More family stuff.

Last week, little Zora accompanied her mom, our daughter Lisa, on a quick visit to the US. (Actually, Zora was the chaperon.) Lisa came back to attend a wedding and celebrate turning 40 with many of her girlfriends. On the way here, she stopped off to see her sister Marne in New Mexico. Zora and her mom are now back in China after leaving early yesterday.

你好。 Nǐ hǎo. The standard "hello" greeting in Mandarin. Literally means "you good."

你好。 Nǐ hǎo. The standard “hello” greeting in Mandarin. Literally means “you good.”

Zora talks to Lisa, seemingly speaking Mandarin.

Zora talks to Lisa, seemingly speaking Mandarin.

Gramma and Zora debate the taste of a Mandarin orange.

Gramma and Zora debate the taste of a Mandarin orange.

Goofy Grampa. (that can't be translated).

Goofy Grampa. (that can’t be translated).

Some things are more important than others.


Stacey Kopf

It looks like there will be another PhD in the family.

Stacey, Keller’s wife, received her dissertation reviewers comments back. Dr. Robyn Watts, her doctoral supervisor, wrote, “This is fantastic news and you should feel very proud of yourself to have received such good comments from these three researchers.” Unlike the U.S., a doctoral dissertation in Australia (and many other places in the world) is exclusively judged by three independent reviewers. A doctoral candidate succeeds or fails on what they think. Stacey’s reviewers were from Austria, Australia and the U.S. Her dissertation is entitled “Swimming performance and dispersal potential of larval Australian freshwater fish in a regulated riverscape.”

Stacey (middle) celebrating Charles Darwin's 200th birthday with colleagues from the Institute for Land, Water and Society at Charles Sturt University

Stacey (middle) celebrating Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday with colleagues from the Institute for Land, Water and Society at Charles Sturt University

Stacey did this while (1) giving birth to two children; (2) taking all sorts of jobs to supplement the family income; and (3) and supporting Keller as he obtained his Masters degree in New Zealand, his PhD in Australia and began his career in the academy. In short, Stacey is an amazing young woman and we are very happy for her.


Chief Justice Roberts and a crafty “solution” to the gay marriage issue

ph64150_lgAfter listening to the oral arguments in the gay marriage case, I offer the following speculation about a reasonably likely outcome:

1. Chief Justice Roberts writes an opinion on question one finding that a state is not required to allow gay couples to marry within that state. He convinces Kennedy that not enough time has passed to enshrine gay marriage into the pantheon of Constitutional rights, and we don’t want a repeat of Roe.

2. The Chief writes an opinion on question two finding that State X must recognize a gay marriage that was lawfully entered into in State Y. Here the Chief relies upon long-standing conflict of law rules.

“Splitting the difference” in this way can arguably be seen as preserving the Court’s legitimacy in the face of arguments that it is merely another partisan political branch of the government and not a real court. But what do I know?


Rome, Baltimore and the same sex marriage argument

As I have said before, I see connections between things that everyone else sees as disconnected. It is probably a sign of dementia or a mental illness or just plain dumbness. Who knows.

150427212739-ac-beeper-fire-baltimore-riot-00000216-large-169Today, Baltimore burns and the Supreme Court takes up the fractious gay marriage debate. That reminds me of burning, fiddling and the devastation of Rome, circa 64 AD.*rome-burning


*Don’t read into this my legal views on same-sex marriage. While unsophisticated, I am great believer in the idiom “live and let live.” That practice frees a society to concentrate on what is really important.

Even though I still hate it, here are some good tips on Microsoft’s Word

photo (1)

Lisa Solomon is a New York lawyer. She graduated from Brandeis University, B.A. (1990), magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. In 1993, she graduated from the New York University School of Law, obtaining her J.D. degree cum laude. She now does contract legal writing and research.

She recently sent me an e-mail. In it, she passed along a few tips about Word. While you will still have to pry WordPerfect from my cold, dead hands, here are the tips that Lisa graciously allowed me to post (with a few edits by me):

