28 February 2006
26 February 2006
Googling one's name can be hazardous
Oh my goodness. This is what studying too much will do to me. As a fun break, I decided to do an image search on google for my name. I have a VERY common name, so I wanted to see who else has it, and what they look like. So I type "Emily Miller" (not my real name, but mine is about as dull,) into google and come up with this completely and totally adorable picture. No, seriously, look at how adorable this child is. So precious it kind of makes you want to steal the image and place it on your blogger profile because it is so much cuter than any pictures that you actually have of yourself, because maybe then people will think that you were a charming and darling child and thus you must be a charming and gorgeous adult. Posting an actual picture of myself at this age would not accomplish this. Most pictures of me at this age feature (a) a grape juice mustache, (b) crazy fly-away hair that caused my mom to repeat "Emily Miller you go upstairs and brush your hair right this minute" ad infinitum, and (c) unflattering fashions (this was the eighties, after all.) I don't have a single picture of me from this age with perfect ringlets, a jumper, and bangs so cute you could just eat them for dinner. Bangs on my curly hair are, in general a bad idea. Really bad. No, seriously. Fine, see for yourself: Don't say you weren't warned. Anyway, I click on this adorable, adorable munchkin's picture and am transferred to the bio of a lovely woman named Emily Miller whose life passion is (wait for it).....collecting fountain pens. Okay, that's a weird hobby, but as I keep reading, I learn that she went back to law school after a career in P.R., and worked as the executive director of a non-profit that helped advocate for stronger legal protections for foster children in Seattle. Holy crap! She's got my name AND my perfect job! John and I are dying to move to the pacific northwest, and I would love to do legal work on behalf of kids (former teacher and blah blah blah) and I have just decided that I must email this woman to tell the funny story of how I found her picture because we have the same name and I was bored and googled us and how cool that she is a lawyer and I am a lawyer in training and hey, maybe she wants to help me get a job and we can go for coffee and she can be my mentor and we can make t-shirts talking about how cool it is to be named Emily Miller when I get to this part: On August 9, 2002, Emily lost her life while pursuing her passion of pen collecting. During her first visit to the nation's capital and to the Washington, DC Pen Show, Emily was mugged and shot to death. By all accounts, on August 9th, the world lost a beautiful soul, and Emily's pen collector family lost a wonderful friend. You cannot make this shit up. Either pen collecting is a seriously hazardous hobby, or being named Emily Miller is. I am totally freaked out now.
25 February 2006
Maybe I should publish a book
I am big on devising theories. Look at a set of facts, try to discern a pattern, share pattern with others so that they might marvel at my brilliance, my searing levels of insight. For example: the theory that those people who raise their hands incessantly during class to show that They Are Smart all spent childhoods as bedwetters, the theory that men buy dogs to try to get laid, and, most recently, the theory of travel karma. I have a new one: the theory of conservation of homemaking energy. This is a lot like the first law of thermodynamics, conservation, which says that energy can be transferred from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed. I believe that the same holds true for housekeeping duties. There is a finite amount of energy available for housekeeping duties, and once it's spent for the day, it's spent. There is no creating more. Case in point: today, I baked bread. From scratch. With many whole grains in it, and a little honey. There was softening of grains, there was kneading, there was the unending waiting for the dough to rest, and rise, and rise again. And now, there is bread- delicious, soft, dense, rolled in oats for a professionally finished appearance. Luscious. There is also, however, a load of wet laundry sitting in the washer that I have been meaning to transfer to the dryer for HOURS, and I can't quite get around to it. This is the law of conservation in action. I have expended my entire allotment of housekeeping energy for today on these lovely loaves of bread, and I think I am now stuck with the possibility that I will wake up tomorrow to face a washer ful of mildewed socks and t-shirts. And before you suggest that I ask John, kind lad that he is, to transfer these items for me, note this: the law of conservation of household energy applies to households, not individuals. John responded to my flurry of homemaking by taking a nap. I suggested that he might help, and he yawned mightily, sighed, and said "hm, smells like bread in here. Bring me a slice?"
24 February 2006
No Maureen Dowd Apologist, but...
