Tuesday, December 12, 2006

this could be interesting

The judge told me that he wants me to drive him to the airport and then drive his car back the office tomorrow. This could be interesting. It would be bad if I ran into something with my boss's car. I was definitely not hired for this job based on my driving skills.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

old people are not politically correct

More conversations with the same old person:

Old person (pointing to some men taking a lunch break on the lawn near their work equipment): Look at those Mexicans sitting around instead of raking leaves. Don't that beat all? Of course, they like doing it.

Me: ????

Old person: Blah, blah, blah . . . Mexicans . . . blah blah blah. So, are you ever going to get married?

Me: Um, well, I would have to be dating someone first.

Old person: I guess that's true. But don't wait too long to start a family, or you'll have retarded kids.

I guess I know what I'll be getting as a wedding present -- this very special book.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

another dream

On Sunday night, I had a rather interesting dream. I learned in my dream that I've only got a year left to live. I'd more likely be concerned that the dream was prophetic if I had dreamed that I was going to die of something credible, like cancer or a car accident or polar bears, but I somehow can't seem to muster up much concern about dying of tooth decay.

Dream dentist: If you'd only come in earlier, we could have done something to help you. But it's too late now. The decay is irreversible, and you'll be dead within the year.

Dream me: I didn't even know that people could die of tooth decay.

Dream dentist: Well, you're about to find out that they can. And, as you'll discover, it's a rather ignominious way to die.

Let that be a lesson to you all. Go to the dentist, or else.

how rude!

My roommate told me that her former roommate was coming over to visit her tonight. Sure enough, about 30 minutes ago I heard the doorbell ring and my roommate went to get the door. Her friend came in, sat down on the couch, and continued talking on her cell phone for the next 25 minutes, completely ignoring my roommate. I thought this was extremely rude. Either hang up the phone and continue that conversation later, or else sit outside (or maybe in your car, so you don't freeze to death) until you've finished talking. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

happy day

The judge told us that chambers would officially close at noon today and stay closed for the rest of the week. Technically, only tomorrow is a federal holiday, but our judge is nice enough to let us have more time off. (One of the other judges in the building is making his clerks work Friday. Yet another reason why my judge is so cool.)

When I woke up this morning, I thought, "I'm so glad it's a minimum day today." I hadn't thought about it in those terms before, but it really is very similar to having a minimum day in high school. I'm all in favor of it. Sure, it might be nice to have the whole day off instead, but a half day is long enough that you feel like you've been productive, while you still get that great holiday feeling of having guilt-free time off.

That said, it's time for me to leave the office. And I'm determined not to worry about my cases over the break. They'll still be waiting for me when I get back.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

not for the weak of stomach

I detest cats. And they can tell. No matter how standoffish a cat generally is with new people, it always tries to slink around my feet and jump onto my lap and try to get me to pet it. Sometimes naive pet owners believe that this is the cat's way of being friendly. I know better. The cats can sense my dislike, and this is their way of getting back at me. They're clever little fiends.

Recently, however, they decided to step up their level of aggression against me. Their previous sort of obnoxiousess wasn't bothering me enough, I guess. And so they've changed tactics. Every couple days or so, they leave a dead mouse or dead bird in the hallway outside of my apartment door. And, to really make sure that they really get their message across, they like to disembowel the dead animals on my doorstep. There's nothing like blood and guts on your welcome mat to let you know that you're not welcome.

The neighbors and maintenance men have apparently lived under the cats' reign of terror for too long to defy them. No one will touch the cats' friendly little messages, although the cats sometimes move the dead animals a few feet, just to let us know that they're still out there.

When I was younger, I really liked the song "There are no cats in America." I only wish that it were true.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

old people are funny

Two recent conversations:

Old person: So, I heard you were interested in the law. Are you going to become a paralegal?

Me: No. I've graduated from law school already.

Old person: So you used to be a paralegal?

Me: No, you don't need to be a paralegal to go to law school.

Old person: But wouldn't you like to be a paralegal? It will be good experience for you if you want to become a lawyer some day.

Me: I already went to law school. I don't need to work as a paralegal to become a lawyer.

Old person: That's too bad. Being a paralegal is a really good job.

A week later . . . .

Old person: Tell me what you do at your job.

Me: Well, I work for a judge, so I help him do the sorts of things that judges do.

Old person: So, you're like a secretary?

Me: No, I do legal work.

Old person: Like a paralegal, then.

Me: I'm not a paralegal. I went to law school.

[Pause in conversation]

Old person: Why did you move here? Aren't there jobs in California?

