Fall meeting for Mississippi judges

Mississippi judges are holding their fall meeting. TBA has obtained a copy of the morning agenda:

9:00 – meeting begins
9:24 – judges actually enter room
9:25 – Pledge of Allegiance, led by Judge Littlejohn (MANDATORY)
9:30 – Panel: Rule 56 – what is it even for? Led by Judges Kidd and Bowen; response by Judge Weill
10:20 – Panel: Social media behind the bench – the judge’s best way to stay awake? Led by @Justiss123 and @lifewithoutparole4ever
11:10 – Panel: Can we hold gays in contempt for even entering our courthouse? Led by Judges Grant and Fairly
12:00 – LUNCH

Anyone seen the afternoon agenda? Post excerpts in comments!

All the rest have thirty-one (do they not teach that in law school?)

A harsh but correct ruling at the COA is reported on by intrepid court-watcher Jane:

a final judgment was entered on January 28, 2013. On February 28, 2013, Rodwell filed a notice of appeal. “Our review of the record reflects Rodwell indeed filed his notice of appeal thirty-one days after the trial court denied his motion for reconsideration, and therefore, Rodwell filed an untimely notice of appeal.”

Mississippi, not unlike some other jurisdictions, gives you 30 days to appeal. Not “one month.” January, as that helpful little rhyme reminds us, is not one of the 30-day months. You think “February 28″ and then you subtract one for the extra day in January.

They actually make little cardboard wheels that can be used for computing the more lengthy deadlines (mine came from a court reporting firm). Or one can choose to rely on The Deadline Calculator. I’ve been known to just count squares on the calendar, though, because I’m not sure how to explain to a court “well, that wheel thingy gave me the wrong date.”

Regardless, my lawyering friends: beware the 31.

… An afterthought: if you’re going to dismiss the appeal like that, do you need 17 paragraphs of facts about the details that you’re not going to consider? I wonder if the judge/clerk wrote an op and then was all like “oh man, this appeal wasn’t even timely.” Did that myself on a 54(b) once (no final judgment as to all issues/parties, hence not appealable); gave me a lifelong appreciation for that rule.

“Deep in Word’s arcane Platonism”

Here’s poor pitiful me trying to work my way into the labyrinth of Microsoft Word, and no less a figure than Edward Mendelson shows up at NYRB to tell me I’m wrong to renounce WordPerfect:

The word processor that most of the world uses every day, Microsoft Word, is a work of genius that’s almost always wrong as an instrument for writing prose. Almost-forgotten WordPerfect—once the most popular word-processing program, still used in a few law offices and government agencies, and here and there by some writers who remain loyal to it—is a mediocrity that’s almost always right. * * *

The original design of Microsoft Word, in the early 1980s, was a work of clarifying genius, but it had nothing to do with the way writing gets done. * * *

When I work in Word, for all its luxuriant menus and dazzling prowess, I can’t escape a faint sense of having entered a closed, rule-bound society. When I write in WordPerfect, with all its scruffy, low-tech simplicity, the world seems more open, a place where endings can’t be predicted, where freedom might be real.

This is all more profound than the sole notion I’d formed thus far, which is that Word seems like a publisher’s idea of how a writer works. A publisher has to think about chapters, sections, title pages, indices, etc., and may therefore think of the work as a set of boxes. But publishers start with a text that a writer has brought to them; they don’t try to compose the document that way. Writers just want to write.

And you thought Rehnquist’s stripes were bad

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is getting some unwanted attention, as a judicial coup results in the suspension of one justice for sending a great many NSFW emails on his work account—and, more pertinently we think, allegedly threatening to blackmail a fellow justice. The suspended justice blames, among others, his alleged blackmail victim and the chief justice, whose concurring opinion in the suspension suggests that his suspended colleague is a “sociopath” and says that “Justice McCaffery is correct in one of his allegations against me. I have been attempting to remove Justice McCaffery from this Court.”

But is all that the real problem with the court? I think not. Here is the real problem with the court:


Ya gotta be kidding me. Is this graduation?

Judge would rather be “howling at the moon”

Chinese judges are “quitting in droves,” some more poetically than others:

“I don’t know when I started to feel less and less able to handle cases,” the 20-year court veteran, Liu Shibi, wrote on a Chinese social-media site.

“So much time wasted on political study, the transmission of new attitudes, reflecting on important speeches, evaluating statistics and the rest,” he said. “Why not waste it on other useless things: daydreaming in the spring sun, howling at the moon, getting drunk with friends in a field of flowers?”

Apparently becoming a judge is something one does a couple of years out of law school. “Heavy caseloads, low professional standards, bad pay and government interference” are cited as reasons for dissatisfaction amongst Chinese judges. Given that Liu Shibi’s plaint sounds like a translation of Li Po, perhaps these are not new issues.

To live in this world is to have a big dream;
why punish myself by working?
So I’m drunk all day.
I flop by the front door, dead to the world.
On waking, I peer at the garden
where a bird sings among the flowers
and wonder what season it is.
I think I hear him call, “mango birds in spring wind.”
I’m overcome and almost sigh.
But no, I pour another cup of wine,
sing at the top of my lungs and wait for the bright moon.
When my song dies out, I forget.

–The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry, at 126.

Windsor att’y files suit vs. Mississippi’s gay-marriage ban

Deep South Daily reports that Roberta Kaplan, who successfully represented Edie Windsor and obtained the SCOTUS op that has impelled federal courts around the country to strike states’ bans on gay marriage, has filed suit in federal district court (S.D. Miss.) against Mississippi’s own such ban.

DSD also links to the complaint. It appears the case drew Carlton Reeves, the Obama appointee who is presumably the best possible draw for the plaintiffs. Rob McDuff is among the local counsel. The complaint relies entirely on equal protection and due process, which is an interesting tactical choice; I would have pleaded all the grounds I could think of, but then, Kaplan knows this area of the law, and I do not.

Inasmuch as the challenge to the Texas ban is now pending in the 5th Circuit, I’m not clear what’s the significance here; the ruling on that case will presumably govern the result in this one. But I can’t blame the couples (both lesbian – presumably the mostly male bench finds it harder to rule for those icky male homosexuals) for seeking to vindicate their rights.

We note approvingly that the complaint’s caption reflects its being filed in the Northern, not “Jackson,” Division.

Please click “Like” to acknowledge service of process

The WSJ law blog notes an Oklahoma decision that “a pregnant unwed mother can’t use Facebook alone to notify the father about the baby before putting the child up for adoption.” This was a 6-3 decision, though part of the issue turns on more than whether Facebook is an adequate medium for legal notices.

I hadn’t realized that Facebook had been tried out for other legal functions:

The case was the latest to test the legal weight of communication through Facebook and other social media. Previously, for instance, courts have debated whether a plaintiff in a lawsuit could use Facebook to serve legal papers — such as summonses or hearing notices — on a defendant.

And not just debated; the link is to a summary of a federal decision upholding such service, at least in an international context where normal means did not avail:

This decision suggests that under the right circumstances, where a party establishes a reasonable foundation for the authenticity of the accounts, service via email and social media may be an economical and effective option for serving process on foreign parties, or even domestic parties that are otherwise difficult to track down by traditional means.

I think service via Facebook is likelier to meet the approval of the MSSC than is gay marriage, but not by much.