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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Caligula:Incitus(his horse)::Obama:Franken

Obama:Healthcare::Monaghan:Higher Education

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 10:01 PM. |

All I Need Is This Chair and This Lamp

And this paddle game and this ashtray and the remote control. That's all I need.

What's become of the furniture at Ave AA? Is it all going to Naples or is it staying for Cooley? And the library books? It seems like Cooley could use the books and furnishings. Was that part of the deal? Would it be easier and cheaper to just get new stuff for Florida? Did the Cooley deal change Ave's moving plans?

The reason I ask is because I am reliably informed that the library building at the Vineyards is empty but for one reception desk. The interior is in the midst of a total repaint and the exterior is in need of a serious power-wash. Ditto the Student Union and I'm assuming the same for the dorms and classroom/admin building. (Is Canterbury Hall to be the classroom facility?)
Also, my source tells me that parking may be even more of a problem at the Vineyards than it was in AA.

Fumed by Boko Fittleworth at 8:11 PM. |

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade Bill Passes

I find it disgusting that the Waxman-Markey Bill passed the House 219-212, considering the fact that those who voted for it had not read the bill. In fact, the debate and vote occurred without the bill actually existing, strictly speaking. (I was similarly disgusted with the stimulus bill passing without members of the House - or even their staff - having read it, and thus, not actually knowing what was in it.) And don't even get me started on the merits (or lack thereof) of Waxman-Markey and the fallacy of global warming.

8 Republicans voted for the bill, and one of the names caught my eye: Chris Smith from New Jersey. Isn't he a "friend" of Ave Maria Law? Am I remembering correctly - didn't he visit AMSL at some point? What is he doing voting for this travesty of a bill?

Fumed by Thales at 11:29 PM. |

Friday, June 26, 2009

An Example of What Happens When You Make Foolish Analogies

Uncle Di takes you down. Ouch.

"If West wants to treat the disease, he should at least get the diagnosis right. His follow-up is not encouraging."

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 10:14 PM. |

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Vision of Hieronymus Bosch, a Vision of Today?

This video entitled "Civilization" is remarkably reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch, albiet without any genuine reference to Christ and salvation. It gives us a visual expression of the spirit of our age, an age we have built on a foundation that rejects God.

Civilization by Marco Brambilla from CRUSH on Vimeo.

Fumed by Columcille at 10:57 AM. |

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Healthcare Bailouts

The New York arm of Wall Street has gotten its turn at the trough, but the Hartford arm hasn't yet gotten the derivative buy downs, but President Obama will be sure they get that money today. He's not offering socialized medicine, he's not offering single payer anything. no public or private option. Nothing but cash for the overspent investment hubs buried within your HMO. Why were HMOs buying derivative risk instruments? I don't know, but they need public trough cash. He's merely giving the HMO folks the same treatment that the rest of the hedge funds got. Progressives and consevatives should realize that no one is getting what they want. No one except for the financial belly of Wall Street's HMO world, that is.

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 11:55 AM. |

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

AveWatch Open Letter to Venice Bishop Dewane

AveWatch has an interesting open letter addressed to Bishop Frank Dewane, the bishop of Venice, Florida, which is where Ave Maria University and Ave Maria School of Law are currently located, regarding Monaghan's recent claim of being an exempt religious institution.

Fumed by Thales at 5:11 PM. |

US Bishops Support South Bend Bishop D'Arcy

I think that this is a very nice gesture from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Following the spring General Assembly on June 17-19, the bishops released this statement showing solidarity with Bishop D'Arcy and his Notre Dame-Obama stance:
The bishops of the United States express our appreciation and support for our brother bishop, the Most Reverend John D'Arcy. We affirm his pastoral concern for Notre Dame University, his solicitude for its Catholic identity, and his loving care for all those the Lord has given him to sanctify, to teach and to shepherd.

Fumed by Thales at 5:05 PM. |

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bone up on the Law of Religious Exception

Some of our commenters appear to believe Monaghan's twisted sense of the availability of the religious exception has some teeth apart from the laughable farce that it is. The law school does not have the qualities to make the exception apply to its functions performed in civil contract or tort; and, the nature of the exception, where available, does not apply in a contract breach. Finally, as civil law sees it, Moynahann did not have a civil duty to report his hiring and firing decisions to the Bishop (or any other Juridic Person).

To begin with, Ave Maria School of Law is not a religion. The corporation of the school is not a religion. It is not a coordinating entity, as a diocesan hospital, or a school run by Jesuits or Dominicans. It is a regular corporation with a promise to teach accurately Church teaching, and able to use the title Catholic because it promises not to teach heresy. As such, it has neither ascendant, coordinating, or ministerial capacity as a religious entity. It has nothing as far as the Church is concerned with religious capacity, other than to represent to the public that is it Catholic and will reliably teach Catholic precepts. More importantly, in technical terms, this means that neither AMSoL nor Monahgam have Juridic Power because they are not Juridic Persons.

As I said from the beginning, with regards to Catholic entities, Juridic Power is a key component. See, e.g., Chopko's (the General Council of the USCCB) article on BC's law review: STATING CLAIMS AGAINST RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS
(From the abstract: Although the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of religious institutions, it confers no general immunity from liability for their contracts and torts. This Article’s study of the case law indicates that claims may be stated against religious institutions if those institutions had the corporate power or ecclesiastical responsibility for the specific matter in dispute, or had themselves taken action in the matter. A general assertion of the potential to take action or potential to control is insufficient to result in a claim against the institution. Liability would reside, if at all, in the entity that has both the juridic power (under the religious polity) and the civil duty to answer for the actions of persons or other entities in the religious structure. Departure from these principles could result in an unconstitutional exercise by a court.)
Being a Juridic Person is a function of Canon Law (and necessarily tied to the concept of ministerial power in the Church).

Rather, as I pointed out somewhere else, Momgahan thinks his hiring and firing decision can be put into strictly religious principles. Tenure, and the hiring of professors is a civil contract, and breach of a civil contract is answerable to civil courts. Moreover, I assumed in my earlier posts that the essential concept of the religious exception being tied to religious authority self explained that in order for Slobagman's argument to have any teeth in the Catholic concept, then the Bishop or some other Juridic Person must have been the final word on the firing decision.

