June 21, 2018

W.B.Yeats on Writing.

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.

--W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

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The Longest Day: Happy Summer Soltice.

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Holden Oliver here. June 21, 2018. Happy Soltice to all in the Northern Hemisphere. The longest day. Earth's axial tilt toward the Sun is at its greatest: a whopping 23.44°. A highly spiritual day. Druids and Gaelic types in America and Europe and my entire family observe today by getting drunk, making oaths, fighting and passing out in the woods.

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Beyond Arbitration: Ordeal by Water. Let's give this procedure a second look.

With good reason, GCs and in-house counsel all over the world painstakingly monitor the effectiveness of arbitration, especially in business-to-business disputes. Most of them will tell you arbitration doesn't work as well as they would like, especially in the hands of American and Brit lawyers. Remember Ordeal by Water? It was my favorite part of Civil Procedure in law school. It's exciting, for one thing. Further, it's certainly "faster" and "cheaper" than any American Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) best practices to date and in some cases superior to the best-functioning European arbitration regimes. Let's give it a second look, shall we?

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June 20, 2018

About Creation.

There is no joy except in creation. There are no living beings but those who create. All the rest are shadows, hovering over the earth, strangers to life. All the joys of life are the joys of creation: love, genius, action...

--Romain Rolland (1866-1944), Nobel Prize winner, in "Lightning Strikes Christophe".

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Proust: To those that make us grow.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

-- Marcel Proust, 1871–1922, French novelist and critic.

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On Great Cities.

What strange phenomena we find in great cities. All we have to do is to stroll about with our eyes open.

--Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

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A friend in Buenos Aires.

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June 19, 2018

Revisited: The Law of Handwritten Thank You Notes.

Break the rules at your peril. People will say mean things about your dog, your wife, your girlfriend, or all three.

In case your Mother or Governess never told you, you're from Utah, or you were stoned all seven years at Choate, let us remind you to never thank anyone for something truly important--a meeting, referral or a dinner--with anything but a prompt handwritten thank-you note. No valid excuses exist for not doing it. Too few of us practice gratitude--in either business or our "other" lives--enough. Some say the practice of saying thanks is good for the soul. Others swear it's good for revenues, too.

Many, many business people and some lawyers with the highest standards taste (i.e., wear socks to meetings or court) think that no written thank-you note means no class--as harsh and low-tech as that may sound.

Typed is okay--but handwritten is better. Even if you are not convinced that thank-you notes are noticed and appreciated (they are), pretend that we know more than you (we do), and do it anyway (thank us later).

Good stationery. We suggest Crane's on the lower end, or something better, like stationery from Tiffany's, or a Tiffany-style knock-off, on the higher end. A "studio card", maybe. Just make it plain. Simple. Initials on it at most.

If you get personalized stuff, have a return envelope address to a home or business--but without the business mentioned. It's personal. Leave Acme Law Firm off it.

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Continue reading...

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Larry Flynt: Voting.

Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights. You can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper.

--Larry Flynt (b. 1942)

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(Columbia Pictures)

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June 18, 2018

Writing Well: The Editors.

"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." --H.G. Wells (1866-1946)

"I have performed the necessary butchery. Here is the bleeding corpse." --Henry James (1843-1916)after a request by the Times Literary Supplement to cut 3 lines from a 5,000 word article.

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Herbert George Wells, 1908

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.

The 'hood with a little bit of everybody.

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June 16, 2018

Redux:* Your Life as a Work of Art.

About half the people you meet live from one day to the next in a state of such fear and uncertainty that about half the time they doubt their own sanity. Their boats are rocking so badly that all they want to do is get level long enough to think straight and avoid the next nightmare.

--HST, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

For the past two centuries, starting just about the time the world started feeling the effects of morphing from farming to industrial economies, people got more out of whack than ever. Many historians think the industrial revolution started as early as the mid-18th century--when Brits learned how to do machine-based manufacturing--but it took a few decades for the world to lose its way while it enjoyed and celebrated labor-saving devices, increased wealth and higher standards of living for most Westerners.

What ever happened to well-roundedness?

"Fragmentation" became one word philosophers and writers often used to describe the real price paid for our "progress". People became cut off from the natural world, their own innate spirituality and the meaning of a true education. We drifted away from physical culture, real health, exercising our bodies and eating correctly. Notions of friendship and bonds with others changed and, in my view, all but disappeared. As a result, we became less useful to others, friends and family, clients and customers, co-workers and ourselves. We are more alone than ever. We lead paltry, under-achieving and often miserable lives. Many of us are, most of the time, "hatin' life".

