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

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

Video: No Legal Recourse

Ah clients, surely legal ethics would be stuck in the stone ages without them.

Legal Library: New York’s Poop Scoop Law: Dogs, the Dirt, and Due Process

The New Yorker’s Scooped details the story of “Section 1310 of the New York State Public Health Law, which formally decrees, “It shall be the duty of each dog owner . . . to remove any feces left by his dog on any sidewalk, gutter, street, or other public area,”"

Michael Brandow, a freelance dogwalker in the Village, hadn’t had much luck interesting publishers in a nonfiction manuscript that he’d been working on for the past eight years. In 2006, in the course of his research, he called Alan Beck, a professor of animal ecology at Purdue. Beck happens to edit a line of books about the bond between humans and animals for P.U. Press, and he told Brandow that he’d give the manuscript a look. “I read it and thought, This is a really neat book,” Beck said recently. “So I wrote to our publisher and said, ‘Over the years, I’ve given you a lot of shit, but this is a good one.’ ” The result is a three-hundred-and-thirty-nine-page social history entitled “New York’s Poop Scoop Law: Dogs, the Dirt, and Due Process.”

The book is due for release on August 1st.

Gerry Spence Blogs

Gerry Spence is an icon of modern criminal defense lawyers, the author of numerous books, and now, apparently, a blogger. I thoroughly enjoyed the reports on Spence’s defense of Geoffrey Feiger and reading Spence’s unique and by most accounts extremely effective approach to trials in books such as How to Argue & Win Every Time and Win Your Case. I was initially skeptical that this was indeed Spence behind the curtain, but the first post is so unmistakably Spencian that I’ve decided to suspend my disbelief.

These are my first words on a blog. It is a frightening experiment—that I should enter your world, without invitation, without yet knowing you as friends, or clients, or those whose shadows and mine have merged, or who have been readers of my books and who have therefore shared with me my thoughts and experiences and have made them their own. That has been a great gift to me.

But you of this other world, this internet world—I have not reached out to you except through my web site which, I am told, is miserably inadequate considering today’s more experienced ways.

What can I offer you? I am sitting by a stream in the country as I write—in Wyoming where I was born and where I have practiced law for many years, yes, for 55 years. I am truly a country lawyer. Yet I have spent much of my life trying cases in the great cities of this country.

I have learned things about our broken judicial system I want to expose to you.

I have ideas about our condition in this slave-hold under which many decent Americans suffer.

I have published sixteen books, and have tried many cases for people–some cases you may know about, like the Karen Silkwood case, the murder defense of Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, recently the defense of Geoffrey Fieger, the great trial lawyer who defended Dr. Kevorkian, and many others.

In 1994, I established the Trial Lawyers College at our ranch near Dubois, Wyoming, a non-profit institution to reeducate trial lawyers for the people.

My greatest fear is that I will die before my life’s work is complete. That unfinished business includes joining you in this internet world and sharing with you what I have learned. I hope you will hear my timid knocking at your door and let me in.

In Defense of Just Hanging Out

A bunch of us from the old section got together last night at a local sushi joint. It was great to see everyone who made it out and of course it had been far too long since the last time we did it. Evening students in particular are acutely aware of the extravagance of ‘wasting’ time. We become time-hoarders, racing from work to class, waking up early, staying up late, holing up with our casebooks at lunch and turning our commutes in to sum and substance study sessions. As closely as we watch time, I’m nevertheless amazed to realize how quickly the past two years has gone by. A word, then, on what is worth spending time on, in my humble opinion.

Soon enough we’ll be thrust out into the wider marketplace. We’ll no longer run into each other in class or in the commons, we’ll have to be deliberate about making time to see each other or we simply won’t. I miss seeing these people when they’re not around. It’s silly, of course, to compare sections, but I feel lucky to have ended up in the one I did.

Question and Answer with Lt. Col. Bircher, Army’s Electronic Warfare Futurist

Once I got over the fact that the United States Army not only has an Electronic Warfare division, but a “Proponent’s Futures Branch” within that division, it occurred to me that Lt. Col. John Bircher has perhaps one of the coolest jobs in the world. He responds to the denizens of slashdot in this post Lt. Col. John Bircher Answers Your Questions -

At its foundation, this is what military operations are about: effects generation and management. Traditionally, we tend to think about effects having impact in the physical domain only, but military operations have always been about cognitive effects, too. In cyberspace, most effects are cognitive: they inform, affect and influence our beliefs, values, dogmas and, ultimately, decisions. One of the best aspects of my current job is that I am afforded the luxury of “engaging” (there’s that word again) in discussions, debates, and decision processes that actually cause me to think beyond traditional military functions, and I get to “engage” in these forums with some pretty smart, outside-of-the-box thinkers who are not in uniform (and some who are!).

There has long been a debate about the appropriateness of the military participating in influence operations but if we think about it, influence operations are fundamental to everything we as a society do. Rather than shy away from the debate, we are actively embracing it as we strive to articulate an appropriate role for the Army in cyberspace. The American Public, too, has its role – that of defining the checks and balances that proscribe the acceptable limits of these operations.

Lt. Col. Bircher’s sense of the Constitutional dimension of his job is a bit surprising if one has heard the last eight years of political speeches or read certain recent Supreme Court decisions.

As members of the military, we are sworn to uphold the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The challenge in cyberspace is being able to discern with clarity one’s enemy. Social engineering takes advantage of this anonymity. There are significant legal implications with which we are constantly checking. The rules of war have always been their own; yet we have always held American forces to a higher standard, and the same will hold true in cyberspace.

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