Me: Well, I wanted this particular type of job, and this is where I got the job offer.

Old person: Maybe if you went to school to become a paralegal you could find more work.

amazing logic

Dave and I have been really impressed by some of the very logical arguments we've read recently. These aren't direct quotations, but this is the gist of the arguments made:

1. At trial, the witness testified -- under oath -- that he was an untrustworthy person. Therefore, we can't believe anything he said at trial.

2. [Background -- you only have Fourth Amendment protection against warrantless searches and seizures if you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the place searched. So, the question of reasonable expectation of privacy is frequently litigated.] The defendant clearly had a reasonable expectation of privacy here. This is obvious from the fact that he kept his drugs there. If he didn't expect that it would be private, he obviously wouldn't have left incriminating evidence there where police could get access to it without a warrant. He's not an idiot.

3. [In this case, police knocked and announced several minutes before someone answered the door, and they heard people running around inside trying to destroy and hide evidence during that time.] There's no evidence that the firearm was used in furtherance of drug trafficking. The drugs were inside the house, while police found the gun in the bushes outside the window. The government didn't present any evidence that the gun was stored anywhere else, so obviously it was stored outside the window. And since it was stored outside his window, obviously he wasn't using it during the drug crimes that took place inside his house.

Friday, October 27, 2006

a dream

Yesterday I was reading a brief in which the lawyer said that crack is generally sold in open-air markets. This way of putting it struck me as rather funny. Then last night I dreamed a dream. I was standing in the middle of a street lined with booths, and there were street vendors loudly hawking their wares: "Eight balls! Eight balls of crack for $180!" "Freshly cooked crack! Get your freshly cooked crack here!" "Marijuana bricks! We've got marijuana bricks!" I looked around and said to myself, "Boy, I guess I shouldn't have laughed at that phrase. Here I am, right in the middle of an open-air drug market, and there's nothing weird about it."

Now that phrase makes me laugh even more.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I was told that this job would be very educational, and that's turned out to be very true. For instance, do you know what the wholesale price of crack cocaine is? Do you know the retail price? Do you know what the difference between crack and cocaine powder is? Do you know what drug dealers mean by "key," "bird," or "cookie"? Did you know that real people actually use the term "baby mamma" (as in "he spent a lot of time talking on the phone to his baby mammas and females")? I've learned all of that, and even more.

I've also learned some things not to do, if I ever decide to embark on a life of crime. For instance, don't keep a detailed journal describing everything you do to further your mail fraud scheme. And if you do keep such a journal, don't throw it away in the trash can when you discover that you're under investigation. Shredders were invented for a reason. Don't talk to other people in jail about all the illegal things you did. Fellow inmates are not your friends, and they will be quite happy to testify against you in exchange for leniency in their own cases.

Dave hates the criminal cases, but I think they're really quite interesting. And educational as well.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Very good, sir.

Although most of the books I've read recently have been remarkably mediocre, I read a few books that were quite good. The best was The Mating Season, a book by P.G. Wodehouse. I'd been feeling a little gloomy, to match the weather, but this book lifted me right out of my slump. (Unfortunately, it also distracted me from my surroundings enough that I didn't pay attention to the uneven pavement while boarding the bus. And I turned my ankle and fell onto the stairs of the bus, resulting in some rather nasty cuts and bruises on both legs. But what care I for bruises when there is such a book.) For those who've watched the series, this book is the one where Bertie goes up to Deverill Hall as Gussie and Gussie ends up impersonating Bertie, and hilarity ensues.

Wodehouse books are full of wise observations on life. For instance, take this quote from Mike at Wrkykyn (a book which, incidentally, is nearly incomprehensible to anyone who isn't familiar with cricket):

Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. One know that delay means inconvenience. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. But logic is of no use. One simply lies there.

Or this:

There are situations in life which are beyond one. The sensible man realizes this, and slides out of such situations, admitting himself beaten. Others try to grapple with them, but it never does any good. When affairs get into a real tangle, it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. Or, if one does not do that, simply to think no more about them. This is Philosophy. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right," and goes to sleep in his arm-chair.

And finally, there's this astute observation from The Mating Season:

Except for knowing that when you've heard one, you've heard them all, I'm not really an authority on violin solos, so cannot state definitely whether La Pulbrook's was or was not a credit to the accomplices who had taught her the use of the instrument. It was loud in spots and less loud in other spots, and it had that quality which I have noticed in all violin solos, of seeming to last much longer than it actually did.

mountains of books! cascades of books!

