lukegilman.com : The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

Litigation Reality Check – Reversing Juries in Coca-Cola v. Harmar

From the Texas Observer: Hitting the Bottlers

In 2000, after a six-week trial, a jury in Daingerfield, Texas, found Coca-Cola Enterprises—a bottling company 40 percent-owned by Coca-Cola—guilty of breaking state antitrust laws. Although a far cry from the $100 million they were hoping for, Harmar and the other regional bottlers won a $15.6 million judgment. Almost seven years later, they have yet to see a dime.

In late 2006, after sitting on the case for nearly two years, the Texas Supreme Court finally ruled on Coke’s appeal of the suit. By a 5-4 vote, the state’s highest civil court threw out the verdict.

Reversing a multimillion dollar judgment is not out of character for a court packed with conservative judges, six of them appointed by Gov. Rick Perry before winning pro forma elections. But the legal reasoning that the slim majority used to justify its ruling was so alarming—and sets such an unappetizing precedent—that it has spawned incredulity in Texas legal circles.

Opinion: Coca-Cola Co. v. Harmar Bottling Co., 2006-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) ¶ 75464 (Tex., Oct. 20, 2006). More commentary from Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, Perlmutter & Schuelke: Vanishing Jury Trial Part 1 and part 2, and The Federalist Society.

Police Officer ‘over-doses’ on Pot; resigns but not charged

Court TV: Police officer who baked brownies laced with pot avoids criminal charges

The department’s investigation began with a 911 call from Sanchez’s home on April 21, 2006. On a 5-minute tape of the call, obtained by the Free Press, Sanchez told an emergency dispatcher he thought he and his wife were overdosing on marijuana.

“I think we’re dying,” he said. “We made brownies and I think we’re dead, I really do.”

Sanchez later told police investigators that his wife took the marijuana out of his police vehicle while he was sleeping. In a subsequent interview, he admitted he got the marijuana out of the car himself and put it in the brownie mix, police said.

“We made brownies and I think we’re dead, I really do.” There are a few metaphysical things wrong with that statement in addition to plain old fashioned stupidity. And we wonder why ‘Code of Silence’ is Growing Problem….

Lawyer Advertising

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AroundTownHouston Blog asks ‘What kind of lawyer advertises like this?‘ to which the Chicago-based firm of Fetman Garland says:

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Goodness. Since I’ve got the song in my head now anyway, I may as well give a plug to fellow maniac Slaid Cleaves ‘Horses & Divorces’ from his Wishbones album:

I met Willie by the still, he was brewin’ a batch
He had a short cigar and one last match
He was tellin’ me ’bout his latest trouble with the government
He had child support and alimony
He was looking depressed and kinda lonely
Just tryin’ to figure out where all his hard earned money went

“Well I’ll be go to Hell,” he said,
” I got nothing but a Ford and a barn full of hay
If it weren’t for horses and divorces
I’d be a lot better off today”

Anonymous Lawyer: A Novel

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Recovering law student Jeremy Blachman started writing Anonymous Lawyer Blog while he was a student at Harvard Law School. Amid speculation of who of the BigLaw partners had the time to put their malign misanthropy in digital form, Blachman was revealed as the author of the blog in NY Times article. A book deal was quick to follow (and now a tv series?!?!?!) and Anonymous Lawyer: A Novel is the result.

For a preview, Lat’s Observer review is the best of the bunch: Way Better Than Briefs: Legal Minds Turn to Blogs

I’m also planning on writing a book based on my blog. It’s tentatively titled “Please give me a job. No really. I’ll do anything.”

Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe is the name of the guy I was trying to think of last night during my Contracts final. I couldn’t think of his name because he was a 16th century Danish astronomer and I’m not normally in the habit of thinking of 16th century Danish astronomers. I thought of this one though. My high school physics teacher once told me a story, pretty much the only thing I still remember about high school physics, about Tycho Brahe. He said Tycho Brahe attended a banquet with the King. It was considered such bad manners to leave the table before the King that Tycho Brahe refused to leave to go to the bathroom even though he really, really, really needed to go. Shorty thereafter Tycho Brahe DIED of a bladder infection.

What sparked this delightful mental interlude during my contracts final was that I also really needed to go to the bathroom. I thought of Tycho Brahe because the only thing that I remember about him was that he died because he didn’t go to the bathroom. I have higher aspirations for my eulogy.

Lo, the final bearer cometh…

Contracts Prof came staggering into the classroom last night under the weight of two full copy paper boxes. If you ever see your professor come staggering into your final with two full copy paper boxes, take the opportunity to go to the bathroom. Afterwards, send me a check for the appropriate value you place on your life and a legacy free of people snickering about the bladder infection that would otherwise obscure all your glowing accomplishments. The two full copy paper boxes, of course, contained our final. It was a three-hour exam, 178 multiple-choice questions, each with their own fact pattern, at an average of 2-3 questions per page. You might correctly deduce that we had a smidgen over one minute to answer each question. Welcome to speed contracts. I held it, incidentally. I will never bring a venti Latte in with me to a final again.

Real politick of law school exams

You might suppose that a law school exam is an opportunity to demonstrate to the professor your knowledge and skill in analyzing the material. How quaint. Let us take this opportunity examine the real politick of law school exams by asking the age-old question WWMD? – what would Machiavelli do? I submit, that cynically, rather than an opportunity to show what you know, a law school exam is an opportunity for the professor to place you on a grading curve. The distinction is sometimes slight, but always real. There are several ways of doing this, some of which have something to do with the material you learned over the semester and some of which don’t. He or she can separate you by (1) subjectively analyzing your essays on the subject (and then endure the next semesters parade of malcontents rehashing their old exams in his office i.e. high transaction costs) (2) counting the number of ‘points’ you score by spotting and analyzing issues in his hypos (better, but see ‘parade of malcontents’ above) or (3) making the exam so long that students are separated by how many questions they can get to in the given time period. Add multiple choice and your professor will dutifully bring his burnt offering to the temple of Scantron (4) following the exam, the prof might ‘accidentally’ drop the box of finals down a flight of stairs. The ones at the top are ‘A’s; the ones near the bottom are not.

There are other opportunities some times. In one of my other classes, several of us missed a class to participate in a mock trial competition. The subject matter of that class seemed to be featured inordinately on the final in relation to its importance. Coincidence perhaps, but WWMD?

I don’t actually think Professors are so Machiavellian in their approach to finals. They will do everything in their power to make the exam a true reflection of what we know and don’t know about the subject. There are pressures at work, however, pressures that force compromise. Pressures that we too will one day experience in practice when we have to decide how much of our time to give a certain client’s matter and we too will have to decide how much we’re willing to compromise. While exams are important and the grades that result do matter, the knowledge we acquired can’t be taken away.

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