I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

Missing Posts: If you have a link to a post that's not here or are looking for posts from Summer of 2010, check this page.


New Orleans music great Cosimo Matassa has died at 88

Certainly the most important non-musician to recording in New Orleans after WWII, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Cosimo Matassa, has died at age 88.

In 1945, Cosimo Matassa, a New Orleanean who tinkered with electronics, opened a recording studio on Rampart Street. In 1956, he moved to a slightly larger space on Gov. Nichols, and operated there till the late 1960s.

At his studio, he was central to recordings, produced or co-produced with Dave Bartholemew and Allen Touissant, that defined American rock and roll and R&B, easily at the level of Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis.  Keith Spera at the Times Picayune has a nice obit, with this quote about Matassa’s philosophy:

I wanted to be a just conduit of what that performance was – a performance frozen in time, if you will. So if you didn’t know I was there, I did my job.

It is impossible to imagine New Orleans music after WWII without the records made in his studios. If rock and roll was invented anywhere, it was invented at his studio on Rampart.

Here’s some of the recordings:

  • All the Fats Domino hits you know, including “The Fat Man”
  • The seminal Little Richard records, including “Tutti Fruity” “Long Tall Sally” “Ready Teddy” and “Slippin’ and Slidin’”
  • “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” by Lloyd Price
  • “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” by Roy Brown
  • “Shake, Rattle and Roll” by Big Joe Turner
  • “The Things I Used To Do” by Guitar Slim (with Ray Charles sitting in)
  • “Little Liza Jane”  “Rockin’ Pneumonia” Huey Smith and the Clowns
  • “Let the Good Times Roll” by Shirley and Lee
  • “Tell it Like it Is” by Aaron Neville
  • “Blue Monday,” “Shame, Shame, Shame” and “I Hear You Knocking” by Smiley Lewis
  • “”Tipitina” and “Mardi Gras In New Orleans” by Professor Longhair
  • “It’s Raining” by Irma Thomas
  • “Mother in Law” by Ernie K-Doe
  • “The Monkey Speaks His Mind” by Dave Bartholemew and his Orchestra
  • “Sea Cruise” by Frankie Ford
  • “Land of 1000 Dances” by Chris Kenner
  • “Mardi Gras Mambo” by the Hawkettes (first iteration of the Nevilles)
  • “Jock-A-Mo” by Sugar Boy Crawford
  • “Ain’t Got No Home” by Clarence “Frogman” Henry

Mississippi Supreme Court today orders that the McDaniel appeal will rocket to a quick conclusion

… or at least, it will be argued quickly. Presumably, a decision will appear shortly thereafter.

Today, the Mississippi Supreme Court entered an order setting the schedule for the appeal:

  • Record due September 12th.
  • McDaniel brief will be filed by Friday, September 18th.
  • Cochran brief will be filed by Thursday, September 24th.
  • Any reply will be filed by Wednesday, September 26th.
  • Oral argument, en banc, will be held Thursday, October 2nd.

Updated to correct briefing schedule.

Off to the races!  Here’s the order.

Amending the Constitution, Citizens United, and the First Amendment

Here’s the text of the proposed constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United:

Section 1. To advance democratic self-government and political equality, and to protect the integrity of government and the electoral process, Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.

Section 2. Congress and the States shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation, and may distinguish between natural persons and corporations or other artificial entities created by law, including by prohibiting such entities from spending money to influence elections.

Section 3. Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress or the States the power to abridge the freedom of the press.

Would this permit a state to “prohibit” a “corporation or other artificial entites created by law… from spending money to influence elections” altogether?  I think that’s what it says.  So, could a state legislature vote that a corporate-owned newspaper was barred from spending money to influence elections and therefore could not print its editorial page endorsements?  What about a television station running political endorsements? How do we draw the line between that and running a paid ad with an endorsement?

Hating the influence of big bucks in politics and the obvious corruption it involves is a lot easier than figuring out what to do about it consistent with the First Amendment.  I have to start with the notion that corporations should have free speech rights– otherwise how did New York Times, Inc. v. Sullivan, a good result, turn out.

