Friday, May 31, 2013

The Time Has Come to Abolish the Slave Law

Slavery was abolished with the passage of 13th Amendment in 1865, and now, with the State of Mississippi completing formalities of filing their ratification this year, it seems fully and universally approved, nationwide. It should be only logical that the "slave law," a body of pre-Amendment court decisions regarding slavery aspects, would become outlawed just as its subject did, instantaneously with it. I was surprised to find out that it didn't. Majority of the slave cases are still marked as "good law." Many of them are cited in decisions made decades after the Amendment. Some are even recognized authority in up-to-date treatises. I think this is an important issue, worthy of our attention, something we should, and now can, fix.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Passing the BAR Exam. Tips I Still Remember.

This weekend, the results for California February 2013 Bar Exam came out. The news reminded me of my own experience with this formidable exercise and I decided to "reduce to writing" what, in my opinion, were for me the most important tips for winning this game.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Affirmanti, non neganti, incumbit probatio

a more common form: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat

Meaning: The proof lies upon one who affirms, not upon one who denies.

The maxim provides a rule in establishing a presumption of who initially carries the burden of proof. This is a deep-rooted and well known maxim, mentioned in the Blackstone's Commentaries (Book 3, p.366 (1791)) as one established both in common and civil laws. It appears to be a part of the Justinian I's Corpus Juris Civilis (Digest book*), completed in 533 A.D. And even there, it is referred as "A maxim of Paulus," enforced by the Emperor Pius' rescript. Its full cite and a detailed account are given here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Books to read

If you have ever scanned through biographies of successful figures in legal profession, you could not miss a similar element in their upbringing. It is a very basic, foundational element: their education. Being educated is not the whole recipe, but is an unavoidable ingredient for success in a "learned" profession. This necessity, traditionally, is a costly one, and a large share of the costs fell on books.

From Cicero's times, "books, like works of art, were expensive." You would think that with the advance of printing technology the prices would drop, yet the textbooks remain extremely expensive today,* and the prices are on the rise. Imagine, how different our history would be, if Thomas Jefferson wouldn't be lucky to inherit his father's library and then get another one from George Wythe. The world will be all so more different if Abraham Lincoln, who "was mostly self-educated and was an avid reader and often sought access to any new books in the village," wouldn't be able to self-educate himself with books.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

100 California Appellate Decisions

In order to observe litigation dynamics on the state's appellate level, I took a sample scope of 100 appellate decisions (including ones from the Cal. Supreme Court, but not including Superior Court's Limited Jurisdiction's appeals). Unlike my earlier sample of 100 filed complaints at the trial-court level, which took only 3 days to fulfill, 100 appellate decisions were rendered over a span of approximately a month: my particular scope covered cases from March 26 to April 30, 2013. The results differ, as expected, since there are whole classes of cases regularly commenced in the trial court, but rarely appealed. Yet there are some similarities as well. Here are the particular results, per field: