TGIF: May 19, 2017 – On the Constitutional Oddity of a “Special Counsel”

Despite what you may have heard, lawyers are, in fact, human beings with interests and hobbies all their own. They are not, I repeat not, robots sent from the future solely for the purpose of billing hours, drafting documents, and negotiating terms.  Not all of them anyway.  

In TGIF, I touch on some of my own interests primarily through the lens of the “Rules of the Game”, focusing on the rules and incentives that affect many aspects of our daily lives. I may even crack a joke or two. Hard to say.

TGIF will be published regularly on (surprisingly enough) Friday mornings. For more information, check out www.hoeglaw.com or drop Rick a line at rhoeg@hoeglaw.com.

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On Wednesday May 17th, acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (in place of recused Attorney General Jeff Sessions) appointed former Department of Justice official and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to serve as “Special Counsel” to oversee an investigation of “Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters”.

(Mr. Mueller’s title of “Special Counsel” not to be confused, of course, with the executive branch’s permanent and not at all independent, “Office of Special Counsel“.  Because naming conventions in Washington have never been anything if not entirely and completely clear.)

Given the nature of the investigation as a response to cries of a “constitutional crisis” in the wake of the President’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, what you may not know is how tumultuous a Constitutional history the concept of a “special counsel” or “independent prosecutor” has had in its own right.

Can an executive branch official like an Attorney General appoint an individual that cannot be fired by his or her own boss?  If not (or if there is some doubt), can congress empower the Attorney General to do so?  If so, what does that mean for the separation of powers?  And what if that congressional authority should expire?

Many of these questions have been asked and answered multiple times (and in multiple ways) throughout our nation’s history, but never in a fashion which one could deem “definitive”.  Such is the nature of an inherently political but simultaneously “independent” position, one supposes.

Let’s take a deeper look.

Continue reading “TGIF: May 19, 2017 – On the Constitutional Oddity of a “Special Counsel””

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TGIF: May 12, 2017 – Mortality and Analytical Release in the Sublime “What Remains of Edith Finch?”

Despite what you may have heard, lawyers are, in fact, human beings with interests and hobbies all their own. They are not, I repeat not, robots sent from the future solely for the purpose of billing hours, drafting documents, and negotiating terms.  Not all of them anyway.  

In TGIF, I touch on some of my own interests primarily through the lens of the “Rules of the Game”, focusing on the rules and incentives that affect many aspects of our daily lives. I may even crack a joke or two. Hard to say.

TGIF will be published regularly on (surprisingly enough) Friday mornings. For more information, check out www.hoeglaw.com or drop Rick a line at rhoeg@hoeglaw.com.

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Believe it or not, “TGIF” did not start its life solely devoted to reviewing every dotted ‘i’ and crossed ‘t’ in the multinational airlines’ bag of tricks.  No, my intent with the series was to show that lawyers have interests both varied and wide…which of course means that I enjoy reviewing statutes, regulations, and contract terms of my own volition.  Of course.  Perhaps I doth protest too much.

But today, I turn to thoughts on one of my other loves, the oft-ridiculed “video game”. Though the term “game” seems too dismissive for the interactive experience I’d like to discuss today: Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch (Edith Finch from here on out).

But first, a story.

Continue reading “TGIF: May 12, 2017 – Mortality and Analytical Release in the Sublime “What Remains of Edith Finch?””

TGIF: April 14, 2017 – On Being United…Against Ambiguous Contract Terms

Despite what you may have heard, lawyers are, in fact, human beings with interests and hobbies all their own. They are not, I repeat not, robots sent from the future solely for the purpose of billing hours, drafting documents, and negotiating terms.  Not all of them anyway.  

In TGIF, I touch on some of my own interests primarily through the lens of the “Rules of the Game”, focusing on the rules and incentives that affect many aspects of our daily lives. I may even crack a joke or two. Hard to say.

TGIF will be published regularly on (surprisingly enough) Friday mornings. For more information, check out www.hoeglaw.com or drop Rick a line at rhoeg@hoeglaw.com.

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United, Dr. Dao, and The Contract of Carriage

Well, United Airlines had an interesting week, didn’t they?  For those of you who missed it, this is how Wikipedia (!) summarizes the events of Flight 3411.

On April 9, 2017 just before 5:20 p.m., O’Hare International Airport police forcibly removed passenger David Dao from United Express Flight 3411 after he refused to depart the airplane upon the demand of management. Dao screamed as officers pulled him out of his seat, and his face hit an armrest during the struggle. Officers then dragged him by his arms on his back along the aircraft aisle past rows of onlooking passengers. He was later seen with blood around his mouth. Prior to the confrontation, managers offered compensation to passengers to vacate their seats to make room for four airline employees who needed to travel to the destination, Louisville International Airport. Three other passengers complied, and Dao was selected to be fourth.

After video of the removal (and apparent physical injury) went viral, more information came out.

Continue reading “TGIF: April 14, 2017 – On Being United…Against Ambiguous Contract Terms”

TGIF: April 7, 2017 – On MGoBlog, Injustice, and Indiscretion

Despite what you may have heard, lawyers are, in fact, human beings with interests and hobbies all their own. They are not, I repeat not, robots sent from the future solely for the purpose of billing hours, drafting documents, and negotiating terms.  Not all of them anyway.  

