I am not an animal lover.  In fact, I’m closer to an animal disliker.  Sorry.  Today I was reading an article in a PRINT NEWSPAPER (they still have those, who knew) while not studying for contracts.  The article was about a Minnesota man who hit a dog in the middle of the street and is now suing the dogs owners for the damage it did to his car.  At first glance I was like “wow, another example of people trying to use the tort system to pass the buck.”  When I read the article, I started to feel somewhat bad for him (only a little, only for a second).  Basically, a 14 pound dog ran out into the street as he was driving.  It doesn’t appear like there is anything he could do to not hit it.  He hit the dog and damaged his bumper which in turn damaged his radiator.  He is asking for the cost of repairs plus the value of his time (he had to take off work).  Total price tag, about $2,000.

So ignoring the first question of where do you get a lawyer to take this case for that small pricetag, and assuming he is representing himself in small claims court, I don’t know how I feel about this case.  I can actually sort of see it going either way.  To me, it all seems to come down to this: What is the place of animals, specifically dogs, in the legal system.  If they are treated similar to humans, then he loses.  If they are more like furniture, then he wins.  But that isn’t the question I’m actually writting about today.  What I’m really writing is:  What SHOULD the place of animals be in the law?

Lets start by considering the extremes:

Animals as people:  With all due respect to all the people that think their dogs are their kids, but ANIMALS ARE NOT PEOPLE.  Sorry.  They are not.  They never will be.  That animal and somebody’s three year old are not the same.   Dogs are not people.  Dogs aren’t and SHOULDN’T be afforded the same protections as people.  If you see a dog run into the street and your choices are possible kill the dog or possible start a three car accident with the potential to kill somebody, you take your chances with the dog.  I think of it like this:  Somebody comes up to you and says “we are breaking your dogs leg, or we are breaking your neighbor’s son’s leg.  You let them break your dogs leg.  If dogs were people, then running one over would land you in jail.  Thats silly.  Sorry, it is. 

Dogs are furniture:  This isn’t really the case.  I mean, I don’ t like animals, want PETA to be labeled a terrorist organization, think we should test away on them if it can help humans, and think police investigating/prosecuting cruelty to animals crimes is a massive waste of taxpayer money, BUT I don’t think they are people.  If I see somebody take a chainsaw to their chair, I’d be like “whatever.”  If I saw somebody take a chainsaw to their dog, I’d be disgusted.  Then again, I’m not really opposed to a law that treats a dog as a thing for the purpose of CERTAIN parts of the law.  For example, lets say a 10 gallon drum rolls down your driveway and dents a car.  Clearly, you’re responsible.  I’m thinking it should be the same if your dog runs down your driveway into a car and dents it.  Then again, I’m not sure this isn’t the same for people.  Now lets say that drum rolls in front of a car and gets shattered.  Again, your responsible.  If its your daughter, the driver goes to jail.  Hmm, interesting.  This gets us back to the facts of this case, so really accomplishes nothing.  I think the “dogs and things” mentality has a lot of usefulness for certain elements of the law, but I cannot accept it in general. 

Something in between:

Now we reach the middle ground where I think everybody HAS to be.  The question is, where is the balance?  I don’t think there is a right answer.  The more I think about this case, the more I’m drawn towards the “dogs as things” mentality.  I think my ideal situation would be a legal fiction that says:  “in any situation where your dog causes an injury, your liability is the same as if it was a motor-scooter that was left running accidentally.”  Yes you didn’t accidentally do anything in this situation, but you did make a decision that imposed some risk on another person, so I’m thinking -bear the cost.  On the flip side, I realize that most people believe in some form of protection for animals, so this standard has to allow for a different role of dogs as “victims.”  I’m thinking here the rule is something about intentionality.  “The law will not protect accidental acts that harm dogs beyond the extent it would protect property, but it will protect intentional acts that harm them for no legitimate purpose” would be a compromise I can live with.

How would this work?  Cruelty to animals laws would stay the same.  If somebody walked up and shot your dog, you would be compensated, just like if somebody walked up to you and took a ledgehammer to your car.  If somebody is faced with “hurt and animal or possibly help a human” they are protected from getting in trouble for hurting the animal by the last clause. 

