An 80 year old man who didn't trust banks (but was not part of the so-called "Occupy" movement) sewed his life savings of $13,000 in the lining of a suit that he then donated to Goodwill. Now he wants the money back. Of course! He surely had no donative intent with respect to the money -- only the suit -- so there is no gift. He cannot have abandoned the money because abandonment requires proof by the later possessor that the true owner has intentionally relinquished his claim of ownership, and the owner's immediate demand for return of the money is good evidence to rebut that argument. After all, if the insurers of the gold on the shipwreck of the Central America could remain dormant for 137 years without abandoning their ownership, surely this guy is well ahead of the game. This is more like mislaid property, where the true owner always prevails against a claim of a later possessor. But there's a catch -- the suit appears to have already been sold. The news items are here and here.
If the suit can be traced to its purchaser, does the purchaser have good title? Under UCC 2-403 the entrusting of goods to a merchant who deals in such goods produces good title in the purchaser of the goods. While Goodwill is surely such a merchant as to used suits, does it deal in used suits with a hidden cache of cash in the lining? I need help from the UCC gods on this, as I am merely a Con Law and Property type.
If the suit can't be traced to the purchaser and there is no good title in that purchaser (whoever it is), can Goodwill be liable as a bailee who has breached his duty of care? Probably not; assuming that Goodwill never knew about the cash.
The poor fellow's wife has Stage 4 cancer, so maybe the purchaser will learn about it, check the lining, and do the right, honorable, and moral thing.
UPDATE: Kudos to commenter James Grimmelmann, who supplied this answer to the UCC question:
"Sometimes, life hands you a precedent that's so on point the coincidence is staggering. Kahr v. Markland, 543 N.E. 2d 579 (Ill. App. 1989) would suggest that the man can recover as against the purchaser. Kahr donates clothes to Goodwill, and mistaken[ly] includes bags of engraved sterling silver. Goodwill sells the silver to Markland. Held, no "entrusting" to Goodwill, so title does not pass to the purchaser. And this by an Illinois court."
It's been a tough couple of months for university presses. First there was the revival of the controversy over Yale University Press' The King Never Smiles. The translator (who was living in the United States at the time he published the translation) pled guilty to charges of defaming the Royal Family of Thailand.
OUP is aware of the recent debate regarding the removal of an essay by A.K. Ramanujan ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation' from an undergraduate reading list at the University of Delhi. ... We would welcome a dialogue with Professor Pollock or his colleagues on any matters concerning scholarly freedom, which is of central importance to Oxford University Press.
This will, of course, bring more attention to Ramanujan's scholarship. Here is a link to barnes and noble's page for The Collected Essays of A.K. Rananujan (2004 paperback edition), though it is listed as unavailable. Amazon's only copy is a used one for $230.
Next up on the list of presses to be attacked by the censors? I'm guessing the University of California Press for Oberlin Religion Professor Paula Richman's, Many Rāmāyaṇas. Copies of Many Ramayans are still widely available and for reasonable prices. Barnes and Noble, for instance, has new copies in stock for $25 and links to used copies for about $16. Amazon has copies in stock as well.
Update: I'm actually now a little unclear on what, if anything, OUP India has done regarding Rananujan's Collected Essays, because it's listed as available for immediate purchasing on their website.
Fred Siegel, the former editor of the leftist (or "progressive" if you prefer that euphemism) Dissent magazine, is the subject of an interview which appears here in this weekend's Wall Street Journal. The piece is probably behind the Journal's pay wall, so I shall summarize it briefly. Siegel notes that the public sector union is an interest group dedicated to lobbying for ever more government and the taxes to pay for it. Salaries produced by public sector union negotiations are unconnected to any measure of productivity and incumbents have every incentive to capitulate to public sector union demands because the unions will use their manpower and cash (derived from mandatory union dues) to elect candidates committed to ever-growing government. And all of this is unsustainable, as Canada figured out in the early 1990s (and acted to curb the size of its welfare state) and Europe is now beginning to understand. In New York City, Siegel notes, the public sector unions have become the modern Tammany Hall, only with a better track record of political dominance. Speaking of NYC, Siegel says: "We are what the tea party fears for the rest of the country. Crony capitalism, and low-end work, and the loss of mobility, and no place to do business if you're a small business."
This will be my last Faculty Lounge guest post. Thanks so much to Dan Filler for inviting me to share some stories from Lawtalk. I've had fun, and hope FL readers have enjoyed them.
Since this is the time of year when we start looking for exam ideas, I'm remembering the times when real cases ended up being much more interesting than anything I could concoct. The Lawtalk entry for "lawyers, guns, and money" provides that kind of 'truth is stranger than fiction' example. The phrase comes from the title of Warren Zevon's classic 1978 song. Its lyrics tell the tale of a man in trouble, including waitress-spies, gambling losses in Cuba, and Latin American hideaways, concluding:
Now I’m hiding in Honduras I’m a desperate man Send lawyers, guns and money The shit has hit the fan.
