Blog Ipsa Loquitur

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Barry Ritholtz comments on a Massachusetts Supreme court case, where several homeowners have sued to void their foreclosures “because securitization-industry practices violate real-estate law governing how mortgages may be transferred.”  He says:

here are several issues in the case: The technical one is whether a mortgage can be transferred without naming the recipient, as is commonly done in securitizations. But the more important issue applies to mortgage rights — do they “detach” from the promissory note when that note is sold? Asked more plainly, must someone asserting the right to foreclose actually own that Note?

This is more than a technical issue; at risk is whether we, as a nation, are going to allow corporate entities to violate existing law, or even worse, attempt to create their own, extra-legal, non democratic policies.

I usually find sweeping statements like that more irritating than inspiring, but Ritholtz is too educated to ignore. And the consequences are pretty straightforward: Wells Fargo foreclosed on Mr. and Mrs. Larace’s house 10 months before the bank owned the mortgage. There are more sketchy details in the original Bloomberg story, but this case is pretty binary, like Ritholtz says; either banks get to break the law and take your stuff, or they don’t.

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

A timeline of global media scare stories from Information is Beautiful. I had forgotten about that whole “Swine Flu” thing — it dominates the ‘fear’ scale pretty handily. The website also notes that while Swine Flu was the deadliest of the scare stories (18,000 fatalities in the last ten years), about 375,000 people die every year from The Flu.  Molehill indeed.

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

I’m definitely not a father.  Well, I haven’t talked to that girl (now lady) I dated in high school in quite a while, but I ran into her parents at the mall a few years back, and they were awfully nice to me. I’m going to read between those particularly parental lines and assume, then, that I’m not a father.

That being said, I’m writing this one down: The Tape Trick via Prudent Baby. (Note: web site is not actually written by a baby.)

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

Law school. I mean, it seemed like an interesting intellectual endeavor at the time. It was also personally enriching and more than a little eye-opening. The ABA has apparently begun to recommend college students not to go to law school:

The ABA is now making the case to persuade college students not to go to law school.

According to the association, over the past 25 years law school tuition has consistently risen two times faster than inflation.


Before the recession, the ABA cites statistics that show an average starting salary for an associate of a large law firm of about $160,000 a year. But by 2009, about 42 percent of graduates began with an annual salary of less than $65,000.

That last paragraph contains a rather hilarious bit of meaningless statistics: comparing the average salary of people who graduate and go to BigLaw against all people who graduate is silly. That’s a little like comparing NCAA athletes who graduate and go play professional sports to NCAA athletes who graduate and work as public schoolteachers.

That being said, I started law school in August 2007, about a year before the economy began to burst into flames. When I began, the Dow Jones was at 13,378 and rose to 14,093 before sinking to a low of 6,624. When I graduated in May 2010, the Dow was at 10,616., about halfway between the wild extremes of the bubble and the basement.

It’s been a hell of a ride, folks. Next time I go to law school, I’m planning ahead for these sorts of econopocalypses.

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Apparently, there’s a shortage of thiopental sodium in America: the anesthetic is used in lethal injections, but the sole American supplier isn’t making enough to keep up with demands. This made for some droll late-night comic fodder about the dangers of using expired poison in your lethal injections, but there are some concerns.

Given the lack of domestic options for purchasing thiopental sodium in America, some states have started importing it from Europe. Yesterday, in response to the Wall Street Journal, the FDA said they have no authority to regulate “substances imported or used for the purpose of state-authorized lethal injection…”, because the FDA’s role is to protect the public health, something which lethal injection drugs are pretty clearly not meant to do.

The FDA’s punt on the efficacy of lethal injection drugs leaves an opening for opponents of the death penalty. As pointed out by the WSJ Law Blog:

But the [FDA] did have one thing to say that could provide grist for attorneys representing death-row inmates; some advocates have claimed that it is unconstitutional to import thiopental, because of the possibility that foreign-made thiopental will not be sufficiently potent and effective, creating a risk that inmates will suffer a severely painful death.

This is an allusion to the question raised in Baze v. Reese; Kentucky death row inmates claimed that lethal injections could be excruciatingly painful, which would be cruel and unusual punishment, which one of those amendment thingies prohibits.

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Duke Law celebrates Public Domain Day on January 1 of every year, raising public awareness of old creative works for which the copyright has expired.  This is presumably out of a sense of wry irony (henceforth “wryrony”), as nothing in the United States will enter the public domain until 2019.

Read What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2011? on Duke’s web site.  For now, we’ll just have to thank our lucky stars that we got Jane Austen.