Category Archives: Other

Things to Read

So, while I was away last week in beautiful Bermuda, I had some time to catch up on some leisure reading.  My two major non-academic hobbies are baseball and our Brussels Griffon, Boss.  Those of you who have similar interests would enjoy reading:

The Yankee Years, by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci.

One Nation Under Dog, by Michael Schaffer

A book I read earlier this summer, which I cannot recommend enough to baseball fans is:

As They Seem ‘Em, by Bruce Weber.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the best book of the summer:  In Defense of Judicial Elections.


Last Friday, I received a phone call from a reporter with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She was in the process of writing a story regarding Sacha Baron Cohen’s new movie, Bruno. The story centered on an effort by Movieguide, which is published by the pro-family values interest group Christian Film & Television Commission, to convince local government officials to injunct screening the movie on the grounds that it offends contemporary community standards. The Movieguide press release contains a laundry list of reasons as to why the group feels the movie is obscene.

A few things struck me as particularly interesting about this effort. First, the Motion Picture of Association of America, a rather conservative organization in its own right, gave the film an R rating. It seems to me that convincing local officials to screen an R rated movie and determine that it is obscene is a largely fruitless endeavor. Second, I wonder whether this effort might have a boomerang effect by convincing those who otherwise might not see the movie to view it, something that apparently occurred when explicit lyrics warning labels were placed on albums in the 1980s. Lastly, I wonder if this was largely an opportunity for Movieguide to generate some nice press for itself. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram story alone was picked up by more than 20 other newspapers, ranging from the Modesto Bee to the Charlotte Observer. So, perhaps the effort was more about generating publicity for organizational maintenance purposes than genuinely trying to convince local communities to prohibit the screening of Bruno.

The Joy of Minor League Baseball

Following up on Chris’ excellent post regarding Mariano Rivera’s 500th save, I thought I’d share a quick post encouraging readers to check out a minor league baseball game.


1) They are cheap. While it’s easy to spend upwards of $75 a ticket on a major league baseball game, one can typically get great seats at a minor league game for less than $10. During the week, most franchises have specials that cut this even further. When I was in graduate school, the Binghamton Mets (AA) had a two for Tuesday special (that continues to this day). With a student ID, I could get seats on the third base line for about $4 and enjoy 2 for 1 Yuengling lagers.

2) They have tons of local color. Almost all minor league franchises have something unique to offer, especially regarding ballpark drink and fare. The Binghamton Mets sell speedies, marinated meat served on a hotdog roll. The Fort Worth Cats (Independent) feature beer from Rahr, a local brewery. The Quad Cities River Bandits (A) are holding a “Van Down by the River” contest at every game this season, giving fans the chance to take in a game from—you guessed it—a van down by the river.

3) You get to see the future stars of major league baseball. The most exciting part of minor league baseball is the opportunity to see the future stars of the game. While I was growing up, I had the opportunity to see Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Deion Sanders, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera play for the now defunct Albany-Colonie Yankees (AA). Rob Guidry even made a rehab start with the team. In graduate school, I remember watching David Wright and Jose Reyes play on the same team. There was no doubt those kids were going somewhere.

Rivera’s Historic (?) 500th Save?

One of the things that is great about sports is that every game you have the chance of seeing something you have never seen before.  In that sense, it is the ultimate reality TV.  The other night, while watching the Yankees-Mets game (apologies to Mets fan Bob Howard), we witnessed such a moment.  With the Yankees leading by a run, they put in the best closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera.  He got the last out of the bottom of the 8th.  In the top of the 9th, with the bases loaded and 2 outs, Rivera’s turn to bat came up.  This was only the third time in his career (since 1995) that he batted in a major league game.  The Mets closer, Francisco Rodriguez (no slouch himself), fell behind 2-0.  Rivera worked the count to 3-2, and then Rodriguez delivered ball 4.  Not only had Rivera walked, but he got credit for a run batted in, since the runner from 3rd scored on the walk.

This got me wondering…has a closer ever earned an RBI in an MLB game.  A quick google search yielded….nothing.  My hunch is that the issue is “no.”  Closers generally enter the game in the 9th inning (or later) and if/when their time to bat comes up, they are generally pinch-hit for since the game is tight and ABs are valuable.  Moreover, there was no such thing as a “closer” until the 1970s–it is a modern development of the game.  Certainly, pitchers who have served as both starters and closers have RBIs (Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, etc.)  But….has a pitcher serving as a closer ever received an RBI?

If not, then Rivera’s Hall of Fame career just got even better.

On the new legal economy

Two interesting things to examine on the new legal economy:

First, Bill Henderson has a very interesting post on ELS. Check out the differences in salary distribution in 1991 and 2007 that he documents and discusses:

Second, a very intriguing take on the latest developments of the legal economy downturn for big firms and the downturn’s ramifications can be found on Law Shucks (hat tip Nancy Rapoport). The site describes itself as “a self-deprecating look at life in and after BigLaw.”

What Drew You to the Study of Law and Courts?

I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to Jeff and Andy for the opportunity to guest blog on Voir Dire. Hopefully, the readers will find what I have to say at least marginally interesting. I plan to cover a number of topics, some academic, some not so much. Jeff and Andy were kind enough to give me fairly substantial leeway in terms of my posts and I plan to take them up on that offer.

I’ll begin with one of my favorite questions to ask prospective graduate students and faculty members: What drew you to the study of law and courts? Over the years, I’ve heard a wide range of answers to this question and they never cease to fascinate me.

I’ll share an abridged version of own narrative.

My father is an attorney who spent 20 plus years as a county legislator. My mother is a schoolteacher. Growing up, my parents instilled in me a strong sense of the importance of these career paths, although I was drawn most heavily to the law. I entered the University of Scranton fully set on going to law school. I could see the “Collins and Son, P.C.” sign in my head.

However, during the course of my studies at Scranton, two things occurred. First, I spent a summer working as a law librarian. This gave me a keen sense of the day-to-day activities of lawyers. I came to realize that the romantic view of lawyers often portrayed on television and in the movies rarely meshed with the real business of attorneys, even litigators. Second, I became fascinated with the life of academics. It occurred to me that a career spent educating, researching, and never leaving a college campus was exceptionally appealing. Indeed, I recall speaking with a faculty member at Scranton about my career path. When asked what I was interested in doing post-undergraduate, I replied “I kind of like your job.” With those words, I finally managed to get the courage up to explore something other than law school.

So there you have it. The offspring of an attorney/politician and a schoolteacher grows up to teach political science and law. It seems kind of silly that it took me into my early twenties to figure that one out.

Race in the War on Drugs: The Social Consequences of Presidential Rhetoric

The Voir Dire team has recently publicly posted on the Social Science Research Network their paper from the Empirical Legal Studies conference, “Race in the War on Drugs: The Social Consequences of Presidential Rhetoric.”  The abstract is available below the fold.

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