Dear Judge Kopf:
I am an avid reader of your blog, albeit a bit behind on the posts. I have some thoughts to add on your “A Fighting Word” post, but I see that comments are closed. I’ll share them with you; if you think they are sufficiently valuable, I hope you’ll pass them on to your readers by posting them in the comments, or allow me to do so myself by briefly opening comments on the post.
1. SHIFT+F1 works in Word 2013 as well as earlier versions to bring up a formatting panel on the right side of the screen.
2. Word 2008 is an outdated Mac version. The current version is Word 2011 (part of Office for Mac 2011). Word 2016 (part of Office for Mac 2016) is available now in a preview version, with the official (final) release slated for later this year. See https://products.office.com/en-us/mac/mac-preview#faq.
3. Word (along with the other Office programs) is also available for—and works quite well on—the iPad. Corel (which makes WordPerfect) has never developed an iPad app, and the available third-party app, WordPerfect Viewer for the iPad, is poorly rated. This is significant because, even as long ago as 2012, 58% of federal judges were using ipads for their court work (see http://www.geeklawblog.com/2012/06/judges-ipads-perfect-fit.html), and iPads are hugely popular among lawyers as well.*
4. Word skeptics should check out one of these two books about Word 2013 especially for lawyers: The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2013 (260 pages) by Ben Schorr [and] Microsoft Word 2013 for Law Firms (512 pages) by the Payne Group (Schorr also wrote The Lawyers’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2010 [and] The Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word 2007.)
Thanks very much Lisa. While you haven’t convinced me, I am sure many others will find your tips very useful.
*I don’t use an iPad. I prefer a standard laptop. In a similar vein (that is, as a nonconforming ass), I think my staff and I are the remaining holdouts in our district who still use WordPerfect as the primary word processing tool.

Why the Feds should deny the Fourth Corner Credit Union a “master account.”

Following the decision to legalize marijuana, Colorado weed sellers are awash in cash (and the cartels are selling cheap heroin in response). But they have no place to put their cash because banks worry about federal money laundering prosecutions even though Holder issued a memo saying that DOJ would not prosecute. The banks, rightly, were not mollified. Selling marijuana is a federal crime as is money laundering and someday (like today) Holder will be gone.

So Colorado chartered the Fourth Corner Credit Union to take dope money. The problem for Fourth Corner is that it must get a master account from the Federal Reserve System that would allow it to clear checks and transfer funds within the nation’s money system. So far as I know, the application is still pending and has not been issued, although a Fed representative has recently met with “industry” representatives to hear their sad stories about drowning in cash. There is also the related question of whether Fourth Corner, being a state charted institution, can gain insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. (FDIC)

This seems like a no-brainer to me for the Fed and the FDIC. Deny the application and refuse to issue insurance. Until and unless Congress changes the criminal law, stoner banks will not be federally authorized to help Colorado dealers commit federal crimes.

Reminder to stoners and those who support them: The rule of law only matters when you don’t like the result.


Correction:   Because it is a credit union, Fourth Corner Credit Union cannot get insurance from the FDIC. It might try to get insurance from National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), another federal agency. The same reasoning expressed in the text–federal agencies ought not assist in the commission of federal crimes–would apply to the NCUA.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: When you strike at a king you must kill him.

“In a bombshell diversion from his contempt-of-court proceedings, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio testified under oath Thursday that his attorneys had hired a private agent to investigate the wife of the federal judge who ruled that the Sheriff’s Office had engaged in racial profiling.”  Megan Cassidy, Arapio: PI Hired to investigate judge’s wife, The Republic | azcentral.com (April 24, 2015) from How Appealing (April 24, 2015). Sheriff Joe shot at the judge and appears to have missed.

Although somewhat different, this reminds me of the “nuke” dump case where I awarded around $151 million to low level nuclear waste generators against Nebraska because Nebraska had grievously breached the duty of “good faith” under an agreement between states created under the Compact Clause of the Constitution. Entergy Arkansas Nebraska v. Nebraska, 226 F.Supp.2d 1047 (D. Neb. 2002), aff’d 358 F.3d 528 (2004). The decision was wildly unpopular in Nebraska.

During the course of the trial, and pursuant to standard practice, I was informed by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts that a reporter from the Nebraska Public Television and Radio system had requested, and was supplied with copies, of my financial disclosure reports that must be filed annually. Since NETV&Radio is an organ of state government, and the State of Nebraska was a defendant, I immediately advised counsel that a representative of Nebraska (or some one closely related to Nebraska) was investigating my financial disclosure reports and that I was aware of such activity. I received no response from the litigants, and the trial proceeded apace.

Since my financial disclosure reports indicate that I have never owned stocks or bonds in any corporations (I was probably the “poorest” judge nominated by Bush 41 and that situation has not changed much), the reporter evidently found nothing of interest. Ironically, the reporter could have gotten my disclosure reports from our Clerk of Court and would I not have been the wiser as I deposit a copy of that report with Clerk and I have instructed her to make copies available to anyone without notice to me.*

Federal judges know that from time to time litigants investigate their backgrounds to find embarrassing information about the judge. It comes with the territory. My only advice about doing so is captured in the title to this post, particularly if you have any reason to think your investigation will become public. Otherwise, you risk the appearance of being both slimy and ham–handed. Not unlike Sheriff Joe.


*For my most recent financial disclosure report, click here. It is a quick read.

PS. By the way, I love Nebraska Educational TV.  It is my main source of TV viewing, and each year Joan and I contribute a little money to it. That said, and despite rumors to the contrary, we do not watch the Lawrence Welk show when ETV rebroadcasts it.

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