Friday, November 30, 2007


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One of the people who made Ithaca / Cornell great - our beloved socialist mayor has passed on. It's an obituary worth reading:

Nichols served as mayor of Ithaca for three terms from 1989 to 1995. As a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, he put Ithaca on the map as a city with a socialist mayor. As mayor, he persuaded Cornell to make a much larger financial contribution to the city in lieu of taxes, and passed a domestic partnership ordinance granting equal benefits to gay and heterosexual couples that has been credited with inspiring similar polices at Cornell, Ithaca College and several local businesses.

After retiring, Nichols worked with the Cornell Institute for African Development, and he remained politically active for the remainder of his life, including recently receiving a citation while protesting the clearing of Redbud Woods.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Joy of Lex, Part II

Here is an example of what constitutes a "joke" in an appellate opinion.

From J.F. White Contracting Co. v. New England Tank Industries of New Hampshire, Inc., 393 F.2d 449 (1st Circuit, 1968):

This appeal concerns a contract to build oil tanker dock facilities on the Piscataqia river . . . Appellee, New England Tank Industries of New Hampshire, Inc. (Tank), owner of the premises, sues for defective workmanship. Unlike the Piscataqua itself, the case meandered interminably for five years before a jury trial was finally reached.

Ha, classic.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Joy of Lex

Todays fun tidbit is on murder - incidentally, as any one who watches Law and Order knows, we distinguish different degrees based on the mental state ("Mens Rea") of the defendant. (In common law) if the murder is premeditated and deliberate and willful, then it is murder in the first degree and can get the death penalty in some of the more regressive states, if it is done with malice aforethought but not premeditated, deliberate, and willful, then it is second degree murder (and manslaughter requires even less, of course).

Now, as I have learned, originally the degree of murder didn't stem from the mental state of the murderer. Singer and La Fond tell us:

The word "murder" actually stems from a fine (the "murdrum") imposed by the first Norman kings of England upon a town if the town refused to disclose the murder of a Norman. If the victim was proven to be Saxon, however, no fine was imposed. Thus, "the worst kind of killing" was initially designated by the victim rather than by [the mental state of the murderer]. Criminal Law 3E, p. 155 n. 7

Who knew - sometimes it's better to off a WAS[P]. (Because the "P" isn't applicable for another 500 years or so).