In TGIF, I touch on some of my own interests primarily through the lens of the “Rules of the Game”, focusing on the rules and incentives that affect many aspects of our daily lives. I may even crack a joke or two.  Hard to say.

TGIF will be published regularly on (surprisingly enough) Friday mornings. For more information, check out www.hoeglaw.com or drop Rick a line at rhoeg@hoeglaw.com.

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Sponsorship Note – MGOBLOG

For those of you who didn’t see it (and based on the number of e-mail responses I received there may only be a handful of you left), yesterday marked the start of Hoeg Law’s long term sponsorship of one of my favorite sports blogs on the Internet: MgoBlog.

Hoeg Law - Mgoblog

MgoBlog was introduced to me by a close friend and law school classmate in about 2008 or so.  It has been my daily source for Michigan sports news and insights you can’t find anywhere else on the planet (including in big mass media sports coverage) ever since.

I am very pleased for Hoeg Law to be a part of supporting their good work.  Check them out if you haven’t already.

Continue reading “TGIF: April 7, 2017 – On MGoBlog, Injustice, and Indiscretion”

TGIF: March 31, 2017 – On Contemptible Passengers

Despite what you may have heard, lawyers are, in fact, human beings with interests and hobbies all their own. They are not, I repeat not, robots sent from the future solely for the purpose of billing hours, drafting documents, and negotiating terms.  Not all of them anyway.  

In TGIF, I touch on some of my own interests primarily through the lens of the “Rules of the Game”, focusing on the rules and incentives that ultimately affect all of us in pursuing our life’s endeavors. I may even crack a joke or two.  Hard to say.

TGIF will be published regularly on (surprisingly enough) Friday mornings. For more information, check out www.hoeglaw.com or drop Rick a line at rhoeg@hoeglaw.com.

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Passengers Fails to Balance the Cold Equations

There is very little I love more in the world of pop culture than genre fiction.  Whether it’s ice zombies, robot cowboys, or, I guess, anything else on HBO, I’ve always been fascinated by both fantasy and science fiction.  About considering the impossibilities of magic and mystery against the inevitabilities of technology and change.  It is against this backdrop that I came to watch Passengers, the Chris Pratt/Jennifer Lawrence vehicle released in theaters about three months ago.  To say I was not impressed would be disrespectful to the concept of being impressed.  I was livid.  Let’s talk about why.

Spoilers for three month old movie to follow.

Continue reading “TGIF: March 31, 2017 – On Contemptible Passengers”

TGIF: March 24, 2017 – Abiding Andromeda in Ancient Japan

Despite what you may have heard, lawyers are, in fact, human beings with interests and hobbies all their own. They are not, I repeat not, robots sent from the future solely for the purpose of billing hours, drafting documents, and negotiating terms.  Not all of them anyway.  

In TGIF, I touch on some of my own interests primarily through the lens of the “Rules of the Game”, focusing on the rules and incentives that ultimately affect all of us in pursuing our life’s endeavors. I may even crack a joke or two.  Hard to say.

TGIF will be published regularly on (surprisingly enough) Friday mornings. For more information, check out www.hoeglaw.com or drop Rick a line at rhoeg@hoeglaw.com.

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Mass Effect Andromeda – Optimism in a Sea of Cynicism

This week sees the launch of the latest in one of the most well thought of western video game role-playing series: Mass Effect.  In previous games, your character (called Shepard, or “The Shepherd” when series creator Bioware really wanted to step up the haughtiness) helped fight off the existential threat of giant mechanical squid things from beyond called “The Reapers”.  Ah, video games.  The third and final game of the original trilogy in particular, really delved into the “end of all things” of it all ( I mean, just listen to this.)

Rightfully thinking that after two sequels, “galaxy-wide apocalypse” could not easily be topped, the newest game in the series, “Mass Effect Andromeda“, takes a different approach.

Continue reading “TGIF: March 24, 2017 – Abiding Andromeda in Ancient Japan”

TGIF: March 17th, 2017 – March Madness in Equipoise

Despite what you may have heard, lawyers are, in fact, human beings with interests and hobbies all their own. They are not, I repeat not, robots sent from the future solely for the purpose of billing hours, drafting documents, and negotiating terms.  Not all of them anyway.  

In TGIF, I touch on some of my own interests primarily through the lens of the “Rules of the Game”, focusing on the rules and resulting incentives that ultimately affect all of us in pursuing our life’s endeavors. I may even crack a joke or two.  Hard to say.

TGIF will be published regularly on (surprisingly enough) Friday mornings.  For more information, check out www.hoeglaw.com or drop Rick a line at rhoeg@hoeglaw.com.

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The NCAA Tournament and Perspective

Last week we talked about plane crashes, the Michigan basketball team, and the importance of looking at incentives when listening to differing perspectives on current events.  This week we carefully examine whether or not Jim Harbaugh would crash an airplane if he determined it gave his team a competitive advantage.  No, not really, but it is a fun thought experiment.  (My best tongue-in-cheek guess: He absolutely would if he could assure that there were no injuries greater than those experienced by the basketball team last week.  I mean they won the Big Ten Championship for heaven’s sake. If he can nail down that small “risk issue”, look out air traffic controllers.  Wolverine One is coming in for a landing.  Hard.)

No, this week we stick with basketball to celebrate one of my favorite things on Earth: “The Tournament”.

Continue reading “TGIF: March 17th, 2017 – March Madness in Equipoise”