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.


The Garlic Lady’s Garlic is back



One of the best things about MidTown Farmer’s Market several years ago was the garlic being raised by Katherine Daigle, who called her stand the Garlic Lady.  She had several types, and really understood the process, including meticulously drying the garlic after harvest.  I would buy enough from her to last till Christmas, and, because she’d been so careful with it, all I had to do was hang it in a dry place and it would keep until I used it up.   She lives in Taylor, though, and when a farmer’s market opened out there, she moved her stand.  She’d bring me garlic, though I fell out of touch.  This year, she’s back (and beginning to sell a limited amount of shallots).

Using her garlic really drives home the terribleness of grocery store garlic– essentially all Chinese–  that dominates the supermakrets now.

“If the flames of anger rise any higher in this land, your name on your tombstone will be covered with dirt.” dissident Iranian poet Simin Bahbani has died.

Simin Behbahani, the poet known as “the Lioness of Iran,” has died at 87.  I’ve only read a few of her poems, but she seems to have been a master of justified righteous fury.  As an example, here’s her poem about the 2009 uprising known as the “Green Revolution”

Stop Throwing My Country To The Wind

If the flames of anger rise any higher in this land. Your name on your tombstone will be covered with dirt.
You have become a babbling loudmouth. Your insolent ranting, something to joke about.
The lies you have found, you have woven together. The rope you have crafted, you will find around your neck.
Pride has swollen your head, your faith has grown blind. The elephant that falls will not rise.
Stop this extravagance, this reckless throwing of my country to the wind. The grim-faced rising cloud, will grovel at the swamp’s feet.
Stop this screaming, mayhem, and blood shed. Stop doing what makes God’s creatures mourn with tears.
My curses will not be upon you, as in their fulfillment. My enemies’ afflictions also cause me pain.
You may wish to have me burned , or decide to stone me. But in your hand match or stone will lose their power to harm me.

NPR describes her place in Iranian culture:

For millions of Iranians all over the world, Behbahani represented the invincible power of the Iranian psyche. Her words were piercing and fierce, lamenting on the lack of freedom of expression through the ages. For six decades, many Iranians found refuge in her poetry as a way to nurture their hunger for dialogue, peace, human rights and equality.

In 2010, she counseled her fellow countrymen and women:  “Don’t give up the fight for freedom.”

Farzaneh Milani at the University of Virginia made the translation of the poem I quoted.

Major memorable TV moments

outer limits 1

This one stayed with me as intensely as the funeral of JFK and lots of other sixties TV. Just as vividly in my memory from age 8, almost 9.  I remember where family members were sitting while we watched this (Mom, who doesn’t remember it, was ironing, not a usual tv-watching thing).  Science fiction at its best.  Who else remembers it or even recognizes it?


“without having heard any testimony or having any matter of record,” Chancellors in Rankin County enter judgment expunging recording of gay marriage

Folks may be aware of the effort to register out-of-state same sex marriage records in the miscellaneous records in various Chancery Clerks office being spearheaded by the Campaign for Southern Equality.

In Oxford, the effort went smoothly.  Chancery Clerk Sherry Wall spoke to the Oxford Eagle (article is paywalled), who made clear that she had the legal authority and duty to file the documents in the misc. file:

According to Lafayette County Chancery Clerk Sherry Wall, the Miscellaneous Minutes book is, in fact, the appropriate file that clerks can use for such records, and state law requires the court to record those documents to keep them on file.

“The minute book is so that someone can come back and get an original copy of a true and certified document,” Wall Said.  “For example, if someone is sick and power of attorney must be used for health records, someone could come and get a copy of it. It has nothing to do with land deeds, but it has to be filed here to be on record.”

The Chancery Clerk in Harrison County disagreed, and said that the licenses “have no place in the office where we keep land records.”  Presumably, that clerk has checked his records and knows he records things other than land records.  For instance, presumably he has a will book and the aforementioned Misc. Records book.

Meanwhile, in Rankin County, a deputy clerk accepted the filing and recorded the document, to the apparent shock and horror of the local chancellors and the chancery clerk (who, the chancellors inform us, apparently because this filing might have created doubt in some doubting minds, “has honorably served this county and state for several decades…”  They come to honor him, apparently).  So, on their own, and without evidence they have provided notice to Jennifer Kelly and Anna Guillot (they are on the caption of the order, along with “And others likewise”), the chancellors have entered an order calling for all aspects of the recording of the certificate be destroyed.  In passing, the court endorses “the sound public policy” of the state against recognizing any same sex marriages, and states:

2.  It is abhorrent and repugnant under the same Constitution and statutes that any person would scandalize or attempt to scandalize the public policy of this State by trickery or subterfuge to create the impression that this County or State in any way endorses or supports same sex relationships or marriages.

I have to wonder if this is the usual sort of language these judges use in orders or if there is something particular about this case that impels them to use language like “abhorrent” and “repugnant.”  And are they going to police the public records from here on out for things they may not want an “impression” they “endorse?”