In short, we have lost our very souls. We feel isolated from life itself and we feel alone. We are ignorant of the history that got us here, watch television mindlessly and by default, wax patriotic or tribal as a substitute for thinking, are unaware of that happens in the rest of the world (Americans are easily the worst offenders), take pills we don't need and are getting fat enough to have our own zip codes. We don't even venture outside and into the natural world that much. We think we'll be and feel better if we "buy more stuff". Perhaps worst of all, even the most talented of us no longer think for ourselves. We follow. We run in mindless packs.

Fragmentation, isolation, unthinking conformity, chronic unhappiness or being "screwed up"--whatever you want to call it--is true of most of us, in varying but substantial ways, regardless of race, class or level of education. The unhappiness covers us all. We are not "putting it all together" to form (to take a musical conceit) one major chord.

Doing that starts with each human--and it takes work. Work we should be anxious to undertake.

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Work at a life more complete: one that "adds up".

*This post first appeared in What About Paris? on January 2, 2014.

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Edward Gibbon: On Germans.

The most civilized nations of modern Europe issued from the woods of Germany; in the rude institutions of those Barbarians we [received] the original principles of our present laws and manners.

--Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter IX (1782)

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June 15, 2018

Sharp Dressed Man: Mr. Raoul Duke.

Cuff links, stick pin. When I step out I'm gonna do you in.

--Gibbons, Hill and Beard

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Raoul Duke (1937-2005)

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The World Famous 12 Rules of Client Service.

1. Represent only clients you 'like'.

2. The client is the main event.

3. Make sure everyone in your firm knows the client is the main event.

4. Deliver legal work that changes the way clients think about lawyers.

5. Over-communicate: bombard, copy and confirm.

6. When you work, you are marketing.

7. Know the client.

8. Think like the client--help control costs.

9. Be there for clients--24/7.

10. Be accurate, thorough and timely--but not perfect.

11. Treat each co-worker like he or she is your best client.

12. Have fun.

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Copyright 2005-2014 J. Daniel Hull.

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Happy 803rd, Magna Carta.

Today, June 15, a document known to most of us as the Magna Carta (also Magna Charta, or The Great Charter) will celebrate its 803rd birthday. The Charter was of course imposed by feudal barons on the English king John Lackland at the banks of the Thames near Windsor, England, on June 15, 1215. By limiting the king's absolute power, and protecting the rights of at least some of his subjects, the document wisely signed that day by King John (1199-1216) became a critical building block in both English and American constitutional law.

The Magna Carta did two groundbreaking things. It acknowledged that punishment of citizens must be under the law of the land. More generally, it also gave rise to a settled notion, and expectation, that a monarch should not and cannot act on a completely arbitrary basis.

What spurred the barons to confront King John? Answer: Taxes, mainly, without notice, over and over again, to pay for John's lackluster military campaigns on the continent.

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A reprinting in London in 1600s.

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June 13, 2018

Young Ben Disraeli: On Bad Books.

Books are fatal: they are the curse of the human race. Nine-tenths of existing books are nonsense, and the clever books are the refutation of that nonsense.

--Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

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The London Stone. Again.

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We've written about it before. I have a thing about it--probably because for now I live a lot of the time in California in an "old" 22-year-old home. Back East, in DC, NYC and Nantucket, and other parts of the U.S. where people do not use "party" as a verb, there's much older stuff, of course, sometimes going back to the 1600s--but nothing like you stumble upon every moment in dear old Albion and Western Europe. Sorry, rock and cave paintings and U.S. mound-builder relics don't cut it for me as much; so alert the Oberlin College faculty, the BIA and NPR--and then sue me. I like old books, old homes, old things; but they need to be the relics of real goofy-looking Europeans like me.

The Stone is important to me because it's mysterious and fires the imagination--not because it's way old. There's a myth that the Stone was part of an altar built by Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder of London. Not true in any respect--but the Stone is Dang Olde, older than Boudica, Tacitus, Disraeli or Keith Richards, and at the very minimum, an enduring symbol of the Authority of The City since London Roman times. So we're talking about at least 2000 years of Stoneness. Some scholars think 3000 years.

