Begging The Question

Friday, February 06, 2004

Milbarge: The Authorized Biography
We didn't plan it this way, but I thought Fitz's post below was a good idea and decided to copy it. So here's Chapter 1 from me.

What I am doing at work: A habeas petition arising out of a state court conviction. The guy is claiming ineffective assistance of counsel, although it's little more than an assertion that counsel wasn't good enough to win an acquittal. Even if the claims were meritorious, by the time it comes up here, there are so many built-in layers of review that the guy has more hurdles to clear than Edwin Moses. The Strickland ineffectiveness standard itself, with the presumption that counsel was good enough, plus the deference federal courts in habeas proceedings give to state judgments, plus the standard for getting a certificate of appealability, the only way the court of appeals can review the district court's judgment on the merits, plus the Teague bar even if we got that far.... Anyway, this one is pretty easy, so I don't feel all that bad about all those hurdles.

What I am doing at home: Figuring out my new TV. My old one blew its picture tube, so I had to go buy a new one. I went with a pretty low-end model (basically, the new version of what I had), instead of a flat-screen or a flat-panel or a high-definition thing. I don't need that much TV right now, and I do need a new computer, so that's where that money will go. But the crappy thing is that after I took my new TV out to my car, the stupid box wouldn't fit in my small car. So I had to unpack it there in the parking lot and heft it into my car's back seat. Then, when I got home, I had to hoist the thing up about fifteen stairs to my living room. The box had handles and was easy to carry, and I wouldn't have worried about sitting it on the slushy ground when I needed a breather. The TV was just wrapped in a sheet of plastic, and I was worried about where I sat it. The end result is that I got really sore in my back, shoulders, and forearms from all this. But I can mend in front of the new TV.

What I am reading: Catching up on my magazines (I'm always behind there; I subscribe to too many), and just started Dan Savage's Skipping Towards Gomorrah.

What I am watching: Mostly college basketball.

What I am listening to: The other day I bought three albums, and I'm rotating them right now. The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Tenacious D debut album, and the Grateful Dead's Closing of the Winterland. So far, all very good.

What I am thinking about: These crazy folks across the street knocking down a building. They're using a wrecking ball, but they're swinging it out over traffic! I don't know how it looks from street level, but from up here in our office, it looks pretty cool and pretty stupid. I'm waiting for the ambulance chasers to camp out on the corner, waiting for a chunk of brick to ding someone's SUV so they can sue the contractor.

What I am not thinking about: The Democratic primaries. I am so sick of these guys.

Factoid about me (I won't guarantee creepiness, but most facts about me will probably come close): Since Fitz mentioned something about high school, I will reveal that in high school I was a band nerd. But, in my defense, I played drums, so I was about as cool as a band nerd could get. Our motto was "The Best Worst Drum Section On Earth." Similarly, I was the coolest of the nerds.

Anyway, we might try to make this a regular Friday thing, so collect 'em all, print them out, and call it a first edition.

Fitz-Hume: the authorized biography
Since Milbarge recently poured his heart out here, I thought I would take advantage of open-blog Friday and give the BTQ audience a little taste of life as Fitz-Hume. Without further ado, I present Chapter 1 of Fitz-Hume: the authorized biography:

What I am doing at work: Besides blogging? I am preparing a draft judicial decision in a case in which neither party cited to the controlling Fourth Circuit precedent (which, incidentally, is dispositive of the issue raised by the claimant). The problem is that there is no administrative law equivalent to Rule 11 of the FRCP and, thus, no mechanism for punishing the attorneys except for embarrassing them in the text of the opinion. The attorneys need to be embarrassed but there should be a limit on how far a judge can go in pointing out in a decision the lack of skill demonstrated by the attorneys. This is not the Southern District of Texas, after all, and I don't clerk for Judge Kent.

