Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Seat Jumping.

There was yet another criminal event at a Detroit Pistons game this week.

A man was charged for occupying a seat that was not his, the Associated Press reported today.

He could be sentenced to 90 days in jail and fined $500.

This is a crime? If so, about half the sports venues in America are filled with criminals, who move down from the cheap seats to get a view.

Sports fans, you know what I am talking about.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Movie Review: "Fever Pitch".

It's a rare romantic comedy that appeals equally to the genders.

"How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" (2003) comes readily to mind. In fact, "How To..." sets the standard for that genre.

"Fever Pitch" aspires to the same neighborhood, but ultimately gets left outside the gate.

The good: the movie contains enough sports scenes to intrigue the most fanatical sports fans, and elegantly reminds us of the incredible drive of the Red Sox to championship glory last year. "Fever" also showcases witty dialog that is pretty memorable. Here's one example: "Investing in something beyond one's control is good for the soul."

The bad: the "chemistry" of Fallon and Barrymore is more synthetic than organic. Their friends have the depth of cardboard and add little.

Kudos to Jimmy Fallon for the comeback of the year; however, just about anything he threw up on the screen would be considered a valiant comeback after the "Taxi" (2004) disgrace.

If you are not a fan of the Farrelly Brothers' fare, don't be scared off by their direction. The movie for the most part eschews the gross-out material of their earlier projects. In fact, they seem to be moving away from their beginning with more sentimental offerings, such as "Shallow Hal" and "Fever."

So men, if it's your turn to capitulate and go to a movie your date picks, you could do much worse than "Fever."

"Fever Pitch" receives a "B."

"Christian Carnival", Part VI.

The latest installment of the "Christian Carnival" is up at Wittenberg Gate. The "Carnival" features 60 entries, including one from yours truly.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Caught between Law School and Divinity School.

Here's a piece that's disturbing on a couple of levels.

At first blush, it appears to be a story highlighting an out-of-control judiciary. A judge held a lawyer in contempt because he refused to file papers to become a member of the New York bar, and instead wanted to become a minister. (M. Fass, "Ex-NY Associate Held in Contempt for Not Seeking Admission to the Bar", New York Lawyer, April 12, 2005.)

This is not a misprint: "An attorney-turned-divinity student ... has been held in contempt by a Manhattan judge for refusing to file the necessary papers to become a member of the New York State Bar." (Id.)

Why did the judge order the man to be a lawyer rather than a divinity student?

The contempt order had something to do with his $40,000 unpaid child support obligation. (Id.)

Acting Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey S. Sunshine wrote: "Here, defendant has willfully determined that he will not file the papers necessary for the admission to the bar with the appropriate judicial department. He has also willfully determined that he now wishes to become a minister and not meet his support obligations." (Id.; emphasis supplied.)

The ex-wife was "particularly disturbed that [her former spouse Mr. Ajose] is living in a house owned by his mother, drives a new car, has a cell phone and a separate phone line, is well-dressed and recently purchased the children expensive video games systems, scooters and other gifts," according to Justice Sunshine's ruling. (Id.)

For his part, Mr. Ajose replied that "having a cell phone and a home phone is not an indicator of affluence in any sense." (Id.)

(HT: vanderhoofven.)

Monday, April 25, 2005

Book Reviews, Part VI (Ultramarathon Man).

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of a Midnight Runner (2005) by Dean Karnazes is the best of the cluster of books I have just finished.

In terms of sheer entertainment value, Ultramarathon Man is the best I've read in the past few years.

If you like Jon Kraukauer's fare of adventure stories (e.g., Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, and Eiger Dreams), this book fits nicely within that niche. However, you don't have to be a sports fan or even a runner to appreciate it.

This autobiography chronicles Mr. Karnazes' amazing feats of endurance, and places it within the broader context of his interesting life, including a full-time job and family.

Just when you think he cannot possibly top his last feat, he will surprise you. He takes the reader into his world of ultramarathon running, including the Western States 100, Badwater (135 miles from Death Valley to 8,000 feet up Mr. Whitney in the summer), a marathon to the South Pole without snow shoes, and "The Relay"--a 199 mile race where Mr. Karnazes ran each leg. He was "Team Dean."

One vignette that gives you a flavor of his unique narrative is his ordering and consuming a large pizza and cheesecake while running through the night and balancing the food boxes.