Chopko, supra, describes this last point as a civil duty to report. Nonagman had none. Too bad. Go home and write some more frivolous motions.

All that the religious exception would provide to the law school would be the capacity to select and discriminate tenure decision based on religion in order to preserve the Catholic teaching part of the law school. But Safranek wasn't denied tenure, he was fired. As far as I could tell, there was no Title VII claim in Safranek's argument, but a wrongful discharge and breach of contract.

I don't see any court case anywhere that allows a religious exception to breach contracts and commit torts. That would mean religions in America have carte blanche to break the basic laws of the land. We all know that's not the case, but that's the laughable import of Mammyghan's silly motion. He wants to be above the law because he's a super-catholic of the only authority needed -- his own.

In other words, Montagnan's argument might have teeth to protect against a Title VII claim of discrimination made by a wiccan who was denied tenure, but it has none for breach of contract or tort. Likewise, a wiccan law school would have similar protection when denying a Catholic. Or a Muslim law school when denying a Buddhist, and on and on. But none of them would be exempt for skipping out on a contract to buy computers from a supplier after the computers were delivered, or from paying a plumber who fixed the service lines, but that's what Mummynand is arguing.

It's silly, laughable, and stupid, and I think, in my opinion, brings disrepute and scandal to the Catholic Church.

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 7:20 PM. |

Sunday, June 21, 2009

FUMARE Information Network (FIN) report: avemarialawyer.com

Looks like an alumnus from the first class has decided to do what a different student from the inaugural class was allegedly sued, or threatened to be sued over, which is to make domains with the Monaghan Most Favored Brand.

See the Florida Bar Directory online here: Klucik

At least on June 20, that public directory lists the website for that entry as : http://www.avemarialawyer.com/ Perhaps a typo as the domain appears registered but not connected to any web page yet.

If this means that Mr. Klucik has made a firm for himself, then God speed and God bless!

It does seem like I heard something about one of the AMSoL inaugural class grads being bullied around for using a name like that. But, hey, given the address in the FL Bar page, they probably aren't going to mind much because there's commercial rent being paid, or it's the school's own tab. Kind of makes the Naples News designation of Klucik as the "School attorney" earlier this year make more sense that way.

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 6:01 PM. |

All Hail Lord Monaghan, Arbiter of Catholicism

Apparently, I wasn't able to express yesterday what I meant. Monaghan's argument to the court that his decisions are protected as religious ministerial things is really what Mongahan believes. (but as any court knows, his unreasonable personal beliefs do not make reality).

How dare a mere court try probe his great, unique, and final word on Catholic thinking? How dare they try to probe his wisdom of determining who is a sheep and who is a goat? No, it is not for mere people to determine who will sit at Lord Monaghan's left or at his right hands.

Not even the pope or any other Catholic school in the United States can match Lord Monaghan's understanding of the Catholic faith. After all, hasn't He said that His is the only Way? the only Catholic school?

Like I said yesterday, to take resort where he has, Lord Monaghan has opened up the world of questions as to what exactly his view of the Church really is -- it's his!

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 12:49 AM. |

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ministerial Protection

Monaghan's motion for summary disposition posits that the Bishop's approval of AMSoL to use the title "Catholic" extends so much of a degree of agency for the Catholic Church that a trial court is prohibited from looking into the decisions of Monaghan and the board because they are religious matters, "ministerial."

The one line, two question rebuttal:
- Is AMSoL listed in the diocese as an asset of the Bishop? Did the Bishop exihibit final authority over AMSoL matters?

No and No. Denied.

Other tactical errors in Mongahan's approach:

- Such an argument means that Monaghan would accept canonical liabilities for his decisions, wouldn't it?

- There would be a canon law sanction for overstating the Catholic authority to a public tribunal. Monaghan's claim appears to be equivalent to claiming that he is a Juridic person entitiled to the privileges of Catholic authority. As such, and in this blogger's initial opinion, he has lied to a public tribunal as he has no such authority under Church governance. In all other matters, he would claim that the school is a secular institution that is not diocesan and thereby immune from too much probing by a bishop. In equity, I believe this is a sword/shield problem.

- This reasoning would also mean that AMSoL is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the canonical process, thereby meaning that the Board and Monaghan himself have been acting without authority as there was no ecclesiastical authority for any of the actions they have done.

- Under this stratagem of Monaghan, the alumni and the professors would have final appeal to Pope Benedict XVI on such matters. Moreover, whatever decision that the Pope would make would bind them regardless of their claims of secular final decision authority.

There's a lot more, but I'm tired.

For a court to buy Monaghan's crap argument, it would also have to then find that Monaghan had no authority to fire Safranek and reinstate him with back pay, and grant tenure to Pucillo and Lyons, or at least defer the decision to a Canon authority.

Thus, Monaghan would be liable for tortious interference of some sort as a intermeddling interloper in ecclesiastical affairs. Monaghan has no authority in the Church, and thus, had no authority to act at AMSoL, by his own argument, that is.

Something doesn't smell right about the case citations, either... I may have to cite check this motion.

NOTE TO KEEN OBSERVERS: Monaghan's motion has shifted the cause of Safranek's dismissal onto new grounds in order to better suit the wind direction and mood of the day.

keywords to assist court clerks in google searching for answers about Catholic canon law and ministerial authority: Monaghan not ordained priest or deacon; Monaghan; Safranek; specious claim of Catholic authority; Monaghan not Juridic person; Canon Law; 07-1134-CZ; MCR 2.116(c)4

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 1:08 AM. |

Dr. Peters and Canon Law on Monaghan's Ministerial Exception Argument

Canon lawyer extraordinaire Dr. Ed Peters takes on Monaghan's recent legal argument that Ave Maria School of Law is immune from the legal system due to its status as "religious institution" employing "ministers." Dr. Peters comes out swinging and never lets up:
.... As part of his efforts to avoid answering legally claims made against the treatment that Ave Maria has accorded several law school faculty members, Monaghan is, if I understand him correctly, arguing that his law school is fundamentally a religious organization, that its professors are essentially ministers therein, and that consequently no civil court can examine Ave's treatment of its ministers without running afoul of various constitutional barriers.