My book club (side note: everyone should have a book club full of cool women who drink wine and occasionally, just for kicks, try to talk about the actual book,) read the new Maureen Dowd book, "Are Men Necessary?" this month. I'll spare you the suspense: you can finish the book and still not be at all clear on whether Ms. Dowd thinks that men are or are not, in fact, necessary. Total mis-title. But among the sort-of-interesting-but-terribly-underdeveloped thoughts she raises in the book is the idea that "feminism lasted for a nanosecond," and what we're stuck with now is a hyper-sexualized culture juxtaposed against fanatic Christianity and a return to nearly puritanical values. Now, I'm no stranger to exaggeration for emphasis, but "nanosecond" seems unnecessarily dismissive of the feminist movement, and the observation that we now have a sort of weird cultural schizophrenia about sex is no great revelation. But hearing about South Dakota's troubling antics, coupled with the book club discussion, has got me thinking. Some folks who think about this more than I do have suggested that Roe v. Wade doomed feminism: it rendered women complacent, while it galvanized those opposed to legal abortion, perhaps even inviting the kind of creeping, insidious threat to reproductive rights and gender issues in general that I find so troubling. But it's so hard for me to imagine an America without the Bible belt and the big red states in the middle and this whole neoconservatism that I can't really picture that it would look like. But if Roe v. Wade doomed feminim, would overturning it resuscitate feminism? And would it be worth it? My instinct on the "worth it" scale is no- and the thought of a return to back alley abortions is too gut-wrenching to endorse- but it's an interesting thing to think about. Maybe feminism needs a swift kick in the pants. And I can tell you, Maureen Dowd's scolding is not going to be enough to do it.
I have my life back!
Moot court is over! Now, there are only two week until exams. Sheesh. I am going to be so ready for spring break.
22 February 2006
This is a bad feeling
When you go to Federal Jurisdiction, a class in which you are not enrolled, because they will be discussing the topic of the moot court competition that is (gulp) tomorrow, and they start with a discussion of THREE cases that you have neither read nor heard of.
21 February 2006
Queen of the Road
I have been doing a lot of travelling the past few days, some planned, some not. Suffice it to say that I have been through O'Hare and Midway twice each since Thursday. I would not recommend this schedule, unless you are engaged in some sort of anthropological study of people's behavior in airports, and probably not even then. Travelling several times in such a short window has alerted me to a remarkable phenomenon of which I was not previously aware: Travel Karma. On my flight back to Chicago from Boston, I suddenly, and I don't know how this happened, turned into an annoying awful person to travel next to. The kind of person you dread, the kind of person that makes even non-religious people cross their fingers and say a little prayer that goes "please please please can't I just sit next to some exec who travels 300 days a year and doesn't want to talk to me any more than I want to talk to him so we can just sit in stony silence and ignore each other? Please?" I could see this happening to myself. It was like an out of body experience, me floating above myself in seat 11A, marvelling at how I could be so goddamned annoying but powerless to do anything to stop it. First I got myself into a conversation with the person sitting in 11C, and managed within 2 minutes to make a vaguely condescending comment about his major in forestry. Then, to overcompensate for my accidental condescention, I proceeded to ask him lots of cheerful questions about forestry, except I don't know enough about forestry to ask more than your basic, "so, forestry, eh?" so my cheerful question had a tinge of desperation to them. Nice. This was compounded by the fact that the person sitting in 11B had arrived by this time so I was asking chipper, poorly-formed questions across him to try to make nice with Mr. Forest in 11C. Then my light didn't work and I somehow managed to suggest to 11B that if he would refocus his light we might both be able to read, even though I didn't really want him to and could have used the nap, and in truth we really couldn't both see and he ended up reading his magazine in the dark. I felt bad about this and tried to convince him to move it back so he could see, saying something like "my light not working is just God's way of telling me I'm not meant to do Constitutional Law reading on this flight." Wow. Evangelical and snobby. A rare combination. God doesn't give me messages often. Or ever. Not sure why I chose that moment to start hearing the Word. Then I spilled a diet coke all over my lap. And 11Bs. Seriously, it was one of those flights where my floating-above-myself self wished that the lady across the aisle would just throw up or strip naked or something to divert the attention away from my own craziness. Then, on my next flight, from Chicago to San Francisco, I sat down next to a man who practiced, shall we say, a casual approach to hygeine. (Motto: "less bathing, more cologne!") Awful. Epically awful. And when the pilot got on the intercom and said "well, folks, we're looking at a pretty stiff headwind, so this flight is going to take a little longer than normal" and told us that our flying time would be FIVE AND A HALF HOURS (normal length: four hours), that's when I knew. I knew in the way that sitting next to Mr. Smelly (who also did a weird, grating, tooth-sucking noise for most of the flight) for an extra hour and a half makes clear: this was payback for my insanity on the way home from Boston. Travel Karma, my friends. Travel Karma.
