Monday, August 24, 2015

How stupid is “the market”?

Few things are as annoying as a business analyst talking about the stock market like it’s a human being.  “The market reacted to this,” or “the market doesn’t like that.”  In reality, such statements are just after-the-fact attempts to make sense of irrational price movements.  But let’s play along.  Let’s assume that the stock market’s movements do have rational explanations.  And today, after a week of price declines totaling about ten percent of market value, almost all of the talking heads agree: the cause is the ongoing collapse of China’s economy, which hurts even U.S. stocks in our “interconnected world.”  Okay, good enough.  But this explanation, in turn, leads to another question: How stupid is the market?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Seneca on judges (and a 2,000 year-old practice tip for defense lawyers)

I’ve written numerous times how judges often fail to grasp even the most basic legal principles — including, for example, the concept of hearsay.  (See here, here, and here for just a few of those posts.)  This is incredibly frustrating for defense lawyers who go to trial intending to put on evidence in defense of their clients.  But there’s good news.  A Stoic philosopher named Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 bc – 65 ad) offers some advice for the criminal defense lawyer.  This advice will certainly help us keep our composure in court, and might even increase our odds of successfully educating the judge — though educating the prosecutor, who typically raises the inappropriate objection to our evidence in the first place, may be beyond hope.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Tom Brady, Deflate-Gate, and the Criminal Justice System

Photo by Jeffrey Beall
One of my favorite bloggers, Paul Campos, recently studied the transcript of deflate-gate and concluded that “The NFL’s case against Brady is a joke.”  I don’t doubt his claim for a minute; in fact, it’s what I suspected from the get-go.  (Who the hell would want to play with an under-inflated football anyway?  Not Tom Brady.  See p. 50 of the transcript.)  But that’s not the point of this post.  Rather, my point is that Campos’s observations about due process in the Brady case are also relevant to defendants charged with crimes.  For example:

Saturday, August 1, 2015

“I think I’m dead, therefore I exist”

Some blogs get a lot of praise and even make a lot of money by simply linking to -- and, despite copyright laws, sometimes actually reprinting -- the writing of other blogs and websites.  The Legal Watchdog, on the other hand, consists nearly entirely of original work.  But every once in a while I come across a flurry of other articles, blog posts, and podcasts that I simply must share with The Dog’s readers.  Let’s begin out west, and the state of their state bars.  As the Irreverent Lawyer tells us, there is evidence that Cal Bar is a “bloated, arrogant, oblivious and unresponsive” bureaucracy.  (I’ve previously written about the Golden State here and here.)  So when the AZ Bar wanted to remake itself, where did it look for guidance?  You guessed it: Goin’ back to Cali.  Read the Irreverent One’s sharp, biting, entertaining, and comically illustrated post, “State auditor slams the Cal Bar . . .