Is this my ideal standard?  No.  I think its too deferential to dogs.  But its a compromise I can live with.  What are your thoughts animal lovers?  Kurzman is much much more pro dog than I am, so don’t think he endorses this post.

If this principle were in place, how would the driver in our original hypothetical fare?  Well he probebally gets his car fixed at the expense of the dog owner (if your run away motor scooter goes into the street and damages a car, you fix it) if he can show there really wasn’t anything he could do to prevent it.   

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A while back we wrote a few posts comparing law school to med school and noticing how they are in many ways similar but in some ways different.

Today I want to roll back the clock a half a decade (it sounds longer than 5 years if I say it like that) as a framework to talking about the differences between law school and med school.

Recently I read a few articles about how people go to law school for a lot of really bad reasons and how law students have much stronger regrets about their graduate education than others.  Part of this is no doubt due to the fact that the vast vast majority of students earn significantly less than they thought they would when they went into law school (Note:  As we have talked about before, if you did a modal 10K range, it would be 45K-55K). 

The study I was reading mentioned two large factors that they blamed for this other than inflated income expectations (perhaps more accurately, the article noted to factors that make not earning what people thought they would earn different for a law student than for every business graduate from an average school).  The first factor it mentions is that a lot of students go into law school because they don’t have any particular skills, consider themselves smart, and think law school is a good way for a smart person to make a living.

In some ways, there might be some truth to this, just with a much bigger adjustment to what defines “a living.”  If you are somebody that does well in liberal arts classes that are not stats based, odds are your “smarts” come in the form of reading, writing, and talking.  These skills could make you a gifted manager in a corporation one day (depending on your overall ability to get things done/manage people) but that would require an unclear path and some luck, not to mention a “low” starting salary.  No no, if you consider youself “smart” (remember this is a realative term, over a quarter of my high school was on some honor roll and considered themselves smart) then law seems like an appealing fallback.  For these people, I’ll just say that law school is tough and from what I can tell, practicing law is definately not a cakewalk.  There is “smart” relative to the population and there is “Smart” relative to law school applicants and the bar for the second is higher (the same holds true for any graduate school).

The second “all too common norm” in the article was a path that combines the two topics of this board:  A student wants to go to medical school and either can’t hack it in undergrad science, can’t get the MCAT, or realizes they don’t like the site of blood and decides they now want to go to law school.  I know a couple of people like this.  I’ve thought about this for a while and I must say, if I was an admissions rep, I would take this as a HUGE sign that this person is going to law school or all the wrong reasons. 

Not to sound judgmental (although I am judgmental) but if you say you “discovered a love for the law” in the middle of college, you are so full of fertilizer that its coming out of your ears.  Look, law and med school take two completely opposite types of people.  The only thing these folks have in common (on the whole) is that they both do really well on standardized tests.  If you were pre med and ended up pre law, you either 1. think you are entitled/should/need to make a lot of money/have a prestiege job and as a result took what you thought (wrongly) was the next best path or 2. Have parents telling you these are the only two acceptable jobs.  This is complicated by the fact that just getting into ANY med school is hard but if you are willing to pay 30-40K and are dumb enough to believe that it doesnt matter where you go, then there is certainly a law school that will take you.  Either way, you are a fool for making this decision.  If you “I’m not either of those” then I refuse to believe you, you are in the first group and in denial.  The only people I believe are the ones that are actually MD/JD’s.  These people were able to hack it in med school and still moved onto law school.  If you have the skills for both, be realistic, you’re going to elect to be a doctor (or at least go to med school and then change later).

How can I be so sure of this?  How can I so strongly assert that these are polar opposite skills/personality types?  For starters, because I’m opinionated and a post full of hedging doesn’t make for a good blog.  More importantly, I’m thinking back among all of the now law students or doctors I know (by the way, I cannot think of a single person that I graduated with in high school that is now a law student, if any of you can, please IM me).  From here out, I’m going to focus on myself and Kurzman because its easier than generalizing and the specifics definately hold true. 

Med School types (at least the ones that are going to be successful) like answers.  They know answers, they know how to get answers, and they can think logically to other anwsers.  “Now Clegal, isn’t all school about knowing answers?”  Why yes, but there are different types of answers. 

