Amicus Curiae

We're just like Scalia and Ginsberg, only we're 2Ls and not on the Supreme Court. Oh, and this Antonin doesn't sing.

Thursday, June 30, 2005


Background: Today it was 108 degrees. This morning there was no AC in the courtroom.

I felt like Atticus Finch, but without the dramatic closing argument or the important moral message.

I was reminded of southern white male lawyers who used to practice in the days before things like AC, with the courtroom windows thrust wide open, and the women in the back fanning themselves and wearing white sundresses. Only the windows weren't open, the courtroom was much more diverse, and no one had a southern drawl.

It would've been nice to have a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from my brow, though.

Thank all that is good in the world that we didn't have trial.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I Know What You Did This Summer: Part 2, Research Assistant

Today's poster is a rising 2L at a Top 50 law school and would like to remain Anonymous. Ruth would like to point out that she's jealous of his carefree days and also that if all research assistantships require such little work, she'd like to know where to sign up.

Remember, if you'd like to share your summer experience with our readers, email us at @ gmail dot com.


Ruth and Antonin


I wake up later and later every day. I have class that starts at 9 am, but somehow I manage to convince myself that it’s ok to get out of bed at 8:30. I don’t read for that class.

After class, I get out of the law school as fast as I can. I flip the bird to the library in my mind as I throw open the door and exit into warmth and sunlight. Sometimes I spend the rest of the day sitting outside at a coffeehouse just watching people walk by.

I spend a lot of time reading random blogs on the internet. The really good ones are partisan political blogs. I like to pick a recent post and rip it apart just to bait people into arguments.

Lately I’ve been inventing reasons to go to the shop that sells home coffee accessories. In the past two weeks, I’ve bought a stovetop espresso maker, a milk frother, and a pot for Turkish coffee. Really, I just go so I can hit on the girl who works there.

It’s always a tough decision what to eat for dinner. Hmm, a salad? Nah, a burger? Maybe a sub sandwich. I hardly ever cook at home.

I usually drink a beer with whatever I’m eating for dinner. Sometimes I wonder how many beers it takes to get a beer belly. It’s not looking good.

After dinner, I play some video games or watch a DVD or two. If I’m bored, I’ll fire up the internet again and bait some wingers into a frenzy. That’s what they get for putting it on the internets. I think I’ve been banned from five or six sites.

I usually fall asleep around 2 am.

Also, I’m a research assistant for a prof at the law school.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I Know What You Did This Summer: Part 1, Summer School

For the next week or two, we're doing something a little different here at A-C. With our busy summer schedules (Antonin and his many firm functions and Ruth with her summer novel reading and movie watching), we thought we'd open up the floor to some of our readers, because there is more to law school summers than the posh firm job and the federal judicial internship.

Our first guest contributor goes by the pen name, Poindexter, which, coincedentally, is the alleged middle name of the judge for whom Ruth works. Poindexter, like many of our upcoming guest contributors, is a Rising UT 2L. It is rumored that he knows our true identies, and is known in some circles for his amazingly accurate impressions of certain professors and students.


Ruth and Antonin


I like hearing about all of your clerkships/interships/summer associateships etc. It sounds very exciting and I can't wait to be out there next summer. But I thought you all might like to know what it's like for those of us who took the summer school route.

I wake up and go to class.

OK, there's more to it than that. The first two hours of the day are spent in a room chilled to a temperature at which meat can be stored. The class is called, Professional Responsibility and the subject is legal ethics. But we like to call it "what you can and cannot get away with." The good thing about this class is there appears to be no reason to read for it whatsoever. The professor doesn't call on anyone and he tells us everything we need to know for the test.

My afternoon class is just the opposite. There appears to be no reason to go to class. Everything is covered in the reading and the reading is VERY clear. The odd thing, both classes are taught be the same professor.

That class is called Alternative Dispute Resolution. To do well in it, you have to be comfortable with using a lot of pithy metaphors to make your point. This class would be great training for anyone who wants to write bumperstickers, Hallmark cards, or conduct seminars on how to get rich quick.

To be honest, alternative dispute resolution is a lot milder than I anticipated. I was imagining settling things over arm wrestling contests, one shot a ten paces, or hanging from the nearest tree - that sort of thing. Turns out, it involves a lot of talking, and metaphors. Good lord there are a lot of metaphors.

