omgz BlackAcre, w00t!!1

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 30, 2009 in The 1L Life

At the risk of her thinking I’ve turned into some kind of eStalker, I’m going to mention The Reasonably Prudent Law Student twice in a 48 hour timeframe.  I promise it’s entirely coincidental :)

Some quick background:

Dennis Jansen over at No634.com was/is essentially the progenitor of law:/dev/null — I stumbled across his “5 reasons why I blog” post while searching Google for law school tidbits in the week leading up to  orientation, and his #2 item on “Actually ‘Keeping in touch'” prompted me to give the blogging thing a shot myself.

(So if you enjoy reading, thank him.  If you don’t, keep it to yourself ;))

He’s got a lengthy and neatly categorized list of dozens of similar bloggers on his site, where I promptly burned half a day just reading. Those sites linked to more sites which linked to more sites and… you get the idea.

So TRPLS (think “turtles” but with a ‘p’ replacing the second ‘t’ sound) was one of the first blogs I came across, and the first thing I noticed was the banner at the top (ok I’m lying — the first thing I noticed was the picture on the right, the 2nd was the banner.  Sorry >_<).  After reading the text, my mind goes “wtf is BlackAcre?” and follows up with “wtf is FSA?”

I fully intended to consult Google for the answer, but I also easily get distracted and never got around to it.

Fast forward to yesterday.  The Traveling Professor (my Property I instructor) picks me as the lucky schlub to go over adverse possession in Howard v. Kunto (477 P.2d 210); I’d actually read and think I understand the material, so it was both an almost-enjoyable and almost-terrifying experience at the same time.  Made it through the case itself without much trouble, get to the book’s problems relating to tacking… and there it is.


Specifically, O seems to own it, A seems to want it, and B & C are either lucky or screwed depending on the various circumstances.  But the coolest part was the text in the footnote (my thoughts noted as I read):

Hypothetical tracts of land have been referred to as BlackAcre, WhiteAcre, and GreenAcre — just why no one knows for sure…

Me: “Ah, so it’s basically a variable name. Like foo and bar in Computer Science. Got it.”

…The Oxford English Dictionary suggests the terms indicate lands growing different crops (peas and beans are black, corn and potatoes are white, hay is green). Or the terms might originally have referred to lands receiving different rents (black rents are payable in produce, white rents in silver)…

Me: “Ooohh and the generic variable names theoretically have meanings behind them too. As opposed to the CSC obsession with simple FUBARing. Interesting…”

…One of the earliest law treatises written in English, Coke on Littleton 148b (1628), refers to BlackAcre and WhiteAcre.

Me: “Awesome, lawyers created internet-style memes over 3 centuries before the internet was even invented — I’m clearly associating myself with the right caliber of people!”

It’s stuff like this that validates my decision to go to law school… ;)

Have a great night y’all! :D

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #5

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 29, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

LRA test seemed easy — makes me worry. Grilled in Property, but knew the material enough to almost enjoy it :) Plus I know BlackAcre now :D

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“I’m Batman.”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 28, 2009 in The 1L Life

On a much lighter note from last night’s rant — and I apologize again to my normal readers, and to you unfortunate souls who somehow stumble across this site after Google searches like “do i have to take my stuff in a ziploc bag to the lsat” (yes, you do) — in Torts today we finally got to the case idwsj was talking about in his post from the Friday Drive-by.

The case is Breunig v. American Family Insurance Company (45 Wis. 2d 536), and the court’s opinion notes:

…Mrs. Veith told him she was driving on a road when she believed that God was taking ahold of the steering wheel and was directing her car. She saw the truck coming and stepped on the gas in order to become airborne because she knew she could fly because Batman does it. To her surprise she was not airborne before striking the truck but after the impact she was flying…

I know it wasn’t the key “take home” point of the case, but the nerd in me couldn’t help thinking during the class discussion “Batman doesn’t really fly per se, it was all special equipment…”

Have a good night everybody :D

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Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 27, 2009 in Drama

[Edit @ 09/28/09: Apparently for at least the last 3 entries I’ve been hitting “Save Draft” instead of “Publish”, and since I went out of town for the weekend I never checked the blog to make sure they were online. So you’re getting this a day late. Sorry :P]

The drama from this weekend was ridiculous. Actually “ridiculous” doesn’t even adequately describe it, it’d be more like a blend of ridiculous and farcical and idiotic and a few other choice words thrown together.

