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Specialized ProfessionIamA Lawyer Who Got Kidnapped by Furries

Oct 9th 2017 by BoozyBarrister • 23 Questions • 4474 Points

Hello, Reddit! Mike from UC Berkeley's public affairs office here. Since free speech on college campuses is a hot topic - especially at Berkeley - I asked the dean of our law school, Erwin Chemerinsky, to sit down for an AMA to discuss it and other subjects.

Erwin is an extremely humble person, but I need to quickly brag for him before we begin: In addition to being our law dean, Erwin is one of the country's foremost scholars of constitutional law, and earlier this year was named the most influential person in legal education in the United States by National Jurist magazine. Before coming to Berkeley, he helped establish UC Irvine's law school, and before that taught at Duke University and USC. He has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals, has written hundreds of law review articles, and is the author of ten books - including “Free Speech on Campus,” his latest. You can learn more about him here.

I'm just here to facilitate; Erwin will be responding to all questions himself. No need to stick solely to the topic of free speech, either - he's willing to discuss all manner of legal subjects. He'll begin answering questions at about 5:30 PM pacific time.

Proof: https://imgur.com/XTXFCWs

EDIT: Mike here again. I'm afraid that Erwin needed to sign off for the evening, but he asked me to pass along the following: "It was a pleasure to participate in this, thank you for all the very good and well-informed questions - I answered as many as I could and I'm sorry I could not do more. I'd love to do this again." We'll try to make that happen!

Q:

You obviously chose to adopt a pseudonym to write online, and that gives you greater freedom in terms of the content and style of your writing. Did you ever consider writing under your actual name, and what kind of costs and benefits do you see for lawyers in developing online 'personas' and commenting on the legal field in an arena as public and permanent as the internet?

A:

If you had a magic wand, what single amendment would you add or edit to the U.S. Constitution? Relatedly, what one U.S. Supreme Court case would you overrule?


Q:

I actually do write and present under my actual name. I chose the Boozy Barrister pseudonym for the freedom to write in a different manner, i.e. how I am in my off-time versus how I am as an attorney.

In my professional writing, I am much more sedate and professional.

The key is to make sure, anonymous or not, you don't violate any ethical standards. Anonymity is not a shield. There are several posts I've rewritten or permanently shelved because, prior to posting, I wasn't comfortable with the content and thought it was too close to call for me personally.

A:

I would overrule San Antonio Board of Education v. Rodriguez (1973) and hold that education is a fundamental right and that discrimination against the poor should receive heightened scrutiny. I would add an explicit right of privacy and autonomy to the Constitution.


Q:

Do you ever ask your colleagues to look at a potential article before posting just to make sure you aren't crossing any lines?

A:

What are your thoughts on the weird discrepancy in search and seizure rules where police can't compel a person to open a phone with their password versus compelling them to open it with their fingerprint or other biometrics? Is this something that will change?


Q:

If I have genuine questions, I do have a few people I send stuff to and run it by them to get their thoughts as well.

A:

I think that this is an area where the law has not caught up with the technology. In Riley, the Supreme Court held that police cannot search a cell phone without a warrant (unless there are emergency circumstances). I think this must mean that police cannot force people to give a password or a fingerprint to open the cell phone. I believe the law will catch up to technology here.


Q:

Not to mention, the furries (among others) can connect your BoozyBarrister and IRL identities so you aren't anonymous to anyone with a modicum of motivation anyway.

A:

Hi Dean Chemerinsky. (Thanks for that Conlaw supplement. It saved my ass in law school.)

I think a lot of these cases involve warrants. Is it as constitutionally problematic or an issue of law catching up with the times if law enforcement have a warrant to compel the password?


Q:

Yep. =

A:

There never is a problem with a search if there is a valid warrant -- whether it is a cellphone or a car or a person's house.


Q:

So about two and a half years ago I had a minor fender-bender in a parking lot with a sovcit (with paper plates btw, "PRIVATE USE FOR PERSONAL TRAVEL" shit) and while he was obviously not carrying any insurance or even a drivers' license, he wanted me to sign a contract before he would reimburse me (in cash) for repairs to my shitty car's shitty bumper. While the whole thing was preposterous as fuck, it got me thinking: is there any kind of legal precedent that you can think of where an on-the-spot contract can be used to settle a car accident in lieu of the traditional cops-and-adjusters procedure?

A:

Would you be flattered or horrified if a practicing attorney named his dog Erwin?


Q:

You certainly can waive claims you have against a party on the spot. People are, generally, assumed to know the law.

A:

Embarrassed.


Q:

We all know you've been to too many conventions now to back away. Name some of the best and worst parts of your con experiences?

A:

How do you feel about the comments made by the Attorney General on Georgetown Law's campus last week? Are your feelings on his comments changed at all by the fact that he was making them specifically at a school?

Also, thank you for your Barbri Con Law videos they really helped me during finals prep!


Q:

Best? I talked about it on the site, but it was watching a kid get stage fright at Anthrocon in front of HUNDREDS of people and run off stage. You know how if that happens in the real world, people snicker and shit. Here? Nothing like that. No laughter. In fact, the three "big name" personalities present all immediately went back stage to make sure the kid was okay emotionally and physically without hesitation.

