Thursday, June 08, 2006

All Killers have 3 names

Such is the legend. Assassins and serial killers go by three names: John Wilkes Booth, James Earl Ray, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wayne Gacy.

Of course, there's numerous counter-arguments: Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Timothy McVeigh...

But the perception is that psycho-killers have three names. And James Buck Inman added to that perception this week when he was arrested for the so-called "Bikini Murder."

The part that got me was that the guy was 35. He looked much older, say 50, when I first saw his picture. Imagine my shock, then, to learn he was only 35. I guess prison doesn't help one keep that 'youthful look'.

What's more shocking is this guy's past. Apparently, he's a convicted sex offender - convicted of another violent crime, he was let go, only to kill again.

We could talk for hours on whether or not someone can be 'rehabilitated' from being a sex offender, but there's no good answer there. Some will, and others won't - pretty much like anything else. It's too bad that we can't get the individual answers until after someone else suffers at their hands, though.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Taking the California Bar Exam - Part 1

I first got the desire (can one actually call it that?) to take the California Bar Exam over a year ago. It was the middle of March, and cold as usual in Chicago when I headed west to visit some blog friends. The sunny, warm weather really worked to lift my spirits, and I realized that perhaps the best thing I could do long-term was to head west to SoCal.

But that's the funny thing about law school - you're pretty much tied into the state where you're attending classes. Many states - Illinois included - begin the whole bar process in your first year, when you fill out morals applications, or if you're in California and attending a non-ABA-accredited school, take the so-called 'Baby Bar'. Attending law school in one state and taking another's bar takes some planning, and I hadn't done that.

So I was tied to taking the Illinois Bar first. And since I was graduating in May, I'd be taking the July exam. The earliest I could take the California Bar would be in February. That became the plan.

Once I'd finished the Illinois Bar, I went to the California website to see when I could sign up for the February bar, and - gulp - how much it would cost. Turns out I couldn't sign up before October 1st, which was disappointing, but that the cost appeared to be less than the Illinois Bar, which was encouraging.

That turned out not to be the case. The first hurdle came when I tried to beat the October 31 timely filing deadline. Since I'd graduated from law school and had taken another state's bar, I didn't qualify as a 'student' for bar exam purposes. I had to register as an attorney. The difference wasn't all that major; instead of getting a Letter of Qualification from my law school dean (as I had to do for Illinois), I needed to get a Letter of Good Standing from the State of Illinois. And therein lay the hurdle: I had passed the bar exam, but I hadn't been admitted to the state bar yet.

Illinois, like many states, does not grant automatic admission upon passing the state bar. There's the MPRE results, which most people have long since submitted by the time they take the bar, and the morals application (or Character & Fitness, as Illnois calls it). Once those items are received - and C&F can take several months - and once you pass the bar exam, you get admitted. Even then, Illinois does not admit people prior to the scheduled Mass Admission date, which is whenever the Supreme Court can put it on its calendar, but generally a month after the results are published.

And since the results aren't published before October 1st, I couldn't be admitted before October 31st. Which meant I'd get stuck with a late fee. I wanted to keep costs down, so I tried to back door into the process - promising I'd send the info just as soon as I could, but California was having none of it. Even worse, I found this out while I was in, of all places, California.

A few phone calls and FedExes later, and I thought I was all set, with a couple of days to spare. But I was wrong. Although my FedEx TO Illnois, requesting the letter was received, no one did anything with it; it was Thanksgiving week, and the regular person was on vacation. Her backups let it sit on her desk until she returned the following Monday. Only a lucky call to California to verify everything was OK prevented me from getting hit with an additional $250 in late fees.

As luck would have it, I got my official letter from California saying I was registered for the February exam on November 30th. And on the front page of the Wall Street Journal that day was an article on how Stanford's Constitutional Law guru had recently taken the California bar exam - and failed. It didn't give me a good feeling.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Kirby Puckett, 1961-2006

I'm not going to pretend that I'm some great Minnesota Twin fan (which as a White Sox fan, would be akin to blasphemy), but I did respect Kirby Puckett's talent.

What made it easier, though, was the fact that Kirby was a native Chicagoan, and even though he played for a hated rival, people here still admired him. It's a Chicago, thing, actually. Since we're a 'flyover' city, and generally ignored on the national stage, Chicagoans carry a kind of chip on their shoulder when it comes to fame. We take great pride to see fellow Chi-town natives make it big; it's some sort of validation that we matter.

Vince Vaughn's a Chicagoan; so's Willam Petersen, of CSI fame. And John Malkovich. Ok, so Vaughn was born in Minnesota, Petersen in Ohio, and Malkovich in Massachusetts, but they either achieved their fame here or spent a significant part of their youth here. Gary Sinese was born in suburban Blue Island, the Belushis in Wheaton, Gary Cole in the northern suburbs and recent Academy Award(R)nominee Terrence Howard was born on the South Side.