Guys like Kurzman learn the facts, the verifiable, one right way, answers.  “What is the shape of this molecule.”  “How do you calculate the relative speed of this reaction?” “Is this a one way or two way reaction?”  “Integrate this multivariable equation.”  These are the things guys like Kurzman can do, and they can do them very well.  Not only that, but they can think from one situation to another to use the answers they know to figure out new answers.  “Given what you know about covalent bonds, what will this look like?”  Even their “BS” questions are tricky, usually have objectively right or logical answers and can be verified “if thats the case, why does hydrogen do this?” Yes I realize I’m using Freshmen level chem and math concepts, but this is what I know ok, so back off.  Guys like Kurzman work hard.  They get stuff.  The understand the value of figuring out a right answer, they ususally know it, and they understand how they got there.  If you have those skills, you can perhaps do anything, I don’t know, but I do know that you need this to be a future med-student (at least from my non-med student perspective).  I base this on the fact that now, Kurzman is expected to learn answers.  Right answers.  And when he is in practice, he will be expected to take the right answers he knows, apply them, and get more right answers. 

Guys like me, not so much.  In high school, I didn’t really “figure out answers.”  I wasn’t dumb and I didn’t do poorly grades wise, but there was a big difference between the way I got through classes with “answers” (Math, Science, Etc) and the way someone like Kurzman did.  I was fine at memorizing a process and repeating it over and over.  Thankfully, if you can do this, you will do well in public high school.  High school calc and chem, even at high levels, is “monkey work.” Memorize and repeat.  Just learn the formula, know what all the letters mean, and be able to solve a basic algebraic equation (which is really just more memorizing).  I could get the answers, do fine in those classes, but I never really got it.  Ask me to think creatively in a chem or math class and I’m lost, always was.  I was a step and a half behind the kids like Kurzman and a step ahead of the people that just didn’t have the ability to memorize and repeat. 

So what is “lawyer smart?”  What kind of answers do we have?  Simple, we construct arguments.  We take situations that are similar and we twist them.  We push things to the edges to break them and we put them back in ways we like.  Better yet, we understand that similar words and sentences can have different meanings and we can think quickly on our feet.  By we, I dont mean all law students, I mean people with skill sets like me.  We are the ones that are having the BS conversation about something in high school and take somebody’s logic, exagerate it to the ends, perhaps make an analogy, and attempt to show thats a “silly” line.  We frustrate people and they don’t end up agreeing most of the time, but they just don’t poke that hole in the logic.  We will argue fringe things and leave the other side feeling like they were just robbed.  Our place of excellence isn’t the chem lab, its the lunchroom debate or better year, the essay exam.  Not the “what were the causes of the american revolution” essay, but the “analyze X and Y using the themes of this course” types.  We play with ideas, put them together, and make conclusions.  The things we think we know are usually things that aren’t facts but opinions.  Or skill isn’t the ability to get the right answer, its the ability to constuct an argument so you think our opinion is the right answer. 

Flash forward a few years.  Last week Kurzman took a series of exams where he was expected to know things about certain body processes.  How they worked, what they did, in some cases what they looked like, and how they interact.  His creative thinking was connecting concepts.  Tomorrow I’ll take my second exam.  I’ve been studying hard and I’m running into problems because, in all honesty, I really don’t know anything.  There are facts and rules I’m supposed to know that I don’t because I just don’t learn those things well.  Hopefully it will work out, maybe it wont, but even if I knew them all perfectly, that wouldn’t be what this exam was about.  This exam is about taking those “facts” and “rules” (not the same as science facts) and applying them to a situation.  Play with the situation on both sides. Push and pull it, look for a path then try to build a wall to block it off, then climb over the wall you just built. 

The hardest part for me on this exam is that I don’t have the full knowledge base I should going into this exam.  In Kurzman’s world, not having the knowledge base would be the ballgame.  You can’t get a D without at least a strong knowledge base.  If I took a med school style exam about this material, I would fail.  Thankfully, lawyers don’t work on “these facts what result” they work on “these facts, what arguments.”  In this situation, with a last minute hail marry, I still have an outside shot at getting through this because even though I don’t have the full knowledge base, if I can figure out the general category, I can look up the rules and come up with an argument.  This would be like Kurzman going “well, I dont really know what muscles does that, but i know its in this broad family.  I’m hoping for a B and anticipating a B-.  Please wish me well. 

