2009-08-21

Response to Landowner Abbe (see comment to my previous post)

To Landowner Abbe

Sir:

I feel your pain, dude. EVERY SINGLE TIME -- well, almost every single time -- certainly, there have been occasions when I've been crosswise with the local authorities and been frustrated by their, shall we say, bureaucratic approach to things. There was, for example, the time when our son, who had just celebrated his seventh birthday, was attacked by a pair of pit bulls in our own driveway. Almost the first question the local authorities asked was this: "Did your son do anything to provoke the dogs?" (To be fair, the authorities ultimately came around to our point of view about the dogs in question.) Then there was the whole gray water thing during the drought. My wife, who is an avid gardener, thought it would be a great idea to use the water we'd otherwise let go down the drain after our monthly baths to water the plants. No go. Illegal. Not even a "great idea, but our hands are tied." More recently, of course, with the easing of the drought, ACC apparently is looking at the innovative idea of using gray water.

I've lived almost 60 years now. That's just a teeny tiny piece of geologic time, but it's long enough, I think, to draw some tentative conclusions about how things are. And one thing that is, is that bureaucracies find it difficult to operate like Mickey D's. So you go into the clerk's office to record the plat, and the deputy clerk says, "Good morning, Landowner Abbe, would you like to try an iced mocha today?" "No thanks, I just want to record this plat." "Would you like to supersize that plat?" "No, I'd like to record it in its present size." "Any condiments with that?"

Of course, Mickey D's is not perfect, either. (Conservatives tend to understate how well government does and to overstate how well private enterprise does.) So you roll up to the drive-thru for the clerk's office and the deputy clerk comes on the intercom: "a;ldkfjadkfjalfja;lskdfj iced mocha .ad.dasf.mas.f.sm" "No thanks, I just want to record this plat." "dkfjasldkfjskjsdkjd first window." You pay, then you drive up to the second window. "Your hat, please," says the deputy clerk. "My hat? I don't have a hat. I want to record this plat." "Oh, we thought you said you wanted us to hold your hat."

Landowner Abbe, I wish I could be more supportive regarding your particular points about separation of powers. But several obstacles stand in the way. First, that was a really LONG post you posted. The reason I retired from teaching law was that I'd lost my zeal for reading disquisitions on such subjects as separation of powers. I confess I didn't read your post all the way through with the diligence required for then offering a legal opinion. Second, I'm constrained, I think, not to approach too closely the offering of a legal opinion, because it would be illegal for me to do so. You see, I am not at the moment an active member of the bar. I could pay my fee for active membership and then do the required hours in Continuing Legal Education watching a video on Recent Developments in Cell Tower Regulation, but I'm afraid that's not going to happen. Third, if I were to offer a legal opinion regarding your position on separation of powers, I'm afraid I wouldn't necessarily come down on your side. I concede that your approach is a theoretically available one, but as for its ever having been either the doctrine or practice in this country...well, I'll have to stop there to avoid approaching too closely the boundary between chewing the legal fat and offering legal advice without the appropriate CLE credits.

PS

You're right! It's the new addition to the Tate Center!

1 comment:

Adrian said...

Clerks of superior courts and their deputies pretty much do whatever they feel like doing. Sometimes they feel like being helpful; sometimes they feel like letting my mail sit around for a month before responding; sometimes they feel like making up their own rules; sometimes they feel like driving over to my own county to deliver something.