3.  Equally, if not more compelling, that any effort by any person who, by pretence or otherwise, to utilize the Chancery Court and the Clerk of this Court of Rankin County, Mississippi to advance his/her personal sexual proclivities and worldview is purely an effort to promote his/her self interest, worldview and political or social agenda.  This Court and its Clerk shall not be used for this purpose.  Moreover this Court will give no sanction or sanctuary to such action.

Well, I would think almost everything anyone files in the public records is intended to promote their self interest.  Promoting self interest is certainly an important reason to file, say, a warranty deed.

4.  It is the sound and convincing opinion of this Court that, despite those who chose to not believe at this Court does, ultimately we are to be arbiters governed by equity and conscious.


This Court is likewise charged to, with maxims of equity equally applied, follow the law. We find, without having heard any testimony or having any matter of record,

I can assure you I never saw that in an order

and based on the filing of the attached document (Exhibit hereto) that based upon the aforesaid sound public policy of this State, the document and filing is hereby rendered null, void and of no lawful validity.

5.  There are those, with whom we chose to respectfully disagree, who believe that humans and mankind host, rule and reign above others.

Comments are open to discuss this sentence.

Again, this Court disagrees.

Redundancy just for emphasis.

Instead, these respectful public servants whose signatures appear below, whom the electorate of Rankin County chose for those honorable positions of trust, are soundly convicted


that we are to govern, construe and uphold the laws established by the State of Mississippi and not by man nor woman.  “We are a government of laws and not man” (John Adams, Novanglus Papers, (1851) With that guidance and wisdom, and subjecting ourselves to the law, as we most humbly subject ourselves, we are equally compelled to conclude that an endeavor by any being, man or woman,

This whole repeat use of the phrase “man or woman” has by now become a little creepy. So is the his/her thing that keeps coming up.

to use this Court for furtherance of the advancement of his/her social or political causes will and shall not be tolerated by this  Court.

Well, given the stated intolerance for advancing political causes through the court, I guess McDaniel shoud be happy his election contest is in Jones Circuit instead of Rankin Chancery.

The order then closes by ordering the obliteration of any evidence of recording, and that the order is to be sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (I assume meaning Mississippi Supreme Court), the governor, and the attorney general.  Oh, and it concludes making clear that, even without hearing, record, notice or evidence, or even a suit being filed, it is a judgment.

Here’s a copy of the order on Scribd.

My Paperback Sharona mashup from Mark Vidler

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The music and video are well worth the ride.

In interview with the Atlantic’s Jefferey Goldberg, Hillary Clinton makes clear how much more interventionist she’d be than Obama, and semi-confirms presidential run

To me, this interview is scary, becuase it makes clear how much Hillary Clinton wants to present herself as conducting a more interventionist foreign policy than the one we have.

Meanwhile, I heard a bit of Lindsey Graham talking tough on the morning shows (it was in an NPR news brief; sorry, no link, but you’ve heard it before), and it struck me how much Sen. Graham talking foreign policy is like hearing Elmer Fudd read the wartime speeches of Winston Churchill.

@sharonne777 on Twitter asks the most ignorant question asked on the internet today.

I think anyone who knows me or who has attempted to find out about me via the interubes will agree with my assessment of this question.  And, no, Sharon, I’ve never had a dime in pay from Barbour (whichever Barbour you had in mind). and I’d bet relatively serious money that Sam Hall hasn’t, either.

Just how much does Barbour pay you @samrhall

The “regression analysis” that is critical to McDaniel’s contest arguments was from a weblog, not a McDaniel expert!?!

This is truly bizzare.  One of the key elements of McDaniel’s election challenge is a claim that a regression analysis had demonstrated that there was a correlation between black population and the increase in Cochran votes between the two primaries.  The analysis was an exhibit to the complaint, but was not included in the online available copy.

My reaction was several-fold:  First, the whole premise was bullshit– They are black votes! They can’t count in a Republican primary!.  Second, I know from doing voting rights litigation how much the devil was in the details.  What, exactly, was the analysis comparing (Voting age population? Registered voters? General population?  Wildly different results would pertain from one to another)?  What was the level of significance?  Are there reasons to conclude that these counties would produce more Cochran votes of all kinds– e.g. the Mississippi Delta, where the white voters are clearly Cochran folks, and really know what Cochran has done for them on things like the Ag bills?) Without seeing the actual details, no one could evaluate the supposed analysis.

So I wanted to see what McDaniel had.

But yet, it turns out he had not a damn thing!  This regression analysis was not performed by an expert he’d hired, he had pulled it from a weblog story! 

I check bylines, but am bad about names.  Unlike iddad, in comments on this blog, I failed to note that the author of the analysis (Harry Enten) omitted from the public version of the McDaniel complaint was one of the writers on Nate Silver’s 538 blog!

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 10.59.25 PM


So the whole basis of McDaniel’s bogus 25,000 vote victory claim is something his lawyers read on the web.   And it is an analysis that concludes with a cautionary note:

 I stress again that a county-by-county examination is inexact. We need to get more data to be sure of why Cochran won. 

Inexact sounds about right.  Enten’s article is perfectly acceptable for a journalist.  But as courtroom evidence it’s a big nuthin’.