Anyway, finding It is easy: you head east, down Fleet Street, past Dr. Johnson's house, past St. Paul's a block north, staying on Fleet Street (not Lane) which becomes Ludgate Hill (past intersection with Old Bailey), which becomes Cannon Street, to 111 Cannon, across from the tube station.

Got it? You'll miss It if you're not careful. You may give an oath to It if you like. The Stone likes that.

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Original: 8-29-08

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June 12, 2018

Women We Love: Annabeth Gish.

Annabeth Gish has long resided our Pantheon. She is a versatile artist and human.

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Ray Davies: A Nod to Old Blighty.


Ray Davies cries "Victoria", Glastonbury 2010

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Barham, Canterbury, Kent, England.

O famous Kent
What country hath this isle that can compare with thee?

--Michael Drayton (1563-1631), in Polyolbion

I've been here several times and will return as many times as I can. London lawyer friends live here in this village and civil parish of the City of Canterbury district of Kent, England: a sane and civilized rural way station on the path from Cardiff or London to Paris. Barham is above all ancient, pastoral and undisturbed. Population 1200. It was spelled Bioraham in 799, after Beora, a Saxon chief. The Anglican village church dates to the 1100s and was likely built over a Saxon church which existed at least by 809. Barham is not far from Canterbury--and local legend has it that one of knights who killed Thomas Becket had an estate here.

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June 11, 2018

Wordsworth on Writing.

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Writing--any kind of writing--is hard work. The most inspired "work moments" I've had are in this category: watching someone struggle with getting to the right word or phrase under pressure and when they are tired. The first time I saw it was watching a college daily editor--my roommate both in college and in DC for a while--struggle at 4:00 AM over a few words in the final sentences of a student reporter's story covering a public figure's on-campus speech.

He was also a student stringer for a well-known newspaper, and knew his bosses far away would see his article on the event. He had already phoned in the facts to an editor in Manhattan--and he had been careful to get those facts right.

Continue reading...

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Jack London: On Inspiration.

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

--Jack London (1876-1916)

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Trumpness.

Dems, Liberals and the Left mainly hate Trump's Style. A common American Business Style on steroids. And a Male Style. There are lots of Trumps in America. Just more understated. Tons of Trumps. Dems, Liberals and the Left need to get used to that.

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June 10, 2018

The 7 Habits of Highly Clueless Lawyers.

Return of EFGB and the Seven Habits. Lawyers who won't take a stand is a time-honored tradition. Ernie from Glen Burnie, a life-long friend of mine, is not such a creature. It's just his nature. He'll stand up for people who pay him--and people he just met on the subway. You can read Ernie's story. It's about an old parchment he claims was discovered in Alexandria, Virginia, around the same time we both began practicing law in the District. Do see "The Seven Habits of Highly Useless Corporate Lawyers". This is a true story, mostly. So listen up.

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Stand-Up Guys: Ernie, a dead-ringer for 1950s icon Neal Cassady, and the author, during their pre-lawyer years in Washington, D.C.

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June 08, 2018

Sterling Hayden: Lover of Being Alive.

Although actor Sterling Hayden (1916-1986) was not in love with Hollywood or acting, he was a highly regarded actor who was cast in westerns, action films and film noir for over forty years, usually as a leading man. He was also a spy, war hero, seeker, sailor, adventurer, rebel, gifted writer and eccentric's eccentric, all six foot five of him. He was authentic. Never contrived, posed, phony or obliged to be different. Never sucking up. A pure lover of being alive. Read his biography, artful screed and best work, in "Wanderer" (1977).

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Rule Seven: Know The Client.

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You're a servant. Whatever your client does, find out about it. And find out in 3-D.

Rule Seven is from our wise, world-famous, tortuous and highly irritating 12 Rules which make their appearance here in some form roughly 50 times a year. Excerpt from Rule Seven:

The client, it seems, actually wants you to know him, her or it. Take time out to learn the stock price, industry, day-to-day culture, players and overall goals of your client. Visit their offices and plants.

Do it free of charge.

Associates in particular need to develop the habit of finding out about and keeping up with clients and their trials and tribulations in and out of the areas you are working in. Learn about your client--and keep learning about it.

Devise a system to keep abreast.

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June 07, 2018

The 12 Rules of Client Service.

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1. Represent only clients you like.

