The broad disruption of the federal courts caused by the shutdown

Today, the Administrative Office of the U.S Courts issued a press release describing in vivid detail the impact of the shutdown on the federal courts. It is worth reading (here). If nothing else, the nuts in Congress are now on notice that when they shutdown the judiciary, they do immense harm to real people.

RGK

Blamin’ It on the ACA

Readers may have seen a trend over the weekend. I have reprinted several pieces written by lay people because I thought they were interesting and provocative and because they were well written. This post continues that trend but highlights a different genre, satirical musical lyrics.

Some may recall Elaine Mittleman’s guest post entitled Making a record of plea offers as a response to Frye and Lafler, a thoughtful guest post. Elaine is an experienced criminal defense lawyer with a fascinating family as shown here and here.

Over the weekend, Elaine gave me a tip about her talented sister Ann Elsner, a highly regarded scientist and professor in the School of Optometry at Indiana University. See, for example, here. As a hobby (or distraction), Professor Elsner has been taking drum lessons and writing songs. She has a group of young Bloomington musicians who help her record the songs. The professor has allowed me to print the words to a song she wrote on an airplane trip about the shutdown. Additionally, she just sent me the first cut of the song and a video recording of it showing the young musicians preparing and then performing the song. It is hyperlinked below. Regardless of your politics, the song is clever and the young musicians are certainly talented.

Blamin’ It on the ACA, 

Copyright Ann E. Elsner

Can’t understand how we shut down this way.
Don’t know what’s true, just what the pols say.
People laid off, without any pay.
Let’s get back to work, and I mean today.

But they’re blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
bla-ay-ay-ay amin’ it, (blamin’ it)
On the ACA.

That nasty compliance hangs like a sword
Over my head, it can’t be ignored.
Can’t keep part-timers till order’s restored.
Less work is done, but paperwork soared.

But they’re blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
bla-ay-ay-ay amin’ it, (blamin’ it)
On the ACA. (Oooh Yeah!)

The problems were starting before we were closed.
At 29 hours, workers got hosed.
Don’t deserve healthcare, it must be supposed.
Partial support was never proposed.

Two part time jobs could pool benefits.
The math’s not complex. Let’s use our wits.
Did you lie down and lay off? Then the shoe fits.
It’s time for some push back. Let’s stop the blitz.

But they’re blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
bla-ay-ay-ay amin’ it, (blamin’ it)
On the ACA.

What do we look like to folks overseas?
A powerful nation brought to its knees.
Not by outsiders, but the nation’s trustees.
The real reasons seem too nebulous to seize.
Can’t understand how we shut down this way.
Don’t know what’s true, just what the pols say.
People laid off, without any pay.
Let’s get back to work, and I mean today.

But they’re blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
bla-ay-ay-ay amin’ it, (blamin’ it)
On the ACA.

But they’re blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
blamin’ it, (blamin’ it)
bla-ay-ay-ay amin’ it, (blamin’ it)
On the ACA.

The first cut of the song was just recorded. Here it is on video. The song starts at 1:50.

Thanks to Elaine and Ann for brightening my day. If only Congress were composed of real people.

RGK

Let them eat cake

The Omaha World-Herald is Nebraska’s only state-wide newspaper. From an editorial perspective, the OWH slants reliably right. Thus, the editorial published in today’s newspaper was stunning.

Beginning with the words, “Let them eat cake,” the OWH criticizes federal lawmakers (specifically naming Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb.,* Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.,** Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.***) for refusing to give back their pay while failing to enact a budget.

As I recall Tim, the Nebraska FPD’s investigator, who lost his job after 18 years because of these folks and their cohorts, and the serious harm being suffered by the federal judiciary because of the sequester and the absence of a budget, I am delighted to see that the OWH has called these politicians out. Hypocrisy should have a cost.

RGK

*Lee)

**Fisher

***Jeff

The essential Bren

I worry about whether our law clerks are “essential” under the “Shutdown Plan” and the Anti-Deficiency Act. I know Jim and Jan are essential and that’s because they are old. If I sent them home, they would get used to afternoon naps and never come back. I know Gabi and Ryan, the pro se staff lawyers, are essential. Otherwise, we would have to deal with the great unwashed ourselves and that would be icky.

However, I had my doubts about Bren, the career law clerk for Magistrate Judge Zwart. I know he is super smart and a great writer. He holds a Master’s degree and graduated with a whole bunch of honors from the UNL law school–degree awarded with High Distinction, Editor, Nebraska Law Review, Order of the Coif.

I also know Bren played linebacker at Nebraska Wesleyan University. But, I doubted he could swing both ways. If he couldn’t, there was no chance we should call him “essential.” That would require a report to the Anti-Deficiency police.

So, I followed Bren down the hallway as he aimlessly wandered about. Bren wanders the halls all the time (particularly when Judge Zwart is gone). It has something to do with the many concussions he suffered while playing linebacker. A nasty little twitch is  a byproduct too. Anyway, when I sensed he was at his most vulnerable, I struck from behind. I applied the ultimate test of essentiality.

I screamed “Heisman pose.” To my utter astonishment, and without any hesitation, Bren twirled around and, well, this is what I saw:

Bren Chambers showing his Heisman moves

Bren showing his Heisman moves and passing the essentiality test

Despite the vacant look (probably the concussion thing), I am now convinced. Bren is essential.

RGK

Shutdown and sentencing

More fun today. Wearing my long black robe, I called the Bureau of Prison from the courtroom to hold a previously scheduled and ordered sentence reduction hearing under Rule 35(b). The hearing was to be held “on the record” but over the phone. The lawyers were in the courtroom and the inmate was supposed to be on the phone. The government asked for the hearing. Last time I checked, it’s cheaper to use the phone than fly an inmate to Lincoln.

Guess what? No one answered the phone at the prison. Not even a voice mail message telling me to have “Have a nice day!” Bummer. Think I’ll go home. No one complies with my orders anyway. Apparently, compliance with court orders is optional now that the man with the golden tan has sent everyone home.

RGK

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