I am pretty much astonished at the vacuousness of the arguments that have McDaniel prolonging this thing.  For days, I’ve been trying to understand what, exactly, he’s thinking that has him completely trashing a future career while carrying out a fight that is doomed to fail.  Is he thinking there will be sufficient dead-enders to sustain this fight in the future in other races?  I really can’t comprehend what these people are trying to do.


It’s not clear what’s occurring at HottyToddy.Com…

Day before yesterday, Alan Lange at YallPolitics noted that the M-Club was offering tours of the Scruggs home for $30 this weekend.  He posted a sccan of a flier describing the tour and a link (now expired) where you could register for that part of the event.  The post stated the opinions that this was part of some rehabilitation tour that emphasized connections to Ole Miss, and that it was in poor taste.  I posted a riff on that.

HottyToddy.Com, fresh off an exceedingly odd article containing a chat with Dickie Scruggs, yesterday responded to Lange by reffering to his post as inaccurate:  “A controversy instigated by an erroneous Web site report has failed to dampen enthusiasm for the M-Club Alumni Summer Weekend. ”  Since all the facts from Lange’s post seemed to come from the flyer and I don’t doubt he holds the opinions expressed, I read the HottyToddy piece to try to learn what was inaccurate in the YallPolitics post.  And then I read it again, and another time.  Finally, it came down to this passage:

The M-Club’s Summer Weekend hosts thousands of guests each year, but one organization is trying to smear the name of the philanthropic event. YallPolitics reported that the M-Club is selling tickets for $30 to tour the home of Dickie and Diane Scruggs on Saturday of the weekend. The YallPolitics report said: “[Some M-Club] members thought the tour of Scruggs’ home was in generally poor taste given his recent release from prison on federal bribery convictions.”

In  reality, the Scruggs have generously donated their home for the luncheon to benefit Ole Miss, where Diane and Dickie are alumni. According to Associate Director of Alumni Affairs Clay Cavett, Saturday’s luncheon at the Scruggs home is for members’ spouses and/or guests while members compete in the annual golf tournament and the $30 is for lunch, decorations, and scholarships, of course.

While some members may be upset with the M-Club for scheduling an event at the Scruggs home, Cavett said that Mr. Scruggs’ past never came into question.

“The Scruggs offered their home for this event several years ago, so we jumped at it. The have a beautiful home,” Cavett said. “We are absolutely not selling tours.”

Ok, time to double check that scan in the YallP post: Apparently, what Alan got wrong is that lunch is part of the deal?  I’m not sure.

Update: Here’s a screen shot of part of the flier, posted in the YallP link above (thanks to CC Allen for pointing this out in comments).  I’m really having trouble seeing how this isn’t charging $30 for a tour of the Scruggs home: Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 2.06.23 PM Someone needs to tell the Alumni Affairs representative about the first law of holes.  Could it be that YallP’s error was to say the luncheon was in “poor taste” when the fact of the matter was that it was “generously donated?”

Black Votes Don’t Count, Part II: about McDaniel’s claim of a 25,000 vote victory

The Jackson Free Press has a good summary about why it’s fair to describe McDaniel’s challenge as an attack on black votes:

But ultimately, the McDaniel camp wants to show one thing: Cochran won because of black votes that shouldn’t have been cast. On the fifth page of the complaint, McDaniel lawyers cite an analysis showing that votes for Cochran increased from the June 3 primary to the June 24 runoff in each county in correlation with the percentage of blacks who live in that county.

“(T)he percentage of blacks and non-blacks who make up each county’s population shows that, without the predominantly Democrat voter participation in the Republican runoff, Cochran would have lost the runoff election by about 25,000,” the official complaint states.

In other words, the McDaniel camp is not happy with the way black voters voted; therefore, their votes should not be counted.

The passage quoted within the JFP piece is on the McDaniel complaint page 5.  Recall that, at the press conference, the McDaniel campaign, the claim was that he’d won by 25,000 votes.  What he meant, apparently, was that a regression analysis showing that Cochran’s new votes varied with the black population means that the thirty-something-thousand new votes were black, oops, I mean Democratic votes and don’t count, and that this analysis proves to his satisfaction that he’d have won by 25,000 if you don’t count black votes.

Unfortunately, the copy of the complaint I linked does not include the regression analysis, but I’m guessing that there’s a decent likelihood it wouldn’t bear a close examination.

There’s an analysis of the claim at Rick Hansen’s Election Law Blog with which I mostly agree (the analysis suggests that one of McDaniel’s claims might be barred by laches.  Laches is more or less the Sasquatch of Mississippi law. While I suppose that in theory, laches may exist in Mississippi, until some court actually sees it and enforces it in an actual case, I’m inclined to view laches as occupying the legal equivalent of cryptozoology).  I share Hansen’s view of the frivolousness of the McDaniel complaint.

The post concludes with a forlorn hope that I also share:

I only hope that those Republicans on the receiving end of spurious claims of voter fraud will remember this the next time when they might be in the position to stop unsubstantiated charges like that from being levied against others.