Law Religion Culture Review

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

Friday, December 22, 2006

Pro Per Poetry.

Today I did battle in court with a pro per litigant.

Almost invariably, pro pers make for great drama. Today was no exception. The gentleman employed a simple strategy: talk faster.

In his mind, there was no need to file any written opposition; no need to support his arguments with any evidence or law; and no need to stay within the facts. He made up for the lack of substance with a rapid speaking style that would rival a carnival barker's. It didn't work, but at least no profanity was involved. Another pro per couldn't resist attacking the trial judge in his notice of appeal: Best Notice of Appeal Ever? (via


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Unintended Consequences.

Shane Claiborne seeks to live in a community like the early church's.

He has written about his experiences in a recent book, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical.

I wonder if he expected to be prosecuted under anti-brothel laws when he started the project designed to foment authentic Christian living.

To read a sample chapter from The Irresistible Revolution : Living as an Ordinary Radical , please click here. (PDF format.) Check out footnote 13.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Movie Review: Babel (mild spoiler alert).

“Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.
“They said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’
“The LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.

"’Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech.’
“Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
(Genesis 11:1, 4, 6-7, 9; NASB.)

Drawing from this First Testament vignette, Babel's filmmakers skillfully weave together four primary stories told in five languages, across several continents and countries.

In this seeming cacophonous confusion, one universal language links them all: violence.

More specifically, the common denominator in all this disparate despair is a rifle. A powerful metaphor, this weapon unites and catalyzes the groups' differing tragedies--although the film's message is hardly anti-gun.

Unlike the multiple plot line approach ineffectually adopted in Fast Food Nation (see post dated November 29, 2006), auteurs Alejandro González Iñárritu (director) and Guillermo Arriaga (writer) don't linger in and don't abandon any one story for too long. The pacing works. Conversely, the film does not rely on action for its impact.

Babel educates and exposes much in a variety of cultures. For example, unlike any movie I can remember, it vicariously explores Babel-like confusion visited upon those without a spoken language. Perhaps the most disconnected character was not the American in Morroco trying to navigate through a tragedy far outside of his "comfort zone", but the Japanese young woman in her own culture, who was disconnected by an absence of hearing and spoken words.

Babel earns an "A-".

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Borat: The Lawsuits, Part V.

S.C. man sues Columbia restaurant over 'Borat' movie.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Early in my trial, the judge had a question for a witness.

My opponent objected: "Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence; misstates the testimony."

Ruling on his own question, the judge responded: "It most certainly does not! Overruled."

An inauspicious start for my distinguished colleague.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Borat: The Lawsuits, Part IV.


(via Drudge.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Mixed Messages.

Driving to trial this morning in Los Angeles, I noticed the following bumper sticker on the back of a Highway Patrol car:

"Watch The Road".

I would have liked to have been watching the road, but instead I was distracted by the microscopic print on the moving bumper sticker inconsistently cajoling me to watch the road.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Incident at the Loco.

As I was about to dine on the gourmet cuisine at the Newport Beach El Pollo Loco, I saw a gentleman sidle up to the cashier to make a request.

This fellow was probably 325 without his shoes, and he had an urgent need.

Refusing the pink packaged sugar substitute, he demanded another. The manager thought he had the solution.

The genteel manager produced a blue packaged substitute only to be rebuked with a hearty, "No gusto! I don't want that!"

The customer snatched his tray of four--yes four--burritos from the manager, leaving the blue packet behind.

A few minutes later, the manager approached the complainant and dared to inquire, "Is everything ok?"

"No! It is not! I need to speak to the manager. Are you the manager?"


"Good, you need to order the yellow packaged sugar substitutes. The pink causes cancer and the blue scrambles the brain!", he thundered.

I wondered if the opinionated diner had already conducted his own experiments on the blue's purported cognitive-scrambling qualities.

It didn't seem to compute to this petulant guy that shaving a few calories off with a sugar substitute while ignoring the pounds and mounds of carbs and calories on his red tray made about as much sense as paying someone else to exercise for you.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Everyone's a critic.

I received the following unsolicited email with the subject line reading simply "007":

"Yeah, you have your words. I'd like to see you make a film. Appreciate the artistry involved."

I felt like writing back: "Yeah, you have your words. I'd like to see you write a review. Appreciate the artistry involved."

Pithy retorts aside, I have no idea what this gentleman is referring to. I favorably reviewed Casine Royale (below).

Everyone's a critic.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


On the eve of trial, we were sent to another judge to conduct a settlement conference this week.

In his chambers, the settlement judge asked us about our legal theories, and how we planned to prove them.

The judge then asked about a specific issue, "How do you intend to get that into evidence?"

I proferred an exception to the hearsay rule.

He thought about it a second, and replied, "Inventive. I must say that is creative. That just might work." He then complimented my trial skills to my client sitting there. A gracious move, but I wasn't sure if he was just being kind.

He then went over the edge. In self-deprecating fashion, he talked about how he could stand to learn about evidence rulings. I had to stop him.

I knew the judge was being unduly humble. I knew he taught evidence for many years at a leading law school before he became a judge, so I called him on it. He sheepishly admitted he was a tenured and published evidence professor.

Then, I turned to my client and in similar self-deprecating fashion told my client, "You see, I wouldn't dare teach this Judge about evidence."

I think Steven Covey would call that exchange a win-win.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Borat: The Lawsuits, Part III.

Judge questions viability of Romanian villagers' lawsuit...

Sounds like filmmakers/studio's motion to dismiss was granted with leave to amend.

(via Drudge.)