I have a sinking feeling about this exam, and the scarey part is, this is the one I’ll be best prepared for.  We’re not in high school anymore Rex (I didn’t wanna say Todo because 1. I don’t know how to spell it and 2. Rex sounds more manly). 

Law: Free Money?

April 29, 2008

I love betting, which is odd given the fact that I am generally risk adverse.  For some reason, I would prefer to invest in bonds than stocks because stocks are too risky but I also strugge to pass up a craps table even though I know its a losing proposition.  I don’t know, maybe I love action.

Anyway, today a friend of mine exposed me to a site that will let me gamble on just about anything.  The site, can be found here.  Just to clarify, this isn’t a normal “X on Y to Z”.  Instead, this is a site where you buy a share in a team/event/answer.  If you are right, your share pays $100.  You can also trade your share in real time.  Essentially this site gives odds, in real time, and lets you not only get in, but make money from the float in the odds. 

I may just get addicted. 

I say this not because I want you to know I love to gamble in small doses but because it appears as if the site is offering free money.  Right now, shares of Obama for Democratic nominee are trading at $77.  Look, I want Obama to go down in flames as much as the next person that doesn’t feel like giving people perverse incentives them worrying about the fact that they never act in a desired way libertarian/conservative, but seriously, guys, he isn’t going to lose. Math and logic both say Obama wins.  This is basically free money.  Slap me with as many shares of Obama as you can find sellers for and call me ton o’ fun.  Seriously.  This is free money.

Law: Meta-Blog

March 15, 2008

At some point I fully intend to review the rest of my callback interviews.  For now, I just wanted to respond to a could of IM’s I received and throw a comment to Kurzman.

First, for Kurzman, thanks for pointing out the stupidity of that comment.  I think that we have tried pretty hard to make it clear that this is a joint-blog (See, e.g., the fact that we title our posts “law” or “med” and reference each other).  Anyway, I certainly get long winded and ramble, especially when I make political blog posts.  If that bugs you, feel free to leave a comment.  Better yet, point out what you find particularly stupid.  Either way, at least understand what the blog is about.

Also, a few people have sent me some IM’s to the effect of “don’t you get it, Kurzman’s class was using those facts for ethical analysis, not legal analysis.”  I don’t know where this comes from.  Yes I get it.  I wasn’t researching the case to find some legal critique of what Kurzman’s class decided, I was looking it up so I could read the facts and see 1. what the facts were 2. If there was anything missing from Kurzman’s fact summary that I think would change a person’s view 3. What the facts that the case was unspecific about were. 

Yes I also talked about the legal reason for the decision as opposed to the ethical implications.  The reason for this was to point out how lawyers and doctors approach the same question from very different points of view.  Kurzman’s class was focused on the ethical issues involved, but discussed the legal conclusion.  What I was asserting at the end of my last post was merely that from the court’s point of view, there was no “ethical” or “moral” issue to even look at.  There was on point legal history that the court applied. 

Perhaps what I should have done was assert that the class discuss the less sexy Johnson case that was relied on heavily in the analysis of the case Kurzman’s course actually used.

Anyway, that’s what I was trying to do.  Later this week I plan to summarize some of my callbacks and catch you up on my life.  Perhaps I’ll even find some time to go to class. 

Sometimes reality is more interesting than anything on television.  That’s one of the reasons I almost exclusively read non-fiction.  While reading the news today I came across two stories that I felt deserve being spread around.  Please note neither of these have much to do with law school or med school.

The first is this article about kinky sex gone wrong.  Every once and a while a story of a bondage session going bad comes up, but that usually involves beating or suffocation.  This one is unique in that it involves electrocution.  Not particularly my bad, but hey, to each their own I suppose. 

The second article is about what can happen when high school is joined with the wonders of technology – Cell Phone photo sharing.  The article appears here and is slightly more legal.  Although I know the prosecutor has good intentions, it seems like this arbitrary use of power is miguided.  How can you really threaten students with prosecution for possession of child pornography but not also threaten the girls that origionally created/distibuted it (the so called “pornstars”).  I don’t know about you, but nothing fun like this ever happened at Kurzman and I’s high school.  Sure there are a few people that have since been rumored to have at least taken a few steps into careers as strippers at a local club or internet pornstars, but nothing like this while I was in school.  I remember a couple of “wow” sexual rumors, but none ever had the pictures to go along with the story.  As a relatd query, clearly the reputations of the girls involved has been ruined, but what about the guys?  Is this a positive or negative? 

