October 14, 2006
Ninth Circuit Opinion on Sentencing. 18 USC 924(c) has been the subject of a few posts here, and was the subject of an interesting concurring opinion by Judge Reinhardt, which you can read here. It includes this statement: "those who have the power and the responsibility" to fix this broken statute ought to do so. It's an interesting case from a circuit often portrayed as activist, but a sad one nonetheless.
More on Harvard's Inclusion of Statutory Interpretation. Here's a snippet from this article:
The first addition is a course on legislation and regulation, designed as an introduction to the legislative process, the administrative state, and statutory interpretation. "There was a widespread feeling in the legal academic community that the traditional curriculum fails to introduce students to the modern regulatory state and fails in the first year to give them an introduction to reading statutes," said Professor Mark Tushnet. The course is intended to balance out the traditional reading of appellate court decisions on common law issues that predominates in the 1L curriculum.
October 12, 2006
Bush Signing Statement Draws Ire
In a signing statement to a bill that requires that a director of FEMA have disaster planning, President Bush said he's not bound to follow that. You can read about it here. The President's position apparently is that the requirement impinges on executive rights. Maybe so, but talk about a poor political move!
October 11, 2006
Colorado Supreme Court Splits on UCC v. Stolen Property Statutes
Thanks to a reader for this one! In West v. Roberts (Colo. Oct. 10, 2006), a third party obtained property through theft by fraud from the owner, and then sold the property to a good faith purchaser. Under the Stolen Property statute, the defrauded seller is supposed to get the property back; under the UCC the good-faith purchaser gets to keep it.
Over a dissent, a majority held that the UCC controlled in the conflict because the UCC was later and more specific. As a result, the court held that a subsequent good faith purchaser of a car obtains good title under the UCC even though the car had been acquired through an earlier fraud because the original owner of the car voluntarily parted with it. The dissent argued that the UCC was not "more specific" than the stolen property statute. It's an interesting conflicting statutes case.
Thank you for sending it along!
New York: You're Not "Intoxicated" if you Drive Under the Influence of Furniture Polish
This is an interesting case. People v. Litto, 2006 WL 2820971 (N.Y. Spr. Ct. APp. Div. Oct. 3, 2006). Defendant inhaled a can of "Dust Off" (I imagine that's furniture polish of some sort) while driving, causing him to veer into oncoming traffic, killing others. Among other things, he was charged with driving while "intoxicated." The lower court dismissed that charge, and the state appealled.
A split court affirmed. The dissent relied on the plain meaning of "intoxicated" and argued that clearly the defendant was; the majority relied on legislative development of the statutes, which showed that a separate statute was adopted to cover driving while under the influence of drugs.
Plain meaning versus context and purpose. It's an interesting read.
Harvard to Put Statutory Issues in First Year
In academic circles, you'd have to be living under a rock not to already know that Harvard has changed its 1L curriculum, apparently for the first time in 100 years. A brief report can be found here, at the Wall Street Journal Blog. Among the changes: legislation will be a core part of the first year curriculum.
Hooray for our side! If you're reading this, you probably applaud that move. I do -- but, I wonder what the classes will be like?
At Mercer, a long time ago they revamped the first year curriculum in an interesting, but prescient way: the first semester courses are your typical common law courses, but the second semester courses are all statutory-based (Sales, civil procedure, and so on, for example). We also require statutory interpretation (right now, it's in our third semester, which doesn't make sense -- ought to be in the second, along with those courses, but I digress).
Anyway, with luck this will get a lot of academic attention on the need for students to emerge from law school with the skill set necessary to be great lawyers, which includes the distinct skill set associated with statutory interpretation.
October 10, 2006
Supreme Court Orders List
CAFA's Impact. There's an interesting piece on Law.com about the impact on class actions of the so-called Class Action Fairness Act, a portion of which won Worst Statute the World a few weeks ago.
Bribery Statute on Appeal. The Legal Times carries an article on the DC Circuit's upcoming review of an important bribery statute.
Absence of Statutory Definition Results in Mistrial in Hazing Case
Here's an interesting article from the AP about a mistrial in a fraternity hazing case. The article explains that the "trial would have been the first to test a new state law that makes hazing a felony if it results in death or 'serious bodily injury,' but the law does not define the latter term". It's an interesting read for other reasons, too -- could there be any doubt that that element was met when you read the facts? Note to self: maybe Florida, with its shoot-first-ask-questions-later self defense statute, and extremely narrow definition of 'serious bodiliy injury' is not a place for vacations! :-)
October 8, 2006
There's an interesting article over at Slate.com commenting on the political and social issues caused by Congress passing an unconstitutional statute. (I'd add that, as noted in some of the comments here about Worst Statutes in the World, Congress ought to be more concerned about the social costs created by all the poorly drafted statutes out there -- some of which have been creating litigation for decades.)
Here's a piece about the federal judicial selection process. Given that a lot of what a federal judge does is interpret statutes (or regs), I thought it pertinent. Interesting read, too.
The New York Times reports more on the country's legislative response to Kelo.
On the subjects of blawgs generally, there's an interesting piece on the NLJ about whether blawgs such as this are "ads" under the advertising rules. My gosh, I hope not. But, as a preemptive strike, I'm not board certified in anything, and I'm responsible for the contents of this blog. Whew. Now, if I just pay a bunch of money, I'll be clearly protected!