The musical tale is dramatic, but life added a legal twist. In a case of life imitating art, the combination of lawyers, money, and offspring in jeopardy led a judge in New York to invoke Zevon’s lyric to express sympathy but deny relief. A woman named Cornelia Sage had died in 1972, and her will created a trust for her son Henry and his children. The will provided only a limited power to spend the principal of the trust. In 1976, Henry’s son Ricky Sage and Ricky’s wife, Karen, were jailed in Brazil and charged with illegal possession of drugs. Henry paid $85,000 to lawyers in Brazil to secure special treatment for Ricky and Karen, for their release, and for dismissal of the charges. The New York judge, concluding that the payments were in fact used to pay bribes, refused to allow the trust funds to be used to repay Henry. The judge did not question the "motives of a father’s decision to employ this means to free his children from such intolerable and life- threatening prison conditions. No father could do less. The lyrics of contemporary rock music capture the ageless seeking of a child for a parent’s help—‘Send lawyers, guns and money/Dad, get me out of this.’ And while Dad did answer and get his children out, this Court cannot indorse the methods employed."
While the judge did not allow trust funds to pay for the release of Ricky and Karen, he did let the trustee use trust money to pay the attorneys’ fees of the many lawyers involved in the dispute over the trust. Perhaps the judge thought the song just said, "Send lawyers money."
The bottom line is that [candidate] Mary Prescott reminds me of me. And so she will contribute to the law school in (many) many ways. By contrast, [candidate] Frank Wright reminds me of you, Tony, and that’s an unpleasant reminder. We don’t need more of you. The law school should be looking to downsize you. And simultaneously, the law school should be spending far greater resources validating what I do.” . . .
Working a little this evening on a short essay a former student and I are writing -- a pretty simple quantitative analysis of pre-Civil War landscape art. (How's that for two things you usually don't think go together?) And I figured I'd post a picture that I've been looking at -- and enjoying.
That's the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, where Wilkes Barre is located. This apparently is from Prospect Rock -- which I really need to visit on one of my trips home to Pennsylvania. It won't be over winter break -- too cold (and too much to do) to go hiking up there in December. But maybe if I'm lucky I'll be able to set some time aside for this next summer.
There's a monument put up in the 1830s and 1840s (or thereabouts) to the Revolutionary War Battle of Wyoming. Will make a nice companion to my pictures of the Paoli Massacre Monument, which was from the 1820s as I recall.
The print is by William Barlett and appeared in a couple of Nathaniel Willis' books in the 1840s -- American Scenery and Letters Under a Bridge.
Here are two other prints that I like. The first is View of Northumberland on the Susquehanna. The second is view of the Columbia Bridge over the Susquehanna.
Here's a link to BookTV's broadcast of a September 2011 session at the National Press Club celebrating the award of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction to John Grisham. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Library of Congress' National Book Festival. From the BookTV website:
After accepting the award the author speaks about being a lawyer and the role that law plays in contemporary fiction with a panel that includes, novelists David Baldacci, Linda Fairstein, and Thane Rosenbaum, Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate, lawyer Robert Grey, Jr, and Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
This is an article of some interest to me (ha, ha): how much we should allow our research agendas to be driven by our own interests or identity. The author (David Kille, a phd candidate in psychology at the University of Waterloo) discusses research in psychology, but the issue arises often in the legal academy as well. He talks about this as "me-search."
Over at the Legal Scholarship Network, the LSU Law Center has posted an announcement seeking applications/nominations of candidates interested in becoming the inaugural holder of the Nesser Family Chair in Energy Law (the chair also will serve as founding director of an energy law center). Contact Chancellor Jack M. Weiss for additional info.
“They [previous executions] were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again during the past 14 years,” Gov. Kitzhaber said. “I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society. And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong.”
Noting the length of time many inmates spend on death row, often more than 20 years, he said Oregon had an “unworkable system that fails to meet basic standards of justice.”
Currently, Oregon only executes prisoners who waive their appeals, like the recent Haugen case.
The ABA Journal website put up an article yesterday (November 21, 2011), ABA Committee Readies Law School Placement, Salary Questionnaire, at its early December 2011 meeting, the Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar will consider competing job-placement reporting proposals. One issue is how salary data should be reported. The problem with salary data is that the selection bias. As I discussed in So You Want To Be a Rock 'n Roll Star? and Go To Law, even the national NALP salary surveys over-report salaries. Students with jobs are more likely to report job status, but are more likely to report salaries if they have high-paying jobs.
* * * We do not propose reporting school specific salary data. Rather we will use NALP salary information which will be aggregated on a state-wide basis for each field (if available) on our Placement Data Summary. This will avoid the problem of upward scaling of salary information at the law school level due to the fact some of the school’s graduates do not report their salary information and those who do report tend to be those at higher salary levels. The aggregated state-wide approach collects salary data from graduates of all ABA-approved law schools employed in a state in any particular job category. (Emphasis added.)