There’s an interesting NYRB piece reviewing Zephyr Teachout’s Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizen’s United.  One interesting point in the review makes clear that the original understanding of corruption in politics was much broader than a prohibition against quid pro quo bribes.  The review also makes the point I’ve just made about it being easier to dislike Citizens United than to see what to do about it:

No one would question, for example, that a rule limiting how much money one could spend debating climate change implicates First Amendment rights. So, too, does a rule limiting how much one can contribute to, or spend supporting the election of, a candidate who would pursue one’s favored environmental policies.

It is similarly tempting to argue that corporations don’t deserve First Amendment rights. As Elizabeth Warren once said, “Corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love and they die. And that matters.” But corporations are a form of association, and people often speak most effectively through associations. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, for example, is a corporation, as is the ACLU, and as was Citizens United itself.

Nor is there anything necessarily incompatible about expressing a point of view and seeking profit—consider The New York Times, Fox News, Working Assets, and Ben and Jerry’s. While the Times and Fox benefit from the constitutional guarantee of free press, no one maintains that their political speech should be restricted because they are for-profit corporations. Ben and Jerry’s and Working Assets are not members of the press; but why should their for-profit corporate form deprive them of the right to speak? Moreover, if we protect speech at least in part because of its value to the listener, as the Supreme Court has said, then the source of the speech shouldn’t render it unprotected.

How people find this blog, and the name of the record store was Poplar Tunes and Pop Tunes

It’s always mildly entertaining to see the searches that lead readers to my blog. Omitting the ones that obviously were headed here (“NMissCommentor”), here’s the top five:

edgar allan poe original grave with a bottle
rattlesnakes in mississippi
chris mcdaniel is pitiful
wrongful imprisonment attorney in mississippi
poplar record store that you could listen to music

I know I posted about the mysterious person who visited Edgar Allan Poe’s grave every year for decades, although I’m not sure why anyone would select me to read about that.  I posted about a spurious photo of a snake purportedly from Pontotoc, and get steady traffic from that, and anyone who is a regular reader would not be surprised about the next one, although I would swear I’ve never called McDaniel pitiful.  There’s my rooting for the exoneration of the innocent, but then there’s a question I can honestly answer:

The name of the record store on Poplar Avenue in Memphis where you could listen to the records in the store was Poplar  Tunes and Pop Tunes (in different locations).  I posted about its closing,  a sad moment in Memphis music history.

Judge Jolly to lawyer: “[Y]ou need to learn how to argue in the Fifth Circuit.” Lawyer: “… I think I know a little bit about federal courts. Go ahead and tell me, though.”

Fireworks between Judge Jolly and attorney David Broussard in the Fifth Circuit oral argument in Thomas Roque v. Natchitoches Parish School Bd. 

You can listen to the whole thing

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It has been highlighted by Above the Law.

The case involves an applicant for a school superintendent position.  It’s an employment discrimination case appealed from a defense summary judgment.  The lawyer for Roque, David Broussard, from almost the beginning of his argument interrupted panel members attempting to ask questions with platitudes about summary judgment and apparently not realizing that the questions sought record evidence of a fact issue.

As an aside, this is not a panel on which, representing the plaintiff/appellant, I would have been happy to learn I was arguing before Judge Jolly and Judge Edith Jones.

A couple of minutes in, there is this exchange:

Attorney:  That’s a little myopic, judge
Judge Jolly:  Say what?
Attorney:  It’s a little myopic
Judge Jolly:  Then tell us why it’s a little myopic.

There are several more rounds of questions about the evidence, till finally there’s this, at just short of the 7 minute mark:

