October 05, 2002

From 6-14 to the ALCS--WHO'S NEXT!?!
I'm in SF this weekend, and damn it if I didn't miss one of the most remarkeable come-from-behind wins for the Angels since, well, the 4th game of the 1986 playoffs. I only hope the outcome this time is a bit different. The editor of Rittenhouse Review has passed along this link to a worthwhile cause: the McBride campaign to restore Florida to the civilized world, a philanthropic endeavor I wholeheartedly endorse.

October 04, 2002

Perhaps the nicest thing about the Angels' run this year has been that this is the first playoff team in franchise history to be made up substantially of home-grown players. The accidental champions of 1979 and 1986 were mainly free agents and trade acquisitions who would be gone from the team in a year or two; the best previous team, the 1982 team that blew a two-game lead to the Brewers, (remembered in this article) had only one player on the roster who had been exclusively with the team. Kids can follow and grow attached to this year's team, the way I grew up and followed the Dodgers in the '70's; players like Salmon, Glaus, Erstad, Anderson, Percival, et al., are career Angels, and give this team a distinct identity.

In any event, I'm going to be watching the next two games up in Frisco; my sister is moving, and I'm going to hang out with my college friends for a few days. In the meantime, my posts will be infrequent....
It would almost be worth losing the NJ Senate seat to have the Supreme Court intervene again on behalf of its employers, the Republican Party. If anything would mobilize the base nationwide, it would be another 5-4 decision to curtail democracy.
While many of his devoted readers might think this morning's Paul Krugman column does a pretty classy job retracting an earlier unsubstantiated charge against Army Secretary Thomas White, it is unlikely to satiate the baying right, which demands the full ritual of seppuku beforehand.

October 03, 2002

Kudos to Mr. Brad Bolkcom for winning the month of September in the Joxer's Home Run Pool, and thereby sweeping every month of the season (with one tie). Wherever you are, I hope you kicking back with a pitcher, cheering on the Angels and plotting next year's draft. In the meantime, I have a hockey pool to worry about.
One of the more interesting things I've noticed in the Blog O'Sphere debate on the controversy in the New Jersey Senate race is that almost all of my compatriots on the liberal end of the spectrum have generally taken a position in favor of giving the people of that state a choice in the election, therefore enabling Frank Lautenberg's name to be placed on the ballot, while our learned adversaries on the right, although quite pleased that Sen. Torricelli has withdrawn from the race, are more skeptical that the law permits such a last-second substitution. Having recalled the opposite stances taken by both sides when the candidate arguing for a more "expansive" interpretation of state election law was Kathleen Harris, I hadn't thought that those positions necessarily fit into any position along the left-right spectrum, but there could be a nuance I haven't picked up yet.

October 02, 2002

If Tom Daschle had a backbone (yeah, right), the CIA's refusal to brief Congress on its contingencies for Iraq would be grounds for halting any debate on a Congressional resolution. An Administration that has already followed a policy of deceit in pushing for war should not be allowed to get away with covering up possible divisions within the executive branch; unfortunately, Senate Democrats seem to be much more concerned with shoring up their position in New Jersey than with stopping an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.
Tonight, all of Scioscia's late moves worked, as the Angels came from behind to win only the second road playoff game in franchise history. Thrilling game, with the Yankees loading the bases in the eighth and putting the tying run on with one out in the ninth; ground fouls in both innings, just to the right of first base, enabled the Angels to hang on. I wasn't surprised that the Angels stole one in the Bronx...but I will be shocked if they win both in Anaheim.
Round 1 is over. The NJ Supreme Court just upheld the Democratic Party's attempt to replace Torricelli's name on the ballot with Frank Lautenberg. The decision will probably be appealed to the federal courts, but the longer the GOP fights this, the more they are going to seem like they are scared of competition. Ultimately, they will have to accept the fact that they are not going to be able to run against Torricelli anymore.
There was a very brief period, sometime in the 8th inning last night, when I honestly thought the Angels might be able to stretch this thing to four games...Scioscia needed to throw the bomb to beat the Yanks, and instead he went into a prevent defense. The next time I see Donnelly pitch, it better be in B.P. or during a ten-run blowout.

October 01, 2002

Did Syd's mom actually shoot her with a real bullet? Is Khasinau really dead? Wouldn't Will Tippin's friends and co-workers have noticed something in the past three years if he had really been on heroin? Lord, what a weird episode that was...and what was the deal with that operating room?
Beginning tonight, and for the next four weeks, PBS airs a documentary on the history of Jim Crow at 10 p.m. that is well worth seeing. Admittedly, though, I'm going to have to tape it, due to something else starting tonight.