What I am doing at home: replacing the starter on my 1989 Ford Bronco II

What I am reading: Jorge Luis Borges's Ficciones

What I am listening to: Fountains of Wayne: Welcome Interstate Managers

What I am watching: Open Range, Jet Lag, and King of the Hill: Season Two

What I am thinking about: big trout on dry flies

What I am not thinking about: the Super Bowl halftime show

A creepy factoid about me: I competed in national high school cheerleading competitions

So, that's it. All of my darkest fears, and... everything I'm capable of. That's me.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Still Merry
I was walking home from work tonight, and something unusual happened. A car pulled up to a stoplight, and the music was pumpin' on the stereo. That's not unusual. But what is unusual is that the song being blasted at me was the Christmas song O Holy Night. Odd. Now I've had that song in my head ever since.

Only 5 days left until I get to vote against Wesley Clark. Ye-aaaaaagh!
I can't wait! Coincidentally, I am soliciting readers' opinions (via the comments link at the bottom of this post) on which candidate I should vote for in the primary that will most clearly express my anti-Clark sentiments. Let me know, folks!

Sometimes that Goldberg guy gets it right, err, I mean correct.
I blogged recently about my growing disdain for the useless drivel that has filled up NRO's The Corner. You have to sort through a lot of junk posts to find anything useful (most, but not all, of the useless posts are from Katherine Jean Lopez). Today, however, I did find a post directing me to Jonah Goldberg's latest G-File. It is certainly worth a read. Jonah makes the point that Americans are not more deeply divided today than at any time in our history as the ever-dwindling number of Democratic presidential hopefuls keep trying to tell us. Perhaps Americans are more evenly divided than ever before, but that is not a bad thing in Jonah's book. But just in case Jonah is wrong, and America is more deeply divided than ever before (remember the Civil War, folks?), then let's go through his checklist of supplies:

(1) bottled water? Check.
(2) shotgun shells? Check.

I think Jonah is spot-on. The Democratic rhetoric ("we live in two Americas") about the current depth of division in this country ignores history (remember the 1840s? the 1860s? the 1920s? the 1930s? the Sixties, baby?) because what the Dems mean by "deeply divided" is "we liberals are not getting our way!" If I had to choose (as Jonah proposes) between a country unified behind a policy I was opposed to, or a country divided over that policy and facing a difficult struggle to implement said policy, I would prefer the latter.

The future is now! was yesterday
BTQ now has an XML feed. Whatever the heck that means. All the other cool sites had these years ago. Oh well. Better late than never.

You can find the XML feed link in the right column below the links, or click here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Modern Bride Magazine Selling Like Hotcakes in Massachusetts
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has issued an advisory opinion (they can do that, unlike the U.S. Supreme Court) that civil unions won't meet the standards it set it last year's decision on gay marriage. It has to be full-blown marriage for everybody. Here is a summary. Well. I have a feeling this might become big news.

One other thing. You know how a lot of people derisively call John Kerry's home state "Taxachusetts"? Well, I predict the next derisive nickname for the Bay State will be Sexachusetts. Just now, there were no Google hits for that word, so I'm claiming it. You heard it here first.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The Otis Campbell of Sacramento
I love this story. Via CrimLaw, I find this story noting that a federal judge in California allowed a homeless prisoner to go home on December 3 for a few months to care for an ailing father. He told him to report back by 2:00 p.m. on Feb. 2, and when asked to explain his reasoning, replied, "Merry Christmas."

To nearly everyone's surprise, the guy showed up, and is now back in custody. My favorite part of the story is that he tried to report to a local sheriff's office but was turned away, and had to show up at the U.S. Marshal's office a day late. (the judge didn't mind) I'm sure the local jailers might be wary of homeless or mentally disturbed people trying to a get a free night in jail by showing up and asking to be incarcerated. It's almost Yossarian-esque: Almost by definition, you'd have to be crazy to show up and ask to be put in jail. But I'd hate to hear of an incident where a person was turned away in a moment of repentance, only to go commit new crimes before they figured out he actually belonged in jail.

