Legal Muse

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“Finally, if the language of the contract is to be construed as broadly as defendant urges to encompass the presence of poltergeists in the house, it cannot be said that she has delivered the premises “vacant” in accordance with her obligation under the provisions of the contract rider.”

169 A.D.2d 254, 572 N.Y.S.2d 672

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November 18, 2008 at 1:23 am

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Screaming Obscenities

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So, over the past 2 days, I’ve been attempting to keep my mouth shut in class about the parol evidence rule. The idea behind it is that you don’t allow outside evidence regarding the terms of a contract when the contract has been written in clear, precise terms. You do allow it in some situations such as if there are ambiguities in the contractual terms, etc.  This is largely to protect the enforceability of the contract – outside evidence alters the view of the contract from the cut and dry plain meaning of the words to interpretation based on testimony, etc.

At some point, we began discussing the evolution of the law, and how more and more parol evidence is eventually making it into cases through the liberalization of the interpretation process. Some legal scholars are thinking that all evidence should be allowed in, and then let the jury sift through it.

That was first brought up yesterday, I was tired, cranky, and just – unhappy. I managed to abstain from saying anything stupid.

Today, the professor brought it up again, and I was unable to refrain from a sneer and an eye-roll. As fate would have it, my professor saw my reaction, and asked for my thoughts.

This is how it happened:

“Mr. O’Hara, you seem to have an opinion of dismissing the parol evidence rule”

*I put my hands up in the air in a concilliatory manner*

“Ma’am, I don’t want to say anything inflammatory”

“Oh, come on, Mr. O’Hara, law school is the time to have strong, outrageous beliefs!” – At this point in the semester, she knows she can count on me for something entertaining, because I rarely tow the new age-liberal interpretations of the law.

*I sigh in defeat*

“Alright, well, I just don’t think that giving the jury too much to work with is smart. It took me 5 weeks to figure out the difference of ‘meeting of the minds’ versus ‘manifestation of intent’, and how to apply it. Do you really think the juries going to be able to? They’re going to sympathize with a sob story, and the fact that every term and condition was spelled out with precision in the contract will have no weight. Why even have a contract in the first place then, when there can be no reliance that the terms will be upheld in court??”

*Class kind of goes silent for a little while, as they mull over the fact that I just called juries stupid/incompetent

*Professor looks at me with an amused expression, says I have a good point, and moves on to the next person.

What’s funny is that once I broke the dam, all of a sudden a bunch of people thought it would make sense to have stricter rules as to what was admissible, and I think one person actually explicitly said that juries were stupid. Law school ain’t so bad!

Written by DMN

October 28, 2008 at 10:39 pm

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Ra’id Juhi Hamadi al-Saedi (Judge Juhi) came to GW today to speak about the Iraqi High Tribunal, on which he was the chief investigative judge. Here are some things that struck me.

1. People were shocked hearing about some of the mass graves that were found. As usual, the media here hasn’t highlighted the good that coalition forces have done by removing a violent dictator. Also, he told some compelling stories about how much people wanted vengeance on Saddam. I think some of the students were imagining themselves as being citizens of pre-liberation Iraq, and how horrible that must have been.

2. The larger issue with these mass graves was that due to security concerns, a small city had to be built around the sites. Each city cost 5 Million dollars. This was largely US funded. Out of 250 mass grave sites, I think they excavated and investigated 5. Each of these had to be evidentially linked to Saddam in order for them to be damning.

3. He highlighted the enormity of the trial. 21 tons of documents had to be sifted through.

4. Over the past 100 years, there had been several regime changes in Iraq, normally executed (pun intended) by killing the royal family. The legal community felt that it was IMPERATIVE that the trial of Saddam be done with due process, in order to highlight the legitimacy of the new government, and to create a clear distinction between the new government and older legitimate regimes. It was an attempt to step into the modern world.

5. The reason an International War Crimes Court wasn’t set up (like in Kosovo) was because of the U.N. Security Counsel. 3 of the 5 members didn’t support the war, and made it impossible to create the court. As a result, Iraq ended up hiring independent international experts, equal for the prosecution and defense, in order to establish a legitimate domestic trial.

6. This brand new judicial system was created out of FIRE. It’s not as though they had hundreds of years of legal precedent to fall back on. The first real trial of this legal system was not on some insignificant legal incident to help work the kinks out. The first trial was of a King. He stressed that if they had messed it up, the legal system would never have recovered.

Written by DMN

October 16, 2008 at 11:03 pm

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This dude’s coming to GW to speak tomorrow:

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This is the dude that effectively nailed Saddam.

Ra’id Juhi Hamadi al-Saedi (Judge Juhi) served from 2004 to 2006 as chief investigative judge of the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT). During that time, he supervised all cases before the tribunal and indicted Saddam Hussein and seven others for crimes against humanity perpetrated against the citizens of Ad-Dujayl. Juhi also indicted Saddam Hussein and Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti (“Chemical Ali”) for genocide arising out of the massacre of over 100,000 Kurds from 1987-1988. During the trial of Saddam Hussein, Juhi served as the court’s spokesperson, handled all press queries, and frequently appeared before Western and Arabic media. Juhi also negotiated the IHT’s rules of evidence and procedure which were ultimately adopted and used in all proceedings. Previously, Juhi investigated and indicted radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr for the murder of cleric Abdul Majid Al-Khoei, which occurred in 2003 outside one of Shiite Islam’s holiest sites, the Shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf, Iraq. Juhi is a graduate of Iraq’s Judicial Institute and served as a family court judge and criminal investigative judge under Saddam Hussein. He left Iraq in May 2007 and joined Cornell University’s Law School as a Clarke Middle Eastern Fellow.

I’ll be posting my thoughts after.

Written by DMN

October 16, 2008 at 3:17 am

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It’s occured to me that I really hate this class. Let’s make a brief annotated outline.

ICW. I hate you.

Memo. I hate you

ICW. Why do you keep getting harder?

Memo. You mean I actually have to do my own research?

ICW. Why are you do at noon? Don’t you know that’s 3AM for me?

Memo. Why am I going to be trying to bring a charge against someone who killed an endangered species by ricochet?

The better question. Why the hell am I trying to work the night shift AND go to law school?

The only thing that’s making me slightly less than pissed off right now:

Written by DMN

October 9, 2008 at 3:25 am

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Artistic Renditions

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One night at Quigley’s a few of us got bored and started drawing famous judges.  Below is Brennan, smoking weed, and stomping on the Constitution (Framers Intent)

This is Justice Scalia, or Peter Griffen depending on the lighting.

The coup de grace of the night was Judge Learned Hand (best name ever).

Written by DMN

October 5, 2008 at 11:46 pm

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Note to self:

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Don’t suck at law.


“Plaintiff’s counsel, apparently laboring under the impression that I am not dealing with a full deck and that my knowledge of diversity requirements is about equal to that of a low-grade moron, chose to disregard the directional signals posted in my  memorandum. Counsel brazenly, discourteously, defiantly, arrogantly, insultingly and under the circumstances rather obtusely threw back into my face the very allegations I had held insufficient by reiterating and incorporating those same crippled paragraphs. The so-called “amended complaint” itself cheekily informs me that these paragraphs allege the states of incorporation or (emphasis added) principal places of business of the defendant corporations. Of course, any law school student knows that both the state of incorporation and principal place of business must be diverse, but I suppose I can hardly expect any more from counsel whose familiarity with Title 28 U.S.C. 1332 could be no more than a friendly wave from a distance visible only through a powerful telescope.”

Written by DMN

October 1, 2008 at 12:29 am

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