Kurzman may or may not be fresh off a return to high school lane (nothing dirty people, keep your mind out of th gutter), perhaps he has thoughts?

General: I dont know Why

January 10, 2008

I don’t know why, but Kurzman’s youtube video made me think of this one…….

 If anybody can tell me why I made that connection, please explain it to me, otherwise I’m going to chalk it up to finals.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sZuN0xXWLc

Law: Wrapping Up

January 3, 2008

My time at home is beginning to wrap up.  That means that I have spent more time today running last minute errands and packing than I have doing the things I shuld have been doing (studing and exercising).   I am also faced with the problem of working out my schedule for the rest of break.  I will pose my situation to all of you for your judgment.

I have seen too many case briefs.  Because I am tired of reading my own case briefs, I have forced you all to suffer through it by posting my blog for today as a case brief. Enjoy.

 Facts:

1.  My flight leaves Friday a 6:30 AM (assuming it leaves on time, which is a big assumption right now)

2. I live about 50 minutes away from O’Hare

3. I rarely go to bed before 2 AM

4. My final is Saturday at 9 AM

5. It is a 2.5 hour flight from home to school

6. I still need to do a large amount of studying for finals

 Issue:  How should I go about my sleeping/studying schedule these next few days before finals?

Holding:  I hae decided to attempt to sneak in as much or little sleep as I can Thursday evening, then attempt to get supplemental sleep on the plane. 

Reasoning:  I figure if I can pick up 3-4 hours of sleep at home, then 1.5 on the plane, that puts me at 5.5 which isn’t good but isn’t terrible.  Assuming that I get to school around noon, I can put in five hours of studying or so for my Saturday final, grab some dinner, stay awake for the three hours I need after I eat, then go to bed(ideally) before 10 and be tired enough to actually fall asleep at 9 PM home time.  Thn I’ll wake up for my final and take it.

Dissent 1:  I should just stay up all night and study, then go to the airport, and fly to school (Sleeping on the plane) go to my dorm, and sleep some more, waking up around 10 PM or so.  Study from 10 PM until my final, take the final, and then go to sleep. 

Dissent 2:  Man up, go all day Friday on little sleep and hope for the best.

Dissent 3:  Short nap friday, then sleep at a normal time and take the exam on 6 or so hours of sleep. 

So today I was listening to a huge quantity of BAD music, just what I love.  I mean, I really touched all bases, a sample would include:

 1. Culture Beat – Mr. Vain

2.  Multiple Versions – Total Eclipse of the Heart

3.  Rush – Tom Sawyer

 4. The Pixies – Debaser

5.  Blink 182 – Adam’s Song

6. Tone Loc – Funky Cold Medina

Now, after a considerable amount of debate over what a funky cold medina is, I decided to put my law school research skills to use.  After a considerable amount of research, I have discovered that it is actually an ordinary mixed drink cosisting of:

One ounce of Absolut, SoCo, and Blue Curaçao poured over ice and topped with cranberry juice.

In fact, in a video I saw for the song Mr. Loc actually points to a bottle of Absolut. 

Now when somebody asks what a funky cold medina is, you know, and that ladies and gent’s has been your PSA for the day.

Law: Regulate

November 6, 2007

I should be working on my memo  A lot of my classmates are currently working on their memos at the moment, and I am not smart enough to put it off to the last minute.  As you can tell, I am currently NOT working on my memo.  I swear to you, I intended to.  I had my first draft out, I had the case packet ready, I even had the copy sitting up on my computer screen ready to change.  Then something happened…….

A friend send me a link to a Youtube video.  Once on Youtube, I started searching for songs I wanted to listen to when, of course, I stopped on the greatest rap song of all time.  I’ll give you a few seconds to think over what it is.

Any of you that know me well already know the correct answer.

If you can’t figure it out, you need to take some time to “Mount Up” your brain power and think about it…….

