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"Top Ten Things Not to Include in Your Bar Exam Essay,"

from The Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party. My favorites:

1. God's law (hereinafter "GL") is clear on the following point...

2. 3 generations of imbeciles is enough ...

9. While the defendant may have escaped punishment on Earth, he will get his just deserts in the afterlife....

Thanks to Jesse Walker for the pointer.

UPDATE: My favorite proposal for #11, from TaxLawyer:

One struggles in vain for any verbal formula that will supply a ready touchstone. The standard set up by the statute is not a rule of law; it is rather a way of life. Life in all its fullness must supply the answer to the riddle.

Cardozo could get away with it. The rest of us, not so much.

Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Dammit!

At least now I'm officially ethical enough to practice in every state....
9.6.2006 3:41pm
Gary McGath (www):
Is it OK to mention Godwin's Law?
9.6.2006 4:34pm
TaxLawyer:
I would add this as number 11 (and did, as a comment to the original post):

One struggles in vain for any verbal formula that will supply a ready touchstone. The standard set up by the statute is not a rule of law; it is rather a way of life. Life in all its fullness must supply the answer to the riddle.

Cardozo could get away with it. The rest of us, not so much.
9.6.2006 4:38pm
elChato (mail):
wow TaxLawyer, I had never seen that one.

His feng shui was strong.
9.6.2006 4:45pm
Adam:
12. "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it."
9.6.2006 5:23pm
Maniakes:
13. "'Do what thou wilt' shall be the whole of the law"
9.6.2006 5:44pm
Caliban Darklock:
I would also caution against any quoting of Monty Python.

Lewis Carroll is probably okay.
9.6.2006 5:57pm
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
14. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mysteries of human life and the Rule Against Perpetuities. Accordingly, I define that rule thusly:
9.6.2006 6:04pm
Medis:
"Justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger."
9.6.2006 6:16pm
Shake-N-Bake (www):
This situation, therefore, is governed by the Golden Rule -- he who has the gold makes the rules.
9.6.2006 6:42pm
Ex parte McCardle:
When I took BarBri years ago, the lecturer on writing the state essays told us that no matter how bad Plaintiff had screwed up on jurisdiction, statutes of limitations or any other such matter, under no circumstances were we to write:

Well, he's just shit out of luck.
9.6.2006 6:44pm
Pete Freans (mail):
"Further research will clarify any outstanding legal issues that may remain". Translation: I don't know what the God-Forsaking answer is but if I had some more time and a law library, I could give you whatever it is you are looking for. Kudos to the bar examiner who accepted my answer and passed me.
9.6.2006 6:47pm
ken (mail):
Hmmm... how about "The law is unconstitutional, but it probably will be irrelevant in 25 years so I owuld uphold it."
9.6.2006 6:49pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
My suggestions of what not to write:

"The 9th Circuit says a school can prevent someone from wearing a t-shirt that disparages homosexuals. The 6th Circuit says a school cannot prevent someone from wearing a t-shirt that rips Bush. So, to really cause a mess, I'll get a client to wear a t-shirt to school that says "Bush is a filthy f****t" to really screw the circuits up."
9.6.2006 7:17pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
Brian, that's hilarious. Enough to bring me out, briefly, from stalking mode. :)
9.6.2006 7:20pm
Armen (mail) (www):
What, no Simpsons references?

"Your honor, I refer to the case of Finders vs. Keepers."

"Attempted murder...what is that? Do they award the Nobel Prize for ATTEMPTED Chemistry?"

"Even though reopening a trial at this point is illegal and grossly unconstitutional, I just can't say no to kids."
9.6.2006 7:36pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
"The right is clearly to be found in the penumbras and emanations, or maybe the perambulations and umbrellas, of the Constitution."
9.6.2006 7:40pm
LizardBreath (mail):
From my very own bar exam: one question was clearly, from its structure aimed at some particular corporate governance statute which I had no recollection of ever having seen. I spent about ten pages maundering on about "the fundamental principles of equity underlying our Anglo-American system of law."

I passed, but I'll always wonder if I got any credit at all for that essay, or if I just made it up on the others.
9.6.2006 7:51pm
Rich B. (mail):
Property Law:

"While the rights of the Joint Tenant are unclear in this situation under the common law, after the Revolution comes the matter can be settled simply through murdering the owners of Greenacre and distributing the land to the proletariat."

Torts:

"This issue examines the boundaries between the common law doctrines of 'No Harm, No Foul' and 'You Break It, You Bought It."

Contract Law:

"I can't recall if the U.C.C. applies in this matter, but for some reason I seem to have ready access to some startling relevant Kinky Friedman lyrics."

Criminal Law:

"For this answer, I will be working under the assumption that under the common law an act can only be considered a crime if committed at night. Also, since the police lie about everything, I'm going to assume an illegal search has occurred unless the fact pattern provides that the entire arrest was videotaped."