On Columbus Day I had the day off, so I ventured over to the city library for the first time since arriving here. I'd held off from going there as long as I could, knowing what would surely happen the minute I walked inside the doors. And it did. Between that Monday and the next Monday, I read 11 books.

I remember arguing with my one of my roommates, several years ago, about "the happiest place on earth." She insisted that this was Disneyland, but I said that you couldn't believe everything Disney told you. In my opinion, the happiest place on earth is the library. I love the library.

The Salt Lake City library is wicked awesome. Dave had told me that it was, and I now heartily concur with him. I never met a library I didn't like, but this one is particularly impressive. If you're ever in Salt Lake, you should pay it a visit.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Quote of the day

From a fireside Elder Ballard gave yesterday:

"Some of us in the Quorum of the Twelve are getting pretty old, but we're still quite cool."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

between the devil and the deep blue sea

Tonight after institute I was walking home from the TRAX station. As I crossed the street, I saw a scruffy, homeless-looking man walking very slowly in front of me. As a precautionary measure, I decided that I would try to put some distance between us as quickly as possible. As I was just about to pass him, however, an enormous dog -- probably a direct descendant of the hound of the Baskervilles -- came bounding out of the bushes nearby and started running in our direction. I quickly closed the remaining gap between the homeless man and myself, and then stayed right at his elbow until I reached my driveway. Luckily, the dog by that point had run off a little further away, but I still was afraid to leave the side of the homeless guy.

I decided that this was a very interesting test on which of my fears would predominate. Apparently I am much more afraid of dogs than I am of homeless men.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Denver trip

I got back from Denver on Friday. It was a fun trip. The only travel problem I had is that my luggage didn't make the cut for the flight home. But it came in on the next flight, and they drove it to my apartment, so all's well that ends well.

My hotel was very nice. I think they decided that I was their least important visitor, however, since they put in the hotel room at the end of the universe. It was like a five-minute walk from my room to the elevator. (It was a horseshoe-shaped layout, with the elevator at one end and my hotel room at the other end.) It was also one of the smallest hotel rooms ever made, with the bed just barely fitting into the room. And it was on the floor that was currently being renovated, so I had to walk past painters and around construction equipment to get there. But compared to the flea-bag hotel I stayed at in Vegas last year, this was fabulous. And they not only had complimentary breakfast in the mornings, but also complimentary cookies at night. I very much appreciated that.

There were some law clerk social events in Denver, but when I realized that all of these events would involve the drinking of copious amounts of alcohol, I decided that I'd rather watch Law and Order in my hotel room. I was glad I did when Dave told me how fun the party on Wednesday night was. We heard a case at 2:00 Thursday afternoon, and Dave was really hung-over then. He was getting mad at things like the elevator recording loudly telling us what floor we were on, and he told me that he'd thrown up 5 times since the party. Sounds like a blast.

Both Dave and I ditched the Tuesday night poker party. I ditched because I don't play poker any more and because I don't find it very fun to play cards with people who are drinking. Dave ditched for a different reason. He would have gone if the point were to drink and mingle, but it sounded to him like it was just going to be a bunch of "chess club losers" sitting around and playing cards, and that didn't sound appealing.

Our relationship is progressing very well, though. In Philly we reached the inevitable point where he got annoyed with me for being indecisive and not giving him input as to my opinions. Last week he tried to coach me on being more assertive. In Denver he realized how incredibly slowly I eat (so after waiting for a while, he gave up and told me that he was going to go smoke and that he'd meet me back at the courthouse when I finished). And a few days ago we had a nice long conversation about wedding rings.

One more sign that this is the perfect clerkship for me: the judge told me on Friday that he has a tradition of treating his law clerks to ice cream in the airport on the way home from trips. Any tradition involving the eating of ice cream is my kind of tradition. I realized after getting my ice cream, though, that it's rather hard to look professional and grown up while licking an ice cream cone. I felt like I was about 8 years old. I really don't see how anyone can take me seriously. I certainly don't.

Friday, September 29, 2006

comments from oral arguments

Counsel: Judge, I'm very disappointed that you don't agree with me.
Judge B: I'd be disappointed too, if I were you.

Counsel: Sorry I don't recall all the details. Trial was a year ago, and you can't expect a 60-year old man to remember everything.
[Pause as he realizes that all of the judges on the panel are well over 60.]
Not that 60 is old or anything.

Government counsel: The defendant only got a 35-year sentence, instead of the mandatory life sentence he could have gotten.
Judge A: But wasn't he older, like 61 or so?
Judge D: Be careful; you're on dangerous ground.