 Thats right, “Regulate” by Nate Dogg and Warren G.  Many a nights were spent by me, stone cold sober singing and jumping around like a mornon dancing to that song.  Anyway, I have heard the song hundreds, nay, thousands of times, but I never did put much thought into what’s going on.  Since I am now a law student, and my view on the world is screwed up beyond all belief somewhat different than the first time I heard the song, I was caught.  I was actually THINKING about the lyrics.  What has law school done to me!

In an effort to continue not working on my memo, I decided to post here on Malpractice, but I couldn’t think of a topic.  Thats when it hit me, I’ll talk about my favorite rap song ever (not to be confused with my favoriate song ever) Regulate.

Regulate poses a hypothetical dealing with self-defense.  Lets take a few minutes to look at the issue in greater detail.

Now, assuming I didn’t totally misunderstand my Crim Law professor, an intervenor stands in the shoes of the party he intervenes for.  In the song, Nate Dogg is intervening, so the question is, can Nate Dogg justify his interventio on behalf of Warren G?

The situation arises when Warren G (hereafter W) is dirving down the street trying to meet some girls for later that evening.  W is driving alone and does not appear to be doing anything wrong.  For further Explination, See, “Warren G was on the street, trying to consume some skirts …. just rollin in my ride chillin’ all alone.”  W turns down a new street and observes some gentlemen engaged in recreation along the street.  W gets out of his car and asks them if he can join, but they pull a gun on him for no reason.  See, ” I hooks a left on the 21 and Lewis, some brothas shootin dice so I said Let’s do this, I jumped out the ride, and said What’s Up? Some brothas pulled some gats.” W also makes it clear that he knows he is in imminent danger when he says, “I’m stuck.”  Now W is clearly being threatened with these weapons.

While all of this is going on Nate Dogg (N) is also driving around looking for his friend W.  N testifies as much when he says, “Just hit the east side of the LBC on a mission trying to find Mr. Warren G.” 

It is clear that the men assaulting W are planning on taking his personal property.   W testifies as follows:  “I’m getting jacked….. they took my rings, they took my rolex, I looked at the brotha said damn whats next.

Now, after a short encounter with some hookers staring at him, N, by fate’s whimsey ends up seeing W get held up.  When N arrives, it us clear that W is in danger.  N tells us in his own words:  “I see my homey and some suckers all in his mix” and goes into further detail by stating:  “They got my homey hemmed up and they all around, ain’t none of them seeing if they going straight pound for pound.”  At this point, faced with the imminent threat to his friends bodily integrity, N is forced to act.  In his own words he says he felt the best thing to do was:  “Pull up my strap and lay them bustas down.”  N then proceeds to:  “Make some bodies turn cold.”  N had “Sixteen in theclip and one in the hole” which he fired and which “made some bodies turn cold.”  This action was effective in freeing W.  After N “let his gat explode” him and his friend W did no further harm to the assailants (as they were already dead) and returne to freak mode and pick up some girls to take to the Eastside Motel. 

Now, in order to prove self-defense, N stands in W’s shoes, so he must show tha W would have been justified in using the force that N used.  In order to demonstrate this, N must show that W was in great bodily harm, attempted to retreat, and used the minimum amount of force necessary.
going down.”  From this account we can clearly tell W was being threatened with deadly force, and thus was entitled to use deadly force to defend himself. 

Retreat is a non-issue, as N said, W was “hemmed up” and they were “all around” which would make escape possible.  In fact, W testifies that he would have fled if he could.  W says very clearly “if he had wings he would fly.

At this point, N enters with his weapon.  As W was faced with deadly force and had no means of escape, he would have been entitled to use deadly force to defend himself.  Since N is in W’s shoes as the intervening party, N is thus allowed to use deadly force, including 17 shots with a gat. 

The way I see it, self defense.

Law: LEEWS II

August 24, 2007

After an extended break, I finally finished the second of 8 LEEWS discs.  As with the first one, I learned a little bit, but still am undecided about the value of LEEWS.  I’m going to continue to plug on because so many people have said such good things about LEEWS, but we will see.

LEEWS Lesson 2:  The main thing I learned here is to write out all of the conflicts in a hypothetical, then use these conflicts as the basis for finding major issues.  I am hoping/guessing that the method will expand upon this use of “conflict pairings” in the next section.

I’ll keep you posted.