That's a community right there.

Worst?

...People get worked up a little easier in the fandom. I've noticed that.

A:

Thanks for the kind words about my Bar/Bri lecture.

I certainly agree with Attorney General Sessions that free speech on campus is crucial and that all views should be expressed at colleges and universities. I do not agree, though, that there is a serious problem with regard to speech not being allowed. There are a number of high profile incidents, but they are the exception. I also think that Attorney General Sessions ignored some of the hard issues that campuses now face concerning freedom of speech.


Q:

You've found yourself in the fandom in a very unique way.

Coming from a background that usually doesn't find itself involved with the Furry fandom-(unless they were a furry before law school)- was there anything the surprised you coming into the fandom relatively late compared to most?

Is there anything you'd like to tell curious people about it?

A:

What can students like myself do when even professors and faculty at universities are calling for legal limits on free speech? For instance, at the Berkeley panel discussion on free speech at which you spoke in September, Professor john powell openly advocated for restricting speech that may be psychologically harmful, to the resounding endorsement of both students and faculty in the audience.

If the onus to firmly challenge this viewpoint falls on administrators, professors, and deans like yourself, do you feel that your support for free speech on campus is sufficient without naming and condemning exactly those people who want to restrict it, like Professor powell?


Q:

Nothing really surprising. Maybe how welcoming the furries are, or to some extent how happy they are to just have someone say "I get it, you guys are just people who like this thing."

Which is the same thing I guess people should know. By and large, they're just people who like the giant animal thing. It's cool. It's not a sex thing for a lot of them (but we're people so, you know, everything eventually will be a sex thing at some point), but to the extent it is it isn't a sex thing out of proportion with what I see folks doing as sex things anyhow.

A:

I think it is so important to separate a discussion of what the law currently is from a conversation about what the law should be. Hateful speech IS protected by the First Amendment. But we certainly can and should debate whether this is desirable. john powell and I agree as to the current law, but disagree on what the law should be.


Q:

So do all things that do not originate as sex things necessarily always end as sex things? If not is it still a thing, or is it something else? At what point does a thing become a sex thing? Is there a "sex thing threshold"?

A:

How do you feel about first amendment rights being extended to associations in Citizens United (assuming I don't completely misunderstand the decision)? Does this mean other individual liberties will likely be extended to groups?


Q:

I have seen art of planes with faces banging each other.

Humanity is strange.

A:

I do not believe that corporations should have the same rights as individuals. For example, in areas of conscience -- like religious freedom -- corporations cannot have a conscience. Their owners, of course, can; but the law draws a clear distinction between a corporation and its owners.


Q:

Is there some other specialized/"dignified" profession you'd like to see a blogger get abducted by furries the way you were and witness -their- descent into fuzzy insanity? Personally I would be in stitches if it happened to, say, someone in the movie industry.

A:

What do you think of the "rational basis with bite" standard of review - it seems to cause a lot of uncertainty, why doesn't the Court explicitly state which level of scrutiny it is employing?


Q:

I want to see an accountant get dragged into this mess. So far I've met so many lawyers already in the furry fandom, a research chemist, multiple pilots, a commodities trader, the man who literally runs the internet for the East Coast, and more than a few academics and medical doctors.

I want a CPA to meet their fuzzy fate.

A:

"Rational basis with bite" is a phrase created by law professors, not the Supreme Court. I think it is descriptive of the fact that there is a huge difference between the traditional deferential rational basis test and that used in cases like Romer v. Evans, Moreno v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Cleburne Living Center v. City of Cleburne. I think the underlying reality is that it is not three tiers of scrutiny by really a continuum.


Q:

Do you ever worry your clients will find out about your shenanigans, complain to your firm, have you fired, and get you disbarred?

A:

What are your thoughts on lowering the CA bar exam passing score? Do you think it'll help or hurt the legal market in CA?


Q:

Not really.

I'm careful to make sure that I don't violate ethical standards. I don't talk about client confidences, and there's nothing saying a lawyer can't have a hobby. There are lawyers out there who do much, much worse than go to furry conventions and talk generally about the law and write blogs.

Frankly, a couple of posts I wrote about other lawyers actually worried me more than anything I've done in relation to the furries, the kinks, etc. because it comes closer to an ethical line to talk about another attorney than it does to discuss legal matters generally.

If JLVD gets to keep his license, I'm not too worried about mine.

A:

California has the second most restrictive "cut score" of any state in the country. I favor lowering it. If the cut score is lowered a reasonable amount, it will mean that people who pass the bar on the second try will make it on the first. That won't really affect the legal market, but it will improve a lot of people's lives.


Q:

Is fur required to be a "furry", by definition? In your legal eagle opinion, would disallowing a dude in a snake suit from participating in "furry activities" be legally actionable discrimination? How about an eel suit? Just asking for....uh, a friend.

Edit: Added a missing question mark.

A:

Over the last few years, several law schools have closed their doors. Many say we have too many law schools. Some schools are starting to accept the GRE to broaden the applicant base. While a few others have tried to create accelerated two-year JD programs. At almost all schools, the cost of attendance has risen tremendously.

