Wednesday Writs for 11/28

Wednesday Writs for 11/28

[L1]: In the early 1900s in New Hampshire, a young boy named George Hawkins grabbed an electrical wire and badly burned the palm of his hand. For years, it seemed he was destined to live with the badly damaged but usable hand. Then, one Dr. McGee turned up, promising George and his father that he could fix the boy’s hand. Dr. McGee guaranteed a “100% good hand” after surgery. The boy and his father agreed and Dr. McGee performed the operation. His method: remove skin from the boy’s chest and graft it to the palm of his hand. The surgery did not go well, and the result was a mass of tissue in his palm that made his hand completely unusable-and then grew hair. The Hawkins family sued Dr. McGee for breach of contract in Hawkins v. McGee, our case of the week– better known among law students as “the Hairy Hand Case”. The New Hampshire appellate court agreed with the jury, who decided the doctor had formed a contract with his promise of a 100% good hand, and breached by failing to deliver, but ordered a new trial to accurately assess damages. The case, besides being gross, is notable for the recognition of “expectation damages”; that is, the difference in value between the expected performance of a contract and what is actually received. The parties eventually settled, but the case lives on in 1L contracts classes every where.

[L2]: In keeping with the theme of suing doctors, how would you feel if your surgeon decided to bust a move in the middle of your liposuction? According to multiple lawsuits, Dr. Windell Boutte did just that- and much more serious things.

[L3]: Satan takes on Netflix! Well, the Satanic Temple, that is. The Organization says Netflix has co-opted their design of Baphomet and used it without permission in the graphic logo for the Netflix show “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”.

[L4]: After forty years, a United Nations court rules that Khmer Rouge perpetrated genocide in Cambodia, convicting two of the regime’s surviving leaders of killing off minorities in the 1970s “killing fields.”

[L5]: Bail reform has been a topic of late, and a New York program aimed at helping those charged with non-violent crimes await trial outside of jail has proven to have a successful return-to-court rate- so why isn’t it being used more broadly?

[L6]: Out of 27 lawyers scheduled to argue before the SCOTUS this next session, only two are women, continuing a trend of very few women appearing before the high court.

[L7]: Speaking of SCOTUS, Justices Gorsuch and Sotomayor joined up in a dissenting opinion in the case of Stuart v. Alabama, in which the majority upheld the DUI conviction of a woman despite the fact that the chemist who performed the forensic testing in her case was not the one who testified to the results. Gorsuch and Sotomayor believe this action violated Stuart’s constitutional right to confront her accuser (I concur).

[L8]: In what will surely be a new 4th Amendment battle, an Ohio man became the first person compelled to use his face to unlock his iphone for the police.

[L9]: The American Bar Association has published a list of the best of #lawtwitter. The list is incomplete because I am not on it, but still a good start.

[L10]: You know how meat and poultry packaging shows you a little picture of a skillet? That’s because it is mandated by our crazy law of the week.

[L11]: Our dumb criminal of the week faked his own death– but unfortunately for him, he told his girlfriend. Apparently having more conscience than he did, she tattled to his parents.

[L12]: To end back on the medical malpractice note, I give you the deposition scene from Malice, starring a young Alec Baldwin:

Malice – I am God


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Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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10 thoughts on “Wednesday Writs for 11/28

  1. L11: One of my colleagues had a student who claimed that her mother died as an excuse for missing class. The next semester he had the student’s mother in class (no, she wasn’t a zombie). I also had a student who claimed her husband was MIA in Iraq. I thought she was lying for several reasons, but I was lucky that I never had to confront her, as she dropped the class.

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  2. L3: Because a program of posting bail that started in October is not going to have any statistically significant results in November. On average, one-third of people released either on bail or on their own recognizance will fail to appear or commit a crime within a year of release. BOJ pdf The rate is lower for women, so if the program partly targets women, then it will show better results than these.

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  3. [L6] I wonder if this is a matter of the demographics catching up. I read that most law school graduates are now women. But I’m guessing most lawyers selected to argue before the Court are very senior and in with the boys club?

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  4. L10: A couple months back my wife brought home what she thought was a package of frozen cooked white chicken meat. The packaging was entirely opaque. The picture showed an attractive cooked chicken dish. I was quite surprised to open the package and find raw meat. I eventually went over the packaging inch by inch. You could infer that the contents were uncooked from the preparation instructions, in extremely tiny print. Or you could find the word raw in text about an eighth-inch tall. The law is crazy only in the sense that it doesn’t require much clearer, larger labeling, including pictograms for the significant part of the population that is functionally illiterate.

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  5. How the rich and powerful make their plea deals:

    https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/article220097825.html

    It was far from the last time Epstein would receive VIP handling. Unlike other convicted sex offenders, Epstein didn’t face the kind of rough justice that child sex offenders do in Florida state prisons. Instead of being sent to state prison, Epstein was housed in a private wing of the Palm Beach County jail. And rather than having him sit in a cell most of the day, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office allowed Epstein work release privileges, which enabled him to leave the jail six days a week, for 12 hours a day, to go to a comfortable office that Epstein had set up in West Palm Beach. This was granted despite explicit sheriff’s department rules stating that sex offenders don’t qualify for work release.

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  6. The L7 link does raise an interesting question (which I had thought had been answered by the courts but I guess not). How much can criminal investigations be commodified before it runs afoul of the confrontation clause. Like, I already thought that DNA testing was pretty much already done at big central facilities (either within a state or shared between states or a contractor that services several governmental and other clients), with numerous employees that individually, just handle one facet of the overall process.

    How many people involved the process of collected, processing and analyzing forensic data need to be on the hook for questioning in a court of law?

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    • Enough to establish chain of custody, in my opinion. But I’ve never had multiple chemists work on the same testing of an item. I have had a lab supervisor who did not participate in the actual testing sign the lab report, though, and in those cases I called in the chemist and the supervisor.

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