Alas, all this fun comes to an end in a week or so with two withering finals. I have nothing to look forward to for the rest of the summer except a lot of wasted time at Barton Springs. So when you're putting on that tie or pulling up those hose getting ready for another day in your air conditioned offices, think of us poor suckers having another unproductive day at the pool. I only hope they finally installed wireless internet at Barton Springs so I can continue checking for my summer grades all day long.

If you'd like to share your summer experiences with our readers, email us at @ gmail dot com. We assume you know our usual style and tone and can gather from that what we're looking for. Include a short bio (two lines will suffice, mainly we want to know where you go to school) and your name (though a pseudonym or even Anonymous is cool too).

Friday, June 24, 2005

Shameless Plug

But the more people who take the survey, the better sample they'll have.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Things Not To Say to A Judge: Part 1

The following things should probably not be said to a judge, especially during sentencing.

1. "She told me she was 16."

2. "The immigration judge was wrong."

3. "Well, I didn't ask you to put me in jail."

The last entry on the list deserves a little more context. Defendant told the judge that he hadn't been eating in jail because the food isn't good (actually, because the food wasn't as good as his mom's).

Judge replies, "Well it is jail."

Defendant says, "Well, I didn't ask you to put me in jail." Once he realized this probably wasn't a smart thing to say, he backtracked, "I didn't request to be put in jail."

At times like that, I really wish we were allowed to show expression in the courtroom. It was... whoa.

Unfortunately for the defendants who made the above-listed comments, this list wasn't compiled until it was already too late for them.

Batman Begins

The reason I haven't posted lately is because I finally saw Batman Begins on Saturday and have been unable to think of much else since. I finally gave up any hope of posting a non-Batman entry and decided that a few comments about the movie would be okay, especially considering how many of you commented on my last superhero post.

Here are my few comments: Best. Batman. Movie. Ever.

Okay, that was only one commment. Just repeat it in your head a few times.

Like Jen, I too found myself wondering who would pay for each building/water pipe/train thingie that was destroyed during the movie. And I think I've finally figured out a solution to some of the property damage issues. What about restitution? After all, the superheroes arguably wouldn't smash up all those buildings if the bad guys didn't leave them with no other choice. So when the bad guys are sentenced, the good judges of Gotham could probably just add restitution. I'm sure guys like The Penguin could afford it.

Of course, you'd still have to deal with the number of corrupt judges... but that's a post for another time.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Tollway Bandit

As many people might know, the Dallas metroplex has become overrun with tollways. To get anywhere in the area you have to pay at least $1.50 in tolls, sometimes upwards of $3.00 a trip. Unless you are a rebel like me. I refuse to pay tolls and I don't give a damn. More importantly, I am very good at it. I've been running tolls in Dallas for the last five years, and I have never received a ticket in the mail. It might have something to do with the fact that I have moved 6 times in those 5 years, but I like to think has something to do with my mad tollway robbing skills.

See, I don't just blow through the toll tag line at 80 miles an hour like some amateur. Rather, I pull up to the coin booth like I am going to pay the toll, throw two pennies into the machine, and then drive off. Sometimes, when I think the tollway detectives are hot on my trail, I'll even stick my head out the window and pretend I dropped money on the ground. That way if they are watching closely, they will just think I missed the basket and drove off without putting more in.

I suppose someday I might be caught. You can only stay on the Tollway Authorities Most Wanted list for so long. But I like to think I am smarter than those tollway detectives, and I hope I can be an inspiration to others looking to stick it to the man. The toll man.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

5 Things Not to Say at a Firm Dinner

5. "I dated a girl like that, but then she became a stripper and a bisexual."

4. "Yeah, you can't help but look at some titties."

3. "I can drive home. I'll just close one eye."

2. "I think I've put more hours into drinking than I billed today at work."

1. Telling the recruiting coordinator that she is way out of her boyfriends league, and she could do much better (while pointing to yourself).

Can't really tell if I will be asked to come back. They either thought I was hilarious, or a drunken ass. I'm betting on the latter.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Public Service Announcement

Lesson #1: The smallest amount of cocaine for Federal Sentencing Guidelines purposes is "less than 25 grams."

If you are caught with 1 gram of cocaine, all other things being equal, you're getting the same amount of time as the guy with 24.9 grams of cocaine.