What are your thoughts? Is the current model sustainable? Do we have too many law schools? Would you say it's still "worth it" to go to a law school outside of the top 30 or 50 schools?

Where do you see legal education going in the next 10-20 years? What's the next "big thing" to change/modernize legal education?


Q:

No it's not! There's a whole subset called "scalies" that are lizards and stuff, and then there are the "birbs" (birds) and...

...oh god, why do I know this?

A:

Like all the questions, I wish I had so much more time to answer. As for the number of law schools, I think there is no magic right number of how many should operate. I think the market is the best way to handle this. If there are not a sufficient number of qualified students, some law schools will close. As for cost, I am very troubled. For public universities, like mine, it is because no longer is the state subsidizing. We have the obligation to provide financial aid, loan forgiveness, and all of the help we can provide our students. Is it worth it to go to a law school out of the top 30-50. Of course, it is! If someone wants to be a lawyer, there are wonderful schools out of this range to get a law degree and be a terrific lawyer. I do not favor two year JD programs and do not foresee them. Employers want students who are more practice ready. It is not possible to do that in two-thirds of the time. I hope that the next 10-20 years will see more emphasis on experiential education, especially live client clinics.


Q:

[removed]

A:

As a textbook author, how do you handle rapid changes in the courts/constitutional law? Just for example, gay marriage or the Civil Rights movement. During the early 1900s and 1950s-1960s there were multiple issues being heard, overturned, heard again, etc. Now in law school we have the ability to learn a brief history and a few select cases regarding race equality. How do you handle that when the changes are happening in real time within a relatively short span?

I hope explained my question, but I am not sure I did. Thank you so much for doing this AMA. I look forward to reading through it.


Q:

I wrote about that.

Generally, I've met the guy. He's a lawyer, and he's a nice man with a big heart. I think, looking into it, it was less because he was furry and more because of general small town politics. Apparently he was always pretty open about the furry thing.

A:

One of the great joys of teaching constitutional law is that it is constantly changing. One of the frustrations of being an author of a casebook and treatise on constitutional law is that it is constantly changing. To answer your question, I follow the Supreme Court very closely. I follow the cert grants and often read the briefs and transcripts of oral arguments. I watch for the decisions. I prepare a supplement each year and a new edition of the book every four years. I don't know if that answers your question. I guess the bottom line is that I follow the Court closely and try and have the changes in the law reflected in my books.


Q:

Hi this has gotten quite large and I don't know where else to ask this beside hijacking this comment.

1) I still don't understand what you mean kidnapped, do you mean you started working for them? or do they start threatening you? or were you "captured" by the fetish and found an awakening yourself?

2) You mean furries as in the fetish right? as in animated animal shit? or live action? do these furries partake in these 'live actions"?

edit: jesus people, calm your shit. I was genuinely confused.

A:

What takeaways do you have from the “Free Speech Week” at Berkeley late this September?


Q:

Lord almighty.

1) Kidnapped can be used metaphorically. After making the post, it became clear that people were taking it literally. There is no edit post option, and frankly I expected this to have 20 people who knew it was coming reading it. I've tried to be clear it was a metaphorical usage, as I had no expectation that writing a post and treating furries like goddamn humans would lead to a furry following and getting drawn into talking at conventions and stuff for and with them. That's the usage of the term kidnapped, a metaphorical usage to indicate being taken by surprise at my sudden descent into the furry world.

2) I've seen no more fetish stuff associated with it than I have in any other fandom I've ever looked at.

A:

This is a larger subject than I can quickly address here...but it so happens that my column in the Sacramento Bee today is on this very topic. Take a look: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article176680106.html


Q:

Do you own a fursuit? I don’t know much about it, but I know those can be expensive as hell.

A:

Not quite a collegiate matter, but related to the Constitution and presidential indictments:

Do you think the 25th Amendment's provision allowing the President to cede control to the vice president—e.g. as used by Bush while undergoing medical treatment—is a viable counter to conventional wisdom that sitting presidents cannot be indicted without impeachment?

As far as I've heard—Ronald Rotunda's recently publicized memo to Kenneth Starr notwithstanding—current thought on the unindictability of current presidents rests on claims that such an indictment (and associated defense) would preclude the president from carrying out the duties of his office, but I'm wondering if the 25th Amendment provides a legal counter to this thought. Have there been any research or arguments made to this effect?


Q:

I have what is called a "partial" made by an artist that has since become a very, very good friend. I actually went to dinner with her and her fiance yesterday.

It's literally a badger head, some fuzzy shoes, and fuzzy gloves.

I've worn it exactly twice.

A:

Of course, there is no law concerning the 25th Amendment. I may be in a minority, but I believe that a sitting President can be indicted. I think the most basic teaching of Marbury v. Madison is that no one -- not even the President -- is above the law. Your point about the 25th Amendment is a good one: if defending a criminal suit would interfere with the President carrying out the duties of the office, he or she could temporarily relinquish the office under the 25th Amendment.


Q:

How did the other people at the restaurant take your appearance?

