All posts filed under: Heroes

Creating the Future

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Heroes / Repairing The Systen

James Lorenz died  earlier this year. In the late 1960s  Lorenz  showed  himself to be one of the most important  social entrepreneurs of the second half of the Twentieth Century.  A 26 year old associate in a Los Angeles corporate firm, Lorenz not  only dreamed up the idea of  a network of local legal services  offices placed all over rural California  to serve its farmworkers, but also attracted  the political support necessary to get his […]

Shameless Self-Promotion

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Heroes / Repairing the System

Back in 1969 I worked  in a legal services office in the Imperial Valley  on the California-Mexican Border.   Most of our clients were Mexican-Americans who had the usual poor people legal problems–rent arrears,  welfare, and  consumer debt. For instance, I  found  I had a large number of clients who were being dunned for unpaid bills at the County Hospital. Since my employer,  California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA),  believed that we should not only represent […]

Creative Math

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Heroes / Repairing the System

I believe that imagination, not logic, is the essential ingredient in good legal reasoning.  But imagination need not be vague or dreamy. Sometimes the imaginative solution to a thorny legal problem can be as clear and simple as 1,2,3. A good example is found in a recent case involving the recurring evil of political gerrymanders. This NYT editorial tells the story well. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/03/opinion/where-unfair-voting-practices-begin.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0 “Gerrymander” is a term most people have heard of, but few understand. […]

Don’t Blame Donald!

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Heroes / Repairing the System

Here is a NYT article detailing the misery of migrant farm workers in California’s Salinas Valley. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/us/in-a-california-valley-healthy-food-everywhere-but-on-the-table.html?_r=0 The gist of the story is that since the 1930’s Salinas Valley has been famous for the quality of its vegetables and the poverty of the migrant workers who harvest them. And this is one we can’t blame on Donald Trump. Salinas is in the middle of California, a state with a Democratic governor, a Democratic legislature, and […]

A Golden Oldie

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Book/film List / Heroes / Legal Fictions

The first season of Amazon’s Goliath grabs you from start to finish. Billy Bob Thorton is dynamite as Billy McBride, a failed lawyer trying to bring down a vicious corporation; and perennial Emmy winner David E. Kelly has lost none of his ability to write sizzling dialogue. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/goliath/ Still I can’t deny that Thornton’s character bears a strong resemblance to Paul Newman in The Verdict, a down-and- out lawyer with alcohol and marital problems. And […]

Winner or Loser?

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Book/film List / Heroes

The new film Don’t Think Twice is my favorite kind of movie; it makes you laugh watching it and makes you think later on. In telling the story of the breakup of an improvisational comedy troupe in NYC, the movie celebrates how a combination of talent and camaraderie can produce infectious excitement. But it is also a cautionary tale about how group success falls prey to individual ambition. The troupe specializes in taking a random […]

A Wise Latina

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Democracy's Constitution / Heroes / The Supremes

Sonia Sotomayor has been a different kind of Supreme Court justice from the beginning.   At her confirmation hearing, instead of putting the Senate committee to sleep with platitudes, she told a male Senator that she thought a “wise Latina” might  have some valuable insights to offer in constitutional discussions. Then she ignored the  tradition for first term justices  to be  seen but not heard by  immediately joining in the colloquies  with counsel  during oral […]

Thurgood, Tony, and Quin

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Heroes

My brother Quin died last week. The death of a sibling may not sound like an appropriate topic for a law blog, but, as this obit makes clear, http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article81833267.html , Quin was not only a lawyer, but a very special one. Quin is best remembered for saving the Unabomber’s life against his client’s wishes. But mostly his practice was appellate in nature. It included three arguments in the Supreme Court, more than 25 arguments in […]

Doesn’t Look Like a Lawyer

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Heroes / lawyers without borders

This week 86 years ago, Mahatma Gandhi reached down and picked up a small clump of salt from an Indian beach. Because harvesting salt was a violation of British law, this mundane act changed the world as we know it. When countless thousands of poor Indians followed Gandhi’s example, the era of peaceful civil disobedience had begun. And civil disobedience was not confined to India. Other reformers all around the world, including Martin Luther King […]

Giving the Devil His Due

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Heroes / The Sjupremes

I find myself putting more faith these days in the old saying “Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers,” especially right after the death of one of the rich and/or famous. In an attempt not to speak ill of the dead, the media rushes in to over-inflate the deceased’s accomplishments. The recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a good example. Here is an article in which The Atlantic is lavish in […]