Mr. Karnazes answers the "why" question that many readers may seek, but I enjoyed more his response to the "how" query.

Three words: get it now.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Preview of Coming Attractions.

I have just finished a cluster of three books.

They are: Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner (2005) by Mark Karnazes; A Life With Purpose (2005) [about Rick Warren] by George Mair; and Wild at Heart (2001) by John Eldredge.

I will be reviewing them over the next several days. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

And Now Something Completely Different, Part III.

For those who enjoyed the stern warning delivered by the Berkeley professor to the person who took his laptop (see April 20, 2005), here is a pretty amusing parody.

(HT: brianpritchett.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

And Now Something Completely Different, Part II.

Here is a priceless link to a video wherein a Berkeley professor attempts to put the fear of God into the person who took his laptop. The good stuff begins at about 48:50 into the lecture. The text of the speech is here. (HT: Boing Boing: Berkeley laptop thief is scared out of his wits by professor via Southern California Law Blog.)

By the way, if a lawyer threatened the kind of criminal and administrative repercussions outlined in these links, he or she would be subject to discipline. (Cal. Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 5-100. )

UPDATE: The Berkeley folks have apparently decided to excise/disable the portion of the video containing the professor's message to the alleged laptop thief. However, the transcript link still works, and here is the audio.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"Christian Carnival", Part V.

The 66th Christian Carnival is now up at Pseudo-Polymath. The Carnival offerings have been organized into a form of liturgy. Enjoy.

Monday, April 18, 2005

How Much Will It Cost?

Here's a link which purports to answer the age-old question clients ask their attorneys: "How much will it cost"?

If you expect a specific dollar figure, you'll be disappointed. If you expect to locate even an estimate, say within a ballpark the size of Angels' Stadium, you won't find it either.

In fact, this site starts with the lawyerly, "It depends", and then qualifies the answer more times than there are Rocky sequels. Have fun.

(HT: May it Please the Court.)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bloggers as Journalists?

A couple of excellent Irvine, California (OC) lawyers I know, Jeffrey Lewis and Benjamin Pugh, have filed this week a "friend of the court" (amicus) brief with a California appellate court.

The brief asserts the right of bloggers to be treated the same as journalists with respect to the right to protect confidential sources. Read the brief here.

In the underlying case, Apple sued unnamed individuals who are accused of leaking information regarding Apple’s new products to several news websites. The lawsuit involves the competing interests of the First Amendment guarantees of a free press on the one hand, and Apple’s rights to protect the unlawful dissemination of its trade secrets on the other.

Apple sought the identity of the source of the leaked information by serving a subpoena to the Internet service provider for one of the news websites, among other things. The publishers of the news websites have asked the Superior Court to block Apple’s discovery to protect the publishers’ confidential sources.

When the Superior Court denied that request, the publishers filed a petition with the Court of Appeal.

The "friend of the court" brief, on behalf of the Bear Flag League (an association of 80 California bloggers), urges the appellate court to afford these website publishers and all bloggers the same privileges and protections from discovery that traditional journalists enjoy under the United States and California Constitutions.

(HT: The Southern California Law Blog.)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Lost in Translation.

Here's a link to a Latvian law firm's website. The firm was accommodating enough to present it in English. However, the translation from Latvian has engendered some interesting biographical information. Enjoy the following sampling:

Lauris: "It is quite amazing that leaving behind the break neck pace and complicated rhythm of the daily work, Lauris prefers to enjoy the beauty of simplicity - sweeping leaves, and discussing daily issues with elderly people and small children."

Indrikis: "Sparkling eyes, gentlemen-like reservedness, profound knowledge, exquisite sense of humour, ability to penetrate into details and a unique ability to as if isolate from the others in order to get a better general impression.... Anything that drastically differs from the daily routine might be an excellent opportunity for spending the free time, exploring untouched corners or facing the challenge of not meeting any human being for more than a week."

Sigita: "Despite the businesslike daily pace, Sigita is a very womanly being and theatre has been her greatest passion already since early childhood. Whereas it is not just a superficial dedication to something for sake of a snobbish impression - for Sigita theatre is just as significant and profound as everything that is substantial in her life. If you notice a women on a sandy beach reading a play written by a not very recognized Russian author, you can be almost sure that it is her."