A:

Hello, Dean Chemerinsky. I’ll echo other lawyers here in thanking you for your excellent Con Law and Federal Jurisdiction supplements—the Federal Jurisdiction supplement got me through Judge Pryor’s class more or less in one piece.

With how overburdened the federal trial courts are right now, do you see Congress pulling back federal jurisdiction by raising the § 1332 dollar floor or only allowing diversity jurisdiction where there’s an out-of-state defendant?


Q:

...Considering I was wearing a polo shirt and blue jeans? Pretty well. One person said they like my watch.

Do you seriously think I walk around in a badger head?

A:

Thanks for the kind words.

There have been proposals for years to eliminate or significantly reduce diversity jurisdiction. I don't see any significant movement in this direction. And federal district courts vary greatly as to whether they are overburdened.


Q:

Of course not, but it would have made the better story.

If we shouldn't take you seriously about the kidnapping thing, one would hope you could return the favor. ;)

A:

Hi Erwin:

I read your recent article in the Daily Journal about why the Executive's pardon power cannot be so extensive as to permit an executive to pardon someone for being in contempt of a federal court order. Setting aside the merits for a moment, how likely do you think it is that Trump's pardon of Arpaio would be nullified or otherwise struck down? I worry not only about standing, but also about judicial interpretation of a subject that has such an undeveloped jurisprudence. I am also deeply concerned that Trump will increasingly use his pardon power for self-serving purposes (e.g., pardoning family members or other associates for campaign-related crimes).

What hope do you have that Trump's ham-fisted use of pardons will be curtailed by our courts?

Thanks for all that you do—and thanks also for helping me pass the MPRE (I literally only watched your video 2 or 3 times before taking it and passed!).

Cheers, Attorney in CA


Q:

I dunno man, seems every was clicking on this link expecting a story about how a random squad of furries kicked in my door and whisked me away for re-programming.

(Seriously, I appreciate the humor, but man...there's a reason I avoid reddit)

A:

Thanks for your kind words about my lecture. I am glad that was helpful.

I think that there is a difference between a presidential pardon for violating a federal statute as opposed to a presidential pardon for violating a court order. The latter interferes with and undermines the functioning of another branch of government. I also think that there is a difference in terms of the language and intent of Article II of the Constitution (concerning the pardon power.)
I have no prediction as to what Judge Bolton will do, but I thought it important that the issue be raised.


Q:

What furry related issue do you think will turn into important legal precedent in the future?

A:

What do you predict will be Justice Gorsuch's lasting impact on the Supreme Court?


Q:

I think the intersection of IP protection and the "fursuit designs" could be important. Those things are unique and cost a lot of money, so I could see a dispute between a maker and a client on who actually owns the rights to the suit and its design.

A:

Neil Gorsuch is 49 years old. If he remains on the Court until he is 90, the age at which Justice John Paul Stevens retired, Gorsuch will be on the Court for 41 years. He is very conservative. After being sworn in on April 8, he voted together with Clarence Thomas 100% of the time.


Q:

On furaffinity and other furry art websites under every picture it states that the OP holds the copyright to the art piece. Does this have any legal standing if someone were to repost the copyrighted content?

Also if someone who owns a fursona commissions an art piece, does that mean that they are licensing out the design? or would they have to hold an official patent first?

A:

Is hate speech considered free speech?


Q:

That's a really interesting question. And I can answer it generally as follows, with the understanding I'm a lawyer, not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice for any specific situation, you really need to go talk to a lawyer in your area specifically about any questions you have.

No, reposting copyrighted work does not give the poster a copyright in it. The copyright goes to the creator of the piece.

The question on "owning" a fursona is different. Generally you can't "own" an idea alone in the copyright sense. Something has to actually exist for it to be copyrighted (a physical piece of art, a story, a song, etc.). As for owning a design, we'd be getting into patents.

I'm not a patent guy.

A:

The Supreme Court repeatedly has made it clear that hate speech generally is speech protected by the Constitution.


Q:

What about trademark? Can't you trademark a character design?

A:

A lot of people like talking about the constitution but very often are these people are misinformed or not very educated in the subject. In your experience what is the best way to have a conversation with these people?

I am by no means an expert on the constitution, but as a law graduate I find these conversations can become awkward especially when it's with someone who's passionate about something political.


Q:

TRademarks are primarily for commerce, not creative, use.

A:

I feel your pain on this. I wish we did a better job of civics education in this country. I look for any opportunity to participate in teacher training programs and to speak in middle schools and high schools about the Constitution. I often try to explain to people that there is an important difference between what the law is and what we think it should be.


Q:

What have you seen in the fandom that you wish you didn't see?

A:

Hello Professor! I'm currently using two of your books, in my Con Law class, and my Crim Pro class.

What was it like to work with Laurie Levenson? Any thoughts on the cases during the current Supreme Court term? I'm particularly hoping to hear your thoughts on Gil v. Whitford and Carpenter v. US.

Thank you for doing this AMA! =D


Q:

Really? Not much.

I don't really have regrets. I have stories that come from my experiences. If I see something that bothers me, I file it away in the "story to tell later" file.