[ED.-My bad. It seems the local PBS affiliate will not be showing it til Thursday]

September 30, 2002

Of course, the big political story of the day was the decision by Senator Robert "the Torch" Torricelli to end his reelection campaign for the U.S. Senate. It is unclear whether he will soon resign his seat; the GOP threatens to legally prevent anyone else from taking his place on the ballot, which they might be able to pull off thanks to New Jersey law. The Democrats made the same mistake recently in the Massachusetts governor's race; it would probably be better for the Forrester campaign if they were to magnanimously allow the Democrats to have whomever they wanted on the ballot, rather than seem like cowards. In any event, according to this story, it appears "the Torch" will find a way to land on his feet.
A new website sponsored by a group called "Campus Watch" has created a blacklist, complete with a snitch form, for professors and scholars who are insufficiently anti-Muslim, er, I mean, "anti-terrorist". This type of list honors anyone who gives a rat's ass about civil liberties and educational freedom (link from Cursor.org).
For those visiting this site for the first time through a Google referral, I do not have access to nude pictures of Anna Kournikova, Erika Christenson, Andy Roddick, or Fernando Vargas, and I have no information about whether Hayden Christenson, Roberto Alomar, or Gwyneth Paltrow is gay. I should point out, though, that the Kournikova reference is a preemptive move on my part, since no one to date has reached this blog with that request. Sorry.
Playoffs begin Tuesday. For the local AL team, their first game is at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time (in fact, since they are playing a New York team, the first three games of the series are scheduled for prime time). Angels will have Washburn, Appier and Ortiz going, vs. Clemens, Pettite and Mussina, respectively. Yipes !!

September 29, 2002

I am none too happy with the Ninth Circuit right now. Various federal statutes give the circuit courts the power to appoint bankruptcy judges. In effect, those judges are "servants" of the district court, with all the powers of judges in supervising and adjudicating the cases that are before them, but without the lifetime tenure that marks the federal judiciary. They serve terms of fourteen years, after which they usually are reappointed by a panel of appellate judges. In rare instances, the circuit court will politely ask the judge to retire, to enter into private practice, or just to get lost, but that contingency is usually reserved for those who are either incompetent, crooked, or are simply ill-suited to sit as judges.

Last week, word came out that Kathleen March would not be reappointed. There was no public word on the Ninth Circuit's rationale in nixing her reappointment, so for all I know, she's been taking home satchels of cash from the local paralegal lobby, or has a double life running a high class prostitution ring. Maybe she has several husbands. All I know from my experience as a humble country lawyer from Woodland Hills is that she was a damn good judge. I should say, is a damn good judge. Her opinions have always been reasonable and moderate. She is a stickler for procedural requirements, which can be a drag, but the thing about having a case before an anally retentive judge is that, you know that going in; you just spend more time preparing ahead of time to make sure that all the parties that need notice get noticed, and all the exhibits are tabbed and all the pleadings paginated. In any event, making sure that attorneys follow the local rules is not likely going to be the reason a good judge was not reappointed.

Rumor has it that a group of "debtor's attorneys" got together to lobby the Ninth Circuit, and alleged that she was rude to counsel and was often unprepared. The former criticism is almost certainly true, a fact I can attest to from first-hand experience. When counsel didn't bring their "A-game" to court, she would be snappy, and her tongue would wax sarcastically; I occasionally felt her wrath, particularly when I first began practicing. In all honesty, appearing before that sort of judge, seen in retrospect, is character-building; at the time, all you think about is taking revenge in a manner prohibited by federal law (oops, a left-wing blogger fantasizes about violence; better not tell Kausfiles). But hell, lawyers have a state-enforced monopoly, an exclusive license to make money. If you can't take the occasional sarcastic zing, get into accounting. Or entertainment law.

As for the latter charge, her alleged lack of preparation, that is, to put it politely, bullshit. I have never appeared before a judge who knew as much about the cases on her docket as Kathleen March. As a habit, she would recite the details of each case on to the record at every hearing, which was a royal pain if you had to be somewhere else that day, but it also ensured that a complete record would be on the transcript if your case was appealed. I have no doubt that what bugged those attorneys wasn't that she was unprepared, but that she knew their cases better than they did.

