Dec 18
1:35 PM

Get Drunk, Crash the Truck, Deduct the Loss

A couple months ago, this Blog reported that the IRS would not allow a deduction for the arguably noble gesture of allowing your home to be burnt to the ground to facilitate practice for your local fire department.  We are now chagrined to report that for the arguably ignoble gesture of getting drunk and running your truck off the road, you may be able to deduct the value of the truck as a casualty loss under IRC Sec. 165.  That's what happened to a California man, according to the Wall Street Journal.  And the U.S. Tax Court backed him up in Rohrs v. Comm'r, T.C. Summary Opinion 2009-190.  The judge said that the statute allows the deduction except in cases of "willful negligence," which neither the IRC nor the underlying regulations define.  Take a look at the facts and circumstances as recounted in the opinion before jumping to a conclusion on the validity of the judge's reasoning.  And, before taking this as a license to party, keep in mind that pursuant to IRC Sec. 7463(b), the opinion "may not be treated as precedent for any other case."

Dec 18
10:42 AM

Not Exactly a Nail-Clipping

The LA Times reported last month that California cities are rushing to ban cat declawing.  What's the rush?  Well, first a bit of history.  It all began back in 2003 in West Hollywood.  The city added a prohibition on cat declawing to its  WeHo Municipal Code at 9.29.020, even including rather chilling findings on the matter at 9.49.10.  The California Veterinary Medical Association challenged the ban and won injunctive relief, but lost on appeal.  The State Legislature countered by amending the statute to specifically prohibit local governments from banning legal medical procedures, reasoning that allowing the WeHo ban to stand would set a bad precedent.  Think abortion.  (Check out its history here.)  But they left a loophole, grandfathering in any bans existing on the date the amended statute takes affect, January 1, 2010.  Hence, the rush.  Joining WeHo are the Peoples' Republic of Berkeley, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Los Angeles, though not all ordinances have yet been finalized.  Those cities join some 25 countries with similar laws on the books.  To research this or other issues in specific municipal codes, check out UC-Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) website which links to those that are online.

Dec 16
11:36 AM

Mexican Law for the American Lawyer – Jorge A. Vargas

1902  From the publisher:

Three special features make this book unique in many respects. First, the book has been written by an eminent group of Mexican practitioners and academics recognized in Mexico for their legal expertise. These are attorneys working for prestigious law firms in Mexico who wrote their chapters keeping in mind the professional interest of American lawyers. Second, each of its seventeen chapters discusses a Mexican legal area commonly found in decisions rendered by state or federal courts in our country. These areas include personal injury, contracts, Fideicomisos, real estate, companies, Maquiladoras, promissory notes, family law, conflict of laws, letters rogatory, enforcement of judgments, etc. And third, most chapters include a legal glossary, a specialized bibliography and samples of practical Mexican legal documents. This up-to-date book, edited and co-authored by University of San Diego School of Law professor Jorge A. Vargas, a prolific author on Mexican law, will be invaluable for legal practitioners, judges and government officials who handle legal matters involving Mexican law, as well as for business and law students


Currently on display near the reference desk and will be shelved at LRC Reading Room   KGF327 .V37 2009.

Dec 14
12:54 PM

Finals: No Time For Hygiene

Every semester, in solidarity with those suffering law students who cannot find (or find the time to use ) a razor during finals time, I forego shaving to effect the scraggly beard look that afflicts so many of our most earnest studiers.  It is a terrible look for me, but this is the one thing I can do to show you I too feel your pain.  Well, not so much the pain, but at least the look of pain.  Or, if not the look of pain, the look of having too much to handle and resulting in looking like doodoo.  Anyway, I plan on shaving Friday.  I hope everybody else does too!

Best of luck on finals!

Dec 10
3:28 PM

Advice on Writing the Perfect Exam Answer

You're stressed, overloaded and overwhelmed.  It's final exam season and that's normal.  So, here's still another piece of unsolicited advice for achieving the perfect essay exam answer, keeping in mind that perfection is in the eye of the beholder.  And you're all beholden to a wide-range of professorial eyes.  Seven professors from Yale, Michigan, Creighton, Marquette, UCLA, Columbia and Stanford weigh in on what constitutes a good law exam answer–at least to them–in the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog.  (Don't worry, they're short.)  Be sure to follow up your reading of the article by reading the comments on the pontifications.  Those will relieve your stress–guaranteed!

Dec 9
7:10 PM

Lock up!

In light of the recent laptop theft, the LRC has purchased several more laptop locks available for check-out at the circulation desk.  Be sure to take advantage of them! 


Dec 9
10:15 AM
Dec 8
5:03 AM


Our self-service hot water bar has been a big hit and we are mighty glad nobody has scalded themselves or dumped too many cups of coffee on the floor (Jake, you know who you are).  At times we have been surprised at our own success and have had some wait time while the water heats up.  Thanks for your patience on that.  Another thing: because the two water pots were plugged into the same circuit, we blew a fuse last night, so we moved one of the pots to another plug.  Such is life in the old LRC.  Speaking of LRC living, another ceiling tile got water logged from the rain and bit the dust in the Reading Room.  Please, if you notice any wet or discolored ceiling tiles report it immediately to a staff member.  Like you don't have anything else on your minds!

Stay healthy and focused…and when you sit down to write that final let all that brilliance come flowing out of your brain in a logical, well-reasoned, and pithy way.  We all wish you the best of luck on finals!!!

Dec 2
4:41 PM

Finals Time — Be nice!

Dartmouth lecturer is suing the students in her writing class for
discrimination. She sent a series of bizarre emails to them to
announce her intention to seek damages from them for their being mean
to her. In one instance she expressed an opinion about something, a
student spoke up to disagree and the class applauded his side of it.
She was offended. So she's bringing a class action suit.  She ends her email with "Have a nice day."

Academia gets crazier every year.

Gawker has more of it here.

Dec 1
10:58 AM

World AIDS Day – December 1st

Today (December 1) is World AIDS Day.  The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is Universal Access and Human Rights. On October 30, 2009, the Obama Administration announced a related change in U.S. policy,ending HIV as a grounds of inadmissibility in U.S. immigration law.  The new rule will take effect on January 4, 2010 in the United States.  Read the statements by the UN Secretary-General and the UNAIDS Executive Director and learn more about what the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is doing to combat the spread of the disease globally.