Though representing just the tip of an argument-iceberg here, the famous interdicasterial instruction "On certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of the priest" Ecclesiae de Mysterio (15 August 1997) went to great lengths to distinguish, in theory and in practice, the Catholic concept of "ministry" as something undertaken almost exclusively by the ordained in virtue of holy orders, from "apostolates", that is, as works performed especially by lay persons in virtue of baptism. Now, as much as the Catholic Church cherishes civil law and legal education, there is virtually no way that she views law school professors as being engaged in "ministry", and certainly not in a ministry on her behalf such that the Church would assert jurisdiction over their situation as she would have to assert for any number of genuinely ministerial works .....

.... It is even more preposterous to assert that canon law considers ecclesiastical recognition of the Catholic character of a given school (assuming Ave Maria has that) as rendering the school immune from civil scrutiny in regard to the basic treatment it accords faculty (and students and staff, for that matter). That is goofiness.

I keep waiting for Ave Maria to find a bottom in how far it is willing to descend in its efforts to avoid treating certain Catholics (the sort Monaghan dismisses as "academic terrorists") with due dignity. But this month, Monaghan and Ave Maria tried to label its law school faculty as some sort of religious ministers, conveniently according their academic administrators a discretionary power over Ave Maria law faculty akin to that legitimately enjoyed by bishops over priests!

Looks like I'll just have to go on waiting.
Ouch. Now there is a good old-fashioned canon law drubbing.

Fumed by Thales at 12:05 AM. |

Friday, June 19, 2009

On Law School Deans Being Removed, Or, Why Is Dobranski Still Dean?

In the comments, Devil's Advocate links to an interesting article at Above The Law about the Dean of DePaul College of Law being removed from his position. It looks like the Dean might have been unjustly ousted in a dispute with the university provost. But this reminds me of a Dean who, unlike the DePaul situation, should be ousted.

Back in November 2007, I wrote a post where I argued that a change of leadership was required for Ave Maria School of Law in order to restore confidence after news of AMSL's poor Bar passage performance:
When a football team goes on a terrible losing streak, who is to blame? Maybe it's the fault of the players; after all they're the ones playing poorly and losing all the games. Maybe it's the fault of the assistant coaches and trainers not doing their job. Or the fault of the scouts who are recruiting bad players. Or the fault of the offensive/defensive coordinators who are calling stupid plays. Sometimes, looking at all the circumstances objectively, it's not the fault of the head coach.

Yet, more often than not, it is the head coach who is fired. And the head coach rightfully deserves to be fired. Ultimately, the head coach is responsible for the team at every stage: recruitment, training, game strategy, motivation and morale building. The very fact that the team is losing creates a situation that demands the firing of the head coach. Losing creates a lack of confidence in the head coach's leadership and morale problems that can only be remedied by getting fresh blood into the head coach position.

Dobranski is the head coach of AMSL. Even assuming that Dobranski has done nothing wrong and that others are to blame for the poor Bar passage rate (like the students, as Dobranski suggests), the very fact that the school is losing means that Dobranski should be fired. Dobranski is ultimately responsible for how the team is going, and if it's losing, Dobranski needs to be removed and a fresh face needs to be made dean. That's the way to instill confidence and to get a new start.

The same argument can be said for the faculty's "no confidence" in Dobranski. Set aside who is more blameworthy or which side is right in the faculty-administration dispute. No matter who is to blame, it is a fact that that there is significant faculty no-confidence in Dobranski. This very fact means Dobranski should resign or be removed, because he is the leader of the faculty, and cannot effectively lead without their confidence.

AMSL is in turmoil, there is no confidence in the leadership, and our AMSL team is losing the Bar passage game with the other Michigan law schools. It doesn't matter who is to blame for this. A leadership change is required NOW.
Since November 2007, things haven't gotten any better for AMSL. On the contrary, things have gotten worse: AMSL has sunk deeper into the 4th Tier of the US News rankings. What has Dean Dobranski done to improve things since November 2007? Absolutely nothing, since he has been on continuous sick leave. Yet he remains Dean and President of AMSL. Why? Now, I wish that Dean Dobranski regains his health, but for the better part of two years, he has done nothing in his capacity of Dean and President, and there is no sign of him returning to AMSL. Regardless of what side of the AMSL controversy you find yourself on, regardless of whether you think Monaghan has acted rightly or not, regardless of whether you think the Florida move is a good thing for AMSL or not.... all of us should be able to agree that at this time of transition, it is more important than ever that AMSL have a leader who can articulate the mission of AMSL and who can inspire confidence in the school's future. Can everyone join me in calling for Dean Dobranski's resignation and the appointment of a new dean and president?

Fumed by Thales at 5:58 PM. |

Thursday, June 18, 2009

AveWatch: Monaghan Argues AMSL Is Exempt as a Religious Institution

AveWatch reports that this past Wednesday, there was a hearing in Washtenaw County Court in the faculty lawsuit. The parties argued their respective positions on a motion for summary disposition filed by Monaghan, in which Monaghan's attorneys argued that the case should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction due to the doctrine of ecclesiastical abstention and the ministerial exception. It seems that the argument goes as follows: Ave Maria School of Law is a religious institution and tenured faculty are "ministers" of this religious institution; therefore, the Court is barred from inquiring into employment decisions and into the governance of the school. AveWatch has copies of the defendants' motion and the plaintiffs' response. AveWatch has plenty of analysis too. A written opinion resolving the motion is set to be issued within 30 days.

Fumed by Thales at 11:45 PM. |

AveWatch: Monaghan Funds to Mich. Sup. Ct.

AveWatch has a post about Monaghan's monetary donations that made their way to help the re-election campaigns of Justices Markman, Taylor, and Young. Some commenters are wondering whether recusal is proper. I don't have any knowledge or opinion on this topic. (Now, Monaghan's funds apparently went to the Ann Arbor political action committee, not directly to the justices' campaigns. Does that make a difference?)

