Poll: If I gave a dismissed Juror $2 so he could pay for his parking, should I have asked him to pay me back?

Yesterday, I was working late at the Court and was the last person there.

A dismissed juror returned to the Court, and told me that his parking fee was $7 and he only had $5. He did not have a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM (not too uncommon out here in PA) and the parking lot would not accept credit cards.

Without hesitation, I offered to give him the $2 he needed. I also gave him the Court’s address and asked him to kindly pay me back.

Is this wrong? Everyone in chambers was really proud of me, up until I mentioned the part about asking for a reimbursement.

In hindsight, I realize the price of a stamp will be about 25% of the total amount loaned. Putting that fact aside, is it wrong to expect a person to pay you back? He was certainly in need at the moment, as he had no other way of retrieving his car. But he did not look impoverished by any stretch. Ultimately, he can submit all of his costs to the Clerk to be reimbursed. (Had I thought about it, I would have just asked the Clerk to pay me back, but the thought did not occur to me at the time).

So what say you?


Kopel on Volokh: Legal Scholarship in the Internet Age

At Volokh, Professor Kopel links to a series of posts on DUProcess, the University of Denver Law Review’s Online Supplement:

If you’re interested in the role of blogs in legal education, you might also enjoy Of Empires, Independents, and Captives: Law Blogging, Law Scholarship, and Law School Rankings by J. Robert Brown, Jr., and David I. C. Thomson’s book Law School 2.0: Legal Education for a Digital Age. Thomson argues that the new electronic media can–and should–lead to more profound changes in legal education than anything that has occurred in the last hundred years. If you want to check out some of the book’s ideas before buying, a 2008 paper by Thomson sets up the issue, and another paper details how legal writing can be taught well in an online-only class.

Some really good links.

I am curious about working with an Online Supplement to a journal? Does anyone have any experiences?  I have an article forthcoming about McDonald and Privileges or Immunities that will likely hit the stands in January, but I would like to possibly get a shortened version online sooner. Does anyone know if articles cite to online supplements of law reviews?

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New Yorkers Going Galt, Leaving Empire State

I grew up in New York City, but have no desire to return. Liberty just aint what it used to be in the greatest city in the world.

From today’s NY Post, Tax refugees staging escape from New York (H/T Instapundit):

New Yorkers are fleeing the state and city in alarming numbers — and costing a fortune in lost tax dollars, a new study shows.

More than 1.5 million state residents left for other parts of the United States from 2000 to 2008, according to the report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy. It was the biggest out-of-state migration in the country.

The vast majority of the migrants, 1.1 million, were former residents of New York City — meaning one out of seven city taxpayers moved out.

“The Empire State is being drained of an invaluable resource — people,” the report said.

And why are they leaving New York?

The center, part of the conservative Manhattan Institute, blames the state’s high cost of living and high taxes.

Last year Rush Limbaugh made news when he announced he would no longer live in New York City due to the high taxation rate they were to impose on him. People respond to incentives.

Raising taxes will only hurt New York, as fewer and fewer people are able to pay:

What’s worse is that the families fleeing New York are being replaced by lower-income newcomers, who consequently pay less in taxes.

Overall, the ex-New Yorkers earn about 13 percent more than those who moved into the state, the study found.

Who is John Galt?

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New Article: What is Ambiguity?

From SSRN,  Ambiguity About Ambiguity: An Empirical Inquiry into Legal Interpretation (H/T Legal Theory Blog):

Most scholarship on statutory interpretation discusses what courts should do with ambiguous statutes. This paper investigates the crucial and analytically prior question of what ambiguity in law is. Does a claim that a text is ambiguous mean the judge is uncertain about its meaning? Or is it a claim that ordinary readers of English, as a group, would disagree about what the text means? This distinction is of considerable theoretical interest. It also turns out to be highly consequential as a practical matter.

To demonstrate, we developed a survey instrument for exploring determinations of ambiguity and administered it to nearly 1,000 law students. We find that asking respondents whether a statute is “ambiguous” in their own minds produces answers that are strongly biased by their policy preferences. But asking respondents whether the text would likely be read the same way by ordinary readers of English does not produce answers biased in this way. This discrepancy leads to important questions about which of those two ways of thinking about ambiguity is more legally relevant. It also has potential implications for how cases are decided and for how law is taught.

I have always wondered about ambiguity. Declaring a statute as ambiguous frees a Judge up to do a lot of things he could not do if the statute was unambiguous. Under the Chevron doctrine, for example, if a statute is ambiguous, the Court will almost universally appeal to the interpretation of the administrative agency. But what is ambiguous? Is ambiguity a mere cover for a person’s policy preferences? Or can a text be objectively ambiguous. Interesting reading.

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Very Cool Youtube Video about the History of Google

In the last screen, they ask what comes next? Omniveillance of course!

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New Article: Comparing Life Satisfaction between the U.S. and the Netherlands

From SSRN Comparing Life Satisfaction, written 3 Rand Corporation researchers (H/T Legal Theory Blog):

This paper analyzes the determinants of global life satisfaction in two countries (The Netherlands and the U.S.), by using both self-reports and responses to a battery of vignette questions. The authors find global life satisfaction of happiness is well-described by four domains: job or daily activities, social contacts and family, health, and income. Among the four domains, social contacts and family have the highest impact on global life satisfaction, followed by job and daily activities and health. Income has the lowest impact.

As in other work, they find that American response styles differ from the Dutch in that Americans are more likely to use the extremes of the scale (either very satisfied or very dissatisfied) than the Dutch, who are more inclined to stay in the middle of the scale. Although for both Americans and the Dutch, income is the least important determinant of global life satisfaction, it is more important in the U.S. than in The Netherlands. Indeed life satisfaction varies substantially more with income in the U.S. than in The Netherlands.

There are some intriguing differences between the way respondents judge vignette persons and what turns out to influence their own satisfaction. Respondents in both The Netherlands and the U.S. appear to think that marriage does not contribute to life satisfaction when they judge vignettes. Yet their own satisfaction is positively influenced by being married. Similarly, respondents believe that other things being equal, older persons should be less
satisfied. Yet their own satisfaction goes up with age.

Proponents of Western European Socialist states frequently cite the high life satisfaction of serfs, err citizens of these countries as a benefit of socialism over capitalism. Unfortunately, this report did not inquire into the how governmental control of the individual impacts happiness. But I would definitely be curious about how the state decreases people’s incentives to work harder and produce more. While people may be happy with indolence supported by a welfare state, how will this affect the metal state of mankind in the longterm. Just a thought.

Thomas Sowell: Czars Dismantling America

Thomas Sowell has a fantastic articled titled Dismantling America (H/T Instapundit). It discusses the influence of the administrative state on our freedom, and particularly the role of President Obama’s “czars.”

Just one year ago, would you have believed that an unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate but simply one of the many “czars” appointed by the President, could arbitrarily cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent?

Did you think that another “czar” would be talking about restricting talk radio? That there would be plans afloat to subsidize newspapers– that is, to create a situation where some newspapers’ survival would depend on the government liking what they publish?

I am working on some research on the appointments clause, and whether the role of Czars is so significant that i should require advice and consent of the senate. See some of my thoughts here.

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