The Answer Guy Online

Providing information to unwitting victims on a "don't-need-to-know" basis since 1974.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Crazy People

Studying for the bar exam has been mostly kind of dull. But when you go through practice question after practice question, after a while there are certain characters that keep showing up over and over again in the hypotheticals, the ones that behave nothing like actual people would. Now if you're fresh out of law school, and you've been subjected to three years of wild-ass hypotheticals straight out of professorial imagination, this would not seem odd to year. A few years in the real world though and you have to remind yourself to turn off the voice in your head telling you "WTF is wrong with these people?!" when you read the fact patterns.

For instance, there are the attorneys in the Professional Responsibility questions who violate every rule under the sun. The kind that would likely have been disbarred years ago for being freakin' idiots. Oh, yeah, sure, you can represent a shareholder in a dispute with management of your client corporation. Yeah, of course you can say nasty things about the other party in a pending lawsuit to the press. Go ahead, agree to a consent order that you know your client bitterly opposes. Like I said, freakin' idiots. What law school did these people go to, anyway?

Also, there are the religious conservative school boards in the Constitutional Law questions. If you're going to try to get the Bible into English classes, claiming that the purpose is to "instill morality" is prove the other side's case for them. Building churches with public money isn't very slick either. Oh, well, at least it's some easy points to regurgitate the Lemon v. Kurtzman test.

But while crooked (if not quite as stupid as above) lawyers and school boards who are ham-handed about their efforts to push their brand of religion onto everyone else are all too real, the same cannot be said for all of those criminal defendants in the Evidence questions who are oh-so-eager to bring character evidence into issue. Yes, they are entitled to produce evidence regarding their own good character before anyone else says anything, unlike most litigants, including prosecutors. To say that they usually refrain from doing so, considering the typical criminal defendant has a rap sheet a mile long and is known far and wide as trouble on two legs, is a the understatement of the year. In fact, though you'd never know it from the bar exam or from TV, criminal defendants are usually so deathly afraid of their character being discussed that they don't even take the stand. Even funnier is that the prosecutors in these questions often object. In the real world, they lie in wait with bated breath and hope that the defendant and his counsel are dumb enough to open the door. They ain't objecting.

The Contracts people are usually more sensible than this. But I might make an exception for the people who get pissed that the college student slackers who painted your house didn't paint the house to their satisfaction - and they try to sue for specific performance. Hello!? Really, now, what on earth makes you think you'd be happier the second time around if you could force them to go up to your house again and paint it, even assuming a court would grant you that remedy - which of course they won't?

And then we move onto Real Property. More specifically, to the dumbasses who don't record their deeds. For some reason, lots of them go to Tibet or something they day after the buy a house. First of all, these people should be freakin' house poor after purchasing Blackacre or Whiteacre or Mauveacre or Polka-Dotacre or Whateveracre. None of them seem to have heard of title insurance or title companies or escrow agents or any of those other zillions of people who get some of your dough when you become a homeowner. Even funnier are all the mortgage banks who somehow screw this up that occassionally show up in hypotheticals. This behavior then facilitiates the unscrupulous sellers who take advantage of our naive wanderers by re-selling and/or re-mortgaging Whateveracre to someone else. If these people exist, they can't exist in anything like the numbers found on the bar exam. Something like 10% of the Property questions on the Multistate concern these a**holes. (Of course, if the buyers weren't traipsing off to Tibet on moving day, this wouldn't happen.)

And we can't forget about the crazy, eccentric old people in the Property questions who can't seem to convey land without throwing all kinds of ridiculous future interests into the mix. You know, "I hereby grant Sillyacre to A for life, then to B and his heirs for so long as liquor is never consumed on the premises, then to C and her heirs, etc." * (This people also exist in soap operas, I'm told.) Note that you have to be rich to be "eccentric." Similar folks of modest means are just plain "crazy."
And usually they don't have lavish estates, or lawyers who can apparently afford their country club memberships because these codgers want to create contingent remainders and executory interests on all their land holdings.

Perhaps their credo is that it's immoral to allow fools to keep their money. Which, come to think of it, is probably the credo by which most people who practice law live.

* If you recognized from the minute that you saw the asterisk that this conveyance violates the Rule Against Perpetuities, you are correct. You are also beyond hope.


At 1:17 AM, Anonymous Matt Young said...

Good to see the "Answer Guy" back in action...let me know if you got my metter TY.

- Matty

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said... long as.... is the biggest RAP tip-off there is.


At 8:38 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah ....

you brought tears! Oh how I remember studying for the bar and wondering where in the heck these plaintiffs were from?

It reminds me of my pre-law school days when I conducted initial client interviews for a firm (you know, screening calls...). Man, the people on the bar exam are all the cases we said "NO THANKS!" to.


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