Sure, you'll see some unpleasant stuff, but I see unpleasant stuff daily away from the furries. It's hard to shock me.

That said...have you heard about the cheese grater?

A:

Laurie Levenson is wonderful and a joy to work with. I have expressed my thoughts on Gill v. Whitford in answering some of the other questions. As for Carpenter -- whether the police must get a warrant before accessing cell tower location information -- I am unsure. Every Circuit to rule has said that no warrant is required. But the Roberts Court has been protective of electronic information (like in Riley and Jones). I am hoping the latter.


Q:

As a 'Courtroom Clerk' who can sense a SovCit a mile away (and knows she's not getting her lunch when they have a court date...) that was hilarious.

Not knowing if you read up on any other fandom issues, do you have anything to say on the Christopher Handley case out of Iowa?

A:

As a Boaltie, I was very excited to hear that your goal was to make Berkeley a top 5 school. What are some concrete steps that you are planning on implementing to make this a possibility?

Also, would you consider making a Supreme Court litigation clinic?

Thank you. Very much looking forward to your deanship!


Q:

I haven't, but I guess I will now!

A:

Thank you! I am thrilled to be the new dean at Berkeley Law. It is a terrific school and I look forward to building on its excellence. I hope to continue to hire great faculty and recruit outstanding students and have superb clinics and centers. For better or worse, I have looked very closely at US News rankings and see a path to our improving in all areas. As for a Supreme Court clinic, I do not think there is a need for another. If we are going to have an appellate clinic, I'd prefer a 9th Circuit clinic where students can brief and argue cases themselves. But I have not yet approached our clinical faculty about that possibility.+


Q:

Q1 How often do you set down for a consult, only to realize you're still wearing the badger head?

Q2 what's more of a pain in the ass to renew, your law license or your rabies vax?

A:

Hi Erwin,

First, I'd like to thank you for writing your casebook. It's the gold standard in constitutional law, and I enjoy reading it quite a bit. Makes being in law school a little less dull when things get tough.

My question:

In the upcoming oral arguments against President Trump for violating the foreign emoluments clause, CREW, the organization to which you're affiliated with, made the argument that the injury-in-fact suffered that conferred standing to the group comprised of the time you and other law professors would need to spend monitoring Trump's foreign revenue sources. What prior cases support this position, and why would the Court be likely to accept that argument?

Thanks!


Q:

Q1 At this point every head is a badger head.

Q2 I hate CLES.

A:

Another question on emoluments! In Havens Realty v. Coleman, the Supreme Court held that public interest organization could sue to challenge illegal practices that changed its priority and use of resources. That is true of CREW in the emoluments clause suit. Also, an amended complaint was filed that includes competitor hotels and their employees.


Q:

Do you truly feel kidnapped or is it actually something you realised was missing from your life and have come to love it?

Also, when you badger a witness, is that something else now?

A:

Can you explain the emoluments clause and how it might apply to the current administration?


Q:

Me and Patty Hearst have so much in common these days. I accepted my badger-y fate pretty quickly.

I believe, by pure definition, I'm always badgering the witness now.

A:

There are two constitutional provisions that are relevant that use the word "emoluments." Article I, section 9 says that the President cannot receive presents or emoluments from a foreign government. Article II, section 1 says that the President can receive emoluments from the federal government other than the salary for the office. I think until recently most people thought emoluments were skin creams. Emoluments means benefits. President Trump is receiving benefits from foreign governments and from the United States (other than his salary) literally every day. This is unconstitutional. It is why I am co-counsel in a lawsuit against him for violating the emoluments clause.


Q:

Have you been sought out to act as a legal retainer or advisor by any furry conventions yet? Regardless of the answer, would you be:

1) willing to assist pro bono 2) willing to assist for a reasonable rate or 3) unwilling to assist?

Additionally, have you converted any other lawyers? Furry is, after all, one of the greatest social networks out there.

A:

My question may be a little too broad for a quick and concise answer, but to the extent possible, I’d love to hear your general thoughts on the gerrymandering case presently before the Supreme Court. How do you think it will turn out, and do you see any particular issues that could perhaps motivate the court to act? I remember covering this issue in law school and I was always under the impression that this was a political question that the Court won’t touch.

I’m curious because I’m a firm believer that the partisan gerrymandering issue is one of the most serious problems in our political system, and I’ve always felt like it was just something that we’ll have to deal with. So the fact that they have heard a gerrymandering case does excite me a little.

Also, to score some brownie points, I still refer to your casebook and supplemental materials pretty regularly as an attorney. Great materials, and thank you for your passion and work in the field of constitutional law!


Q:

Interesting question. I have not been sought out.

To be involved with anything, I'd normally have to charge. However, I did provide a bit of pro bono (and very limited) legal advice to one smaller convention already as a favor, and I already serve on the board of a couple non-profits (non-furry non-profits) and work with them.

I'm almost never willing to turn down a client.

A:

Thank you for your kind words! I share your view about partisan gerrymandering. We all learned that voters are supposed to choose elected officials; partisan gerrymandering means that elected officials choose their voters. The case was argued today. I think it will be 5-4 with Justice Kennedy in the majority. Which way? Well, he jointed Justice Ginsburg's opinion in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Redistricting Commission. That gives me hope that he will join Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan and say it is not a political question and is unconstitutional.


