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Contract law

Please Insult Me During the Half Marathon

I have long accepted that I am a bit of a masochist. Looking back over my life, there is a pattern of events and activities where I have paid people to hurt me or to give me the opportunity to hurt myself: competitive gymnastics, body piercings, tattoos, deep tissue massages, paintball, law school, and now running.

Adam Almaraz & I Smiling before the 2010 Half Marathon

This Sunday, January 15th, I will be running the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon for the third year in a row. I have two rules for running the race.

  1. Don’t stop running.
  2. Don’t die.

My goal this year is to break the 2-hour mark. I finished the race in 2:09 my first year and 2:06 last year. It will be a tall order, but it’s doable. I’ve always appreciated the support of the crowd cheering all of us on. I didn’t understand how beneficial it is to hear people cheering and to see all the signs until I ran the race. It makes a huge difference, especially when you’re tired and your body hurts.

Most of the signs I see during the race say “Go ________” or “__ Miles to Beer.” The best sign I’ve seen at a race was “Hurry up. We’re Hungry.” I’m happy to see every signs along the route, but I wish there were more signs that insulted me. I want to see signs that say things like

  • “Hahaha…You’re Running,”
  • “You Paid Money for this Torture,” and
  • “I Have Warm Coffee and You Don’t.”

If you’re in the Phoenix area Sunday morning, please come out and support the runners. The half marathon route goes through Tempe and Scottsdale. Apparently, I’ll be running right by the fabulous Echo Coffee in Scottsdale. If you’re along my route, please make a sign that makes fun of me, especially the fact that paid money to get up early on a Sunday and run the cold.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I’m altering my release and waiver of liability agreement again this year. I will never let the organizers avoid all liability, especially things like gross negligence. If I trip over my own feet, that’s on me; but if I fall because of something they did, I want to have the option to sue them. This year I’m writing in a statement that says the hard copy agreement supersedes any previous agreements, in case I had to electronically agree to the waiver in order to sign up for the race.

I’m hoping to have another fun race this year. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m super excited that two of my cousins are running it with me – their first time doing the race. If you are a lawyer, law student, or friend of the legal community and running the race on Sunday, I created an event for us on Facebook so we can connect and network before the race.

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Porn Stars Can Be Effective Teachers

Kevin Hogan is the head of the English department and the crew coach at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Massachusetts. He’s on paid leave after he was ambushed by Mike Beaudet of Fox 25 News in Boston with photographs from his performances in pornographic films that were released last year.  

Hogan appears to be well-respected by his students and their parents. It’s understandable that parents would be surprised to learn about Hogan’s past, but once the initial shock wears off, will they care that a teacher has participated in porn? As long as he doesn’t discuss his past in porn in the classroom, I don’t think his previous work should be an issue.

Image by coolhunting "tapas" via Flickr

Being an adult film actor is not illegal as long as it is produced legally and it appears that Hogan participated in these films before accepting the position at Mystic Valley. If Hogan acted in a film after becoming a Mystic Valley teacher and his teaching contract forbid him from working in adult entertainment, then there would be a case for firing him for violating his contract. If all his contract has is a clause that prohibits “immoral behavior” during employment, that shouldn’t be enough to fire him. A blanket clause like that allows too much room for interpretation.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is investigating this situation. Its spokesman said, “We expect teachers to hold a very high moral standard. They are role models for students.”

Let’s break this down. Can you have high moral standards and have sex? Have gay sex? Have sex while being filmed? Have sex while being filmed and get paid for it? Have sex while being filmed, get paid for it, and allow it to be available for public consumption? The adult entertainment industry is stigmatized, but participating in it does not mean that you are an immoral person.

The next argument is always that teachers are role models for students. Being a former or current porn star does not threaten the health or safety of any student. It might give the teacher a reputation that they have to manage, but it doesn’t interfere with their ability to teach.

Moreover, teachers do lots of things that I’m sure parents don’t want their children emulating. Should we fire any teacher that has engaged in any act that parents dislike? If parents and schools are so concerned about having teachers who are exceptional role models for students, then they would fire every teacher who smokes, is bad at managing their finances, is obese, is a weekend binge drinker, and every teacher who has ever gotten a speeding ticket or driven while talking on their cell phone.

One of my totally awesome liberal friends is studying to be a teacher. She said, “Doing gay porn while teaching is unacceptable . . . . Pornography and teaching do not mix, no exceptions.” While I respect that some people think that there’s no place for a porn star in the classroom, I disagree. I’m not a parent, but if I were, I’d let my child be taught by a good teacher who happened to do porn as long as they kept their porn life out of the classroom.

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Igniting My Legal Passion

Last week I was sitting in copyright class – bored, tired, and grumpy.  About ten minutes into class I looked over at my friend Ken and asked, “Are we done, yet?”

I keep an eye on my Twitter feed during class in case anything interesting happens.   Yes, I’m on the internet in class – it’s part of networking.  I saw that my friend Jeff tweeted that he was “stunned” by a recent submission for Ignite Phoenix #9.  It was a submission from a 16 year-old who was the product of rape and who wanted to talk about her experience growing up without a dad.

185/365 From a little spark bursts a mighty flame
Image by Mykl Roventine via Flickr

Whoa!  This girl already has my respect just for wanting to talk about such a powerful topic.  My mind instantly went into hyperdrive with a myriad of legal questions.

  • Do we have to get parental consent to let this girl speak on stage about this topic?
  • Does Ignite Phoenix’s relationships with its presenters constitute contracts?
  • Can a 16 year-old enter into contract in Arizona?
  • Do we need parental consent to put a minor’s presentation on YouTube?
  • Was that guy who spoke about Star Wars at Ignite Phoenix #6 an adult?  He looked about 14.
  • Can we let her use the rapist’s name or image if he wasn’t convicted?

Then I thought, “Bah- why aren’t I a lawyer yet?!”  I hate having my hands tied because I’m still a law student – a cute law student, but a law student nonetheless; and therefore, I cannot give legal advice.  I told Jeff to let me know if he needed me to look up any laws for the Ignite Phoenix crew.

As frustrating as this experience was, I’m really glad I had it.  It reminded me of what my passions are and the type of work I want to do after I graduate.  I love working with random questions, real-life issues, collaborating with creative and innovative people, and finding a way to make things happen.

As I walked out of class, I was still the sleep-deprived student who walked in, but my energy was back.  It has been stressful to think about what I’m going to do during my life after law school, but this experience showed me that I’m on the right track.   I tweeted, “I got a glimpse into the professional life I want to have as a lawyer today…now I just need someone to pay me to do it.”

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