15 February 2006
More on Searches
I’m still thinking about all the searching that I saw during my police ridealong on Friday, and it’s still bothering me.
In our class on policing strategies last night, we talked a lot about “quality of life” policing in
This strategy produced lots and lots and lots of guns, which were taken off the streets, which certainly is a good thing, particularly in communities blighted by crime. New York in general experienced a tremendous drop in crime under Bratton. (though Stephen Leavitt would argue that we can thank legalized abortion for that.) In this so-called "quality of life" policing, the people who were searched were searched because they were doing something illegal, which seems like a nice contrast to the kind of “walking while young and black” searching I saw during my ridealong. But for some reason, I’m not terribly comforted.
Here’s my thinking: if any kid, or any kid’s parent, possesses some basic law training or a heightened sense of civil rights, and decides to bring a complaint against the Chicago cop who decided to search their crotch for drugs despite ABSOLUTELY NO PROBABLE CAUSE, I’d put money on the cop. There’s no way that any cop with any experience couldn't come up with a reasonable suspicion claim justifying the search. “Oh, he was looking around shiftily, which I know from my experience is indicative of a lookout during a drug sale, so I had probable cause for a Terry stop to search him.” You get the idea.
I honestly can’t decide which is worse: the New York “let’s crackdown on ticky tack offenses for the sake of finding reasons to search people that are within our rights, but man are we going to piss off squeegee men and drifters and really emphasize the divide between police and civilian,” or the Chicago “we’ll be polite, we’ll cultivate some rapport, but we’re going to search whoever we damn well please so there’s no real need to go into all this jaywalking nonsense.”
I heart marriage
Being married means your valentine's day can look like this: He gets: *a new pillow to replace the one forever tainted by The Bloody Nose of 2005 *a new electronic key to open the garage door so his old one with low batteries can be replaced. She gets: *an excuse to use that really pretty vase they received as a wedding present. *a postcard saying "i'm so lucky i married someone so cool." *the dishwasher emptied and reloaded with dirty dishes, with no extra nagging. Note that this list does not include things like "waxy chocolate candy in a cardboard heart shaped box," "weirdly uncomfortable 'sexy' lingerie," or "trying to get dinner reservations at a swank restaurant where you will be surrounded by other couples, all of you out on a TUESDAY for god's sake because Hallmark says so." Valentine's Day as married couple: all nice, no pressure. Fab.
14 February 2006
You don't say
From cnn.com: "Vice President Prays for Gunshot Victim" Well, duh. You shot the guy! From any perspective- divine retribution, fear of hell, or just plain old "shit, if this guy dies I am SO SCREWED politically"- he'd better be praying.
This is even more embarassing than last time. Question I answered correctly during trivia yesterday, to my great shame: * name any two of the Camden children from the show "7th Heaven." Question I had no idea how to answer so I sat, mute, as the competitors around me frantically tried to be the first to buzz in: * what i the period of the sine function? My trig teacher would be so ashamed of me. Assuming sine was from trig. Maybe it was calculus. I might as well say that the entire math department would be ashamed of me, just to be safe.
12 February 2006
To be young.