The lesson? If you're going to get caught with less than 25 grams of cocaine, make sure it's as close to 25 grams as possible.1

Lesson #2: When you cut drugs with other substances (like milk powder for example), they weigh the total amount of the substance containing the drug. They don't separate the drugs first and then weigh it.

The lesson? If you've got a whole lotta milk powder with only a tiny bit of heroin, you're going to prison for having a whole lotta heroin.2

This public service announcement was brought to you by Amicus Curiae and the letter D. Remember kids, crack is whack.

1 This is not to be confused with legal advice.
2 Neither is this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Happy Blogging!

Yesterday was International Weblogger's Day.

Erm...happy belated Blog Day?

Figures, it's an international day of blogging, and neither of us blogged.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Superhero Liability

Despite my ultra-cool exterior and trendy fashion sense, I'm actually a bit of a real geek. One of my favorite geeky pastimes is watching Justice League Unlimited (and before it became "Unlimited," just plain old Justice League). I'm a sucker for comic book cartoons, and especially those done in the style of Batman the Animated Series.

Tonight's episode featured Superman and Captain Marvel (aka Shazam) duking it out and causing billions of dollars in property damage. Superman (checking with the League's financial guy, Batman) insists that the League will pay for the damage, but Lex Luthor (who is running for President) says he'll foot the bill instead.

This quick exchange got me thinking: Superheroes (and heroines) are often causing lots of property damage as they go about doing their whole "saving the world" thing. Are they liable for that damage? Do they, perhaps, contract with the cities they usually save or have statutes written so that they are exempted from liability?

And how does the presence of Superheroes affect other legal thingamabobs? Do capital murder statutes include the killing of a costumed hero that the defendant knew was a costumed hero acting in his official capacity? Does Superman's x-ray vision bring up any privacy issues? What about mind reading? Or if an ordinary person is hit by a psychic forcefield--is that a battery? Are Superheroes exempt from things like deadly conduct statutes? Should Hawkgirl, upon her betrayal of the League (and Earth for that matter), have been prosecuted for treason?

I realize that some of these issues were addressed in The Incredibles, but I think DC and the Justice League Unlimited producers ought to spend a little more time thinking through these things. I'm all for the willing suspension of disbelief, but to blindly believe that all of their destruction doesn't have any legal consequences is a bit much... even for a geek like me.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Monthly House-keeping Note

Going to update the Links side-bar probably tomorrow night. Feel free to make suggestions or shamelessly plug your own blog. We don't mind spreading the lurve.

Though it's sort of like, "I read Amicus Curiae every day, and all I got was this lousy link."

Sorry, but it's all we can offer. We ran out of the limited edition Amicus Curiae thongs weeks ago.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Phone Phun

Today, after going to some ridiculously expensive lunch (again), all of us clerks decided that we should work even less than we usually do. So we started conference calling each other and everyone thought this was a hoot. As we continued to add more clerks to our "conference call o' fun", some dumbass accidentally called a partner in corporate securities. The laughing and joking continued for a few seconds, but then everyone slowly realized that there was something very different about our newly added conferencee and hung up. About 15 minutes later the recruiting coordinator sent us all an email stating that the phones were for law firm business only. Up until now, I liked my chances of getting asked back. Oh well, I guess there's always ambulance chasing.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

For the Fans

After a huge public outcry over my leaving the blog, I have decided to stay on board. Although things are still far from perfect here at Amicus Curiae, I am willing to battle through it for all of beloved fans. So in honor of my return, here is a little rant from yours truly:

"Brevity is the soul of wit." -William Shakespeare

People who have really been pissing me off lately are people who over-blog. I realize that the idea behind a blog is to write about what is on your mind, or maybe something cool that happened to you. But writing about everything that is on your mind, or everything that happened to you today is boring. The ultimate goal behind a blog is that someone else will read it, and 95% of the people out there don't want to read four pages on what you did today. You need to pick something interesting, and write about it in a concise, interesting way. If I have to scroll down to finish your post, you've probably said too much. Now this isn't a bright rule, as some posts will require you to be more verbose. But when the number and length of you posts for a month could fill a medium size novel, you need to think about slowing down. As Dickens once said, "Vices are sometimes only virtues carried to excess."

