ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Monday, October 5, 2015

Judge John Hodgman Enforces a "Contract"

This week, the The New York Times Magazine's the "The Ethicist" column is finally given over to an actual ethicist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, who is a fabulous choice.  Similarly excellent is the editors' choice to add a bonus advice column from "Judge John Hodgman" and to print said column in a font that people over 40 can read (Judge Hodgman's column used to appear on a page designed to appeal to young hipsters and to put off people who really need to just bite the bullet and use reading glasses).

I hate to disagree with so learned a judge, but I think Judge Hodgman errs in his opening opinion in the new format.   His column assesses whether a written commitment is binding.  The writing reads as follows, "I, Taylor W., will allow Cora W. to dress me as a woman this Christmas."  Judge Hodgman describes the writing as "contract," his end of which Taylor W. must uphold.  

Sorry, Judge.  I see nothing more than a gratuitous promise here.  There is no consideration.  Moreover, this seems to be a social and not a legally binding agreement.  I question whether the parties ever intended to be legally bound.  Taylor W. may be bound in foro conscientiae, but he is not bound under the law of contracts.

Commentary | Permalink


Any law student in her first month of classes would know that is not an enforceable contract! Where did Judge Hodgman get his law degree?

Posted by: Otto stockmeyer | Oct 6, 2015 6:20:51 AM

I think the judge graduated from Comedy Central.

Posted by: Jeremy Telman | Oct 6, 2015 3:49:42 PM