hand, I am favorably impressed with her refusal to adopt the liberal line on pot.

The vote on her nomination has not yet been taken in the Senate.  For whatever one might make of the procedural maneuvers involved, today we saw the announcement of an unusual but some might say compelling reason to delay the vote for weeks. Maybe months.

The Congress-following paper The Hill has the story.

How to misattribute a quotation

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Alexandra Petri has this amusing column in the WaPo. Love that flowchart.

One of my favorite quotes is, "It's not what we don't know that gets us in trouble; it's what we know for a fact that just ain't so."  Do I know for a fact that Will Rogers said that? Um, no.  Not Mark Twain either.

The Boston Bombing Trial Defense Rests

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The Boston Globe begins its story:

After 15 days of victims recounting their injuries, experts testifying about explosives and terrorism, and witnesses detailing the deaths of three people in the Boston Marathon bombings, the defense team of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had its turn to make a case.

It was over in six hours.

Defense counsel has been understandably circumspect in dealing with the press. Still, in an exclusive to this author, counsel gave a brief statement:

In the guilt phase of the trial, there wasn't a lot we could do.  We've been preparing for what we expect will be the penalty phase.

What's needed is to humanize the client, to show he's not a monster. That's where we've been aiming.  Still, it's not been without trouble. In the months we've been working with Mr. Tsarnaev, it's become clear that he's a narcissistic brat.  Not only did he never deny planting the bomb, he's proud of it. He's told us that America had it coming for its treatment of Muslims. When his brother broached the idea, he couldn't have been more enthusiastic. He thinks the little boy he blew up was just one more infidel.  To make things worse, he was headed toward an arrogant life of White Privilege. He was so spoiled he even wanted to play Little League. Can you imagine?

The reason I'm willing to discuss these things is that I think it's important for lawyers to tell the truth, be fully forthcoming, and not try to hoodwink anyone. I mean, this is about justice, right?"


Pi Day

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An off-topic note for math geeks.

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