December 31 2007 Legal Blog Roundup

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It's the last day of the year, which means it's time for (what else?) New Year's resolutions. While you might be fixated on trimming that waistline or making sure you actually attend class next semester, the United Nations is setting its sights decidedly higher. Just how high, you ask? It wants to abolish the death penalty — across the world. A mighty tall order if you ask me, especially when religious death squads and ethnic cleansing seem to be ever-present in this civilized modern world of ours, from the Middle East to Africa to Southeast Asia. Still, it's interesting to observe how certain attitudes go from idealism to international treatises.

You might have noticed a few weeks ago that New Jersey Governor John Corzine officially abolished the death penalty in his state, the first to do so in over four decades. Families of victims of violent crimes whose convicted perpetrators were banished to death row expectedly decried the abolishment, proving again that human bloodlust is in fact a product of evolution. Foreign Policy recently ran an online article on the five nations where executions are most prevalent: China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, and the good ol' U.S. of A. Whatever your feelings about the subject, it's not exactly the company we'd like to keep. China executes by far the largest number of "criminals," with "official" estimates standing at over 1,000 in 2006, though human rights groups estimate the number could be as high as 15,000.

On a much lighter note, blog watchers, take note: 2007's "Law Blog Ad of the Year" has finally been named. (I know, I was anticipating it too!) The Economist and the Wall Street Journal's law blog have both bestowed the honor upon Bingham's Bear & Baby ad which depicts a somewhat placid (but still menacing) grizzly bear coddling a newborn human baby. Would-be presidential candidate and comedian Stephen Colbert has also taken note, declaring on his show, "I hate to imagine what happened after the flash went off and startled it. To bears, babies are like Pringles — once they pop, they can't stop." See the ad on the December 18 entry of the Wall Street Journal's law blog.

If you're a bit of a masochist and enjoy flagellating your mental state by reading the bizarre, obtuse, and frequently offensive philosophical musings of one Friedrich Hegel, be sure to check out Thom Brooks's latest published cheerleading effort, Hegel's Political Philosophy: A Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right, which discusses the 19th century German philosopher's musings on all things moral, legal, and monarchial, which are decidedly, well, 19th century. Legal Theory Blog has a mini review in its December 17 post.

And if all of this is just too heavy for you to digest while your celebratory hangover is wearing off, be sure to read the Times Online article on lawyer resolutions for 2007. Try to see if any of yours appeared on the list — and if any of them managed to manifest themselves outside those brief early January synaptic misfires.

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