I lightly passed over the group purportedly behind her ouster, the "debtor's bar". Lest you think I am attacking the heart and soul of my practice, understand that the "debtor's bar" does not refer to lawyers who represent the humble citizen who runs up credit card debt, or has a medical bill they can't pay; it consists of Chapter 11 attorneys, people who represent Enron and WorldCom, if those companies only had the good sense to file in the Central District of California. When I say "debtor's bar", think corporations that have cooked books and laid-off employees, and the attorneys who represent them. I hate them. They represent everything that is despicable and odious about the legal system. For example, last year I attended a bankruptcy forum dinner in Beverly Hills, on the issue of procedural changes. Any hope that I would actually learn something that might assist my practice was shot when one of the panelists gave a presentation discussing the new streamlined local rules for Chapter 11 cases: her argument was that California had gained a reputation for being a lousy place for companies to file bankruptcy, and that firms such as hers were losing business to New York and Delaware. Now that's something for Jimmy Hahn and Gray Davis: how do we make California a more bankruptcy-friendly state. Well, contribute enough money to him, and I'm sure Gov. Davis will get right on that.

As I said, there may have been a good reason to deny reappointment to Kathleen March, but I haven't heard it yet. I don't know what her political views were; the word was that she had been a Republican in New York, but she was a law school classmate of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and I never saw a hint of bias in her opinions. I have not seen any statistics indicating that her opinions were reversed disproportionately, or that she favored debtors over creditors, or vice versa.

By the way, while I'm on the topic of the ideology of judges, my position is that the only criteria for the nomination and approval of District Court judges should be temperament (does the judge have a professional reputation for fairness? is there any reason to believe that the nominee is a bully?), qualifications (did the nominee pass the bar in a reasonable time? did he spend a lot of time fending off malpractice suits?) and integrity (has the candidate always been in a member in good standing of the local bar? is there a history of domestic violence/drug use/boozing?). Ideology should play only a miniscule role: is the nominee is part of a very broad spectrum of mainstream opinion on legal issues. As much as I may disagree with them, people who oppose abortion rights, support the death penalty, or believe that the federal government should play a more limited role in enforcing civil rights are part of that broad mainstream; a judge who believes in the superiority of the white race, or that public school classrooms should be devoted to Bible study, or that government should play no role regulating private property, is not. It is an opinion that I have come to through first-hand experience appearing in court; the best judges are men and women who differ enormously on political issues: the best judge I have ever appeared before was a Reagan appointee, while two of the biggest stiffs in the Central District were appointed by Johnson and Carter. The two worst judges on the bankruptcy panel are liberals, but so is the best judge.

On the other hand, ideology should not only be a factor in determining who should be approved to sit on the Court of Appeals, it should be the preeminent factor. Considering the circumstances by which this President gained office, the Senate must exercise its discretion in vetting his appellate nominees; if any doubt exists about where a judge stands, he must be defeated (so sorry, McConnell and Estrada). And under no circumstances can the Senate approve any nominee for the Supreme Court until February, 2005, so long as the Democrats are in control. The notion that the federal courts are undermanned at the moment is true, but its only relevance derives from the backlog in District Court judges, not from a shortage of appellate judges (after all, if a District Court seat is not filled, that means that no cases can be assigned to that courtroom, increasing the number of cases that get assigned to other courts, and justice gets delayed; if an appellate seat is not filled, that only means there are fewer judges hearing appeals, but the appeals still get heard, albeit by fewer judges).

Well, I'm getting off the track here. Judge March may have been a real, er, witch, at times, but I got over it. We all have our idiosyncrasies, and if having a stinging wit is the worst thing you can say about a person, I can live with that. It's a shame other people didn't. I will miss her on the bench, and hope she has a successful career in private practice. I especially hope that she is not blacklisted the same way Rose Bird was by the local bar, after she was voted out of office. The bankruptcy court of the Central District will never be the same.
The post-9/11 anniversary bounce the GOP received has dissipated. If the election were to be held today, Democratic Congressional candidates are favored by 7 points in the most recent preference poll. Far from being hawkish on the issue of invading Iraq, the preferred solution (according to the Newsweek poll) for dealing with Saddam is assasination or some similar covert action, rather than a full-scale war.
Just a reminder that tonight is the second season premiere of Alias. For those who can't wait til 9 pm (8 p.m. Central), here are some spoilers. Here's a hint: contrary to what you may have seen on the ads, Syd's mom does not shoot JGarn to death in tonight's episode.
FINAL RYDER CUP UPDATE: Euros were on fuego early and pulled away late to upset the U.S., 15 1/2 to 12 1/2. Crap.