UPDATE: Ryder notes that, ironically, the Michigan Supreme Court is at this very moment reconsidering its standards for recusal and disqualification in light of the Caperton v. Massey case, which may require a judge's recusal if a party contributed significantly to the judge's election campaign. The Michigan Supreme Court is taking public comments until August 1. More details here.

Fumed by Thales at 10:18 PM. |

AveWatch on Mich. Sup. Ct. Decision in Safranek v. Monaghan

AveWatch has a post on the Michigan Supreme Court decision requiring Monaghan to turn over his personal notes to Safranek et al. (These are notes that the plaintiffs first requested on March 10, 2008.) AveWatch also has a pdf of the Michigan Supreme Court opinion.

The 4-person majority (Cavanagh, Hathaway, Kelly, and Weaver) ruled in a short order that the Washtenaw Circuit Court's November 14, 2008 order clarifying that all of Monaghan's personal notes relevant to the lawsuit, regardless of color, must be turned over. Justice Weaver also wrote a concurrence explaining the background of the case.

Three justices dissented (Markman, Corrigan, and Young), with Markman writing the dissent in which the 2 others joined. Bizarrely, the division of the justices is along the fault-line which is usually viewed as liberal vs. conservative (with the 3 "conservatives" in the minority). I suspect that had Chief Justice Taylor (the other "conservative") not lost to Justice Hathaway in the last election, this decision would have come out the other way against Safranek and company. But why did the "conservatives" rule in favor of Monaghan? Markman's dissent wrongly argues that the discovery request is overly broad and unfair, and is part of an attempt by the plaintiffs to publically denigrate Monaghan.

As I was reading the dissent, I kept on thinking to myself that Markman was overlooking the record of the trial court and did not have any sense of what occurred at the trial level through multiple hearings and orders from March 2008 to December 2008. Markman unreasonably fixates on one throw-away oral statement at a May 2008 hearing by the trial court that the notes are on orange paper. After May 2008, the trial court had at least 3 other hearings and issued at least 2 written opinions regarding what notes Monaghan had to turn over. The orders did not mention a specific note color, but instead required Monaghan to turn over his notes regarding AMSL and the Florida controversy regardless of color. Also after May 2008, the plaintiffs submitted other motions and affidavits to the court informing the court of the existence of relevant documents on more than orange paper. So, from May 2008 to December 2008, it became clear to the plaintiffs and to the trial judge that Monaghan had different colored notes that were directly relevant to the plaintiffs' original discovery request in March 2008. It's natural for the trial judge to later clarify that a party must turn over all relevant notes regardless of color, after it becomes clear that there exists relevant notes of more than one color. Does Markman not see this?

It's also strange to see Markman state that the trial court's order requires Monaghan "to produce over 10 years of notes regardless of their relevancy or discoverability." Isn't Markman misreading the trial court's discovery orders? The orders don't require Monaghan to turn over all personal notes regardless of subject - instead they require Monaghan to turn over those notes which are relevant to AMSL and the subject of litigation. I don't see an abuse of discretion.

Finally, it seems that Markman has bought Monaghan's theory - hook, line, and sinker - that the plaintiffs (and all concerned students, alumni, bloggers, former members of any Ave Maria community) are "dissidents" having no legitimate grievance with Monaghan and are unreasonably pursuing a vendetta of public humiliation. In footnote 4, Markman mentions the AveWatch post that reported on Monaghan's infamous "5 down, 6 to go" note and accuses the plaintiffs of providing confidential documents to AveWatch in an attempt to illegitimately humiliate Monaghan. But Markman's accusation is patently false. As AveWatch explains, the plaintiffs didn't send anything to AveWatch; AveWatch only reported on allegations made in a public document filed with the court. Even a cursory glance at the original AveWatch post shows that Markman's accusations are entirely groundless. It is simply stunning to see the dissenting justices directing such a blatantly false accusation at plaintiffs' counsel. What are Markman, Corrigan, and Young thinking?

Fumed by Thales at 9:25 AM. |

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Feiger Proven Right: Markman is delusional with power

I'm not sure from what court rule Justice Markman's otherwise rule-citing dissent authorizes a Michigan Supreme Court Justice to find facts. Such power in Michigan is left to the trial court, the jury to be exact. Nonetheless, because Markman was defending Monaghan, he made his own rules up in the name of preserving the conservative ranks (which Markman is believed to do a lot in favor of insurance companies, too, in the opinion of many, many Michigan trial attorneys).

The Michigan Supreme Court has dissolved the Court of Appeals order staying enforcement of the trial court order compelling production of Monaghan's little yellow notes relevant to the professorial litigation. Open the zip file located at the June 12 MSC orders on the MSC website.

Poor Tommy has to wear big people pants and actually comply with discovery. Awww, it's a shame when the big boys have to live with rules the rest of us live by.

I feel bad for him because he's being treated like a normal person. I mean, really, it must be so degrading to be accountable for your words, especially when you tell the press that you seek to be more humble than anyone else. Poor guy!

Back to Markman, however, is a wierd footnote in Markman's vacuous dissent:

4 To further emphasize defendant’s concern regarding the trial court’s production order, plaintiffs have acknowledged providing Ave Watch, a public website that is apparently antagonistic to defendant, with copies of defendant’s notes that they consider relevant to this litigation. However, defendant has alleged that one of his notes, which had not yet been filed with the trial court and that defendant had not been afforded an opportunity to designate as “confidential,” was provided to Ave Watch. Defendant alleged that plaintiffs’ counsel used her cell phone to take a picture of this document, which she then sent to Ave Watch. Plaintiffs’ counsel denied this claim and stated that “I’m not even savvy enough to get this thing. I barely can print a blurry thing off my phone. But even if I had I wouldn’t have provided it to [Ave Watch.]” However, the note at issue did appear on Ave Watch, http://avewatch.com/?p=89 (accessed June 1, 2009), accompanied by the following narrative:
[Plaintiffs’ counsel], apparently, was visiting [defendant]’s office in accordance with an earlier Court Order to produce documents. [Plaintiffs’ counsel] was allowed to view only a select subset of [defendant]’s personal notes, and was then denied a request to have any of the notes copied. Why? One sample was preserved as a photo on [plaintiffs’ counsel’s] cell phone.
This note stated, “November 4 Goals; 5 down, 6 to go. 2 leaders gone. Now they are in the minority.”