Evidence:

"While the testimony would ordinarily be prohibited under the Heresy rules for out-of-court statements, as no Divinity was mentioned in the statement, this statement should be an exception to the Heresy Rule."

Constitutional Law:

"Oh c'mon! That is SOOOO not related in interstate commerce!"
9.6.2006 8:06pm
southparkfan (mail):
With apologies to South Park:

I have one final thing I want the bar examiners to consider. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense! Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense!

But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this bar exam? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this bar exam! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a wannabe-lawyer taking a bar exam, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense!

And so you have to remember, when you're grading my bar exam, does that make sense? No! It does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must pass me!
9.6.2006 8:14pm
Oren Elrad (mail):
Futurama anyone?

"I refuse to testify on the grounds that my organs will be chopped up into a patty"

"Ah, the 67th amendment"
9.6.2006 9:08pm
John (mail):
This is ALWAYS a helpful quote:

"These principles are so well established that to cite cases would be an affectation." Compania Anonima v. A.J. Perez Export Co., 303 F.2d 692, 697 (5th Cir. 1962).
9.6.2006 9:58pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
"Why is a tight skirt like a covenant running with the land?

Because they both bind the assignee."

-- Courtesy of the National Commission for the Preservation of Politically Incorrect Law School Jokes.
9.6.2006 11:00pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
15. "I read it somewhere on the Volokh Conspiracy."
9.7.2006 3:46am
ksd:
Thread over. Alan K. Henderson wins!
9.7.2006 11:58am
Archon (mail):
I have a friend who is a trial court judge in PA. Many years ago he recieved a pro se appeal from summary conviction in a minor court. The appeal sought to invalidate his conviction on the grounds that it violated natural law and obscure case law from the early 1800's. He didn't get a chance to hear arguments on the appeal because he was forced to dismiss the appeal because it was time barred.

A few years later he had an attorney by the same name make an appearence in his court room. Apparently, at the time he filed the appeal, the was a law student who was doing work in the PA Supreme Court archives. His job involved reviewing cases from the early 1800's.

I don't know if he still has a copy of the brief, but if so, it probably has some great one liners in it.
9.7.2006 12:03pm
Theodore (mail):
I put "3 generations of imbeciles" on my bar exam in California (Summer 1988) and passed on my first attempt. I must be the exception to the rule.
9.7.2006 12:23pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I put "3 generations of imbeciles" on my bar exam in California (Summer 1988) and passed on my first attempt. I must be the exception to the rule.

They were probably startled, seeing that as an answer to a wrongful death question.
9.7.2006 1:48pm
Theodore (mail):

I put "3 generations of imbeciles" on my bar exam in California (Summer 1988) and passed on my first attempt. I must be the exception to the rule.

They were probably startled, seeing that as an answer to a wrongful death question.


Funny. No, as I remember it was a conlaw question.
9.7.2006 2:27pm
Ilya Somin:
How about this quote by Thomas Jefferson:


A strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the highest duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose law itself, with life, liberty and property, and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.
9.7.2006 9:37pm
Lev:
"The people have a right to go to hell their own way."
9.8.2006 1:50am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"3 generations of imbeciles is enough ..."

Ok, this quote will make any qualified individual with a disability go WILD! If there is one thing that should be banished from every law book in America it is the idea Holmes should be remembered as a great Justice -- for the above statement, this is like elevating Judge Taney to sainthood for his opinion in Dredd Scott!!

I think, every lawyer in America who has been found guilty of quoting Justice Holmes' above discriminatory statement, should be relegated to having to take and pass an comprehensive annual Americans With Disabilities Act examination to retain licensure.
9.8.2006 3:32pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
And, no -- not even Cardozo could have gotten away with Justice Holmes statement without a million wheelchair march on Washington D.C.
9.8.2006 3:34pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Poor Joshua.


Nick
9.8.2006 3:42pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Theodore (mail):
I put "3 generations of imbeciles" on my bar exam in California (Summer 1988) and passed on my first attempt. I must be the exception to the rule."

Thank you Theodore. I will be forwarding this to Barry Richards, Esq., counsel for the California Bar.
9.8.2006 3:44pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Theodore (mail):

I put "3 generations of imbeciles" on my bar exam in California (Summer 1988) and passed on my first attempt. I must be the exception to the rule.

They were probably startled, seeing that as an answer to a wrongful death question.



Funny. No, as I remember it was a conlaw question."

See, that's exactly it -- the reason Con Law bar exam questions need to include Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Sixteen years following the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the California bar Examiners still don't have a clue the ADA's federal mandates were effective Jan. 26, 1992.

No wonder they are still excluding disabled people from California Bar membership.
9.8.2006 3:47pm