Q:

Would you say it was a net positive or a net negative that you got introduced to furries, given your rapid ascension to ultra-mega-popufur and somewhat polarizing (at least in the telegram chats I'm in) persona? Also, Can I buy you a drink at MFF if you're going? I'd love to pick your brain about law and such. Yours truly, a dragon

A:

Yes on the drink.

Frankly? I try to ignore the drama. I've met some cool people and I've made some friends. If tomorrow I go back to having 500 readers that are lawyers and judges, I'm cool with that. I'll be sad, but I'm cool with that.

It's not like I woke up one morning and said "I'm gonna go become a 'popufur'"


Q:

What has the biggest change to your life been since you were introduced to the fandom?

A:

I've been calmer, or at least I've been told that. I've been generally happier, or at least I've been told that.

I'm also exhausted because producing content for 500 lawyers is a hell of a lot less intensive than producing content for 7,000 furried.


Q:

Have you created a fursona and/or has someone made one for you yet?

A:

I accidentally created my own with a throwaway joke in the first post about the furries by saying I would be a "motherfucking badger."

I am now a motherfucking badger.


Q:

How would you explain what a Furrie is to someone who has no idea what they are and what they do?

A:

"You know Robin Hood? The Disney one? With the fox?"

"They really like the fox."


Q:

Not sure if it's your area, but regarding copyright, who would hold the rights to a character costume?

Say someone dreams up a character. They come up with everything, but for whatever reason, they can't draw it. So they commission someone else to do it. And later, down the road, they commission a costumer to make it. Or they draw it themselves, but commission the costumer to make the costume.

Assuming that the original person didn't go to a copyright lawyer and just threw money around, who, ultimately, owns the rights to the design or the suit?

A:

It's not my area, and it is something I'm researching for a future post.


Q:

People are often surprised that I consider myself a furry (I know you don't consider yourself as a furry per se) but working in a professional field even as nerdy as it is (developer) people often think that all furries are live at home do nothing people.

Have you ever inadvertently wound up in furry drama? I've never had problems staying out of the drama, but I'm not exactly popular; so that really helps.

Edit: furries not curries

A:

Have you ever inadvertently wound up in furry drama? I've never had problems staying out of the drama, but I'm not exactly popular; so that really helps.

I tend to find the biggest pile of shit around and put my foot right in it.


Q:

One very hot-button issue in the fandom is the legality of drawn/rendered depictions of underage characters. What's your take on that?

A:

You see that fifty foot pole in the corner?

That's the one I'm not using to touch that.


Q:

Right so I've read your blog post about why I shouldn't go to law school. My question is this, should I go to law school?

A:

....Sure, why not. You're not gonna listen anyhow.


Q:

What is your take on furries? People having fun? People with issues? What has been your experience with the furries you met? Have you dressed up as a furry?

Also, have you had sex with a furry.

A:

Let's start with the second part first: I'm a very taken person, and accordingly have not had sex with anyone that I'm not going home to for about a decade now.

The furries are people. People are people. They have their issues and bad actors, the same as every group out there. There's really nothing that special or different about their group makeup that I've seen that you won't find in any other community.


Q:

Minus the yiff crowd though.... I mean... right?

A:

Find me one community where there aren't people having sex.

I'll wait.


Q:

Incels

A:

You win.


Q:

How often do local attorneys you're handling cases with know about the furry thing, and what can I do to increase the frequency of those encounters?

You know, for science.

A:

Only two know, that I'm aware of.


Q:

Other than the Sov Cit issue that started your involvement, how have the furies been to deal with compared to non-furry clients?

A:

People are people, and clients are always more difficult than non-clients in general.


Q:

Any chance you'd accept a mod invite to /r/amibeingdetained?

You gave us the best content the sub has had since P. Barnes.

A:

Let's talk.


Q:

What type of law do you practice? How was law school? (Thanks from a prospective law student)

A:

I’m a civil attorney. I don’t do criminal, family, or Personal Injury. Just your day to day lawyer.

Law school is rough. Really rough. But if you have the desire to practice law, and the ability to treat it like a job, it’s not too bad.


Q:

Has a proclaimed "sovereign​ citizen" ever successfully pressed actual sovereign​ citizen claims in a federal court?

A:

Define "successfully."

The fact is a lawsuit can have many different outcomes that could be considered a win depending on what the goal is in bringing it. For instance, in most Landlord/Tenant eviction defenses, you aren't going to keep the client in the house or apartment. That's not a win. But buying them thirty extra days to get out and contesting a part of the past-due rent or damages claimed by the landlord? That's a win.

So I guess the answer is "what is success in these cases for the person bringing the claim?"


Q:

How do you feel about the oversexualisation of furries by some members and the resulting views on the fandom as a whole in media?

A:

I'm not even sure it's an oversexualization by the fandom. I'll admit my knowledge was essentially "Sex animals" before hand, but I haven't seen anything out of proportion with what I'd expect to see sex-wise at any other fandom.

