July 12, 2005
The Poor Schmucks
Posted by Victor Fleischer

Christine's post on What's in a Name? reminds me of "Lawsuit Shmawsuit," where Kozinski & Volokh discuss the use of Yiddish in legal opinoins.  My favorite passage:

There is, of course, one obvious question that must be on every reader’s mind at this juncture: what about "schmuck"? Regrettably, we were stymied in our schmuck search by the fact that many people are actually named Schmuck. This is an unfortunate circumstance for researchers, and even worse for the poor Schmucks themselves.

The same happens to be true of "putz" and of "mensch." We’d much rather be named "mensch" than "schmuck," but, oddly enough, a search for NAME (SCHMUCK) found 87 cases and NAME (MENSCH) found only 63 cases. Perhaps this is because there are more schmucks than mensches in the world; but wouldn’t the real schmucks change their names so as to better fool people, and real mensches change theirs out of modesty? Besides, the true schmuck-mensch ratio is much higher than 87 to 63.

I am neither a Schmuck nor a Mensch; Fleischer is German for "butcher."  So next time you suffer through a terrible workshop, you can think to yourself, "Boy, he sure Fleischered that presentation."

A semi-serious question -- has anyone else noticed how well these "joke" papers seem to do, placement-wise?  Lawsuit Shmawsuit was in the Yale Law Journal.  The recent paper on the significance of the asterisk footnote is in the Georgetown Law Journal.  The Bulls and Bears of Law Teaching landed at Washington and Lee.  Not bad. 

Speaking of Kozinski, I wish his name was on the short list.  I clerked for AK in '97-'98, and while I didn't always agree with him, he deserves it more than any other conservative judge except Posner.  Of course, no one said merit had anything to do with it

(And, for the record, Tournament of Judges, which originated as a joke paper before turning serious, placed in the California Law Review.)

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