“Leteracy Night”

by Jamison Koehler on September 5, 2014


“Darling, I Love You But Give Me Park Avenue”

by Jamison Koehler on August 27, 2014

We live on Park Avenue.

It is a beautiful tree-lined street in an historic part of town.  But it is not what you think:  It is not Park Avenue in New York City.

And that is because we live in Baltimore.

That is the thing about this city.  For every street, bridge, monument, or tourist attraction, there is a street, bridge, monument or tourist attraction somewhere else that is better known, more famous. Do you think of Baltimore when you think of Penn Station or Park Avenue?  Of course not. You think of New York City. How about Pennsylvania Avenue or the Washington Monument or Key Bridge?  No, those things are all associated with D.C. And Mt. Vernon, of course, is in Virginia.

I have to be careful when I say this because I do want not to offend my brother-in-law George.  George grew up in Baltimore, and, like most natives, he takes any perceived slight of the city very personally.  For example, you can’t even mention John Elway’s name without aggravating George.  (When the Baltimore Colts drafted Elway with the very first pick in the 1983 draft, Elway reportedly said he would rather be a garbage collector than play for the city.  This forced the Colts to trade him for a fraction of his value.)  In fact, that used to be my test for determining whether a person was a true native of Baltimore:  I would ask the person what he or she thought of Elway.  If the person did not share George’s passionate dislike of Elway, I would know that I had unmasked a poseur.

On New Year’s Eve two years ago, George and I stood with my sister and my wife in the living room of their house in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  My wife and I had already made the decision to move to Baltimore, and we were thinking very seriously about Roland Park, which is where George had grown up.  But, as my wife put it, we wanted to live somewhere where we would be able to walk to things, and my sister suggested we consider Bolton Hill.  George was skeptical.  After all, Bolton Hill was near some pretty questionable areas the last time he had lived here.  But I saw the look in my wife’s eye when my sister suggested this.  George, I said to him.  I have a strong feeling that’s where we are going to end up.

And end up there is what we did.

It has been a good move.  I love the sirens and the back stoops, the cracked pavement and the graffiti.  I love the sidewalk cafes and the $2 Natty Bohs at Turps, the local sports bar where you can order the best BBQ wings in town.  And you can’t beat the rumble of the commuter train during the day or the screeching of the rails of the freight train late at night.

My wife and I chose Baltimore not despite The Wire but because of it.  And we moved to Baltimore not because we had grown up here or because we had family here or even because we had jobs here.  (My wife has a national practice and I commute every day to D.C.)  No, my wife and I moved to Baltimore out of pure love for the city.  And there cannot be many people who can make this claim.  Not even George.

More like this:

They Make Me Wear This Jersey

We Used to Live in the Steinberg House

The Permanence of Blue


My Real (and Not So Real) Heroes

August 19, 2014 Law Practice

Guest Post by Somers Brush I normally tell people that my desire to be a lawyer came after the couple of weeks I spent with my aunt and uncle during the summer before my senior year of high school. I shadowed my Aunt Susan and watched her in action during one of her trials, and […]

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Judge Easterly Lets The Facts Speak For Themselves In Damning the Government for Brady Violations

August 1, 2014 Evidence

You suspect it happens all the time:  the prosecutor withholds exculpatory information from the defendant, thereby preventing the defendant from mounting an effective defense.  The problem is that, with the government in sole possession of all the information, you have no way of proving it. And then there is Vaughn v. United States, __ A.3d […]

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“Equal Justice Under Law”: Why Alec Karakatsanis Is Not Your Typical Smug, Humorless Public Interest Lawyer

July 30, 2014 D.C. Superior Court

One of the hazards of public interest work is that it seems to contribute to smugness.  I may be underpaid and overworked.  But at least I am doing the Lord’s work.  And that work is more important than anything my higher paid colleagues with more prestigious jobs are doing. I encountered a little bit of […]

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“Observe and Report”: The Duties of Fake Cops

July 24, 2014 Humor

This is what the witness’ duty is.  It is not to “protect and serve” like a regular police officer.  Instead, it is to “observe and report.” The judge isn’t sure she heard this right, and she asks him to repeat it.  He doesn’t flinch.  He obliges. I have some fun with this on cross. So […]

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Who Wants To Be The Last Person Arrested for Possessing An Ounce Of Marijuana In DC?

July 18, 2014 Current Events

With the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 having gone into effect yesterday, the Washington Post did an article today discussing the fate of the last few people who were arrested under the old law.  (From now on, possession or transfer without payment of one ounce or less of marijuana will be a civil […]

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The DUI Defense Lawyers Association: A New Challenge to the NCDD

July 16, 2014 DUI and Driving Offenses

I am clueless about the politics. But you know this has to be a really, really bad thing for the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). Justin McShane hinted that something was up at the most recent meeting of the NCDD in New Orleans when he announced that his presentation that day would be his […]

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Judicial Notice: The Difference Between “Legislative” and “Adjudicative” Facts

July 14, 2014 Evidence

A court accepts a well-known and indisputable fact without taking the time and trouble of requiring a party to prove it.  What could be more straightforward, more commonsensical, than that?  As McCormick puts it, the “oldest and plainest ground for judicial notice is that the fact is so commonly known in the community as to […]

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Wayne LaFave on “Motive”

July 13, 2014 Legal Concepts/Principles

Motive.  It is really big on TV shows.  At the same time, if you listen to Wayne LaFave, it is completely irrelevant when it comes to substantive criminal law:  The government is not required to prove motive in order to secure a conviction. The New Oxford American dictionary defines “motive” as “a reason for doing […]

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