For comparison, think less idle law school gossip and more Justin Timberlake.

It was sufficiently outrageous that I can’t even really give you the details, because several of the regular readers of law:/dev/null know the parties involved and have encouraged me to “be the adult” instead of putting the guilty ones on blast over the internet for Google to pick up.

I even tried to write a mini-synopsis, but it was too long.

So to condense down to the smallest number of words possible, essentially:

  1. I got falsely accused in multiple strings of profanity-laden text messages of activities that I wasn’t involved in and for which there was voluminous and incontrovertible evidence to the contrary;
  2. the initiating party was apparently surprised that I got pissed off as a result of the false accusations and essentially told her to take a hike;
  3. when said initiating party realized she had her facts completely and totally wrong, she felt it was appropriate to lie to me in an effort to explain away her drama queen stupidity; and,
  4. apparently I was supposed to take all of this in stride and either apologize (wtf?) or pretend like the whole chain of foolishness never happened in the first place (wtf?^2).

Since you folks who read my entries deserve better than the 4-point condensed version of what happened, in exchange for shortchanging you on that story I’ll offer a tidbit about myself:  I have a weakness for women who cry or are mentally unstable or otherwise hate their lives.

Why? My life is pretty amazing for reasons I can only attribute to divine intervention, so I tend to feel guilty if I can’t give friends what they want or cheer them up if they’re down. “What if they feel like their own life is miserable and I’m just making it worse?” is the typical thought that goes through my head. So I’m a fairly laid back and upbeat guy, and go out of my way to convince people to feel better about themselves and their own lives — because nothing bad lasts forever. I’m usually successful at brightening their days, which of course makes me feel better too.

At some point somewhere that must have turned into Captain Saveahoe Syndrome. That’s the only rational explanation I can find for a person I considered a friend somehow getting it into her head that she could so egregiously and gratuitously abuse my otherwise jovial nature with the accusations leveled against me (and then expect me to apologize to her. Again, wtf.).

Deuces. Captain Saveahoe is taking a vacation. Permanently.

Captain Saveahoe is taking a vacation. Permanently.

I refuse to play along, both with this chick and the other individuals I deal with who seem to be perpetually emo about everything in their lives.

So to the ladies out there for whom this is intended (and you know who you are):  I’m not a Care Bear, and I’m not going to be all “lollipops and rainbows” for you too.  Your life doesn’t suck, and neither does mine. The difference between the two of us is that I recognized that a long time ago.  It’s clear you don’t want to be convinced and that your continued existence is centered largely around the need for drama and attention.  The only attention you’ll be getting (from me at least) are my index and middle finger extended perpendicular to your direction.  And no, it’s not a peace sign.

To the rest of you, have a great night :)

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The not-always-plain meaning of “Plain Meaning”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 26, 2009 in The 1L Life

[Edit @ 09/28/09:  Apparently for at least the last 3 entries I’ve been hitting “Save Draft” instead of “Publish”, and since I went out of town for the weekend I never checked the blog to make sure they were online.  So you’re getting this a couple days late.  Sorry :P]

The forecasted love/hate relationship with Legal Reasoning & Analysis was already drifting closer to the “hate” side of the pendulum.  Yesterday morning it pretty firmly stuck itself there.

We’re going over statutory analysis and various “canons of construction,” e.g. a bunch of Latin phrases that I’ve never seen any attorney actually use in practice like “noscitur a sociis”.  One useful item though is the “Plain Meaning Rule” — if a statute has a clear and unambiguous meaning, that’s the interpretation you ask the court to use.