I could go on with real and pseudo-Chicagoans, but I think you get the point. We take great pride when one of 'us' makes it big, and Kirby Puckett certainly managed to do that. Even with the accusation (later disproven) of sexual harrassment in 2003, Kirby put all Chicagoans in a good light, and reinforced our image as a city of hard-working people.

So it's sad to see such a great player die so young. Like Walter Payton, another talented, personable athelete who left too early, Kirby Puckett had way too much to offer, and too little time in which to offer it. In a time of Marcus Vicks' and Terrell Owens', we need a few more people like Kirby. And hopefully, they'll continue to come out of the greatest city everyone flies over on their way to a coast.

Pardon the Interruption...

Well the plan was to spend last week talking about my trip to California to take the bar exam.

That was the plan.

The reality was that I brought home a nice souvenir from California - one hell of a nasty cold. Or some cold-and-flu-like illness, which kicked me up one side and down another.

Tuesday, I was feeling a little under the weather & stuffy. By Wednesday morning, I had a nice, hoarse voice and a sore throat, in addition to a runny nose. Somehow, I not only made it through lunch with the people I work for, I got invited back to their home for a cup of tea and conversation. And we made plans to go look at one of their properties in the area on Thursday.

But by Thursday morning, I was feeling so awful, I was seriously tempted to cancel, even though I'd be giving up a rare opportunity to drive a Mercedes. Somehow, I slogged through the tour, skipped out on a (free) lunch opportunity, and returned the rented Mercedes G380. I was so out-of-sorts that I forgot to refill the gas, thus incurring the dreaded $6-a-gallon surcharge.

I headed home, and immediately plopped on the couch, where I stayed until late Saturday, when I finally felt strong enough to move around a bit. By Sunday, I was able to actually eat a full meal, and today I made it into work. So at least I can actually do what I promised last week...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Back, finally

"So I hear you're taking the California Bar Exam. What, one bar exam wasn't good enough for you?"

The scene was Loyola's Law School Library, and the speaker was my classmate Andrew. He was there studying for the Illinois Bar Exam, having graduated in December. Along with him were a few of my former classmates, the ones who hadn't made the switch to full-time after first year, but who had graduated 'early'.

One of them, Megan, had a friend who'd taken the Cali Bar, and she put me in contact with her, which turned out to be a lifesaver. I think I would have been totally lost without the notecards and flashcards she sent. They got regular use - on the L, at the health club - and came in quite handy when bringing along a Bar/Bri book would have proven to be too unwieldy.

But telling Megan that I was taking the California Bar was like putting a match to gasoline - everyone knew within days. I even got emails from classmates, saying "I hear you're moving to California..."

Truth is, even though I didn't have a regular Bar/Bri class to attend (here in Illinois, they only offer the California course in summer), I still put significant time into studying for the exam. Which is why I feel confident that I did well enough to pass. I won't be winning any awards for my scores, but they should be just good enough to get by - '65 and fly' in the words of one guy I met while taking the exam.

Over the next couple of days, I'll entertain you with stories of my stay in San Diego, and the exam experience. Or at least I hope you'll find it entertaining...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Michael Vick's younger brother deludes himself...

2006’s early nominee for Over-inflated Ego of the Year has to be Marcus Vick. Apparently, having a famous brother who plays in the NFL means you can do whatever you want and still get drafted – or so Vick believes. Check out Vick’s off-field ‘achievements’, which he hopes NFL teams will turn a blind eye to:

Vick's first brushes with the law came in 2004 (from Fox Sports ): on May 14, 2004 he was convicted of three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $2,250. Although charged with having sex with a minor (a 15-year-old girl) he was found innocent.

Then, on July 3, 2004 he was charged with reckless driving and possession of marijuana after a traffic stop about 25 miles east of Richmond at 2:30 a.m. Police said he was clocked at 86 mph, 21 mph above the speed limit, and that the vehicle stunk of marijuana.

On Aug. 3, 2004 he was suspended from the university for the 2004 season on same day he pleads guilty to reckless driving and no contest to marijuana possession in New Kent. He is fined $300, has his driver's license suspended for 60 days and is placed in a first offender program on the marijuana charge, requiring that he perform 24 hours of community service, undergo drug counseling and random drug tests, and give up his driver's license for six months.

Finally, on Sept. 13, 2004 he accepted a plea deal, and pled no contest to one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Receives 30-day suspended jail sentence, is fined $100, ordered to perform 24 hours of community service and stay away from the teenage girls.

Although he was suspended on July 6th (and therefore, as a scholarship athlete, kicked out of school), the University apparently thought he’d reformed himself enough to re-admit him in January of 2005. But he hadn’t.

On October 1, 2005 he makes an obscene gesture to fans at West Virginia, an act for which he apologizes a day later. Then, despite the fact that his license is suspended (again, since the aforementioned suspension expired in October of 2004), he’s pulled over on December 17, 2005 and charged with doing 38 in a 25, and, of course, driving on a suspended license.

