October 21, 2005

"Sometimes I envy people who are in prison simply because they have a lot of free time to read."

Me too. Though I go on to worry that the place is too noisy and chaotic. I'd be in women's prison, of course, so it might be okay. And if I could have high-speed internet access and permission to blog...

24 comments:

alkali said...

It sounds nice, but think of all the "Yeah, but you're a felon" comment trolls your blog would get.

Meade said...

Imprisonment is just another word for not being allowed to blog.

Paul said...

You're a law professor and a darn good one, you'll figure it out. Now all you need do is decide what type of crime to commit so the judge puts you in the desired prison. This is getting to be a very interesting blog.

Beldar said...

You would become very popular and powerful, if you wished, as "The Writ-Writer."

In fact, you might not have much choice not to, once your fellow inmates found out you were a lawyer. Which they would. So you'd probably still have to read law books in prison, whether that was what you were contemplating or not.

I believe there's even some caselaw to the effect that notwithstanding the loss of one's law license, one's fellow inmates' rights to effective assistance of counsel would authorize the lawyer-in-the-can to assist them in preparing and filing their pro se papers (you draft, they sign) with immunity from unauthorized practice of law prosecution.

Among the court-appointed pro bono cases I worked on many years ago was a conditions of confinement case against the County Jail of Midland County, Texas. The Jail was obliged by Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit precedent to make some sort of law library facilities available to inmates. It did so through a policy of permitting each inmate to request one volume of one reporter (S.W.2d, F. Supp., whatever) per day, which was then brought to them in their cells as part of the "book cart's" regular rounds. But the Jail absolutely and resolutely refused to allow inmates access to any indices or digests, and if you wanted Volume 475 of the Federal Reporter, Second Series, then you'd not get to look at Sports Illustrated on that same day. The ostensible justification was that allowing more than one book or magazine at a time would encourage inmates to start fires or plug the toilets; however, there was no restriction on other (non-reading) paper products, so that was clearly a sham.

A younger colleague of mine did most of the work; I'd supervised and signed off on the Fifth Circuit brief, since he was actually still waiting for his bar exam results when it was filed, but he was licensed by the time of oral argument. He persuaded the Fifth Circuit to bust that whole policy, but Midland County sought certiorari, which was, to our surprise, granted. We got extraordinary permission from the Court to waive its normal admission requirements and to provisionally admit my young colleage, and he ended up arguing his first SCOTUS case within his first year of licensed practice. In fact, he did such a good job that after argument, the Court dismissed the writ of certiorari as having been improvidently granted. I assured him that this was better than a win, but he was bitterly disappointed not to have his name on a signed opinion in United States Reports -- where the inmates of the Midland County Jail, among others, could access it.

Ann Althouse said...

Beldar: I don't want to be a lawyer in prison! I want to be a blogger in prison! Or just a writer, to be published later.

This prison-wish is a desire to have time to oneself, locked in a room with only reading and writing to fill the time. That is, of course, largely achievable in real life. Perhaps I should move to an exquisitely small apartment, a cell, and minimize my possessions as if it were a prison!

Ron said...

It's the journey, not the destination.
Ann, hypothetically, what would you do to put yourself in prison? It would have to memorable, and perhaps something to give you a reputation before you went...Can there be blog crimes?

Would you be the first to live shiv-blog?

Wasteland Fan said...

A friend of mine who, early in her law school career, realized she hated law, but was too failure-phobic to drop out used to say, as we toiled away at document review and the like, that she gladly would have spent the three years she "wasted" at the law firm to pay off her law school debts instead in a debtors prison, so long as they allowed her sufficient reading material. I found her logic difficult to refute.

Ann Althouse said...

Ron: Well, considering the whole "criminalization of politics" trend, I'm picturing myself violating some criminal law just by blogging.

SippicanCottage said...
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vbspurs said...

Hmm. I really don't think a prison cell shared with a woman named Wanda Bob was what Virginia Woolf had in mind, when she asked for:

A Room Of One's Own

Cheers,
Victoria

D-Day said...

I always tell people that I wish I could book a one week prison vacation with a travel agent -- provided I could have a cell to myself and all the books I wanted to bring with me. You wouldn't have to worry about cleaning because there isn't any clutter in your cell; you'd have lots of time to read and write and think about things quietly; you wouldn't have to cook; and you'd get one hour of exercise a day (far more than I usually get). You'd come back after a week having accomplished some intellectual pursuits AND having lost a few pounds --

Just think about how welcome that would be after a few weeks of trial, or any other sustained period of mental and physical self-neglect.

somross said...

The solitude and freedom to read and write sound wonderful, but it's claustrophobia that keeps me from committing any crimes. Locking me in a room? No thanks.

Beldar said...

I'm trying to keep you on the straight & narrow, Professor A. You can resign the license, but you can't un-award the degree. I think you'd be a celebrity in the joint, like it or not.

XWL said...

sounds like you want a dorm room for professors.

How many professors would appreciate an on campus dorm like setup of single room apartments with communal kitchens , work out rooms, entertaining/conference room, and wi-fi? (but nice private bathrooms, no need to suffer too much)

(come to think of it, I think the brand new UC Merced has on-campus simplified semi-communal housing for staff as part of the plan)

Funny that when describing a monastic life style the first example that comes to mind is prison.

Ann Althouse said...

The appeal of the prison is being prevented from doing everything else. To compete with the prison-wish, you need something that would deprive us of all the distractions. But how to keep freedom? Maybe a sort of rehab-like setup. Maybe one-room cabins in the woods, where you don't have a car, but they bring meals around to you once a day.

But the professors' dorm idea is interesting! It needs to be a sort of academic (or artistic) monastery.

knoxgirl said...

"Maybe one-room cabins in the woods, where you don't have a car, but they bring meals around to you once a day. "

Like Thoreau! Didn't his mom bring him his meals every day? ....I was so disappointed when I learned that. Not very romantic.

XWL said...

ewww, ick (that seems to be my refrain lately)

Maybe those trysts with his mother WERE romantic (regarding Thoreau at Walden)

amba said...

Noisy and chaotic at a high pitch -- ugh. Like the birdhouse at the zoo.

Ann Althouse said...

Maybe a theme park called Thoreau World, with mother characters who bring around a hot dinner (and a bagged next day breakfast and lunch) each evening at 6). You just get a cabin in the woods. No TV, but WiFi.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: Yes, I should do that! Good blogging topic too!

Ann Althouse said...

You know, I started to go on a retreat once. It was a group of Episcopalians, in the early 1980s. We were in a van driving to the place and a woman started to smoke. I asked her not to smoke and confided that I was pregnant. Everyone in the van told me I was being unreasonable. I gave up and asked to be let out. As they let me out on the West Side Highway (where I, a pregnant woman, would need to walk a long deserted block with my suitcase to get to a place where I could hail a cab), one woman told me that I ought to think about how Christianity requires me to be unselfish. I've had kind of a bad attitude about retreats since then.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Ruth. This was just before the problem of second-hand smoke became more widely publicized. I'm sure the van folks felt terribly guilty whenever those stories came on the news. What galls me the most about it is that they didn't help me with my bag and get me into a cab.

The truth is I don't really need to go anywhere to find time to read and write. I already spend an immense amount of time doing that. I really need a vacation where I'd be forced to do something else.