As I put it once, "Somewhere at a Star Trek convention, Worf is laying pipe in Picard in some room. We all know this." The furries just seem a bit more willing to acknowledge it.

As for the media presentation...sex sells. And it's certainly a strange thing for sex to sell about. At the end of the day, I say people are people and if it's happening in private, it's none of my damn business.


Q:

Where do I go to get kidnapped by furries?

A:

No matter what they tell you, it isn't e621.


Q:

Do you think LawyerSlack founder Keith-in-Real-Life is actually a hidden furry?

A:

You know he just loves maskimals.


Q:

Have you ever considered doing a Lawyers and Liquor post that looks at some of the issues present between Video games and the law?

A:

I have! However, I'd need to pick the brains of some guys MUCH smarter than I am about those areas first.


Q:

*ahem*

A:

You and Lenny French are who I have in mind.


Q:

Have you ever played the Ace Attorney series? Would you play it on stream while giving thoughts on it as a lawyer?

Totally unrelated, have you ever crossexamined a Parrot?

A:

I have played a bit of it, but frankly I don't consume a lot of legal media except for the Film Friday posts on the site. Like most chefs don't like fixing dinner at home, I don't like watching law dramas at home.


Q:

You thinking of adapting a fursona?

A:

Apparently I'm already a "motherfucking badger"


Q:

Do you feel that with most of the fandom being alcoholics helped you adapt /feel more comfortable?

A:

Want to know a secret?

I don't drink that much. Years ago I drank very heavily, but I stopped drinking heavily a while back. I enjoy drinking, but I think I've only actually drank at two conventions.

I do have to say it is worrying to hear a young person say they feel they have to drink to fit in, but the same can be said for college. They "heavy drinkers" that are in the limelight I've met in the furry fandom are very clear that nobody should feel pressured to drink, and drinking should be part of having a good time and not the only way to have a good time.


Q:

What is your opinion on Sparkle Dogs? Can they make decent lawyers?

A:

Only with proper housetraining.


Q:

There is no random furry kidnapping squad going to houses and kicking in doors, taking you away to force you into a fursuit and never letting you leave.

I guess you haven't been to Furry Weekend Atlanta?

EDIT: For the benefit of those reading who don't get the joke, FWA is known in the furry community for being a party con where some of the crazier stuff happens.

A:

The only time I visit Atlanta is when I'm flying Delta.


Q:

Have you done work with Boomer the dog in Pittsburgh? I live a few blocks from him. I remember he was on the news a while ago for trying to change his name to actually boomer the dog. I am not a furry myself but love that Anthrocon is held in Pittsburgh every year.

A:

I have not. I'm aware of Boomer, and wrote a piece on his name change petition.

I'm a little flummoxed as to why that was denied, frankly. I don't agree with the judge's reasoning given some other name changes that have been approved out there.


Q:

Do you wish you were a bird lawyer?

A:

HAVE YOU EVER PLAYED AVIARY ATTORNEY?


Q:

Am I the only one who doesn't have a fucking clue what you're talking about?

A:

God I hope not.


Q:

Are these furries holding you hostage while writing this AmA?

A:

No, I'm actually doing this because it's a slow day and I'm listening to a few CLE's today.


Q:

How did you choose the badger?

A:

I love alliteration.


Q:

I find sovereign citizens very interesting. It almost seems like a contagious mental illness. But also, there are those rare cases like that guy in Montana who, at least on a temporary surface level, seemed to actually use the tactics somewhat successfully (though this guy lost in the end).

My question is, between SovCits, Moors, Free Men on The Land, etc, what's the strongest unorthodox legal argument you've ever personally seen or heard of? Amongst the gobbledygook are there any notable, legitimate quirks in the legal system that people have successfully exploited in this manner?

A:

Frankly, for us we don't differentiate between any of those three. We tend to blanket them all under the same "SovCit" label because they all sort of borrow from each other in their methodology.

One of my favorite "quirks" was a case where a wife had signed the deed for a house, but not a mortgage for the same house. On death of the husband, the deed passed to her entirely by operation of law. The argument was since the property passed to her entirely, and she'd never signed the mortgage (only the husband had), she wasn't responsible for the mortgage. The court ended up agreeing the widow didn't have to pay the mortgage, and the bank couldn't collect on the mortgage through foreclosure.


Q:

What's something that you've learned about interacting with non-lawyers from your furrying?

A:

When people ask this it amazes me, because I genuinely wonder if people think lawyers just live in a small gated community interacting with exclusively each other. It's not like I only knew or talked to lawyers before now or shunned interactions with the muggles.

I haven't especially learned anything about non-lawyers that I didn't already know, having spent time as a non-lawyer myself.


Q:

How were you kidnapped? Is that you just being cheeky or were you actually kidnapped?

A:

...TIL hyperbole doesn't come off well over the internet.

I wrote a thing about furries that didn't call them perverts and treated them like people. They enjoyed it and I found myself becoming more and more involved in the furry fandom. Now? Now there is no lawyer, only Badger.


Q:

Is Gizmo the Gremlin a good fursona or the best fursona?

A:

Gizmo is flat out the BEST fursona but...I mean...bear with me here...

