Saturday, September 13, 2003

Fairy Tales for Grownups:

Living on Earth, the public radio program on which announcers discuss, in sonorous voices, matters such as the problem of the overabundance of non-native starlings in the Northwest and the earth-conscious preparations of bee populations for the coming of winter. All is well but all is not well. ("If only we could get those darned starlings to go back home, somewhere in Europe, where they belong! Sigh.... Well, at least the peregrine falcons will prosper. ... [pause] ... Next week, our program on a special kind of vegetarianism: one farmer who decided that he and his family don't need meat or leather.")

Friday, September 12, 2003

Background evidence ...

isn't always what you think it is.


... "social background .....

.... evidence."

I'll bet that the first two words in this verbal trio tripped you up: I'll bet you thought you were going to read about background evidence with a social flavor. But in fact when you encounter this label -- "rotten social background evidence" -- in a criminal trial, you are more likely to encounter evidence about a person's (rotten) social background -- and such evidence about background may not be background evidence 'tall. See generally Mythri A. Jayaraman, "Rotten Social Background Revisited," 14 Cap. Def. J. 327 (2002).

P.S. The pedant in me thought you might want to know.

P.P.S. Isn't the title of Jayaraman's article delicious?

P.P.P.S. And don't you think it's time for the publication of a legal treatise with the title Rotten Social Background Evidence? The book would be a best seller -- if, at least, there were a pinch of humor in the tome. And the book could not fairly fail in the scholarly community either: the author could always say (justly), "But I promised you rotten evidence. And I delivered. What's your beef? It takes skill and intelligence to craft consistent nonsense." And you, the expert in criminal evidence (or a similarly-nomenclatured field) might only be able to respond with a splutter -- unless, that is, you are juvenile enough (sufficiently open-minded?) to be surprised (and perturbed) by the law's verbal quirks. Criminal law indeed!

Monday, September 08, 2003

September 11

I am watching a program on the building of the World Trade Center. I look forward to September 11 with dread. (The weather is almost as beautiful now as it was on the original September 11.) I hope that the building of the replacement for the Twin Towers begins next summer. That will be a glorious sight.