2. The client is the main event.

3. Make sure everyone in your firm knows the client is the main event.

4. Deliver legal work that changes the way clients think about lawyers.

5. Over-communicate: bombard, copy and confirm.

6. When you work, you are marketing.

7. Know the client.

8. Think like the client--help control costs.

9. Be there for clients--24/7.

10. Be accurate, thorough and timely--but not perfect.

11. Treat each co-worker like he or she is your best client.

12. Have fun.

Copyright 2006-2018 John Daniel Hull. All Rights Reserved.

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Holy Surprises & Saving Graces: Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 56(d).

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The early-in-the-case Rule 56 motion. Note the well-dressed Brit General Counsel taking a bullet.

Rule 56
.....
(d) When Facts Are Unavailable to the Nonmovant. If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, the court may:

(1) defer considering the motion or deny it;
(2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to take discovery; or
(3) issue any other appropriate order.

Trial lawyers, in-house counsel and law students know that Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or summary judgment, gives a litigant an opportunity to win on its claims or dispose of the opponent's claims relatively quickly and without trial. Accompanied by sworn affidavits, and most often discovery responses, a Rule 56 motion tries to show that there is no real dispute about key facts and that the movant is entitled to judgment under the law. If the trial court grants it, the movant wins on those claims.

But what if a summary judgment motion is brought against your client suddenly and early in the case and the local rules of the district court don't give you much time to develop and prepare an opposition? After all, Rule 56 lets a party who has brought a claim file for summary judgment after 20 days, and defendants can file "at any time".

It happens pretty frequently. Both plaintiffs and defendants make the motion early on. Defendants do it the most. No matter who moves early, or how it is eventually resolved by the district court, it's very disruptive. It will fluster even the most battle-hardened-been-there-seen-that GC or in-house counsel. It's an expensive little sideshow, too. Everyone in the responding camp hates life for a while.

Subdivision (d) of Rule 56, "When Facts Are Unavailable to the Nonmovant", provides a safeguard against premature grants of summary judgment. Some good lawyers seem either to not know about--or to not use--subdivision (d) of Rule 56. In short, you file your own motion and affidavit--there are weighty sanctions if you misuse the rule, so be careful--stating affidavits by persons with knowledge needed to oppose the motion are "not available", and stating why. (More senior lawyers may know this provision as Rule 56(f); it was re-lettered in the 2010 amendments to the federal rules.)

The federal district court can then (1) deny the request and make you oppose the motion, (2) refuse to grant the motion or do what you really want it to do: (3) grant a continuance so that you can develop facts and, better yet, take depositions or conduct other discovery. Granted, it's a rule that delays, but if used correctly, Rule 56(d) can give you the breathing room and time you need to develop the client's case--not to mention avoiding the granting of summary judgment.

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June 06, 2018

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Master Coach. North Star. Exalted Teacher. Consigliere.

Yes, "read the rule..." The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are remarkable and, well, amazing. They vibrate, hum and glow with the hard work of the few who have worked on them over the years. In your first year. Tenth year. Twentieth year. Fortieth year of practice. They are shorter and better (i.e., much easier to grasp) than any non-FRCP-based state counterparts. There are flaws and ambiguities--but precious few. You notice something different every time. You never take them for granted. Look. At. Them. Every. Time. Read the Advisory Committee Notes, too. They, too, are to the point--and lean. Start with the Rule. Read the Note. And Onward.

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D-Day and the Normandy Landings: June 6, 1944.

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74 years ago today about 1:30 am EST

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June 05, 2018

London, 1835: Ben Disraeli Disses Daniel O'Connell.

Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.

--Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), Parliament, 1835.

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June 04, 2018

Amsterdam: Authentic, Sane, Healthy, Smart, Fun.

Like Tel Aviv in Israel, Amsterdam's nickname (among others) is Mokum, a Hebrew word for "place" or "city", due to its historically large Jewish population. A favorite European city for Yanks, Amsterdam is poorly understood by Americans, often half-blinded by our Victorian and morally pretentious views of real life. Amsterdam is about beauty, great art, great food, healthy free-thinking people, and genuine class--not just the Sex Museum, social welfare, cathouses along canals in the de Wallen, smoking hash at the Betty Boop coffeehouse, and other indulgences, percs and pleasures. Cosmopolitan, the Dutch like other languages. In the Netherlands, the official ones are Dutch and, in the north, Frisian (which many believe is the closest thing to Old English still spoken). But about 85% of the total population has basic knowledge of English. German and French spoken here, too.