Judge Jolly: Let me say something.  Is it your theory of the case that the discrimination was in opening it up again?
Attorney: Yes, without voting
Judge Jolly: no no no no no no no no…
Attorney: without interviewing or voting on the applicants, and reopening…
Judge Jolly:  You need to learn how to argue in the Fifth Circuit.
Attorney: [tries to interrupt]
Judge Jolly:  That is, you need to learn how to argue in the Fifth Circuit.
Attorney: I know how to argue in the Fifth Circuit.  I’ve been doing it for forty years, Judge.
Judge Jolly: Well
Attorney: I clerked for [District] Judge Herbert Christenberry for three years I think I know a little bit about federal courts. Go ahead and tell me, though.
Judge Jolly:  No, I’m just telling you that whenever you argue in the Fifth Circuit, you need to listen to the judges instead of interrupting.  We’re the ones that decide the case.  We ask questions, we like to have answers.  We don’t like you to continue to rumble on..  Now, with that said…
Attorney: [interrupting]  I appreciate if it is reciprocal.  When I’m answering a question, you interrupt me, you don’t let me finish sentences.  Is it reciprocal or not?
Judge Jolly:  Well, go take a lesson in how to argue in the fifth circuit.
Attorney: Anyway, judge, we’re saying this, it was the process and the procedure of reopening the applicants, to take in new applicants without voting on or even interviewing the candidates they had. Our client is saying it was skewed against African-Americans, because he had a decent chance of getting it the first time.  Now, as I read Title VII, it says that you cannot use race as a factor in hiring individuals.
Judge Jolly:  No kidding!
Attorney:  Excuse me?
Judge Jolly: No kidding!

It really startled me the degree to which the lawyer did not seem to understand he was being asked about the record, and his misunderstanding was based in large part on his failure to listen to the questions.

Thereafter, Judge Africk, a district judge sitting by designation, chimes in to state that he would not tolerate the rudeness the lawyer exhibited toward Judge Jolly in his own courtroom.

Broussard does actually start talking about the record in the rebuttal.

Anderson blogged about some principles represented here in a recent post.

h/t George.

More notes on Tabasco at home and making home-made fermented pepper sauce

Last year, I made two batches of home-made fermented chili sauce, a version of Tabasco, working from Rob Walsh’s recipe in his book The Hot Sauce Cookbook.  This is one of those recipes that is a real project– it requires lengthy drying and fermenting, and there’s no point in making just a bit of it.  So the learning process from repeat efforts moves a little slowly.  For that reason, I posted on the blog then, and am going to post an update from this year’s batch.  The post has been one of the most regularly-viewed posts I’ve done in the last year or so.

I learned something from the two batches, the first made with Thai bird chilies and the second with what was being sold at the local farmers market as tabasco peppers.  The thai chilies were wonderful. It made a hot sauce, but it was balanced with a lot of great flavor from both the chillies themselves and the fermenting process.  I was moderately unhappy with the tabasco peppers.  I think they had far more water in them than the Thai chillies, and, in the process of fermenting, a funky slightly off taste was too pronounced.  I decided in the future, whatever peppers I used, I was going to sun-dry longer than the recipe suggested.

The Thai bird chillies I used last year are rated as 50-100,000 Scoville units on the scale used for rating pepper and other hotness.  They are a pretty hot pepper and hotter than most used in Mexican cooking or in many hot sauces.  The cayennes I am using this time are rated at 30-50,000– plenty hot but not as ferocious as the Thai ones.

I also discovered that, once you make the mash into usable hot sauce, it is very stable in the refrigerator.  The stability of Tabasco is in part because it has so much vinegar in it.  Walsh notes that the mash his recipe produces keeps a couple of months.  I discovered that if you go ahead and use the amount of vinegar his recipe calls for, on the low side, it will keep in the refrigerator indefinitely.  I still have some left from last year in the fridge (a little) and it’s still great.  No sign of spoilage.

Another aspect of the effort last year that was difficult was that Walsh called for deseeding the peppers after fermenting. This process with the Thai chillies was ardouus, and I was determined to find a better way this time.

This year, I bought cayenne chillies from Yoknabottom Farms.  It turned out well.  I’ve only tasted it a bit and not used it in cooking and will report back in comments as I used it.

Here’s some notes on what I did and how it compared to before.

One serious word of caution:  With this recipe, you are doing a lot of handling of a lot of peppers.  Even if you are accustomed to handling peppers without gloves, you are going to want gloves for the cutting and seeding.  Also, even dried, these peppers still have some juice to them.  More than once they squirted on my face, and I’m not sure how to deal with that.  A shower just got pepper in my eye, I am pretty sure from an eyelash.

Fermented Hot Sauce

1.  Wash and pat dry about 2 pounds of peppers.  Put them on a large baking tray and dry them outdoors for 5 days.  That’s slightly better than twice what I did last year, and I think was a good move.

2. Cut off the stems of the peppers.  Cut the peppers in half.  Remove the seeds from the peppers.  I do that by scraping them with the side of a knife, and then removing more as I go along.  It’s a big project.

