It's a brand new year - Happy New Year! - and you know what that means: You're a couple of days older than you were last week.
It also means there are thousands and thousands of new laws going into effect across the country.
It's a brand new legal age. Surely, all our problems have been solved by hard-working, caring legislators.
(Pause here to chortle.)
I couldn't even begin to survey this cornucopia of reform - mainly because it would be next year before I finished.
But a few new laws have caught my eye.
For example, in Tennessee, animal abusers are going to be shamed. Tennessee has a brand new Animal Abuse Registry on a state website that will list the names and addresses of anyone convicted of animal abuse.
I have no idea whether this will be effective, but I guess it's a good idea to keep your cat away from an animal-abusing neighbor.
The law does, however, bring a couple of questions to mind.
First off, what inspired Tennessee legislators to take this bold action? Has there been an epidemic of pet torture in the state? Did the powerful pooch lobby finance some campaigns?
And if this is a deterrent to animal abusers, why isn't there a register for people abusers?
I guess one must have priorities.
Meanwhile, in Texas, people with concealed handgun licenses are now allowed to carry guns openly.
I have no idea what the reason for a concealed handgun license is now, but apparently you need one to unconceal a gun. It's very confusing, but then I'm not a gun person.
In California you can get a restraining order against someone else having a gun. Unfortunately, most of the order requests will probably come after a gun has already been used.
And in Illinois there will be a four-month season for hunting bobcats.
Illinois residents are advised to stay out of Tennessee.
Surprise Precedent of the Week: The 11th Circuit last week ruled that Jimmy Buffet lyrics are not definitive law.
They can be cited, but they're open to interpretation.
This shocking development came in a case called Buehrle v. City of Key West, in which city officials justified a ban on new tattoo parlors by claiming that Jimmy Buffet supported their assertion that the parlors would have a negative impact on tourism.
Jimmy Buffet, depending on your musical taste, might personally have a negative impact on tourism, but apparently the quoted song did not. The court noted that "the singer in 'Margaritaville' - seemingly far from suffering embarrassment over his tattoo - considers it a 'real beauty.'"
The song might not have been the best choice for this case, but I do like the concept of musical arguments.
Consider how much more attentive judges and juries would be if counsel sang to them. Consider the infinite amount of wisdom in the world's songbook.
Need mercy for a criminal defendant?
Try "Born this Way."
Or how about "Wrecking Ball" for construction defect litigation?
Or "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" for increased alimony requests?
Or "Satisfaction" for collection actions?
I could go on and on.
But I'm pretty sure you don't want me to.
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