[In a case involving a very complex and confusing contract.]
Counsel: I didn't write this contract, by the way.
Judge C: That's a really good disclaimer to make.

[In a case where the Supreme Court reversed the Tenth Circuit's previous decision.]
Counsel: We did the best we could, but we couldn't get the Supreme Court to agree with you.

Government counsel: I flipped a coin with my co-counsel to decide which of us would argue the case and which would be subject to water-torture. I lost.

Defense counsel: The confession wasn't voluntary because the police told the defendant that he had cancer, so he was really upset.
Government counsel: The police weren't trying to upset him. They just asked him about it to be friendly.
. . . .
Judge A: At least if we watch Law & Order, it seems like this was intended to rattle him.
Government counsel: They just said, "How are you doing? Are you okay, because we heard you might have cancer. Do you have cancer?" No one would be upset by that. It's like if the government said, "Are you part of Al-Qaeda? No? Okay then." You wouldn't be upset by that.
. . . .
Government counsel: It wouldn't affect you if I said, "Good morning, judge. I heard you broke your hip last week."
Judge E: I'm not going to die from a broken hip.
Government counsel: How about "I heard you have a brain aneurism"?
Judge E: Well, I might take offense at that.
. . . .
Judge D [to counsel in the next case]: Are you sure you're feeling okay today?
Judge E: Because we've got something to tell you.

This became the joke of the day. "How are you guys doing? Do you have cancer? I heard you might have cancer. No? Well, how about a brain aneurism?"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Now that's what you'd call ironic

My horoscope for the month of September, according to United's in-flight magazine: "You will travel without mishap, due to small things working in your favor."

Monday, September 25, 2006

a hard-knock life

You know how sometimes you drive past office buildings at night and see people hard at work inside, and you think, "Poor suckers." At least, that's what I always think. Well, tonight I'm one of those people. Except for the "hard at work" part, I suppose, but I'm going to start working in just a minute. We're going to Denver tomorrow, and I had six cases to prepare in the week after Philly. Over-achiever Dave worked all weekend and finished up his last three cases yesterday, so now I've got to finish my last case tonight. (Dave started out with one more case than I did, so I was one ahead of him on Friday night when I left.) I did have a nice break with home-teaching, dinner, and FHE, but now I'm back. Alas.

My other source of sadness is the realization that I have to wear my suit every day for the next four days, including on the airplane tomorrow. We're going straight to the courthouse for a reception when we arrive, so we've got to wear our suits for the trip. Actually, the judge said that we didn't need to wear suits; we could probably get away with casual instead. (Then he looked at our jeans and tennis shoes and said, "I'm not sure how your generation defines casual, though. Nude?") However, over-achiever Dave is wearing a suit, and probably all the other over-achiever clerks will as well, so I've got to wear one too. I much prefer the "wicked casual" dress code in our office. But I suppose sacrifices must be made in order for the people of America to receive justice from well-dressed officers of the court.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

a trip of unfortunate events

Coming back from Philadelphia took us 16 hours. We caught the taxi from our hotel at 11 am, Philadelphia time, and we got back around 1 am, Utah time. It was a rather tedious day.

Our flight was supposed to leave at 1:45. We boarded, taxied out onto the runway, and waited there. For more than two and a half hours. There was nothing wrong with the plane or anything; we were just waiting to get flight clearance to take off. The pilot was getting pretty annoyed by it too. He told us, "I don't know what the problem is, and I don't know when we're going to leave. All I know is that Philadelphia does not know how to run an airport."

I was in a middle seat that whole time too, which wasn't very pleasant. The people sitting next to me were both using the center armrests, so my bubble was being encroached upon the entire time. And then the guy on my right was really smelly. He was a nice man, but he emitted a powerful and noxious combination of old-person smell and smoker smell. I was trying to sleep sitting up, but the smell was bothering me too much. So I put my head down on my tray table. That worked for a few minutes, until the army man sitting on my left hit me really hard in the back. It was on accident, but I was afraid I might die from internal bleeding if it happened again. (I was really bruised for a few days after just being hit once.) So I ended up suffering through the old smoker man smell for the rest of the 6 hours on that plane.