3. Put the peppers in a large steel bowl and mash hard and thoroughly. Add 1/4 cup fine cosher salt and keep mashing.  Leave out on the counter overnight.

4.  Put in a earthenware crock and stir in a cup of spring water.  Cover the crock with a dinner plate (I dispensed with Walsh’s method of covering the fermenting peppers with a half cabbage.  It just made a mess).  Let sit for a couple of weeks.  Check occasionally, mix together.

5. Put the contents of the crock in a blender or food processor.  Get all the liquid you can.  Add two tbs of high quality vinegar (I use Bragg organic apple cider vinegar.  It complements and does not compete with the flavors in the sauce).  Blend very thoroughly.  If you have 2 1/5 cups of paste, add 2 cups of vinegar and blend some more. Put in clean jars and refrigerate.

This is not a headline: More bull-s–t emanates from Chris McDaniel’s legal team

This is one of those dog bites man / man bites dog things.  The headline would be “McDanial campaign makes a rational announcement.”  Nope.

Last week, the trial judge announced that McDaniel’s election challenge was dismissed. Any lawyer involved could have advised McDaniel where he was in minutes.  Supporters commented on this blog that there was no reason he should not appeal.

And, honestly, from any perspective it seemed a simple decision.  All elements were easily evident before anyone paying attention.  On Friday, we were told we would hear on Tuesday.  On Tuesday, we were told… they needed more time.  Unless it’s about keeping more money flowing, I don’t see what this is about, but McD and his campaign had this to say to the dead-enders this evening on Facebook:

Friends, we appreciate your support.

We are as committed as ever to fighting for your voices and values.

Today after 4:00 PM, Judge McGehee’s order was signed and entered into the Jones County Circuit Clerk’s office. It would not have been proper to issue a statement of intent about a potential appeal without the order having been entered. Now that the order has been entered, we expect a decision tomorrow or Monday.

We appreciate your continued support.

Sure, under the rules, they had 30 days to appeal that only began when the judge entered a final order.  But they knew every single thing they needed to know about this decision on Friday.  Every single thing  Any refusal to announce a final decision is either trying to keep the money flowing, or just screwing with all of us in Mississippi.

Marshall Ramsey says McDaniel is looking for another sign.

Quote for the Day (more about McDaniel lawyering. A big part of a lawyer’s job is to assess possible outcomes…)

“He wasn’t really ready to even accept (dismissal) was a possibility,” McDaniel attorney Mitch Tyner said Friday after a special circuit court dismissed his lawsuit challenging his primary runoff loss.

From Geoff Pender’s Clarion Ledger story about the dismissal of the election challenge.

I’d not have snarked about this if the word used was “probability.”  But possibility?

Meanwhile, this seems to have gummed up McDaniel’s decision making processes.  You’d think the yes/no decision about an appeal would be a quick one whatever decision is made.  But McDaniel wants more time– he’s delayed the decision until tomorrow.

Time has not been Chris McDaniel’s friend.


Today’s Facebook bulletins from McDaniel suggest that he’s not aware it’s over

He posted this on Facebook today:

“Rise up, warriors, take your stand at one another’s sides, our feet set wide and rooted like oaks in the ground.”

– Tyrtaeus of Sparta

More about Tryrtaeus here.  He did not present ideals that involved knowing when to fold ‘em.  One of his (well, his if he was a real person) big themes also seems a little off here:  Support of the state (Spartan) authorities in their struggles.

This, also posted on Facebook, also suggests the fight, such as it is, will go on:

“This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

– Winston Churchill

Whoever is doing the Facebook feed also posted this:

“…Let us use this court decision to motivate us, not to sadden us. Today we must begin an important transition, to return our party to its conservative principles. It was the Party of Reagan. It can be again. 

This party belongs to us and it’s time to reclaim it for true conservatives.

Let our battle cry be: WE ARE ALL McDANIEL REPUBLICANS NOW!”


I don’t see how he can post this stuff and not appeal.  Other thoughts?

Joyce Freeland’s reaction:  His staff is saying, “Drink the Kool-aid” (well, Flavor-Aid, as the Kool-Aid people would insistently remind you).