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A Discovery Rule Sleeper You Can Use: Rule 27, Fed. R. Civ. P.

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You hosin' us, Mr. Hull?

Rule 27 of the U.S. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is "Depositions to Perpetuate Testimony". It's not invoked that often. Subdivision (a) covers "Before an Action Is Filed":

(1) Petition. A person who wants to perpetuate testimony about any matter cognizable in a United States court may file a verified petition in the district court for the district where any expected adverse party resides. The petition must ask for an order authorizing the petitioner to depose the named persons in order to perpetuate their testimony. The petition must be titled in the petitioner's name and must show:

(A) that the petitioner expects to be a party to an action cognizable in a United States court but cannot presently bring it or cause it to be brought;

(B) the subject matter of the expected action and the petitioner's interest;

(C) the facts that the petitioner wants to establish by the proposed testimony and the reasons to perpetuate it;

(D) the names or a description of the persons whom the petitioner expects to be adverse parties and their addresses, so far as known; and

(E) the name, address, and expected substance of the testimony of each deponent.

(2) Notice and Service. At least 21 days before the hearing date, the petitioner must serve each expected adverse party with a copy of the petition and a notice stating the time and place of the hearing. The notice may be served either inside or outside the district or state in the manner provided in Rule 4. If that service cannot be made with reasonable diligence on an expected adverse party, the court may order service by publication or otherwise. The court must appoint an attorney to represent persons not served in the manner provided in Rule 4 and to cross-examine the deponent if an unserved person is not otherwise represented. If any expected adverse party is a minor or is incompetent, Rule 17(c) applies.

(3) Order and Examination. If satisfied that perpetuating the testimony may prevent a failure or delay of justice, the court must issue an order that designates or describes the persons whose depositions may be taken, specifies the subject matter of the examinations, and states whether the depositions will be taken orally or by written interrogatories. The depositions may then be taken under these rules, and the court may issue orders like those authorized by Rules 34 and 35. A reference in these rules to the court where an action is pending means, for purposes of this rule, the court where the petition for the deposition was filed.

(4) Using the Deposition. A deposition to perpetuate testimony may be used under Rule 32(a) in any later-filed district-court action involving the same subject matter if the deposition either was taken under these rules or, although not so taken, would be admissible in evidence in the courts of the state where it was taken.

And subdivision (c), equally as vague in some respects (but see the Committee Notes), states:

(c) Perpetuation by an Action. This rule does not limit a court's power to entertain an action to perpetuate testimony.

Continue reading...

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June 03, 2018

Democrats, you ever coming home?

I was a Democrat for a very long time—until the Democratic Party abandoned me. If I decided to go back, what’s left to go back to? Anger? Small-mindedness? Moral superiority?

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June 02, 2018

Stand-up Guy: John Henry Holliday, Gambler.

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John Henry Holliday in 1872.

He despised and, whenever he could, preferred to engage bullies. He had a knee-jerk resistance to following the crowd in anything. He thought for himself. He argued with everyone (including the Earp family) about everything. He liked underdogs.

The Gift of Loyalty, Being There, Standing Up. Nine-tenths of what has been said or written about him, including Hollywood's versions, is hype. Doc Holliday wasn't a great shot, or anything like an artist with that big knife he carried around with him. He didn't kill scores of people. He wasn't drunk 24/7. Not everyone hated or feared him. Yes, he could be as mean as a snake.

But when you clear away the Old West myth, he's still a tragic but compelling and often admirable loner. Biographers do agree that John Henry Holliday (1851-1887) was fiercely loyal and could be counted on to stand up for friends--not just the Earp family--and a few others who might need a bold if flamboyant assist.

To be honest, I wish more lawyers--too many of us are cowards and wimps--had Doc's pluck, his ever-readiness to "be there" for you and his fine madness. Most of us? We don't come by strong character, action or decisiveness naturally. Face it: as a group, we are barely above-average Dorks. We've raised holding back, and even common cowardice, to an acceptable art.

Like many lawyers-to-be, Doc grew up comfortably and was well-educated. He was raised in Georgia as a popular and bright youngster in a close, supportive and fairly well-to-do family in which, among other things, he learned about card games. His clan's fortunes were badly set back, but not destroyed, by the Civil War and the subsequent occupation by Union soldiers.