Vick still wasn’t finished. On January 2nd, he stomps on the leg of a competitor in the Gator Bowl, an act that gets him permanently booted from the team. His response? “I’ll just take it to the next level, baby,” meaning he’d declare himself eligible for the NFL draft. Of course, he couldn’t resist still playing the bad boy – a week after the Gator Bowl incident, he was arrested for pulling a gun during a dispute.

Apparently, Vick hasn’t learned from Maurice Clarett, the Ohio State running back with his own set of troubles. Clarett decided to declare early, and then found out the NFL wouldn’t let him enter. He sued, only to lose, and be forced to sit a year. By that time, Clarett was a such a negative factor that he slipped to a late-round draft choice, and wind up being cut before the season started. To date, he’s never played in the NFL.

And then there’s T.O. At least he had the good sense to have some on-field accomplishments before letting hubris totally take over. Although he’s persona non grata now, T.O. was a hot property when Philly signed him prior to the 2004 season, despite his on-field antics. There was no doubting he had talent.

Vick hasn’t even shown that he had that. In 24 career games, the 6-foot, 212-pound Vick threw for 2,868 yards, 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also ran 184 times for 492 yards and six TDs. Not exactly stellar stuff, considering that averages out to 119 yards passing per game and 2.67 yards per rush, both far below what any first-rounder would be expected to achieve. Yet he thinks that an NFL team would jump at the opportunity to snag the younger brother of Michael Vick. In ancient Greek mythology, hubris generally led to a downfall. And Marcus Vick seems primed for a very rude awakening.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Resolutions, what resolutions?

So the holidays have come and gone. Again. And once again, I have made lots of resolutions for the New Year. And pretty much broken them in record time.

First there was the ‘don’t procrastinate’ resolution. Done by 10:00am on January 1.

The next to go was the ‘be more assertive’ resolution. It made it all the way until noon.

Finally, the ‘work out more’ resolution died sometime today. I don’t know if it was when I was sluggish this morning (and promptly procrastinated, pushing the workout back until the afternoon), or if it officially died when I suddenly remembered to look at the application for the Federal Bar.

Good thing, too. The application for the mass admission ceremony was due at 4:30 today. Unfortunately, although I had all the materials together for the application, I didn’t have a check to pay the $150 admission fee, nor did I have the time to head up to my apartment, grab the checkbook, and head back downtown. So I opted to walk over the Federal Court Building, and take my chances. I was hoping that I could pay cash or use a credit card. At worst, I’d beg and ask them to take the application today, and payment tomorrow. That last option had little chance of success (my boyish charm having long since vanished), but I’d try anyway – I was desperate, not wanting to go back to the attorney who wrote my recommendation and ask for another copy. Or explain why, though he wrote the recommendation a month before it was due, I didn’t get around to getting the application out until the absolute last day.

In the end, they took my credit card. In nine days, I’ll be a member of the Federal bar as well. And a little bit poorer.

Monday, January 02, 2006

In court - Greg v. Microsoft

All rise!

Hear ye! Hear ye! The court is now in session. The Honorable Roy Bean presiding. All those with business before this court come forward and make yourselves known.

Our first case today is Greg v. Microsoft.

“You honor, I am Greg appearing pro se. I am here today on a complaint containing numerous items in controversy, first and foremost the claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.”

“And what is that claim based upon, counsel?”

“Your honor, on numerous occasions, various Microsoft products – most notably Excel and Word – have ‘crashed’ (a technical term, I’m told) without warning, resulting in the loss of untold hours of work, and often resulting in the duplication of effort. On this claim, your honor, I’d ask that the court certify class representation.”

“And you say this is intentional?”

“Yes, your honor. According to the book Bill Gates Rules The World, And You Are His Slave, the programmers at Microsoft deliberately added bugs so that we would capitulate and be assimilated.”

“Objection, your honor! Hearsay!”

”Overruled. Are you sure you haven’t watched one too many episodes of Star Trek: TNG, counsel?”

“No, your honor. I also read it in Playboy, and more importantly, The New Economist. Moreover, I have recent evidence of this claim.”

“And what is that evidence?”

“Your honor, I was attempting to access the Internet today, when my MSN service told me it didn’t have any numbers to dial. This despite the fact that it had accessed the Internet without complaint the day before. I was forced – forced – to sit for over an hour attempting to dial into their ‘toll-free’ number to get new connection numbers. Once I got through, I discovered that all the 773 numbers – my area code, for the record – had disappeared, replaced by – gasp – 847 and 630 area code numbers.”

“And this has caused you emotional distress?”

“Yes! My God, your honor, have you seen the price of a phone call over 15 miles? And now, with this SBC-AT&T merger, it’ll be broke inside of a week. How am I supposed to get a job?”

“Your honor, we renew our objection to this whole proceeding.”


“Your honor, we strenuously object – “

“You strenuously object?”


“Then I strenuously overrule.”

“Motion for recess, then, so that we may engage in discovery.”


One, day. I swear, one day. I’ll do it, then you’ll see. I’m not crazy, but I’m getting there. In the meantime, I’m gonna go try and find some local numbers I can dial.