Poor Justice Markman seems a bit confused among all the other rules as to what the purpose of an appellate court is. Outside of Louisiana, he can't find facts like that in a court opinion. It's also terrible because Poor Uncle Tom's note was only personal because it's damning evidence. By going so far out of his way to find the fact, Markman has betrayed that the only thing Monaghan is doing is hiding relevant evidence.

Somebody also needs to tell Justice Markman that unsealed cases are public record and that plaintiffs' counsel was apparently allowed to view the note because defendant was tendering it for discovery. For all we know, the Ave Watch blogger was sitting in the trial court when this order compelling the documents was argued. But to Markman, it's a vast conspiracy... and this is a Supreme Court Justice?

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 10:57 PM. |

Michigan Supreme Court: Monaghan Required to Turn Over Personal Notes

On June 12, 2009, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order in the Safranek v. Monaghan case. The order requires Thomas Monaghan to comply with the trial court's November 14, 2008 order directing Monaghan to produce his personal notes related to any matter involving Ave Maria School of Law and the move to Florida.

Thank you to commenter "anonymous" for the tip.

Fumed by Tommy More at 9:10 PM. |

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fumare Group Photo--June 16, 2009

front (left to right): Casimir Pulaski, Phlogizo, Advocatus Militaris
standing (left to right): Thales, Columcille, Jim, Devil's Advocate, Thursday, Bendrix, Valjean, Piotr, Boko Fittleworth

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 9:01 PM. |

Monday, June 15, 2009

What about a "wise Catholic"?

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life" - Sotomayor

Just about everyone has heard this quote, or the feminist variation that drops the "Latina" part, expressing Sotomayor's neo-racism and tired feminism.

Perhaps the best comment on this comes from my favorite lesbian commentator, Camille Anna Paglia:

Sotomayor's vainglorious lecture bromide about herself as 'a wise Latina' trumping white men is a vulgar embarrassment -- a vestige of the bad old days of male-bashing feminism when even the doughty Ann Richards was saying to the 1988 Democratic National Convention: 'After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.' What flatulent canards mainstream feminism used to traffic in! Astaire, idolized even by Mikhail Baryshnikov, was one of the most brilliant and peerless dancers and choreographers of the 20th century. The agile but limited Ginger Rogers, a spunky, smart-mouthed comedian, is only a footnote. Get real, girls! This is the kind of mushy balderdash I doggedly had to plow through for five years in trying to find a good feminist poem for my collection, 'Break, Blow, Burn.' I never found one.
Between resurgent ethnic tribalism and exhausted feminism, Sotomayor left out the one thing that might have actually made her statement true. Her Catholicism.

What if she had said, "Without a doubt I know, that an authentic Catholic, with the richness of her understanding of faith and reason, natural law and civil law, and the moral duties and limits of her office, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn't lived that life" - Sotomayor

Of course if this was true of her, she wouldn't have made such an ideologically idiotic statement in the first place, but aside from the fact that this isn't true of her, that she is one of the many ignorant Catholics who have rejected their faith for fools gold, is it true in principle that good Catholics make better judges?

Do authentic Catholics, in other words, Catholics of whole mind, heart and strength, make better judges (assuming parity of legal training and skill)?

This guy seems to think so (at least if the white male is evangelical):

Fumed by Columcille at 12:58 AM. |

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dean Milhizer Editorial: AMSL Will Persevere

Acting Dean of Ave Maria School of Law, Eugene Milhizer, has an editorial about AMSL in yesterday's Naples News:
I speak for the entire law-school community when I express my sincere excitement to complete our transition to our new Naples campus in early July.

Years of preparation will culminate in the founding of our Vineyards Campus, which will serve as home to our law-school community of more than 450 students, faculty, staff and employees.
Well, I don't know about "years of preparation" for the Vineyards campus. I mean, the decision to move to Vineyards was only made last spring, right? And isn't Vineyards only a temporary location, and not a "culmination"?

Unsurprisingly, the editorial is a rose-colored piece, emphasizing the few positives that exist for AMSL:
I am pleased to report that the state of the law school is strong. According to the Law School Admissions Council, Ave Maria School of Law is one of just 15 American Bar Association-approved law schools experiencing a significant increase in applications for admission (more than 30 percent). This is noteworthy because more than 60 of the 200 ABA-approved law schools across the country are experiencing a decline in applications.

Indeed, Ave Maria School of Law currently has the largest applicant pool in its history, with more than 1,750 applications received. Increased tuition revenue from this class will complement increases in financial contributions to the law school, which will exceed last year's totals by 5 percent by the close of our fiscal year.

These results are even more impressive when compared to many other higher-education institutions, which are suffering a decline in their contributions due to the weak economy.
A larger applicant pool is a good thing, because that should translate into a smaller acceptance rate as the school is able to be more selective in its accepted students. And acceptance rate is a factor in the US News ranking. I don't have access to this year's US News rankings, but I suspect that we've got plenty of room for improvement.

Milhizer also addresses the recent news of AMSL failing the financial responsibility test:
Like many new higher-education institutions, Ave Maria School of Law has a complex financial outlook. Earlier this week, an article appeared in the Daily News that referenced a U.S. Department of Education report suggesting the law school is struggling financially. It is important that I clarify the true position of the law school’s finances.

Ave Maria School of Law is a private, independent law school that has intentionally chosen to accept small classes of students in order to maintain the high standards of our student body. Only seven classes have graduated from our law school, and while our alumni are extremely generous, there are simply fewer of them to call on compared to an older law school. And while Ave Maria School of Law lacks the backing of a giant state-supported university, as many other new law schools have had, our finances are secured by the Ave Maria Foundation, a major educational philanthropy committed to our law school's success.