He started out adulthood in 1872 as a 20-year-old graduate of a fine dental surgery school in Philadelphia. But Holliday caught Tuberculosis from either his stepmother or a patient in his first year of practice. At 22, still the beginning of his dental practice, he was diagnosed as "consumptive"--and told that he had but a few months to live.

This shock, coupled with what some researchers believe was a star-crossed love affair with a first cousin, made Holliday move West for his health. Dentistry quickly took a back seat to gambling. He became a binge-drinking rogue with only a few friends, professional gambler, resident wit, expert womanizer and prankster who was somehow menacing to most of the people he met, even at a weight of around 140 pounds. Although he was clearly an emotional and in some respects volatile man, most reports have him clear-headed, quick-witted and even strangely calm in violent situations the moment they erupted.

This was a bit of Social Critic and Philosopher in Holliday, too. I've read three bios now on Doc. (The best, to me, is Doc Holliday by Gary L. Roberts, John Wiley & Sons (2006)). Even when drunk, or when he had lost his temper (both happened a lot), Holliday was clear-eyed in a number of respects.

He wouldn't beat up on weaklings. He despised--and, whenever he could, preferred to engage--straight-up bullies and self-hating creeps. He had a knee-jerk resistance to following the crowd in anything. He thought for himself; he argued with everyone (including the Earp family) about everything. He liked underdogs. And even when cornered--or was about to be hauled off to jail (also happened a lot)--he had something caustic and often incredibly funny to say.

Tuberculosis did finally claim him in Colorado at age 37. There is no end to the lore about what he did and said, or to the speculation about what made him tick in those last 15 years. But even the most sober historical sources on Holliday do agree on one thing. Over and over again, if a friend--in a few cases a total stranger--needed him, he was there immediately.

Instinctive. No hesitation. An angry yet adept explosion. None of the pathetic step-by-step "analysis" of modern white collars that should shame us deeply every time and never does. You didn't need to ask Doc to help. Doc didn't need to think about it.

He just did it.

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St. Genevieve: "I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come..."

Get down on your knees and pray! I know it, I see it. The Huns will not come.

Sainte Genevieve (422-512) saved Parisians from the Huns, the legend goes, in 451. People had started to flee Paris in anticipation of the invasion led by Attila--but stopped when she told them she had a vision that the Huns would not enter Paris. She became the city's patron saint. In 1928, a grateful Paris erected a statue to her on the Pont de la Tournelle (now about 400 years old). Genevieve is facing east, the direction from which the Huns approached. She is also said to have converted Clovis, king of the pagan Franks, to Christianity. If you walk from the Right Bank to the Left Bank near the Ile Saint Louis, you walk right under her, with Notre Dame on your right.

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June 01, 2018

Bohemian Paris 1840s: The Downwardly Mobile Arts.

At once playful and dead-serious, Paris is "the city where artists love and starve together, shock the bourgeoisie, then die tragically young." Visit Girls' Guide to Paris and read Cynthia Rose's "Arthur Rimbaud: The Poet as Pop Star."

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Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)

Thank you for free verse, young Arthur Rimbaud.

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May 31, 2018

Henry Miller's Heir.

Half the people you meet live from one day to the next in a state of such fear and uncertainty that about half the time they doubt their own sanity. Their boats are rocking so badly that all they want to do is get level long enough to think straight and avoid the next nightmare.

--HST, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

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Hermann Hesse on Real Life.

It is hard to find this track of the divine in the midst of this life we lead.

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf (1927)

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May 30, 2018

Milan Kundera: On Older Women.

An older woman is a jewel in the life of a man.

--Milan Kundera (1929- ) in "Immortality", 1990

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One critic: The book will make you "maybe even a better lover".

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James Baldwin: "Tell Me How Long The Train's Been Gone."

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An essayist at heart, American novelist, poet and playwright James Baldwin (1924-1987) wrote his experimental fourth novel about the life of Leo Proudhammer, a black stage actor raised in Harlem who moves to Greenwich Village. Proudhammer has a heart attack on stage. Published in 1968, and panned by critics but widely read, "Tell Me How Long The Train's Been Gone" is an incredibly intense coming of age story set the 1930s and 1940s about racial prejudice, the American experiment, family, faith and sexuality.

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Clients want excellent--not perfect. Excellent is way harder.

Clients 99.5% of the time are not paying you to be perfect. Clients don't want perfect. In the rare instances they do want perfect, they will let you know. So clients want excellent. Be excellent, not perfect. See, e.g., "Rule 10: Be Accurate, Thorough and Timely--But Not Perfect" of our world-famous and irritating but life-changing 12 Rules of Client Service.

