Saturday, February 19, 2011

February - Fight the Good Fight


I start by recapturing all of things to celebrate from January:

I drank champagne for multiple occasions:

· Getting good grades, I was almost number 1 in my evidence class. Damn, I’m mad I wasn’t number 1! Evidence is considered one of the hardest classes.

· Winning a grant! (More discussion on this point later).

· Having a better relationship with my mother.

· Being made a groomsman at a wedding! Yay! I was so grateful.

January has been good to me. I’ve been keeping up with most of my resolutions. Krav Maga training has been fantastic. I love the fight. We’ve already learned to break your nose, break rib cages, and defend against chokes. Nice. And in terms of my losing weight resolution, I have lost weight! This is the best weight I’ve been since I can remember. If I lost five more lbs (2kgs), I’d be at my ideal bodyfat percentage of probably 5-7%.

I can’t be a tall poppy now about everything. (For those of you who don’t know, a tall poppy is one who likes to stand out amongst the crowd. Then the other poppies chop you down to size. I guess even with all my choppings in NZ, I’m more like a weed that needs to brag.) But really, one thing I’ve failed at, and I am sad about, is the fact that I haven’t been doing enough reading. Yes, there’s the law readings, but law readings feels like a job. Lincoln once said, “A lawyer without books is like a workman without tools.” That’s true, but again those kind of books relate to work. I promised myself this year that I would read a book on a Titan every month. I had several Titans lined up: Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockerfeller, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Sir Hillary (my NZ Titan). But it hasn’t been working out that way. Again, I’ve been caught in the cycles of reading cases and theories and jurisprudence. It always goes back to law for some reason. But I must forgive myself, make a plan, and try again. I will.

I’ve had my first loss. I was helping in a case against a corporation. Good lawyering on my part. Bad judgment on the judge’s part. He used to work for the corporation as a lawyer and violated both Ca code and judicial ethics by hearing the case when he should’ve recused himself. My Civil Procedure professor said, “One day you will meet judge-not-so-bright.” Well you know what: That day had come for me. It was very frustrating. =( Well, the story is an ongoing one because the team will fight for a mistrial. To be announced how that’ll go.

I’ve had another victory. Working for a team of pro bono (free) lawyers, we defended some University Protesters. The City of Los Angeles’ City Attorney was attempting to prosecute them. Was that going to happen? Not if we had fight left in us. The protest was at a university. There were 300+ students. And they chose to arrest only the speakers. All of you should be thinking: BOO!!!! At this moment. We have the RIGHT, THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT, to exercise free speech. You know: The government would love to crush citizens and their right to criticize the current administration. And they would love to detain, seize, arrest, and prosecute. Except they have one very big problem: We have a CONSTITUTION and it guarantees us the right to free speech. Thank God I don’t live in China. I wouldn’t be able to survive or they would probably kill me eventually for speaking out all the time. In any event, my trial lawyer and I coauthored the brief that said the government selectively discriminated against these protesters for speaking. THAT IS A BIG NO NO! They wrote the opposition motion. Eventually, LA saw we were going to fight this tooth and nail and let four of our five protesters go. So, it was a partial victory. But were we happy? Of course not.

Number five was let go last week. We figured out there was a conflict of interest for the City Attorney to go through with this. Another lawyer wrote the City Attorney this message. They asked me to be on standby. I was like a hired gun, armed with only a computer, cases, and a fact pattern, if City Attorney said NO, I would write the motion to disqualify him. I also had started contacting journalists to shame him, in the event that he didn’t back down. I really was on standby. However, my attorney called me on the midnight hour and said, “They dropped the charges!” In my mind, I discharged the cases, the fact pattern, the emotional passion, and thought, “What’s next on my agenda?”

So, did I get paid anything? No. Did I get any credits? No. Was it a valuable experience? Of course!


I have a set of new classes. These are

1) Community Property – California adopted the Spanish way of marital property law. After all, it was once part of Mexico. The tagline of this class is: How do you split the property when married people divorce? What if husband secretly buys a Porsche? Does it belong to both of them? What if the Porsche was bought as a gift for hubby’s bday, and then the wife finds out he’s having an affair?

2) Constitutional Criminal Procedure – The Fourth Amendment guarantees people protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. The tagline of this class is: How far can the government go to invade your privacy? Can they walk into your home without a warrant? Can they walk in if your wife says OK but you’re not there? Can they come into your house when your wife says Yes and you say NO? Those are the questions this class asks?

3) High School Reform – How do we reform high schools that are underperforming and robbing minorities the right to a higher education? In this class, the professor invited me to write an amicus brief for my paper. An amicus curae brief means friend of the court. You use it to persuade a higher court to rule in your favor for reasons that are not so obvious with legal reasoning alone. For instance, in this case, Arizona would pull Mexican kids out of class and subject them to another program. This was detrimental to their learning, but legally there is no argument for that. However, you want the court to consider how such practices handicap children.

4) Human Rights and Sexual Politics – Understanding the philosophies and mechanisms of activism and a sexual political context. Such issues we explore is, is it imperialistic for westerners to say female circumcision is atrocious? Should it be a grass roots movement? What about sex trafficking? In this class, I will be writing some cutting edge research on statistics. What is the rate of Female Prison Staff workers abusing boys in juvenile detention? Quite high actually. Is it consensual or nonconseual and why does it happen?

5) Special independent project.

This is where I take my detour to explain Project Crazy Project Robinhood Project Fight Back. Who knows what I should title it? But in the City of Los Angeles, we have these annoying red light cameras. If you cross a red light, it takes a picture of you and issues the driver a ticket for $500. Highway Robbery! Independent audits have shown that it doesn’t increase safety and the City made a stupid deal, where the manufacturers of these cameras are literally making millions. Well, I’m not standing for that. I’m suing!

I have several causes of action against them. Violation of CA Code. Violation of Constitutional Rights. Etc. etc. So, I’m petitioning for two remedies: 1) Take down the damn cameras. 2) Forgive all outstanding debt and drop all charges against offenders!

So: I go up against City Attorney once again. But if you think I’m crazy, I convinced at least one organization to sponsor me and cover all my court costs! I won a grant! So, I can’t be that lunatic! I’m working on writing, filing and serving the complaint against Mr. Bad City Attorney this week. I can already see the headlines: Small Asian Law Student v. City Attorney! Fight City Corruption!

And how much will I make off this case? That’s right: $0. I was born with nothing and I’ll probably die with nothing.

Other than that, it’s raining in Los Angeles today. I have a long journey ahead this semester. And I have to fight the good fight!

PS: I made my first gallon limoncello with my mom’s lemons and moonshine. Yummy!