So we were given a hypothetical case about a mom with two children, an 18-year-old and a 15-year-old (both in high school), and a deadbeat dad who left her to up a career publicizing musicians.  He has a wealthy benefactor who flies him out to various parties worldwide, a new wife who’s a doctor and provides for all the living expenses, and so on.

We’re provided a copy of NC General Statutes Chapter §50-13.4 on child support actions, and told to use the Plain Meaning Rule to make an argument as to whether or not the mom should be entitled to child support for the 18-year-old child.

Now if you remember that second entry linked up at the top in the first paragraph, on the first homework assignment we had, we broke down statutes into their pieces to check all of the “tests” embedded in them.  In other words, stuff tailor-made for a computer science person who can do Boolean algebra in his sleep.

So although I’m initially seduced by the section of exceptions relating to continuing child support payments for children over the age of 18 but still in high school, the CSC in me recalls one of the rules I learned in programming:  your program can’t throw an exception if it’s not running.  Applied to this case, in other words, the mom couldn’t rely on an exception to continue payments if she didn’t have payments coming in the first place.  Which leads me to what (I think) is the core question: what’s the common law definition of a “minor child” in NC?

Poking around Black’s Law Dictionary gives me “[a minor child is an] infant or person who is under the age of legal competence. . . . In most states, a person is no longer a minor after reaching the age of 18[.]” Just to make sure that’s applicable to North Carolina, I do a little thumbing around the statutes and come across NCGS Chapter 48A on Minors, where the first section reads “The common‑law definition of minor insofar as it pertains to the age of the minor is hereby repealed and abrogated.”  I go on to the second section, which reads “A minor is any person who has not reached the age of 18 years.”

And just to make sure I’m on the right track, I go poking around Google for some controlling NC case law and come across Crouch v. Crouch (14 N.C. App. 49) which offers the following:

When G.S. 48A-1 which repeals the common law definition of minor is construed with G.S. 48A-2, the effect is that wherever the term “minor,” “minor child” or “minor children” is used in a statute, the statute now refers to age 18. The statutes concerning child support, G.S. 50-13.4 et seq., all use the term “minor,” “minor child” or “minor children,” never referring to age 21. Therefore, in substituting the new meaning of “minor” into the statutes, the legal obligation to support one’s child ends at age 18, absent a showing that the child is insolvent, unmarried and physically or mentally incapable of earning a livelihood as was true in the Wells and Speck cases, supra, and as contemplated by G.S. 50-13.8.

Thinking I just have to be on the right track, I write my assignment from the premise that the mom can’t get child support because the son is already 18, and therefore is not a minor child for the purpose of initiating a child support action under NCGS §50-13.4.  The fact he’s still in high school doesn’t trigger the relevant exception if we’re going with the plain meaning of the statutes, since the exception is based on continuing a pre-existing obligation to pay.

I get to class on Friday, Professor LRA’s Twin posts the model response, and… absolutely nothing I have is in there.  The model argues that the mom would be entitled to child support by virtue of the exception for high schoolers.  And everyone in the class apparently put that in their analysis except for one guy (folks have been referring to him as “The Lone Gunner” so that may become his nickname here), who evidently was the only one in the entire class to agree with my perspective on the issue.

In talking to a couple family law attorneys since the class, every one of them agreed with my approach.  In talking with Professor LRA, I was told I was completely and totally wrong based on some non-statute-based explanation she provided… in other words, something not related at all to the “plain meaning” of statutes.

Thankfully this assignment wasn’t graded, because had it been an exam question I would have been screwed. So yeah, I officially hate this class.

Have a great day folks! :D

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Friday Drive-by #2

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 25, 2009 in Friday Drive-by

[Edit @ 09/28/09:  Apparently for at least the last 3 entries I’ve been hitting “Save Draft” instead of “Publish”, and since I went out of town for the weekend I never checked the blog to make sure they were online.  So you’re getting the Friday Drive-by on a Monday.  Sorry :P]

Earlier this week I looked at the little WordPress calendar thing on the site and realized Fridays just aren’t a good day for me to blog apparently.  My internet connection was dead on the first Friday, the second was the 8-year anniversary of 9/11, and the 3rd I didn’t write anything at all as I was losing all of my $$ at poker night.

