Mike Kueber's Blog

February 1, 2012

Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be lawyers

Filed under: Law/justice — Mike Kueber @ 10:13 pm
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A common question posed to lawyers at cocktail parties is whether an individual can be sued for some particular act.  The stock answer provided by lawyers is that you can be sued for virtually anything; the more important question is whether a plaintiff can prevail.

The reason that you can be sued for virtually anything is that lawyers are quite inventive when it come developing legal arguments for or against some particular act.  Today’s San Antonio Express-News provided two examples of typical legal ingenuity:

  1. Streetcars for San Antonio.  A front-page article was titled, “Foes threaten legal action to derail transit project.”  According to the article, some angry citizens were threatening to sue the county because it was planning to use some specialized tax money to fund some streetcars in downtown San Antonio even though the tax was approved by the voters in 2004 following assurances in a campaign brochure that the tax money would not be used for “light rail” projects.  According to a retired lawyer working for the streetcar opponents, the campaign brochure amounts to a binding contract with the voters.  Based on that theory, Bush-41 could have been sued for breaking his “Read my lips – no new taxes” pledge.
  2. Where is the capital of the state.  A Metro article was titled, “Candidate defends residency in Senate race.”    The article describes the efforts of State Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones to satisfy a state constitutional requirement that certain state officers live in “the Capital of the State.”  Everyone until now has understood the requirement to mean that the officers have to live in Austin.  But that causes a problem for Jones, who has decided to run for a state senate seat based in San Antonio, because candidates for the state senate must live in the district in which they are running.  Her senate opponent, Jeff Wentworth, is arguing persuasively that Jones needs to resign from her job as Railroad Commission if she wants to run for a San Antonio senate seat.  Jones’ lawyers, however, have come up with several creative legal arguments, with the most imaginative being that the requirement is unenforceable because neither the Texas Constitution nor any state statute specifically says that the capital of Texas is Austin.  Can you imagine going through life when you are continually challenged for not spelling out everything to everyone?

Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be lawyers.

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