Update: This post has nothing to do with Ruth

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Open Letters

Dear El Paso Drivers,

When merging into traffic on the freeway, it is customary to increase your speed to match that of the traffic with which you are merging. Slowing down to ten miles an hour is not going to get you safely onto Interstate 10. I recommend retaking driver's ed.

Annoyedly Yours,


Dear Justice Scalia,

WTF is up with your Raich concurrence? I thought better of you.

Disappointedly Yours,


Dear Antonin (my Antonin, not the abovementioned SCOTUS Justice),

Dude, what's up? I thought you were going to post that thing you were telling me about last night. I was eager to read it. As soon as you read this entry, post it. Actually, I'll probably just call you and tell you to post it.

Impatiently Yours,

P.S.--You are in serious need of a new phone.


Dear Infamous El Guapo,

How about brisket this weekend at my place? And remind me to call my apartment complex. And stop referring to me as Castro.

Amusedly Yours,


Dear Law Professors,

Grades would be nice. But if mine aren't good, there's no rush. Right now I'm just thrilled to finally be an "average" student. *does the average student dance*

Anxiously Yours,


Dear CSOs,

While I appreciate the available sodas in your office at the discounted rate of $0.50 per can, I would appreciate it even more if you had Diet Cherry Coke. In the meantime, the Diet Dr. Pepper will suffice.



Dear Miami Heat,

You were so close. So close. I couldn't even watch the final minute.

Dejectedly Yours,


Dear Alfred,

I actually don't have anything specific, but didn't want you to feel left out. :P

Unspecificly Yours,


Dear Federal Courts,

Is the use of the words "draw nigh," and "ye" really necessary? I feel like I'm in Enland and ought to have a Towne Crier bell or a white, curly wig or something.

Confusedly Yours,


Dear Johnny Depp,

You are beautiful. Thank you for being beautiful. I shall see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at least twice this summer.



Dear Self,

You're going to fall asleep at work tomorrow if you don't get a full night's sleep tonight. Quit blogging and go to bed.

Naggingly Yours,

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Antonin, Signing Off

Well, the truth is out. I have been wanting to post for a few days now, but I have been buried under that avalanche that is Ruth's blogging. There was time, a time when we had a deal as co-bloggers to alternate posts. But now that Ruth gets to see drug dealers, illegal border crossers, and horny U.S. Marshalls, I have become but a memory. So I have decided it is time for me to depart this electronic world. I am pretty sure no one wants to hear about me writing research memos, eating expensive lunches, and getting drunk on some big firms tab. The time has come for me to find myself, especially my electronic, anonymous self. I have decided to explore this electronic wilderness alone, and I am afraid I cannot take any of you with me. So this is your friend Antonin saying farewell, good luck, and God Bless.

P.S. If you are upset about me leaving, blame Ruth. If you aren't upset, blame your parents for raising a child with no feelings.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Immigration 101

Today's lesson: don't try to sneak into the United States from Mexico.

Sure, some people manage it, and I am in awe of those people. I can't see how they pull it off.

Work, Day 5, included a tour of the U.S./Mexico border with a border patrol agent. Along with agents on bikes and seismic readers, we learned that the border contains roughly 2 million cameras. Okay, that may have been a tiny exaggeration, but not by much.

The camera room felt very Big Brother. Just to show us how bad ass the cameras were, they went ahead and zoomed in really close on this one car. We were not only able to see that the guy was drinking a soda, but also where he bought the soda. We were also able to see that he wore glasses, a wristwatch on his right arm, and that he enjoyed long walks on the beach. And before you think, "oh, that's why people just try to cross at night when the cameras can't see them," you might want to be aware of the infrared cameras (which were scary in the sense of privacy, etc, but pretty damn cool otherwise).

So, we're watching the multitude of cameras. People crossing the bridge on camera 1. River (if you can call it that) on camera 3. Canal on camera 7. Family swimming in canal on camera 6. Kids fishing on camera 12. Blah, blah, kind of boring...

::radio beep::

"Yeah, we've got two swimmers that just headed north."

Suddenly camera 6 is up on the bigger screen, and the agent is directing it towards the swimmers. We're able to see them swim into a ditch, and then they're out of our sight.

The agent scrolls back over and we see the Border Patrol SUV heading across the little bridge to check it out. We waited several minutes while we watched the agent get out, and check out the ditch. Then she went in.