Zane: "Zane has chosen to live in a beautiful world of internal and external beauty, where fragrances and aromas are of importance"

Andris: "With friends and colleagues Andris is open and sincere, endowed with a good sense of humour. He even treats himself with a healthy dose of humour -- you will never hear that Andris has gone for skiing during the holydays if he will not be sure of the total correspondence of the meaning of the word skiing with his undertaken activities. The best answer you will most probably hear from him is that he has been sliding down the hill on the skis, and was attempting to perform it in vertical position. He is the one to make others laugh, cheer up, listen to and support."

Maija: "She knows how to take care of everything -- seems that some small dwarfs are assisting her in sharpening all the pencils in the office, taking care of the sugar level in the sugar pots, ensuring faultless work of the office technique, reminding colleges about prearranged meetings and treating our guests with a cup of coffee."

(HT: Jeremy's Weblog.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A Litigation Odyssey, Part III.

If you enjoyed reading our posts (here and here) on intriguing litigation sagas, here's another one. It involves an attorney who represented his wife in a dispute with the federal government. The attorney/husband provides an interesting first-person perspective of an advocate who is truly invested in the outcome. (HT: The Uncivil Litigator.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Using Scripture in Trial, Part IV.

In our series discussing a prosecutor's use of scripture in his closing argument in People v. Harrison (here, here and here), the Colorado Supreme Court has just injected another dimension to the debate (here). The entire 3-2 opinion is at

In the Colorado case, the jurors evidently consulted the Old Testament's passage concerning "an eye for an eye" (Lev. 24:20) in deliberating with respect to the death penalty. The Supreme Court was not too pleased. It upheld the reversal of the jury's imposition of the death sentence. The convicted murderer (Robert Harlan) will instead serve a life sentence behind bars. (HT: DenverPost.)

Monday, April 11, 2005

Law and Theology: A Marriage?, Part II.

Lawyers and theologians may be mistaken for each other.

Doubt it?

Let's recap three reasons from our first part in this series (here):

1. Both elevate texts;
2. Both use rules of interpretation to interpret them; and
3. Both involve advocates who contend for a conclusion (based on 1 and 2).

This post adds a fourth reason: both employ similar imagery. The Bible is replete with examples displaying a lawsuit rubric. Our discussion of the Covenant Lawsuit (here) illustrates one. Romans' portrayal of sinners being in the dock (e.g., Rom. 3) provides another.

This post focuses on Jesus' role as mediator. It examines whether the biblical metaphor (“For there is ... one mediator [ ] between God and men, the man Christ Jesus [1 Tim. 2:5-6; NASB]) comports with the modern, legal understanding of mediator. It doesn't.

In the legal context, mediators are by definition "neutrals"--dispassionate people with no interest in the dispute they are trying to resolve. (Cal. Evid. Code Section 1115(b).) According to California law, a mediator "must maintain impartiality toward all participants ... at all times." (Cal. Rule of Court 1620.5.) Moreover, a mediator may be disqualified or required to withdraw upon a party's objection regarding impartiality. (Cal.Rule of Court 1620.5(e).)

Viewing Jesus' work as a mere mediator (in the modern sense) would cause one to overlook His advocacy role in reconciling God and humanity. "And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1; NASB.) He is hardly disinterested.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Another Cybersquatting Story.

Cybersquatting cases evidently make good entertainment.

If you enjoyed the hilarious litigation odyssey documented here, you'll probably also like this recent Ninth Circuit opinion (here). (Bosley Medical Institute, Inc. v. Kremer, April 4, 2005, Case No. 04-55962.) Interestingly, the same appellate counsel was involved in both cybersquatting cases: Paul Levy with Public Citizen (a public interest firm that I had some experience with several years ago).

As Bosley serves the "folliclely challenged", the Court could not resist peppering its opinion with puns. The greatest hits: "In a bald-faced effort to get even...." And, "Bosley responds that Kremer is splitting hairs."

Friday, April 08, 2005

Logophiles Unite!, Part II.

Justice Fernandez is at it again. You may remember our catalog of his erudite opinions over the years. Here's another. (McNeil v. Middleton, Case No. 01-56565 (9th Cir. March 29, 2005). Two passages stand out for their logophilia:

"[W]hile the legal mind might be that daedalian (or would it say 'banausic'), no jury would be." (Id.) (I think there might be an insult to lawyers in there.)

