Is There an Emergency?

“Just what is the emergency?”

(Art by Carlos Ayala)

OK, I know we have many emergencies to choose from these days, so there are lots of good answers. The quote above, however, is from a dissent in a recent Louisiana Supreme Court order granting “diploma privilege” to this year’s crop of new would-be bar exam takers.

Diploma privilege means you get to be a member of the Bar without taking a test as along you graduated from an accredited law school.

I don’t know whether diploma privilege is a good idea or not, but the arguments over it continue to be weird. Louisiana may be the weirdest state yet and there may even be a miniscandal connected to it too — the court split 4-3 on diploma privilege and it turns out that one of the justices in the majority coincidentally happens to have a daughter eligible for diploma privilege.

It always pays to have well-connected parents.

This could well be completely innocent — the justice dad has claimed the daughter thing had nothing to do with his vote — but I’m guessing there’s an embarrassed young woman in Louisiana right now who may be thinking about a name change.

The court order, though, is the star of the show. There are some fascinating passages.

This was my favorite: “Nothing in the Order shall prohibit a Qualified Candidate from sitting for any administration of the Louisiana bar examination.”

It seemed that you had a free pass but you could take the exam just to show off. At least that’s what I thought. Then last week the Louisiana Supreme Court made another surprising announcement: The Bar exam will now be open book with no proctoring. Test-takers can use whatever material they want but they’re not supposed to get help from anyone else (even though no one will know).

The exam change was not a philosophical choice — apparently the Bar’s software vendor couldn’t handle a normal remote test.

At this point you may be wondering: “Why isn’t everyone getting a free pass?”

It turns out Louisiana is giving bar exams not only to show-offs but also to applicants who are not qualified. You’re not qualified if you’ve failed the exam before.

This means, as one of the dissenters in the earlier order pointed out, that a bunch of people who would have failed this year get a free pass but previous failers don’t even though they have the same qualifications. Normally, I would have predicted a class action over this, but the former failers now get to take an open-book exam without any supervision.

Then there’s the dissenting justice questioning the emergency. He says: “Certainly, there is no shortage of attorneys nor is there any emergency.”

He has a point. If there are enough lawyers to go around, why bother making more?

There was also this from another dissenter: “It is an overreaction, to the earlier overreaction to the virus, whereby the scheduled July bar examination was canceled.”

This is definitely a Justice who doesn’t wear a mask.

Sentence of the week: This is from an exhibit to a complaint filed by a lawyer named Benjamin Pavone against the State Bar of California, Office of Chief Trial Counsel Enforcement, in federal court the other day:

“The ruling’s succubustic adoption of the defense position, and resulting validation of the defendant’s pseudohermaphroditic misconduct, prompt one to entertain reverse peristalsis unto its four corners.”

This led me to some interesting internet research which I’m not going to share. Have fun.

“Perry Mason,” season finale. Hamilton Burger: “No one ever confesses on the stand.”

So that’s it! Now I understand. This series is a satirical put-down of the original. I have no other explanation.

Stop reading now if you haven’t watched the show yet and plan to. I’m going to ask a series of questions that contain spoilers.

Who was the main bad guy? Why were the police involved in the crime (especially since all of the ransom money was needed to pay off the church’s debt so there was nothing left to pay off the cops)? Why was the bad cop killed by the other bad cop? Why did he need three guys to drown the other cop when he could have just shot him?

Why did Sister Alice run away and get a job as a waitress? How did Paul Drake find her? Why did she kiss Perry?

What happened to the dead baby? What happened to the retrial? Why did Perry throw away the thread?

Does any of this make any sense at all?

I would say no, but this show seems to have a lot of fans and good reviews. Maybe I’m missing something (or many things).

I do want to note a serious showing of inequality in the final episode: Della Street announces she’s going to law school and will be a lawyer in two years. It only took Perry two weeks and he seems a lot dumber than Della. WTF!

There was one good thing at the very end — they used the original series theme music during the credits. It was a return to my childhood.

Bottom line: for some reason, I really enjoyed watching this even though it was extremely silly. If you love yelling at the television and/or your head exploding, this is the series for you.

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