There were 95 passengers on our flight who missed their connecting flights. Fortunately, we hadn't missed the last flight to Salt Lake City for the night. While we were waiting for that flight, the judge was talking to his family. They told him that his son-in-law was stuck in LAX, waiting to be allowed to board his flight to Salt Lake City. They hadn't let him board because the Salt Lake City airport was closed due to weather. We were rather surprised when the judge told us this, since they hadn't made any announcements about our flight. The judge said, "Knowing American, they'll inform the pilot that the airport is closed 10 minutes before we're supposed to leave."

Sure enough, after we had boarded and it was time for us to leave, the pilot got on the intercom and said, "I just learned 10 minutes ago that our lift-off time has been moved back to 10:08. That's an hour and forty minutes from now. So, we'll wait here at the gate for the next 30 minutes, and then we'll pull out onto the tarmac in case they bump up our flight time." We did that, but they didn't end up changing our flight time at all. Since we had boarded at 8, we ended up sitting on the ground in that airport for 2 hours before leaving. (As an aside, I thought it was very silly that we all had to turn off our phones for the 1-minute trip out to the tarmac, even though we knew we'd be able to turn them back on again for the next hour of waiting there.)

We arrived in Salt Lake a little before midnight. It was a complete madhouse. Everyone's flights had been bumped back a few hours, and they'd tried to catch up on the lost time by having flights come in as close together as possible. It was busier than the mall at Christmas-time, but much less full of good cheer. For some reason, the Salt Lake airport people decided not to have any of their employees work overtime, so they were functioning on their midnight work schedule. And there were disgruntled passengers swarming around everywhere.

The airport people gave up on sorting the baggage, so they were announcing on the loudspeakers, "Don't pay any attention to the signs over the luggage carousels. Your luggage might be on any one of the carousels. One bag might be one carousel 1, and another might be on carousel 3. You need to check them all." Then, I guess because people were switching which carousels they were watching, the carousels were all completely filled with luggage, and more luggage kept coming down and smashing into that. At the carousel I stationed myself next to, there were three layers of luggage piled up already, with more luggage coming down all the time. It was rather fun to watch and predict which bags or boxes would get the most smashed. It was especially exciting watching suitcases crash down onto the box labelled "human blood." (I think it really did contain blood, since it was labelled as coming from a laboratory and was being sent to the medical center. There were also several other boxes labelled "human tissue" and "human specimens.")

We finally got our bags, but the drama of the day was not yet over. Because of the whole midnight schedule thing, we had to wait 25 minutes before the shuttle for long-term parking showed up. And it had become winter in Utah while we were gone, so we were standing there in a bitterly cold rainstorm without adequate clothing. There were about 60 people waiting for the shuttle, but luckily we managed to fight our way on when it arrived. And then we had to get out of the parking lot, and there was only one cashier working. (Another cashier was sitting in the box right next to her, but she was too busy talking on the phone to actually help any of the 50 cars waiting to get out of the stupid lot.) That's why I didn't get home until 1:00.

So, that was my exciting day of travel. I spent more than ten and a half hours sitting in planes. I could have gone to London in that amount of time. And if I had, they might have given me a snack.

Friday, September 22, 2006

As a follow up to the previous post, let's examine some of the differences between Dave, the real lawyer, and Cindy, the not-real lawyer. (It should be mentioned that most of the statements attributed to Cindy were not actually vocalized.)

Dave: It's too bad we're wasting so much time on the plane, when we could be working that whole time.
Cindy: I love a good excuse not to do work.

Dave: Why couldn't we have gone home as soon as we were done with our work here?
Cindy: It's so great that we have the afternoon free to do some sightseeing or other fun stuff.

Dave: I wish those other clerks had wanted to go get drinks or something with us.
Cindy: Thank goodness we didn't have to go socialize with all those people we don't know.

Dave [as we walk past a drug deal]: Even though Philadelphia is a lousy place, it's nice to be back in a real city. I really miss New York.
Cindy: This is a fun place to visit, but I sure wouldn't want to live here.

Dave: I'm in the mood for some simple food.
Cindy: Wait a minute. I actually kind of agree with that.
Cindy [to the waiter]: I'll have the lemon chicken.
Dave [to the waiter]: I'll have the eggplant and goat cheese pizza.
Cindy: Eggplant and goat cheese?
Yesterday I was talking to one of my college friends on the phone. She said that every time she thinks about me being a lawyer, she has this mental image of me standing there, twirling my hair around my finger, and saying something like, "Um, my client really didn't do it. If you look at the facts, you'll see that he's, like, totally innocent. So, yeah, you should like find him not guilty, or something like that." She said that she just couldn't picture me as a real lawyer.

I remembered this just now as I was trying to see how fast I could twirl around in my office chair. I think she may have a point.