As part of a class I'm taking on policing strategies, I went on a ride-along with the gang and tactical teams of a Chicago police district on Friday night. This is the marquee event of this class, and I was excited to ride in the back on an unmarked car, seeing what goes on in that part of the city on a Friday night. I put on a loose sweatshirt (so a bulletproof vest could fit underneath,) jeans (to fit in with the casual dress of the tactical units,) sneakers (in case of running,) and mascara (please don't ask me why I felt compelled to put on makeup for the trip with the policemen, because I have no explanation for this embarassing instinct.) When I got to the police station, they seemed entirely surprised to see me, and there were some fun, tense minutes during which the tac and gang units engaged in a kind of police officer waltz, trying to force someone else to take the stupid law student with them so they could actually just do their jobs like normal. It's nice to be loved. Finally, a tac unit lost the dance, and I climbed into the backseat of their beat up Ford to hit the streets. Apparently, a lot of being a tactical officer involves driving around in circles in a very very small portion of your very very large district, the very very small portion of interest being, coincidentally, the area where the public housing units are located. I get it, crime happens most there, particularly the kind of violent crime that tac units are designed to address, but it was still sort of amazing how small a radius we covered given the enormity of the district. The other thing that being a tactical officer apparently entails is the unprovoked stopping, frisking, and questioning of young minority men. During my three hours of ridealong, I watched the officers search fourteen young men of color, all of whom were politely told they could go on their way. None of them had anything illegal in their possession. None of them was DOING anything illegal that mandated a stop and search. But what was worst, to me, was that not a one of them looked even a little bit surprised or upset at being stopped and searched. Several of them even laughed and joked and seemed to enjoy kind of an easy rapport with the cops who were patting down their groins and reaching into the armpits of their coats to check for illegal substances or weapons. Maybe the officers were doing their best to show the law student ridealong some action on an otherwise slow Friday night. Maybe these kids were known gang members and part of keeping gang violence under control is to let them know you're watching. Maybe I should be impressed that the cops manage to create rapport with the very kids whose civil rights they are violating in conducting these warrantless searches. Who knows. All I know is that last year, when my car got searched by some East St. Louis cops who claimed "a drug dog smelled something" so they had to paw through my suitcases and check under the cusions of my car's seats, I felt violated for DAYS. All I could talk about with my friends Mason and Carolina, who had been with me on our epic road trip to pre-hurricane New Orleans and who were in the car with me, was my sneaking suspicion that there had been no drug sniffing dog and we had just been the target of a random, warrantless search. It happened almost a year ago and we still sometimes bring it up at parties as an example of how crazy the police can act. I cannot fathom what it would be like to have the police stop and search me as part of my normal, day-to-day routine. That three hour ridealong gave me more of an insight into the way we police our cities than I think anyone intended.
08 February 2006
I know Ralph would want me to tell the truth
I've been spending a lot of time reading examples of transcripts where detectives are interviewing juveniles, to see some of the techniques, and to compare what's been happening in the case I'm working on with other similar cases. There are some interesting things I have learned from reading these examples. For example, certain detectives like to teach religion lessons while interrogating suspects: "You know what karma is? You know, what you put out into the world comes back to someone in your life. So if you do something bad, and you don't make amends, something bad is going to happen to your grandma, or your little brother." Some detectives prefer a less religions approach, staying with the classic: "the truth will set you free." My personal favorite, however, is the "television is the only common denominator" approach: "You watch CSI, right? You know then about transference. Transference is whenever you go somewhere, you leave something behind- a footprint, an eyelash, some skin- and we can tell. So it doesn't really matter if you tell the truth. We'll still know." Now, technically, it IS legal to tell a suspect a lie during an interrogation in an effort to get them to divulge information. But come on, people- do you really think that they're going to find your EYELASH in the FOREST where the shooting happened? A week later? Come ON. You would be amazed at how many people just spill all their shit after these little speeches. I wonder what a cop could tell me that would compel me to tell the truth. I mean, I have kind of a problem with lying, (remember the principal/spelling test episode?) so I'd probably just walk into the room, burst into tears, and tell the whole thing. But if, for some reason, I was playing things close to the vest, a cop could probably get me to spill all with a quick "Ralph Feinnes is waiting for you to confess."* Or a glass and a half of wine. * But only if he correctly pronounced it "raif", not rallllph.
07 February 2006
do you suppose there's something wrong with my "S" key?
Recently typed in my notes:
· Ginburg had a trategy to bring cases that were as unthreatening as possible- men as plaintiff and really minor issues- to create a wedge in the law- rather than addresing isues like the core of the ocial ecurity laws, or domestic violence, or omething imilarly big:Dammit, I'm going to have to call Dell again, aren't I?