But I'll leave aside such pessimistic thoughts. The whole thing reminds me not only of good ole Otis Campbell, the Mayberry town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show, who routinely let himself in and out of jail, but also of the episode of that show where Andy let a local man out to tend his crops, after which he dutifully reported back to jail. I see plenty of letters to judges like the one here, with people begging to get out of prison. To be sure, most of them aren't even asking for the chance to return (they want to be out for good), nor would I trust many of them to do it. So it's nice to see things work out here. It surely didn't hurt that the guy only had a few months to serve, and might have surmised that he'd do a lot more time on an escape charge, like this guy is facing after walking out the front door of the courthouse during the middle of his murder trial. (that link also via CrimLaw)

Monday, February 02, 2004

America's #1 Boob
After the Super Bowl last night, do you think John Ashcroft placed a drape across half of his TV screen? Just wondering. Seems to be an M.O.

Pope? I didn't even know I was Catholic!
St. Pius X
You are Pope St. Pius X. You'd rather be right than

Which Twentieth Century Pope Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
(Props to Feddie at SA for the heads up. Now I have something new to Google!)

Terminator Update
A few weeks ago, I had a post discussing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's handling of crime issues. There, I mentioned that the Guv would have to make a decision soon about whether to grant clemency in a death penalty case. A few days ago, Schwarzenegger decided to deny clemency, which should (barring incredibly unlikely circumstances) allow the execution to proceed as scheduled February 10. (Of course, Ken Lammers beat me to this on his new sub-blog, Death Law.) Via the excellent California Insider, here is the Governor's press release. Here is a reaction piece.

This can't be a big surpise. As I noted in the prior post, no California Governor has granted clemency to a death row inmate since Reagan in 1967. (Then again, the California Supreme Court -- until the voters threw a couple of Justices out -- and the Ninth Circuit have taken care of plenty of death row inmates before their cases even got to the clemency stage.) And it looks like the evidence against this guy, Kevin Cooper, is pretty strong. As I noted, the tougher case for Schwarzenegger is going to be that of Stan "Tookie" Williams, a founder of the Crips whose work to stop gang violence has gotten him Nobel Peace Prize nominations. In the denial of Cooper's claim, though, Schwarzenegger noted that his religious conversion, while "commendable," was not enough to outweigh Cooper's crimes. Williams and his supporters now have to hope that Schwarzenegger isn't setting a standard that post-incarceration rehabilitation won't affect his grant of mercy.

I expect the Williams clemency petition/impending execution will be bigger news than Cooper's, but I'll try to keep things updated nevertheless.

Trying To Find a Way To Spend More Time In the Blogosphere
I'm working on a couple of longish posts, which explains the dearth of shortish posts. And, I've been thinking about getting a news aggregator/RSS feed thingy (and of course enabling such a feed on BTQ. If anybody has any suggestions, especially for a non-techie like me, I'd appreciate it. I should say I'm not a huge fan of Outlook, which a lot of these things seem to prefer, but will use it if necessary. Also, I probably won't be able to download anything at work, so the ideal tool for me would forward stuff to an email I can check at work. (Less attractive option, but probably more likely: I end up with something I can only check at home, and come to think of it, I probably don't need like a hundred emails a day at work.) Anyway, I'd love any advice anyone can offer. Thanks.

Run, Roy, Run!
The Wall Street Journal had an editorial today discussing the notion that former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore might run for president. Moore has been tearing up the conservative lecture circuit, riling up folks like the Eagle Forum. And last week he refused to rule out a run for the White House. I think an economic conservative (such as, say, Steve Forbes) would hurt Bush in his quest to keep conservative votes this fall, because I think he has abandoned economic conservatism more than cultural conservatism. But a lot of people are both kinds of conservative, and the social conservatives are plenty upset with the President too. Upset enough to vote for Moore as a protest? Dare to dream.

Fodder for Feddies
Howard Bashman's long-awaited interview with Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt is finally up. It's interesting, but I can't say I was very surprised at anything in it. It's not exactly a secret that Reinhardt's a liberal. Worth reading, though, whether you agree with the man's views or not.

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    Milbarge Recommends

    Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas
    Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas

    The Men Who Stare at Goats
    The Men Who Stare at Goats


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    The views presented here are personal and in no way reflect the view of my employer. In addition, while legal issues are discussed here from time to time, what you read at BTQ is not legal advice. I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. If you need legal advice, then go see another lawyer.

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