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Perfectionism: The horror, the horror. Above: Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now (photo: Miramax).

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May 29, 2018

Way to go, Ohio’s Chrissie Hynde.

Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders turns 67 this year. She lives mainly in London now. Like me, she went to a truly great public high school in the Ohio suburbs, hers being up north in the more industrial Cleveland-Akron megalopolis. I like Ohio. I was lucky to spend half my childhood there. But whenever Hynde and The Pretenders over the past 30 years have performed this song--to be fair, it could be about quite a few Midwestern cities--her voice drips with anger, and you know what she means. It's powerful. Here's one of her tamer renditions.

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May 28, 2018

John Alexander McCrae (1872-1918): In Flanders Fields.

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In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

--John Alexander McCrae (1872–1918)

Poet and physician, McCrae was a Lieutenant Colonel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and served as a field surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium (April 21–May 25 1915). He wrote this famous and much beloved poem on May 3, 1915. It first appeared in Punch in December of 1915. McCrae preferred the front lines. On June 1, 1915, despite his protests, McCrae was asked to set up a hospital away from the front and near Boulogne, France. In January 1918, he died of pneumonia and meningitis while still commanding that hospital.

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May 27, 2018

What does it mean to be educated?

Well, for starters, education is not just about getting a job. And it’s not about learning and parroting a cultural, political or partisan script.

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May 26, 2018

William Beard Hull (1837-1929), C.S.A.

William Beard Hull (1837-1929). Born Augusta County, Virginia. In 1858, as oldest son, Bill, 21, on saddle horse served as his family's scout to move his parents Dan and "Mae" and his six brothers and sisters to Kansas. They were not super-rich but from strain of the Hull family of German Lutheran farmers who had been settled in Middlebrook, Virginia since 1750. They freed the three slaves they owned before the trip west. They took two wagons, including a special "contraption" built by Dan, and driven by one of their servants from Middlebrook. Although they were headed to Kansas, they liked what is now Mountain Grove, Missouri. They stayed there. In 1861 Bill went back to Virginia to fight for the Confederacy, and he ended the war with the Missouri 10th Infantry, or Steen's Regiment. He died at 91 in Oklahoma at a Confederate Soldiers home. He must have seen amazing things and changes in the American South. He married. He had at six kids, including my great-grandfather, John Daniel Hull I.

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May 25, 2018

Memorial Day. It’s not about barbecue, chili or hoovering drugs with cousin Jasper.

For us Yanks, Memorial Day is about resolute if terrified men and women, innocents all, who died, often horribly and in confusion, in American military engagements.

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June 6, 1944. U.S. army officer watching Norman coast as his landing craft approaches Omaha Beach.

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May 24, 2018

Cummer Gallery: Rombouts's "The Concert"

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The Concert, c. 1620, Theodoor Rombouts (Flemish, 1597-1637)


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May 23, 2018

The MC5: The Revolution as Serious Fun.

The MC5 truly believed in the power of rock & roll to change the world.

--Rolling Stone

Below is the MC5's Wayne Kramer singing "Ramblin' Rose" at Wayne State University in Detroit in July 1970, two months after the shootings own May 4, 1970 at Kent State. Note that Patti Smith's husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, now deceased, is the non-dancing guitarist in the dark cowboy shirt. One critic: "The MC5 brought out the animal in every audience."

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American Pantheon: Nico (1938-1988)

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Born Christa Päffgen in Cologne (1938-1988)


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Think Like a Client: Help to Control Costs.

Rule 8 is Think Like the Client--Help Control Costs. The 2006 Explanatory Note for Rule 8--we reluctantly decided that an Advisory Committee Notes regime was a bit grandiose--begins this way:

Ask an associate lawyer or paralegal what a "profit" is. You will get two kinds of answers. Both answers are "correct" but neither of them helps anyone in your firm think like the client. The answers will be something like this. (1) "A profit is money remaining after deducting costs from receipts." This is the correct young transactional/tax lawyer answer. Or (2) "it's money left over at the end of the hunt." This is the correct fire-breathing young litigator answer.

The right answer?

A profit is a reward for being efficient. And until a lawyer, paralegal or staffer gets that, she or he will never know how a client--or a law firm partner--thinks.

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