05 February 2006
Aspiring Anthropologist Seeks Next Test Population
Here are some things I learned on My Winter Vacation to Oklahoma: - Oklahoma is in The South. I had thought that maybe it was in the midwest, or even on the edge of just plain west. Then I tasted my green beans at dinner. Ham in green beans = The South. - Tulsa is McMansion central. I'm sure there must be a downtown Tulsa somewhere, but damned if I saw one. All I saw were miles and miles of suburban sprawl, with 70's ranch houses near the "city center" (which I knew was the city center because the main street is labelled "First Street,") and then bigger, newer, faux-brick caverns out towards the edges of town (near 71st street.) This answers what had been a puzzle to me: my totally-not-city-slicker relatives have addresses in Tulsa, as opposed to a suburb thereof. Now I realize that this is totally consistent with their non-city-slickerness, as Tulsa is just one big suburb. - Oklahoma, while warmer than Chicago, is not actually warm. I did that stupid thing where I looked at weather.com, saw that it was warmer than Chicago, and decided not to bring a single warm item of clothing because "it's mild there." Yes, technically 46 degrees is warmer than 33 degrees, but either way you're going to want a jacket. Tulsa ladies know this, so for February weddings every single one of them arrives wearing floor length fur coats. I hadn't seen a fur coat in a while, (except on Adrianna furs commercials,) but apparantly 1988 is still alive and kicking in Tulsa. Let's not even talk about the woman wearing the bright teal strapless dress with the shoes died to match. Suffice it to say she is from Dallas. - People in Tulsa are very tan. Unnaturally tan. Sort of a scary, orange, goodness it's impossible to look at anything besides your tan kind of tan. This applies especially to the bride and groom at this wedding, who looked as though they had taken a Carribbean honeymoon immediately before the ceremony. I blame this tanorexia on the proliferation of tanning salons on every Tulsa corner, in every Tulsa strip mall. (Strip mall, you say? In a city? See "Tulsa is a suburb," above.) I have never felt so pale. And that is what I learned from The Tulsa Wedding. Also, some other stuff about my family being officially, once and for all, batshit crazy. But that's normal for a wedding. The tanning? NOT NORMAL.
03 February 2006
I tried to write "oooooooklahoma" the way they sing it in the musical and I'm pretty sure it doesn't work in writing.
John and I are off today to a family wedding in Tulsa. This has been the perfect occasion for me to make all kinds of jokes about cattle, and musicals, and debutante balls, which, let me tell you, are hillarious. I'm trying to get them all out of my system before we actually arrive in Tulsa, because I have this sneaking suspicion that the "silly southerner" jokes aren't going to go over so well with the family that actually lives there. You know, full time.
01 February 2006
I just cannot be made to understand this.
Here’s something you might not have known:
Before a person who is a suspect in a criminal investigation can give a statement to the police, the police have to give read that person their Miranda rights.
Okay, you might have already known that. What you might not have known, however, is that it is very very common for the police to “read someone their Miranda rights” in the form of a sheet of paper that says “these are your rights sign here to waive them and we can keep talking to you.”
Police officer: Now, this is just a technicality, but I need you to sign this piece of paper before we can keep talking. Suspect: [signs paper]Just like that, Miranda is “waived” and the person’s statements can and will be used against them in a court of law, and there is no attorney there to, you know, tell them to shut the f up and stop feeding the police information because the police are trying to put your ass in jail.
What? You say you knew that too? Well, here’s the kicker:
Courts have upheld the ability to waive Miranda in kids as young as nine. Now I don’t know about you, but when I was nine, I:
- Broke my arm falling off a swingset
- Was really really fond of a stuffed pig I named “Mr. Piggums”
- Believed that the principal of my elementary school would somehow be able to tell if I cheated on my spelling test. She would just know.
- Was totally scandalized when Mallory’s friend on Family Ties got pregnant and wouldn’t tell her mother.
I’m pretty sure that when I was nine, I did not have the presence of mind, poise, or understanding of the legal system to really get what “waiving Miranda” was all about. I’m pretty sure that if a police officer told me that something was “just a technicality,” and that I “needed” to sign something, I would sign it no matter what. And I was a pretty astute nine-year-old.
You might guess that this is something that has come up in the clinic where I work, and you would be right. Our client, who is 14, was told that he “needed to sign and it was just a technicality,” before he told the police about how his friend had gotten into a fight with some gangbangers.
That statement is the only thing the police have to connect our client to this incident. And now our client is charged with first degree murder.