Russell and Duenes

Archive for August 2011

Who’da Thought Property Law Could Be So Interesting

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For today’s class in Property Law, we had to read Popov v. Hayashi, the case that decided who had property rights to Barry Bonds’ 73rd homer back in 2001. They even made a movie about it.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

August 31, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Duenes, Legal Matters

Torts and Things of Other Sorts

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I’ve attempted to write posts on here about three times in the last week and haven’t been able to “seal the deal” and complete them (though I’ve started them), mainly because I have ridiculous amounts of reading to do, being a first year law student. So this is more of a disclaimer. I have all manner of thoughts swirling around in my head that I’d love to post, but no time to post them. That said, I’m not ready to call it quits, but I make no promises as to how often I’ll write. I’m aiming for once a week at least. So here are a few musings.

Being a first year law student is a kind of rite of passage. There’s a palpable dread that is constantly in one’s mind, and not just because we want to sound good in class. Rather, we’re painfully aware that not a whole lot matters during the actual semester. What really matters is whether one can “bring it” on the day of the final. In those few short hours, you have to justify your entire law school existence, and you know this before you even attend your first class. There’s nothing like it, and one gets the feeling this is by design.

In Torts class we began by reading about a case that my older readers will remember, namely, the case where the woman sued McDonalds because her coffee was so hot that when she spilled it on herself, she got burned. I remember hearing about the case and thinking it was a bogus lawsuit. I don’t think that anymore. Let’s just say, the media did not give us the real scoop. If you remember the case and you’re interested, do a little research and find out what really happened to that woman. McDonalds should have paid her a lot more, in my opinion.

My aim is to succeed in law school, but I was reflecting last week on my hero, Winston Churchill, and specifically on the amount of failure he overcame in his life to achieve what he did. Lesser men’s careers would have been ruined by even one of the setbacks Churchill faced, and yet he persevered. I took courage from this, knowing that, as Churchill once said, “Success is the result of making many mistakes and learning from experience.” Indeed. Thanks to my pastor out here, I also thought about the experience of another of my heroes, the apostle Peter. The night before Peter was to be executed, he was asleep in his prison cell, which tells me he had an extraordinary confidence in Christ. Now if he could sleep soundly, believing he was going to die in the morning, I think I can also keep my law school classes in the proper perspective. In the grand view of eternity, they matter very little.

If you don’t have a copy of C.S. Lewis’ God in the Dock, I suggest you secure a copy somehow, and if you read nothing else, read his chapter on “Miracles.” It’s the best analysis I’ve ever seen, at least from a philosophical theology standpoint. I intend to read it multiple times. Each paragraph was a symphony.

It’s now almost midnight, so time to turn in. More reading and case briefing awaits me in the morning.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

August 26, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

First Week of Law School

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I haven’t devoted many brain cells to blogging this week, as I am now officially drinking from the fire hose, trying to grasp some basic concepts in my Contracts Law class. I’ve only gone to school two days so far, but it seems like several weeks. I’m not even sure how to describe it. I don’t feel overwhelmed yet, but I think that’s coming in a few days. We’ve only had to attend one class this week, but starting next week, I’ll have my full load of 5 classes. I keep wondering how I’ll possibly memorize all of the rules, laws, and holdings necessary to do well on exams. But I try not to think about that too much and concentrate on focusing each day.

I think I’m the oldest guy in my class. There’s one other guy who also has three kids, but I’ve certainly got the most gray hair.

A friend of mine who just finished his first year of law school at Notre Dame counseled me that my faith would be the most important thing in my first year studies. Of course, my faith is the most important thing always, but I don’t always treat it so. But I’m certainly seeing what he means. Sometimes I’m sitting in class, feeling a million miles away from my Bible teaching job, wondering where all my studies are going to lead. There’s so much uncertainty, and I find myself longing for the comfort and security of just being with Jesus, just knowing that God is with me, giving me the grace to get through. Things get pretty simple and straightforward when we’re under pressure. We want that simple devotion to Christ that the apostle Paul speaks of.

Wish I had more to write about, something more stimulating, but I’ll leave it at this for now.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

August 17, 2011 at 4:51 am

Posted in Duenes, Legal Matters

British Riots: Exhibit A

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A liberal relative of mine has on more than one occasion asked me why I’m against higher taxes to pay for increasing welfare. He tells me, “It’s not taking any food off your plate, so why are you against paying it?” I’ve tried to explain to him – in vain – that I have a much more significant reason for opposing welfare than “whether it takes food off my plate.” Were my relative open to listening, I would point to the riots in London as Exhibit A for why I’m opposed to welfare. Creating a permanent underclass, as welfare policy inevitably does, does not lead to well-being and prosperity for its recipients. It leads to ingratitude and moral and spiritual degeneracy. As Theodore Dalrymple says,

The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class) that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and therefore it regards the fact that it does not receive that high standard, by comparison with the rest of society, as a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class), even though each member of it has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor—quite likely—any member of his family has made much of a contribution; indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude. On the contrary, he would simply feel that the subventions were not sufficient to allow him to live as he would have liked.

Few things are more obvious than Dalrymple’s analysis, and yet we keep perpetuating the same policies. I can’t imagine it will be long before we see more and more of this. By the way, this is also an indictment of our public schools, which no longer teach students how to be responsible, hard-working citizens in a democratic republic such as we have. Rather, public schools fill students’ minds with a lot of psychological clap-trap, a sense that the U.S. is not a great country, and a focus on the “rights” they are “entitled” to.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

August 11, 2011 at 7:10 am

Doing With The Law What I’ve Done With Theology

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Another thing that has dawned on me as I begin to study law is this: I’ve spent the last 20 years reading and studying various theologies, theologians, and biblical materials. In other words, over that span, I’ve built up a considerable store of knowledge about theological matters. I know the technical terminology. I can refer to the various authorities and trace some of the history of the development of doctrine.

It’s occurring to me that if I’m going to excel at law, I’m going to have to build up the same kind of knowledge base in the legal arena. I’m going to have to learn the names of various legal thinkers and become familiar with their writings. I’m going to have to gain command of and facility with a large storehouse of statutory regulations and court cases. I’m going to have to understand how our laws relate to our public policies, and how to research legal topics. And when I think back on how many long years of consistent study it took me to do this with theology, I start to tremble inside. Can I give that kind of time and energy to the law, while continuing to think about theological matters? Will I have the drive? I have never given so much of my time and attention to studying anything other than theology, and so I feel less sure-footed about the pursuit. I suppose this is the conundrum that all devoted Christians in the marketplace must face. They must pursue their craft with diligence and excellence, giving great attention to what they’re doing, even when it may feel a million miles from the world of the Bible. May God give us mercy in guiding us along the sure path. I think I’ll take Solomon’s advice to “cry out for wisdom,” for then I will come into the knowledge of God and find the fear of the Lord.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

August 11, 2011 at 5:54 am