Fun Facts

     Do normal people read appellate opinions?
     Well, I read them and I know I’m not normal.
     So my guess is that not too many normal people came across this sentence from a 7th Circuit ruling this month called Prince Atum-Ra Uhuru Mutawakkil v. Huibregtse:
     “This leaves the statute, which often goes by the unpronounceable initialism RLUIPA but which we call ‘the Act’ so that the opinion can be understood by normal people.”
     I don’t think the court needed to worry about that.
     By the way, in case you abnormal people who read this column are wondering, the ruling is in a case brought by an inmate who didn’t want to apply for a name change in state court.
     So to get around going to state court, he sued in federal court and appealed all the way up to the circuit court – which ruled he did have to file in state court.
     For a name change.
     It doesn’t get any less normal than that.
     Read the opinion. You’ll enjoy it.
     I do question one line from the ruling, though: “the United States does not have a royal house from which plaintiff could be descended.”
     Then what about that short guy from Minnesota?
     Fun Facts: In case you missed it, here’s a useful and interesting precedent from a 2nd Circuit ruling last week called Unclaimed Property Recovery Service, Inc. v. Kaplan:
     “A copyright holder’s authorization to a litigant to use the work in litigation is different from the loan of a baseball by its owner to her friends for use in a game.”
     I can’t say I’m surprised.
     Then there’s the first footnote from a D.C. Circuit ruling called Conservation Force v. Jewell:
     “See OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY 2:868-69 (2d ed. 1989) (tracing the origins of the word ‘capricious’ to the musical term ‘capriccioso,’ which denotes ‘a free fantastic style,’ and which in turn is derived from the Italian ‘capro,’ meaning ‘goat, as if ‘the skip or frisk of a goat’).”
     Can you guess the reason for this footnote?
     I’ll wait here while you think about it …
     OK, here’s the answer. The footnote number appears after this phrase: “As tempting as it may be to consider an arbitrary and capricious claim in a case involving a goat …”
     I would have yielded to that temptation.
     Your Move: Here’s a little challenge for you if you’re bored or need to kill some time. Check out a ruling issued last week by the 1st Circuit called Ortiz-Bonilla v. Federacion de Ajedrez de Puerto Rico and see if you can spot all the chess puns.
     I count five in the first 12 pages.
     This may explain why some lawyers give up lucrative careers to become judges – you can make fun of chess players, goats and normal people.
     Yes, this last dispute is between groups of chess players.
     Most astonishing sentence from the ruling: “The Chessplayers’ complaint first asserted FAPR ‘receives public funds from the Government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, currently amounting to $200 Thousand (sic) a year, for the public purpose of carrying out programs to quantitatively and qualitatively organize, further, and develop chess in Puerto Rico’ and Puerto Rico public schools.”
     At least one part of the country won’t have a shortage of properly trained chess players.

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