Have you heard of Telephone?


Q:

Have you converted to furry yet?

A:

There's a badger head in my closet.


Q:

What animal do you wanna be?

A:

One that is financially secure enough to buy a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year the next time it comes out.

You?


Q:

You should be a corvid. They like shinies, are the most intelligent birds (debateably), wear black, are experts in bird law, are well-spoken, and when you get together with other corvids you get to make jokes about an attempted murder.

A:

Are you talking about jackdaws?


Q:

wait, furry as in the furry fetish or ? isn't it legal already or ?

A:

See, this sort of bothers me now, because it's so much more than a fetish. There obviously is a sexual aspect for some people, but there have been actual sociological studies done now that identify that's well under half of the folks (something like 13% are primarily motivated by sex in joining the furry fandom).

It's a fandom, sometimes innocent and sometimes obscene, just like all the other ones I've ever looked at. You can't deny there is a sexual aspect for some folks, but with my limited experience I'd hesitate to say it's a major part of it.


Q:

Ok, so what exactly happened with kidnapping??? I've never heard about this before now, I'd love to know what happened

A:

The furries enjoyed my post.

The furries then slowly, but surely, wrapped their fluffy arms around me and dragged me into the darkness.


Q:

[removed]

A:

The Shrew


Q:

Before you were a lawyer, did you write clickbait?

A:

I did not. The only writing I did prior to being an attorney was I worte some pulp-y horror fiction for about two to three years for extra beer money. After joining the legal profession, it's been all briefs and motions.


Q:

Why do you act like you were kidnapped when you've accepted yourself as a part o the fandom on numerous occasions? I believe what you are saying constitutes as libel against an entire group of people?

A:

Patty Hearst was kidnapped. Just keep that in mind.


Q:

What's your fursona?

A:

I'm a motherfucking badger.


Q:

How did you settle on a badger as a fursona? Was it for the alliteration?

A:

Pure alliteration.


Q:

What do you use for your case management? If anything?

A:

We don't use any case managment software at my firm. We schedule things by hand on paper calendars and a shared office electronic calendar, we bill in a separate software, and you're expected to know the status of each case on your own.

It helps I have a decent memory.


Q:

As usual I'm coming in late because I'm Australian and i just got up...

Barrister? In America? I didn't know you guys used that word at all. Coming from a jurisdiction with a split profession (barristers v solicitors) and a whole different certifying authority between the two, the idea of just suddenly calling yourself that seems weird.

Also, given what barristers have to wear in court in paces where they are a specific thing, furrie culture doesn't seem too much of a stretch.

A:

Ha! Yeah we do NOT use the word Barrister professionally. I use it as a form of alliteration, but professionally refer to myself as “lawyer” or”attorney.”


Q:

Fair enough :D

You should get yourself a horsehair wig and black robe. For science.

And watch Rake (the Australian version).

A:

I've seen the Australian version of Rake! Amazingly enjoyable.


Q:

There is no edit post option

Then how is that Edit 5?

A:

We can all accept I meant to say "Edit Post Title," right? I don't need to make an Edit 6 just to address this, do I?


Q:

I've heard of you! how's the law?

A:

Terrifyingly dull. Most offices and courts are closed today.


Q:

How do you feel about reddit's new sorting system for this subreddit that brings all questions with answers directly to the top and pushes down the most upvoted questions?

A:

Frankly I don’t reddit that often anymore, so I was unaware of this.


Q:

soooooo, Vixen or couger?

A:

Badger.


Q:

How much furry pussy has this netted you? Asking for a friend.

A:

Nope.

I'm taken and faithful.


Q:

Did they feed anything while you are under 'hostage'?

A:

There was pizza once. And I've become very familiar with hotel breakfasts.

And I have so many bottles of booze just sitting on the shelf now...


Q:

How many drugs are you on right now?

A:

I took an aleve this morning because my knee was acting up. Does that count?


Q:

Did you get remember to get the knife under the rock?

A:

Yep.


Q:

Why didn't you use hijacked?

It would have been a more obvious and less distracting metaphor and we could all get down to the good work you do with your furry business.

A:

....We both know the internet. Had I used hijacked there'd still be one guy complaining about how nobody used weapons to overtake my vessel.


Q:

HAve you yet participated in a fur pile ?

A:

No, but I have seen one in a hotel lobby. I was worried people had collapsed from heat exhaustion.


Q:

Not as interesting as I'd hoped but neat enough.

What's your favorite type of animal cock?

A:

I have no knowledge of animal dicks. Except ducks. Because those are weird.


Q:

What are your thoughts on assault and BDSM? Does consent give you the ability to assult someone? If so, this limited only to sexual relationships. If so, what defines said sexual relationships?

A:

Believe it or not, I wrote about this a bit back.


Q:

Why would the furry community fall so hard for a lawyer?

A:

No clue. I'm as confused by that as you are.


Q:

I like your writing style, cant put my finger on why but that doesn't matter. I think I'll check out the site some more.

Do you know of any influences on your writing style? Any kind of voice you have while writing? If so, please tell me about them.

A:

I actually write the blog how I talk casually: disjointed as hell and rambling.