Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I suppose any work of art can be said to be worth revisiting, and I try to walk that talk: I'm a re-reader, and every now and then I will return to a recording that I haven't listened to in a while to re-assess my thinking. Sometimes something doesn't click because of who I was when I encountered it.

And sometimes the work doesn't click because of what it is. I've returned to Their Satanic Majesties Request  more than once. It remains a mess. Is it an interesting mess? Frankly, I don't think so.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

One of the clear trends in Supreme Court 8th Amendment jurisprudence is an increasing reliance on quantitative analysis. Although both Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas reject this approach in favor of a literal reading of the text, that is reductive in my view. At some point the so-called 'plain meaning' of any phrase or sentence requires context, and the approach Justice Kennedy takes in Roper v. Simmons seems to be a reasonable extension of Chief Justice Warren's reasoning in Trop v. Dullas, where we get the concept of "Evolving standards of decency". What does "unusual" mean? Is what was once usual always usual?

I thought this piece was interesting in view of that discussion. . In my practice I've encountered similar sorts of knowledge gaps with judges, particularly in the context of electronic discovery. It is less prevalent now, but judges really didn't understand how computers in real life are different from, say, the computer that Mr. Spock talks to. It is shocking to me that a guy like Roberts, who must have taken a statistics course at some point, finds this stuff so difficult to grasp.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The York State Bar Association has endorsed a "Yes" vote on the Constitutional Convention. I understand the concerns of those who oppose this: in a nutshell, there is a non-zero chance that parts of the State Constitution that are good, and that we like, might be lost. I think think that these fears are somewhat overblown. For one thing, whatever proposals emerge from the Convention must be approved by referendum. For another, the tendency of such conventions is to add rights, not take them away. And finally, I believe that our present Constitution, written in 1894, with the last major changes made in 1938, no longer does the job it needs to do. I intend to run for a deligate's seat, so if that comforts you let me know and I'll show up for your signature on my petition

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I am troubled by what seems to be a broken government. Bush was the worst President of my lifetime on a policy level, and one of the things that made him so very horrible was that he was surrounded by people who knew all the buttons and levers of the federal bureaucracy. This knowledge, which came from years of experience stretching back to the Nixon Administration, enabled the Bush team to implement catastrophic policies which lead to two wars and a wrecked world economy. Trump, in contrast, seems bent on breaking things for the shear apres moi le deluge hell of it. But it goes beyond that: this Congress is staggeringly awful, populated with sycophants, lickspittles, hacks and poltroons to an extent unusual even by the history of the United States Congress. 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Monday, October 02, 2017

No, no-- not those Pixies. The Black Francis Pixies. At UB, last night. In a way the Center for the Arts is a peculiar venue for an act like this-- the Pixies are what I would consider late-period punk rock, or maybe early period alt-rock, and would seem more at home in a smoky club. Thing is, there are no more smoky clubs, and even if there were the sonic attack of this band would have been blunted into nearly pure noise in that sort of space. The Center for the Arts was, actually, perfect, allowing the band to be loud enough to vibrate the seats while at the same time preserving every nuance of its two guitar bass and drums roar. Roar they did, too, with virtually no break between songs, few solos, and solid material. I'd forgotten some of those songs, but they all came rushing back to me with the first chords. Rock and roll like this is a rare thing, and a show like that is even more uncommon. I'd see them again in a heartbeat.

Friday, September 29, 2017

I've heard two of the Jerry Lee Lewis numbers from Catch My Soul, and they are amazing. The show was a musical adaptation of Othello, with the Killer cast as Iago, and I've only been able to find the songs on Youtube: "Lust of the Blood", and "Let a Soldier Drink". Both couldn't be more Shakespeare-- or more Jerry Lee Lewis.

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