What Were They Thinking

The Laugh Test

by Lee Gesmer on September 22, 2008

[Update: decision denying Blockshopper’s Motion to Dismiss]

[Update: Jones Days’ Opposition to Blockshopper’s Motion to Dismiss]

Blockshopper.com is one of many small web sites that have sprung up to follow local residential real estate markets. So far, the site highlights purchases in upscale neighborhoods in Chicago, St. Louis, South Florida and Las Vegas. The site identifies purchasers by name, street address of the property and the price paid. Of course, this information is available in local real estate publications (like Banker & Tradesman here in Boston) or at the local registry of deeds. Blockshopper also performs an Internet search on the person, and based on what it finds identifies the purchaser’s job title and employer. When it can, the site pulls a photo of the person from somewhere on the Internet (like the purchaser’s company site), and pastes it into the item. If the home purchaser has an online bio, the site will link to it.… Read the full article

Some thoughts on the recently concluded Entwistle murder trial in Massachusetts.

A trial is the art of persuasion.

Civil or criminal, jury or jury-waived, the same principles of persuasion apply. Generations of lawyers have spent their careers thinking about these principles, trying to understand, refine and apply them. The huge number of uncontrollable variables in a courtroom make trial persuasion an art rather than a science, but as in all competitive activities, even small advantages can increase your odds, so lawyers keep studying and trying.

Some of the most basic principles of trial advocacy are well accepted by now. One of these is captured by the expression: “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell it to them, and them tell them what you told them.” In a trial, this rule of advocacy applies most importantly to what lawyers call the “theory of the case.”

Every experienced lawyer knows the persuasive importance of “primacy” (the first things the jury hears) and “recency” (the last things they hear).Read the full article

The best aspect of law school is the subordination of math. Anon

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Are judges good at math? Foolish question, of course. Since many lawyers have a math phobia, it follows that many judges would, as well.

Nevertheless, a group of academics gave a three-question quiz to a group of several hundred trial judges. The purpose of the quiz was to determine whether the judges’ style of cognitive reflection, as a group, was “intuitive” (i.e., bad) or “analytical (i.e. “good”) decision makers.

Here are the three questions. Each one is designed to have you “jump” to a quick, intuitive wrong answer, whereas analytical reflection will lead to the non-obvious right answer.

(1) A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? _____cents

(2) If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

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A lot of people are having a hard time understanding how the country got into the sub-prime mortgage mess, or even exactly what a “sub-prime mortgage” is. How could so many intelligent, responsible people in housing, banking, finance and government have gotten this so wrong? If you’re are one of these people, this skit may aid your understanding.

Oh, and fans of the Wiley Publishing “Dummies” series, I have nothing to do with them at all. In fact, I’m a big fan.

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