So instead of updating friends and family on my incredibly mundane life, I figured I’d provide y’all with links to some of the stuff I read myself.

Unlike the major players like The Legal Underground and Thanks, But No Thanks, I make no effort at all to provide a minimum standard of quality for anything posted here.  Most of it will be other law student blawgs with posts I enjoyed, but every now and then I do just kill hours at a time reading excessive amounts of political commentary or watching nerd video.

You’ve been warned…

Have a great weekend folks! :D

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The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 24, 2009 in Fail

Or more accurately just the law library.  Well actually just one of the computers in the law library, based on the flurry of Facebook status updates, tweets and text messages I got as the building was being evacuated.

And I missed all the excitement because I skipped my classes to make sure everything is ready for this weekend’s meeting of the UNC Association of Student Governments.  Fail.

Interestingly enough, construction workers managed to take out a transformer where they’re building a new parking deck on campus, which took out power for everyone else.  The aspiring lawyer in me thinks that’s too coincidental to be coincidence, while the already computer scientist in me knows it’s pretty doggone hard to get an otherwise functional computer to randomly combust.

My suspicion is that library staff overloaded a surge protector (or didn’t use one at all) and there were voltage fluctuations from that transformer just before it burst into flames itself.  Luckily no one was hurt and nothing was significantly damaged.

I’m just sad I missed all the commotion…

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Tweet-sized Tuesdays #4

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 22, 2009 in Tweet-sized Tuesdays

Excellent week so far :) PT this morning was rough, but I needed it — still a (lovable) pudgeball. Midterms in 2 weeks! O_o Night folks! :D

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Getting supplemented

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 21, 2009 in The 1L Life

idwsj is one of the blawgs I check daily because the writing is just that good.  Seriously.

So when I read this post from a few days ago, I figured I’d save myself the $$ and forgo buying supplements for my classes since it seemed they weren’t that useful.  Especially when I almost feel comfortable in Contracts, Property and Torts.  But Civil Procedure.  Ohhh Civil Procedure…

I genuinely like CivPro.  It’s basically the class on being a lawyer and doing lawyerly things.  It’s rule-based.  It’s fairly objective.  And it’s the #1 source of 12(b)(6) jokes ;)

But I’m lost.

It’s not that the material is difficult to understand, we’re just blazing through so many Rules and statutes and case law that my mind is having a hard time digesting all the chunks of FRCP, USC and judicial commentary.  So I broke down and dropped some cash on a copy of Emanuel’s CivPro law outlines.  And then while I was at it made an impulse purchase of the Contracts, Property and Torts books also — just in case.

Final price tag:  $$$$.

I’ll let you know if they’re useful at all.  For my sake, cross your fingers :)

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Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 20, 2009 in Randomness

I love Sundays.  A big breakfast of bacon, eggs and biscuits (or french toast if I’m in a festive mood).  The morning political talk shows.  Studying CivPro and Torts out on the deck.  A relaxing, home-cooked dinner.  And Law & Order SVU marathons.

L&O marathons are lifesavers for boredom. I usually just cut on the TV in the background while studying.  On one of today’s reruns (Season 7 Episode 13), detectives are chasing a pedophile who runs up to a rooftop, gets cornered, and decides to jump to an adjacent building.  He makes it, but as he’s trying to pull himself up his hand slips, he falls 20 floors and goes splat.

And I start laughing. Hysterically.

This is one of the reasons I’m going into law instead of law enforcement…


Sorry for being MIA for the past couple days.  Friday was spent studying, cleaning and hosting some folks for a poker game (I lost all of my $$ to Madame Prosecutor) then Saturday was all about college football and going to see a movie ((500) Days of Summer — surprisingly good flick).  I’ll try to do better next weekend :)  Have a good night folks!

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