By definition, the number of graduates reporting salary for any given school are lower than the number from all schools, and thus more unreliable. The lower numbers of school-level salary reports will make it hard to break reported salaries into job categories. So far as I can tell, the SRC does not propose that each school report salaries by category, or even show the distribution of salary reports by category. (See update below.)
But state-level salaries ignore differences among cities, as well as the difference between urban, suburban and rural salaries.
Update: A member of the Standards Review Committee told me that the SRC proposal would require law schools to provide full-time salary information by category whenever at least 5 persons have reported a salary in that category: (i) number of persons reporting salary; and (ii) 25th, 50th & 75th percentiles of salaries.
The information would be organized according to
Employment "status"--Bar passage required, JD preferred, other professional, and non-professional, and
Employment type--law firms, by size of firm, business & industry, government, judicial clerkships, academia, and unknown.
We all know this story. Law school clinical program does work that steps on the toes of industry. Politicians respond. That's going on at the University of Maryland right now - and it's a reheating of old claims. Last week Governor Martin O'Malley wrote Dean Phoebe Haddon, complaining that the suit filed by the school's environmental clinic against Hudson Farms and Perdue Farms was "state sponsored injustice and a misuse of taxpayer resources." Dean Haddon responded to the Governor writing that she believed there to be "good grounds" for the lawsuit and added that O'Malley's letter itself had "the potential to become highly prejudicial, undermining the integrity of the judicial process." This all follows on legislators' unsuccessful efforts last year to address the lawsuit by chopping money from the law school budget
I haven't found the complete letters but the National Law Journal has extensive excerpts of O'Malley's letter here.
Update: The Governor's letter is here. The Dean's letter is here.
In terms of cluster hires, good advice is less readily available. How might a cluster of faculty indicate interest in being hired as a group? Is there an effective way for a school to signal an interest in making a cluster hire? I vaguely remember a school's hiring announcement from a few years back. It specifically invited expressions of interests from small groups of faculty members.
Might there be an appetite -- on either the "buy" side or the "sell" side -- for a different kind of central register? What if a school had access to a database of professors who indicated an interest in being considered for "permanent" lateral positions at that individual school? (I suppose that could work for single-faculty lateral moves, just as well as cluster hires.) The current incarnation of the Visiting Faculty Registry isn't calibrated to accomplish this. So imagine a system that professors could elect into, select specific schools of interest, and list themselves either individually or as part of a cluster. Might this work? Are law schools interested in cluster hires often enough to make a central register worthwhile? Are enough faculty members interested in being cluster hired to make a central register worthwhile?
The University of Calgary is looking to make a mid-career appointment in the area of business law, and an entry-level appointment in the area of resources, environmental or energy law. More information on both appointments, as well as life in Calgary generally, can be found here: http://www.law.ucalgary.ca/faculty/staff-positions#Academic
Ronan Farrow, who old Woody Allen fans once knew as Satchel, has been named a Rhodes Scholar. He is a 24 year old Yale Law grad who was first accepted by the school at age 16. He graduated from Bard College at 15. He is currently Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues and director of the State Department’s Global Youth Issues office.
I'm thinking this evening about the book I've been working on for the last few years -- or, depending on how one looks at this, for like half my adult life. I prefer to frame it as the former rather than the later, because it makes me feel better about how long I've been working on this. The book is about jurisprudence and proslavery thought in the old South. I study academics' writings, as well as those of judges, and an occassional anti-slavery writer. Mostly I'm interested in pretty dense material like treatises and appellate cases, but I also use trials, orations, articles in periodicals, speeches in Congress and on the stump ... even the occassional novel. (The issue about length of time is: do I count the years I spent working on my dissertation, which is on a simlar topic? My dissertation was heavily focused on pre-Civil War property doctrine; those were back in the days when legal historians didn't seem all that interested in doctrine. Over time I migrated to being more interested in issues of jurisprudence, even non-judicial statements about law. Now I realize that interest in doctrine in legal history is making a come-back. So I'm in the situation that I'm out of touch again with the field. Well, at least I can dust off those chapters on the subtleties of vested rights doctrine....)
Right now I'm thinking about dealing with editors -- and so I have pulled off the shelf one of the great, GREAT books for academics -- Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato's Thinking Like Your Editor. I rarely can tell if anyone actually listens to anything I write here. But I must say this -- affecting the voice I use with students when I'm saying something they really need to hear, like what's on the exam, what's on the bar exam, or something that's a malpractice trap they might encounter -- if you're working on amonograph, you would really benefit from Thinking Like Your Editor. It's easily worth the $10 or so that you'll spend to get a used copy. Well worth it. Also, you'll want to read -- and this is free -- Dedi Felman's article from the Chroncile on "What Book Editors Are Looking For."