In this moment, due to our cross-country move, the global recession and the youth of our law school, we face a time where it might be easier than usual to point to negative news. But every trend that leads to an institution's success — most importantly, the numbers of applicants and donors, the quality of the education and the accomplishments of our students and alumni -- projects that Ave Maria is moving rapidly toward financial independence.
I know that as "Acting Dean" you have to put a positive spin on things, but this sentence bothers me because it misleads about the fact that maybe a majority of alumni don't donate on principle because of the problems with AMSL's governance: "Only seven classes have graduated from our law school, and while our alumni are extremely generous, there are simply fewer of them to call on compared to an older law school." AMSL's small financial support is not simply a function of having a small alumni base and a small donor base; it's also a function of AMSL's administration acting immorally and irresponsibly in the past, thereby alienating large portions of its alumni, donors, and former supporters. And what is this mention of financial independence? It is a serious project or a just a talking point?
That is what Ave Maria School of Law will do -- persevere. The remarkable story of the first 10 years of our law school has hardened our resolve and made us far better prepared to overcome tough circumstances.
The exhortation to persevere is not as compelling when you remember that AMSL's struggles to overcome tough circumstances during the past 10 years were mostly caused by AMSL's own mistakes.

Fumed by Thales at 1:35 PM. |

Naples News On AMSL Failing Federal Financial Test

The Naples News has an article about Ave Maria School of Law failing the federal financial responsibility test (we reported on this last week). From the Naples News:
The soon-to-be-local Ave Maria School of Law was one of 114 private colleges nationwide to fail a federal financial responsibility test this year, according to a report last week in a national higher education newspaper.

But the law school said its inclusion on a U.S. Department of Education list of schools with low financial ratings, "represents no change in our fiscal health and should not be cause for concern."

The report, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, lists the Ave Maria School of Law as the sixth worst in the country based on the department's metrics of financial responsibility. Ave Maria is also the only law school on the list.

Ave Maria reported a $2.9 million deficit in its most recent audit, which covered the year ending June 30, 2008.

In a statement about the Chronicle report, the 10-year-old law school said its low asset-to-debt ratio was "typical of recently founded institutions."
I know what will correct this "low asset-to-debt ratio": financial independence. Think back 2 1/2 years ago and recall the infamous "Falvey Report." The report indicated that AMSL's original financial plan submitted to the ABA in Fall 2004 projected financial independence from Monaghan and the Ave Maria Foundation by 2009. The Falvey Report called on the school to return to this plan for financial independence. But Monaghan/Dobranski/the BOG rejected the Falvey Report and since that time, has never seriously tried to become financially independent. Why?

The Naples News has also published AMSL's official statement in response to the news about failing the financial report. Here is the first part of AMSL's statement:
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently included Ave Maria School of Law on a list of schools and colleges scoring low on a Department of Education financial strength test. This represents no change in our fiscal health and should not be cause for concern. Typical of recently founded institutions (we have graduated only seven classes), Ave Maria School of Law has a low asset-to-debt ratio. We fully anticipate that this situation will reverse itself over time, as we increase net tuition revenue and build endowment.
This plan to build an endowment is news to me. Wouldn't that involve financial independence from Monaghan? Is there a current plan for an endowment that I'm not aware of? I've always been under the impression that the official position of AMSL was that developing an endowment was something to be done well in the future and not possible at the moment with such a small donor base. It doesn't seem that AMSL is putting money away in an endowment fund. Isn't it the case that every year, AMSL cannot save any money, operates at a significant deficit, and Monaghan covers the shortfall?

The Naples News article also had some more information on Cooley Law School's take-over of the AMSL-Michigan law school building:
Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc said Cooley and Ave Maria agreed to a three-year lease for Cooley to use the facility with an option to purchase. Ave Maria's last audit valued the facility at $16.5 million.
Naples News, thank you, and keep up the good investigative reporting!

Fumed by Thales at 1:02 PM. |

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm not gonna gloat...

but how could anyone prefer the NBA to this? WOW!!1!

Fumed by Boko Fittleworth at 10:35 PM. |

Monday, June 08, 2009

Monaghan Wasted His Cash

The news about Cooley already signing 84 paid students for our old location really made me laugh.

Do Bernie, Tom, and now Eug really believe the horse$#|+ they shovel out? How do they sleep at night?

I say Uncle Tom wasted his money because it's apparent that, had he spent in Michigan what he dumped into Florida, north Ann Arbor and Plymouth would be hopping. Too bad old Tom got a bunch in his shorts when his first attempt to buy the AA Township trustee positions failed. So, like a three year old who was told no by his parents, he picked up his toys and went to buy an administrative zone in Florida. He forgot basic business: don't reinvent the wheel. But that's what they did in the retiree zone. Saving none of the economic efficiencies available in merely buying out people in Michigan, he's had to purchase and invest in a whole infrastructure that didn't exist before. What's so sad is that he didn't need to buy out the AA trustee spots, he only needed to retain the area impact study in the university plans when submitting to the P and Z board.

They weight of that inefficiency will show a visible toll, and in this blogger's opinion, already has.

But thanks to Tom, Cooley has a great location and a great infrastructure right there. I can't wait until one of the Ave crowd takes credit for Cooley's success at that location. Just wait, Tom's megalomania is too bloated not to slip such a gaffe out of his mouth at some point that Cooley owes him, if it isn't already written on a note somewhere.

UPDATES: It has been pointed out to me, and I agree, that all of the things Cooley is saying about the Ann Arbor location appears to be verbatim from Ave Maria literature circa 2000-2004 about the Ann Arbor location. Cooley understands economic efficiency better than Monaghan after all -- they didn't even have to buy marketing swag for the new location -- they just copied what was in the boxes left in the admissions office! BRILLIANT!

#2 is a rumor that I happen to think has some teeth -- it has been suggested that Cooley is leasing the building from Uncle Tom's Cabins, LLC (Tom Monaghan d/b/a Ave Maria Foundation, Inc, Managing Partner) until the Michigan Ed issued tax free bond debt is cleared. Would make sense, plus it gives Uncle Tom continued bragging rights about how Cooley owes him for its success because he first found that location for them. Too bad for Cooley... deal with the devil and all that.