The camera panned across to where the ditch lets out. Nothing. We wait a few more minutes. The agent asks if we want to stay or start our driving tour of the actual border. It was obvious the rest of my party wanted to stay but didn't want to be rude, so I spoke up and asked if we could wait a few more minutes to see if the agent would catch them. We wait some more.

She emerges from the other end of the ditch, the two swimmers handcuffed together in front of her. Pretty awesome.

We also learned that it's not the agents who actually stop you who decide that you look suspicious. By the time you're stopped, they've already been watching you via camera. So if someone's sneaking something/someone across, they need to get their game face on way before they usually realize.

So I decided today that whenever I come into the United States, I'll go ahead and use a designated port of entry, rather than--say--a canal opening. This is, of course, how I've always returned to the U.S. after a night of partying in Mexico, but just in case the canal were to ever look enticing, now I know that they will only lead to disappointment.


On tomorrow's agenda: tour of a low-security federal prison. Note to self: wear pants, not skirt and button shirt all the way up.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Someone's Always Sick

I've only been in the Judge's chambers for four days, but I can already see how lawyers (in this case those in criminal law) can grow cynical.

On Day One I truly felt for the defendants who were being sentenced. Felt their pain as they asked the judge for forgiveness and mercy, their voices choked up, their eyes watery. I even crossed my fingers for them, hoping the judge would give them bottom of the Guidelines. I mean, he normally wouldn't have brought those 350 lbs. of weed over the border, but his wife needed an operation and he didn't have any other choice.

On Day Two, I noticed that there were some more defendants with family members who needed an operation. And they were equally apologetic to the United States.

Day Three brought yet another defendant with a sick family member. It's as if there is some black market program that advertises drug/people smuggling money to pay for operations. All they have to do is get the weed/cocaine/alien into the U.S.

By Day Four, I wasn't sure if I believed the defendant about his wife's need for an operation. I also began to notice that very few of them ever said what sort of operation was needed. Just a general operation.

Finally, over lunch with three other interns (two of which are serving in different chambers), I asked about it. It turns out that it's the same in their court. The defendants always apologize to the U.S. and ask the judge to forgive them.

"Oh," one intern added, "and someone's always sick."

"Yeah, and they always promise not to come back to the U.S.," another intern chimed in. "As if anyone's supposed to believe that when they've got eighteen prior illegal re-entries."

Granted, there are a few defendants (like this one guy who brought his uncle over when his grandma was dying) whose stories are legit, but they are few and fairly far between. So while I still believe the defendants deserve the best defense possible, I just think that after seeing such similar stories day after day, it'll be a little harder for me to sympathize with every defendant who gets sentenced.

Now speaking of sentencing, can any of you explain U.S. v. Booker to me? I understand that it made the Federal Sentencing Guidelines advisory, but I don't understand why mandatory sentencing guidelines violated the 6th amendment but advisory sentencing guidelines don't. What is it about the mandatory-ness that makes the Guidelines (or rather, the statute that authorizes the Guidelines) unconstitutional?

And every time I read Booker, all I can think of is Captain Barbosa from Pirates of the Carribbean saying, "They're more like guidelines than actual rules."

Friday, June 03, 2005

Ruth on the Marshal's Most Wanted List?

There was a U.S. marshal totally checking me out in court today.

I thought it was just my imagination, but then my co-intern said, "Hey, did you see that marshal that was staring at you during the morning setting?"

I'm so amused.

And yet, I can't help but wonder if he's single...

ADDENDUM: It just dawned on me that perhaps the Court Security Officer told him that I'm a porn star.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I am at work and I have nothing to do. And when I say nothing, I mean it in the most literal sense. I even googled the word "bored" and tried to find famous quotes that best fit my present state of mind. I've emailed my project coordinator, the recruiting coordinator, and my associate mentor, telling them all I need work, and still nothing. Let me make it clear that I am not complaining about making $420 a day to surf the internet and blog, but I would like to get an invitation to come back to this firm next summer. But until they assign me something, all I can do is sit here and wait.

So we are going to have a contest to see who can come up with the best idea of what I can do to pass the time today. Looking at porn and talking on IM are out, so you'll have to get creative. The person who comes up with the best idea wins a free copy of the memo I just finished on gasoline consignment law (but you have to pay the postage). Let the games began! Ay-O!

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