"Were we to hold otherwise, our former 'error' would become recrudescent." (Id.)

Professor Shaun Martin of University of San Diego School of Law has counted the number of times Justice Fernandez has used "recrudescent" in opinions: ten (10) times overall, and four (4) times in a three (3) day period late last month.

He writes: "Judge Fernandez used this word not only in Gunning and McNeil, but also the (unpublished!) opinions in Arc of Washington State (2005 WL 705372) and Boyle (2005 WL 703397) as well as in his opinions in David (307 F.3d 1143, 1148), Smith (233 F.3d 1188, 1194), Knight (219 F.3d 1138, 1144), Hinduja (102 F.3d 987, 991), Springer (51 F.3d 861, 868), and Phillips (1992 WL 231124, *7). ...

"[T]he remainder of the Ninth Circuit has somehow managed to write tens of thousands of published and unpublished opinions during this period without ever resorting to the word "recrudescent," whereas Judge Fernandez felt compelled to use it ten different times (and four times -- in Gunning, McNeil, Arc of Washington State, and Boyle -- in three days!)." (California Appellate Report: United States v. Grunning (9th Cir. - March 31, 2005).)

Will he go for five? The drive for five is alive!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

And Now Something Completely Different.

Here is a priceless link to an apparently true 911 call. This caller demanded immediate police intervention over a drive-through order gone awry. I think another kind of intervention is in order. (HT: Dime Store Guru.)

"Christian Carnival", Part IV.

The newest "Christian Carnival" (no. 64) is up at ProverbsDaily, with a post from yours truly and many others. Enjoy!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Law and Theology: A Marriage?, Part I.

What do law and theology have in common?

In an occasional series, I will be offering my ruminations as to why these fields may be integrated and how they share crucial commonalities.

First, both disciplines elevate written texts. In law, the U.S. Constitution provides an obvious example. Laws or state actions that are found to conflict with this preeminent document are stricken down. In fact, the Constitution is referred to as "Supreme". Similarly, in most religions, biblical texts generally govern, such as the Torah, Koran, and the New Testament.

Second, the presence of an important text requires rules of interpretation. What does the text mean? In theology, this field is called hermeneutics, and presents many permutations. In law, various schools of thought have emerged, such as plain language, original meaning, original intent, and "living" document. (See prior post here.) Needless to say, not all agree what the Constitution means. An old saw goes that there are as many interpretations of it as there are lawyers.

Third, in light of these first two elements, roles for advocates emerge. Lawyers argue for their clients' positions as to what a contract, statute or published decision means in a particular context. Theologians also perform an advocate's role. In theological literature, they likewise argue why their interpretation of a biblical text is accurate. They build their "cases" with citations to authorities such as other verses, and influential publications. Like lawyers, theologians reason and contend for their suggested conclusion.

If you have suggestions for future posts under this topic, please feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

A Litigation Odyssey, Part II.

The David and Goliath story doesn't just exist in the Bible.

On March 31, we posted on an epic struggle between a legal layperson on the one hand, and a law firm and its corporate client on the other.

Here's another litigation odyssey. This one involves a Kent-State student grappling with Microsoft and its army of lawyers.

In sum, Microsoft sued the college student for selling its software on eBay. "They claimed he violated trademark and copyright laws by selling two unopened pieces of software on eBay for $203.50." (D. Grollmus, "Kill Bill: Microsoft's Army of Lawyers Was No Match for a Kid from Kent State", Cleveland Scene, Mar. 30, 2005.)

They claimed the student "cost Microsoft hundreds of thousands of dollars in 'irreparable damage.'" (Id.)

They demanded that he hand over his profits ($143.50) and cover the company's legal fees and costs. (Id.)

Without money to hire a lawyer, the student "totally looked up everything", and represented himself. (Id.) "I fought it out of principle", he said. (Id.)

Like the website litigation saga discussed here this week, this suit spiraled into 37 filings. (Id.)

The case just settled. (Id.) Asked if he wanted to be a lawyer, he answered, "Are you kidding? I hate this stuff!" (Id.)

(HT: D. Grollmus, "Kill Bill: Microsoft's Army of Lawyers Was No Match for a Kid from Kent State", Cleveland Scene, Mar. 30, 2005, via Mere-Orthodoxy.)