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 10:31 PM. |

More Cooley Law School - Ann Arbor Reaction

AveWatch has some interesting analysis about the news that Cooley Law School will be taking over the AMSL building in Ann Arbor. What is particularly humorous is how Cooley is crowing about how Ann Arbor is "one of the most desirable places to live in America" and a place of great demand for law students:
Ann Arbor is considered one of the most desirable places to live in America, along with being one of America's great university cities. It has a bustling business sector, particularly in technology, and a lively arts and entertainment culture.

Cooley's facility is located very near to the University of Michigan's north campus and is just a few minutes from downtown Ann Arbor and the University's main campus.
The Ann Arbor Campus includes a small class size, low student to faculty ratio, caring and accessible professors who are dedicated to helping students learn, a fully-functioning law school building, easy access from two major limited-access highways, and easy access to downtown Ann Arbor's great restaurants, arts, and entertainment venues.

We chose this location because it had already been established that a law school of that size was feasible there, because there are two major universities in the area that produce on average over a thousand graduates per year with only a small number enrolling in the University of Michigan Law School, and because the area is one of the best known and most desirable university and business communities in the country.

We anticipate that students will choose this location over other national locations.
And from the Ann Arbor News:
"We have already received deposits from 84 students confirming their position in the incoming September class in Ann Arbor," Paul Zelenski, associate dean for enrollment and student services at Cooley, said in the release. "The level of interest among these existing applicants demonstrates how desirable an Ann Arbor location is for a law school.

"Because a law school had already operated successfully at this location, we were confident that applicants would find it attractive," Zelenski said. "But we did not anticipate that we could nearly fill the first class without marketing the location at all."
Boy, this doesn't make Monaghan (or Feasibility Deans Reed and White) look very intelligent when it comes to evaluating law school locations.

Fumed by Thales at 5:13 PM. |

Milhizer Email Re: Thomas M. Cooley Law School

From: Milhizer, Eugene R
Sent: Mon 6/8/2009 11:10 AM
To: All Law System Distribution; All Alumni
Subject: Ann Arbor Facility

Dear Ave Maria School of Law Community,

I am pleased to announce that the Thomas M. Cooley Law School has entered into an agreement to occupy our Ann Arbor facility following our relocation to Naples, Fla. this summer. Cooley Law School intends to begin offering classes at the Ann Arbor campus on September 8, 2009.

Cooley Law School received acquiescence to open a campus in Ann Arbor from the American Bar Association's Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar at a June 5, 2009 meeting.

We believe this arrangement will be beneficial to all parties involved and are confident that the students and faculty of Thomas M. Cooley Law School will find the facility an attractive and conducive environment for the study of law.

Acting Dean Eugene R. Milhizer

Fumed by Tommy More at 12:06 PM. |

Cooley Law School To Move Into AMSL Building

Tommy More's report was correct. The Ann Arbor News is reporting that Cooley Law School will be opening an Ann Arbor campus, using the old AMSL building:
The Thomas Cooley Law School in Lansing announced today that it is opening a campus in Ann Arbor this September.

The new law school will occupy the facility that currently houses the Ave Maria School of Law, which is leaving Michigan to relocate to Naples, Fla. The 84,500-square-foot facility is located at 3475 Plymouth Road.


The law school received approval to open the Ann Arbor campus last week from the American Bar Association's Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, according to the press release. The move was approved earlier by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Fumed by Thales at 11:32 AM. |

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ave Maria Law School Fails US Dept of Education Financial-Responsibility Test

AveWatch is reporting an interesting article from the Chronicle of Higher Education which lists Ave Maria School of Law as a private institution which has failed the U.S. Department of Education's financial-responsibility test. I'm not a subscriber to the Chronicle, so does anyone have any insight as to how the test is calculated and what that means for Ave Maria Law School? (The schools listed with AMSL at AveWatch don't inspire much confidence. I don't see any law schools, and is AMSL really comparable in financial responsibility to the "Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College" in Berkeley, California? Yikes.)

UPDATE: All 114 schools which failed the test are listed here. AMSL is at the bottom, the 6th worst out of the 114. Ouch. An explanatory note from the site:
All private colleges that award federal student aid must participate in the Department of Education's financial-responsibility test, which is based on information from their audited financial statements. The department develops a composite score on a scale of 3.0 to minus 1.0, based on financial ratios that measure factors such as net worth, operating losses, and the relationship of assets to liabilities. Institutions with scores of 1.5 to 3 pass. In addition to extra monitoring for all institutions that "fail," those with scores below 1.0 are required to post a letter of credit with the department equal to 10 percent of the federal student aid that goes to their students annually.

Fumed by Thales at 1:29 PM. |

Friday, June 05, 2009

If you had a do-over... law school

This week's ABA Journal Weekly newsletter has the answers to a question, "If you had a do-over for law school."

The featured answer is this one:
Yes, I still would, but I would have gone to a MUCH cheaper school. Anyone who is thinking about law school -- please do more homework than I did!! I had always done well academically and thought that would easily translate into a $100k+ job for me right out of school. I did not really evaluate (a) how the standing of my law school would impact my job prospects, (b) the actual monthly payments I would have on my student loans ($1200 now with the lower interest rates), and (c) the real cost of living in an urban area compared to the more rural area where I went to college. I should have done more research [and I think my law school should have volunteered more information]. I love what I do, but my ability to buy a house (even in this market) and start a family are hampered by my student loans. If I had gone to the Tier 2 state school that accepted me, I would have 1/2 the loans that I have now, even if I had paid out of state tuition (~$14k per year at state school vs. ~$28k per year at the private school I actually attended).

I like my career and I am happy with the person that I am now. But financially speaking, I made a stupid decision. For me, it would be worth a do over to not have to make those student loan payments each month

So, how does that Tier 4 standing of AMSL translate?

What about you later classes? If you had a do-over would you do AMSoL?

BONUS QUESTION Since writing this post, I have been told that the school is saying that the US News ranking is not a critical factor (basically writing it off). This guy says he wishes his school had been more forthcoming. Do you think it's fair of AMSoL to diminish the economic impact of the ranking?

