Breaking up the court opinion monotony

November 16, 2010
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I read a lot of court opinions – more than I ever thought I would read as someone who has no formal legal education. In fact, when we had to read opinions in a media law class in college, I dreaded it and hoped to never have to do it again.

Cut to today where I read them every day now. I’ll admit, the process isn’t as painful as it was in college. However, that doesn’t mean that some of these opinions aren’t so dry that I lose interest quickly or need some sugar to keep me alert. Because of this, I’m quite appreciative when opinions are written with some wit, humor, or anything out of the ordinary.

Take for instance a not-for-publication opinion today authored by Chief Judge John Baker on the Indiana Court of Appeals. How’s this for a catchy first sentence: “Appellant-defendant Blake Parkins observes that breaking up is hard to do.”

I immediately had the song “Breaking up is hard to do” by Neil Sedaka (yes, I had to Google who originally sang it) in my head. Suddenly, this opinion has potential to entertain me! Perhaps now you have that song in your head after reading that sentence.

He goes on to write: “Surviving a breakup with a modicum of dignity—in a law-abiding fashion—is possible, however. Parkins should have learned how to carry on, turned around, and walked out the door, but instead he struck his former wife with a car while one of their young daughters was unrestrained in the backseat screaming for help.”

Of course, hitting your ex-wife with a car is not entertaining or funny. But when I read “carry on, turned around, and walked out the door” I then had the song “I will survive” by Gloria Gaynor in my head.

Who knows if those songs were inspiration or if I’m just delirious from reading so many opinions that I’m just looking for something to make it more interesting, but I liked the references.

Let’s be frank: legal opinions are usually boring and cut-and-dry, and the point is to impart a legal ruling on an issue. They don’t need to be jazzy or snazzy, but as someone who has to frequently read them, I’m happy whenever there’s something a little out of the ordinary included. And “Breaking up is hard to do” is still stuck in my head, hours later.
 

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  • The Rule of Law?
    Cute, but the real question is not how entertaining the judges can be but rather this ... what do "not for publication" judgments say about our commitment to the rule of law? Is it the judiciary saying "ignore the man behind the curtain on this opinion, we simply must use a different set of rules for this party?" Yes, I am afraid that might very well be the case. In that case perhaps we should be hearing less Neil Sedaka and more Neil Young? "Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming ..." I could be biased, I am one who fell victim to such back room judging right here in Indiana. Dead not at Kent State, but before the IBLE with no deference to the Rule of Law -- or even a citation to one case.

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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