Archive for January, 2006

BTQ Answer Man

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

It’s time once again for an edition of the BTQ Answer Man, in which I try to help out the lost souls whose wayward googling led them to this site.

wedding toast for lawyers

If “Let’s drink to pre-nups!” or “Try not to do everything in six-minute increments!” are too cynical, feel free to use my Civil Procedure Love Poem.

how often do you need to cut your fingernails in space?

It doesn’t matter, because I think you still can’t take nail clippers on international flights.

duke law school paris hilton

Also known as the A3G Holy Grail for the law/pop culture intersection. Although I’m sure Ms. Hilton and Prof. Chemerinsky would get along well (strictly on First Amendment terms, mind you).

lots of questions to ask your boyfriend for free

Skip ahead to the last one: “Why are you running away? I just wanted to ask you lots of questions!”

how can i get my neighbors to put up blinds?

Demonstrate their utility by opening yours all the time. Either that or place a telescope very prominently in a window facing theirs.

cheerleading skirts debate

Look, the only legitimate positions to take in this debate are (a) short, and (b) very short. Either one is acceptable.

where can i look at pictures of people getting haircuts?

Just go watch the beginning of Full Metal Jacket and don’t ask me again. Weirdo.

how to ask him out

Ladies, you make this too hard. Just ask. There are no tricks here. If you really can’t think of anything to say, try these questions, depending on the response you want.

how long is sweet tea good for?

I addressed this question here, in my comprehensive sweet tea post. The short answer is several days, in theory, but I never let the pitcher last that long.

angola state prison layout image

What do you think this is, “Prison Break“? I’ve seen enough lawsuits from prisoners to know I don’t want to join them. Good luck bustin’ out, though.

what’s a freaky question to ask your girlfriend?

“You’re not allergic to monkeys, are you?”

funny things not to say at a party

“I had the wittiest anecdote on my blog the other day….”

Final Thoughts on Roger Coleman

Monday, January 16th, 2006

When I was in college, I subscribed to an email list from an anti-death penalty organization. I quit reading it regularly years ago, but it still shows up in my spam folder. I was curious, though, what their response to the Roger Coleman news would be. Their response was pretty much what I predicted.

James McCloskey, the Director of Centurion Ministries, the group that has been at the forefront of Coleman’s supporters, called the test results “a bitter pill to swallow” and “a kick in the stomach,” because he has been promising Coleman since before the execution that he would clear Coleman’s name. Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project said that the tests resolved one case, but “[d]on’t answer serious doubts about the fairness of the criminal justice system.” Abraham Bonowitz, the Director of Citizens United Against the Death Penalty, said, “I still find it difficult to believe that any human being could have done what the state said Coleman did in the time frame in which they said he did it,” although he did acknowledge that the tests prove Coleman did it.

Other activists weren’t so ready to give up on Coleman. Bonowitz quotes one emailer who wrote, “Many of us were convinced of his innocence, and many of us still are. I am. How do we know for sure that the DNA that was tested was actually his? Of, if it was really his, that it was not taken from some other source? All the eveidence, DNA and everything else, always resides in the possession of the police, coroner and/or DA. How can we be entirely certain that the evidence presented for testing was not bogus — not as to its origin, but to where it was found? I don’t trust the ‘authorities.’ Do you?” I don’t think Bonowitz or many others think this way, but he printed it to his email list, which might mean he gives it some credence. (To be clear, I don’t.)

I think death penalty opponents will eventually be able to accept that Coleman duped them, and/or will move on to the next “cause” case. But statements like the ones above are why I think the “finality” argument from those opposing DNA testing is specious. “Finality” isn’t about ending all controversy over a case, it’s merely about not being able to address those controversies in court. (Rare exceptions exist.)

There’s an interesting story (subscription req’d) in the January “Texas Monthly” about the sorry state of the Houston DNA lab, Texas’s new law allowing for DNA testing in old (“final”) cases, and how some judges have been reading the law very narrowly and rejecting requests for testing. I just don’t see any good reason not to allow testing in any case in which it could make a difference. So I’m glad it finally happened in the Coleman case. I didn’t really care what the outcome was (although I’ll admit it would have been a much more interesting story if the tests had exonerated him), but no one could really call the case “final” until now.

Happy Birthday, Elvis! TCB

Sunday, January 8th, 2006

E Pluribus Unum

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

I went by my Mom’s office the other day for a few minutes. There’s the friend of hers there, a young woman about my age, whom Mom has long wanted me to meet. We’ll call her Becky. I’ve heard a lot about Becky and how great she is to work with and how nice she is and etc. And sometimes Mom would even say something like how I needed to find a girl like Becky, who has such a good head on her shoulders. I never thought too much of it until the other day.

While I was at Mom’s office, she took me to see if Becky was in and introduced us. We had a brief chat that was pleasant but unremarkable. She seemed perfectly nice but it’s not like I saw angels and bluebirds when our eyes met. I guess she was cute, but I didn’t really find her attractive. And I just got this sense that she wasn’t my type. For example, she was wearing a cross on a chain around her neck. Now, it’s not that I’m anti-religious, but I don’t think I’d be compatible with someone religious enough to wear a cross. And she had all these pictures of kids and cartoon puppies around her desk. Not a good sign. But it wasn’t like I was expecting anything to happen; I just figured I was meeting someone Mom worked with.

Well, that’s not what Mom had in mind, apparently. As we were leaving a few minutes later, Mom said, “She’s the one.” I assumed she meant that Becky was the girl she was always talking about, so I mumbled something like “Mh-hm.” Mom said, “No, I mean she’s The One. For you.” I looked at her and said, “No. She wasn’t.” Mom looked crushed. “Why not?” I didn’t really want to sound like I was insulting Mom’s friend, so I stammered something about how Becky just didn’t seem like my type and I didn’t feel any spark and besides, we live far away from each other.

But I started to feel kind of bad. My Mom probably hoped this little meeting would start bells ringing and lead directly to a passel of grandkids. I didn’t feel bad enough about my Mom’s disappointment to fake some kind of attraction to Becky, but I was sorry my Mom’s hopes were dashed. However, it made me wonder how well she really knows me to think Becky could have been “The One.” To be fair, I haven’t exactly spelled out to my mother what it is I’m looking for. Still, it was kind of weird to come face-to-face with my Mom’s expectations for my future.