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 9:02 AM. |

Appropros of Late

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 12:03 AM. |

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Recent Dispatch from Ft. Benning

I used to like Fumare. Lots of no-nonsense commentary on issues of the day. Lately there's been a bunch of dumbass shit. Fix it.
Marvin Hulka
Master Sergeant
U.S. Army

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 11:38 PM. |

For Those Looking for Something Better

Nice! (click pic for full gallery)

You should really check that old stuff in the drawer: A 30-year-old woman from Perth in West Australia came across a lottery ticket worth $13 million after she decided to check a bundle of old lottery tickets in a drawer, regional media said on Thursday.

Yep! That's Marilyn Monroe. Photos of her that were previously unseen were released this week. So much better than some of the pictures floating around.

Russian first lady, Svetlana Medvedeva, attended the consecration of St. Catherine the Great church in Rome -- a church that had never been finished since before the Soviets. Russian news sources, such as the Moscow News, also report that Russians see this move as a clear message towards the eventual meeting between Patriarch Kiril and His Holiness Benedict XVI.


An interesting article about whether the current socialism experiment will work in America: http://www.bookwormroom.com/2009/05/08/socialisms-waterloo/ The author says Socialism will meet its Waterloo in America... in his words, the soil is not rich for it here.
But when you get to America, the soil for socialism is less fertile. Yes, there are hot-house experiments with it that seem to be working, such as San Francisco, or Berkeley, or Washington, DC. But like all hot-house flowers, they are very fragile. These ones depend on fools and outsiders for their sustenance: tourists in San Francisco; the American taxpayer in Washington, DC; and in Berkeley a self-hating, self-deluding professoriate on one hand and thousands of dependent, subsidized students on the other.
In America, though, where people have been free for several centuries to create their own wealth, there is a direct knowledge that a government printing press or power of taxation has nothing to do with generating it. There are tens of millions of people who understand that and who nod instinctively in agreement with Tea Party signs that say, “Honk if I’m paying your mortgage!”

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 8:38 PM. |

The Sin of Onan - The Moral Subtleties of Sodomy

It would seem that the "theological time bomb" that George Weigel foresaw going off in the third millennium is going off all over the place, with perhaps unimagined effect. 

One would have thought that Christopher West's Theology of the Body feature on Nightline - something no other evangelist/apologist has been able to achieve in our post-christian pagan media culture - would have been met with applause and congratulations. 

However it sparked off a civil war within the ranks of orthodox professional theologians, philosophers and now canon lawyers (Christopher West of course is none of these, he is a popularizer, evangelist and apologist). It has also been an opportunity for fellow Theology of the Body cottage industry insiders to join in the fray to differentiate themselves in the TOB market by attacking Christopher West. (Funny, we haven't heard from Fr. Curran, or Fr. McBrien or Fr. Reese, SJ about any of this, I wonder why?)

But now we have a new vista of debate that has emerged in the on-going civil war: the moral dimensions of "anal penetration" vs. sodomy. Dr. Janet Smith is taken to task for restating the Church's position - that sodomy is gravely immoral, but anal penetration, as foreplay, that ends in normal intercourse is morally licit given mutual consent. Check out the comment section for some light on the topic by Ed Peters - canon lawyer. 

In some way, it is refreshing to know that as Catholics we have an established framework for dealing with this kind of question, again recognizing that we live in a society where the practice is widespread and growing. (The following data is from a comment made by Andy Messaros in a previous post):

From a 2002 CDC report on US sexual activity (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad362.pdf):

Straight males who have had anal sex with a female:
+ at age 15 = 4.6%
+ at age 22-24 = 34%
+ at age 25-44 = 40%

Females who have had anal sex with a male:
+ at age 15 = 2.4%
+ at age 22-24 = 32%
+ at age 25-44 = 35%

These numbers are approximately double what they were in the 1990s! Why? Maybe pornography. 

Fumed by Columcille at 5:23 PM. |

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

White House Proclaims May Catholic-American Pride Month

(AP) WASHINGTON - After weathering a blistering criticism by Catholics around the country leading up to the Notre Dame Commencement this past May, President Barack Obama has surprised the Catholic American community by declaring May "Catholic-American Pride Month." 

In a statement today, the White House said: 

"Catholic-Americans, as a minority in this country, have been traditionally discriminated against, and attacked - sometimes even with extreme violence - for their beliefs." 

"Yet despite the perennial discrimination against this community - a community that has contributed inestimably to the greatness of this nation through its network of schools that lift the poor into the middle class (much better than do public schools), through its network of hospitals, orphanages and care facilities, through its faithful citizens who serve in all levels of society and challenge all Americans to live up to a higher and nobler vision of itself - despite this great contribution to America, this minority group continues to be vilified publicly as the last acceptable bias and prejudice among the elite of our society. These Catholic-American's are every bit as American as anyone else and deserve our respect, and the American elites are cowards and less American when they attack Catholic-Americans and their beliefs." 

"Today we say this discrimination and prejudice has to end. Let us respect Catholic-Americans as we do Jewish-Americans or Muslim-Americans. Do we criticise their religious leaders? Do we attack their institutions? Do we use the State to force Jews or Muslims to change their most deeply held beliefs? No." 

"As such today, President Barack Obama has proclaimed May 'Catholic-American Pride Month' in recognition of the great contributions of Catholic-Americans through out America's history and to call all people to respect this great people and their faith."

The proclamation states:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2009 as Catholic-American Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


In a statement, Cardinal George president of the USCCB welcomed the proclamation and speculated that perhaps this Presidential act might usher in a new era of respect and equality of esteem for Catholic-American's living in the United States. In an aside, the Cardinal noted that "Pride" was the deadliest of the seven deadly sins and perhaps it would have been better if May was declared Catholic-American Appreciation Month, or History Month stating, "Pride leads to death as a people filled with pride forget that they are creatures made by God, in His image and likeness. Creatures that have a duty to Him and to our fellow neighbors. Pride is what caused Lucifer, the greatest of God's angels to fall. Humility is what we need so much of today in America."

Fumed by Columcille at 9:30 AM. |