By Miranda Pennoyer • March 16, 2010•Writers in Residence
It’s time once again for “Ask Miranda Pennoyer,” the column that has strives for equal justice under law, as long as it’s in our favor. This column has the distinction of being described by ABC Members with Bags Over Their Heads as “a collection of vowels and consonants, usually.”
Our first question is one that’s on the mind of many 1Ls—or at least it would be, if they would ever stop using Facebook in class.
Q. The law seems very concerned with mens rea. Why does nobody ever mention womens rea?
A. Roughly translated, “mens rea” is Latin for men’s wear. It refers to the attire, otherwise known as a “law suit,” that attorneys must wear when they appear in court. Because women wear law suits too, their clothing is subsumed under the category of mens rea.
Q. What about actus reus?
A. This is Latin for active wear. These are the clothes lawyers wear when they are golfing with clients, right down to their legal briefs. Once again, this term rarely applies to women.
Q. Why? It seems gender-neutral.
A. Yes, but women have enough taste to realize that they look like idiots in actus reus, so they don’t wear it. If a women does wear actus reus, her paralegal will set fire to her polyester pants. This is what’s called an “attendant circumstance.”
Q. But isn’t that sexist too?
A. No. Men and women have an equal right to commit fashion felonies.
Q. Speaking of equal rights, can you explain the holding in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Proposition 8 camera case?
A. That case has nothing to do with equal rights.
Q. You’re kidding, right?
A. Miranda Pennoyer never kids. She thought about it, but decided to focus on her career.
Q. But it’s about Proposition 8—that California law that prohibits gay marriage. Right?
A. No. This case is about the Proposition 8 trial. Not about Proposition 8 itself.
Q. Wait, so what is this case about?
A. According to five of the Justices, this case is about whether the Northern District of California’s Chief Judge Walker violated a federal statute by amending the court’s Civil Local Rules to provide for the broadcasting of the Proposition 8 trial.
Q. So the majority is opposed to cameras in the courtroom? It makes sense that Justice Scalia is. After all, the founding fathers didn’t even have cameras when the Constitution was written, so—
A. Hey! Stop that! It’s my job to provide commentary!
A. That’s better. Anyway, according to the majority, this isn’t about broadcasting court proceedings. It’s about how Chief Judge Walker went about altering the court rules.
Q. What did he do?
A. Apparently he altered the court rules without giving the parties proper notice and opportunity to comment.
Q. That’s the only thing the Supreme Court decided? So the issue of Proposition 8 hasn’t been resolved yet?
Q. Sounds like everybody got their legal briefs in a twist for a small issue.
A. Maybe. Then again, I’ve heard that most California lawyers prefer boxers.
Q. Since we’re near the end, did you know that the letters in “Chief Judge Walker” can be rearranged to say “Few led hijack urge?”
A. Of course. Also, “Cheerful Jedi gawk.”
Q. Are you always going to pad the end of your column with an anagram?
A. It depends on whether my latest list burned up in the pocket of my actus reus—but I will always give adequate notice.
GOT A QUESTION FOR MIRANDA PENNOYER?