New dictionary reviews!

The Civil Law Dictionary I wrote with Stephan Kinsella has been getting some renewed attention lately. The reviews are in and they’re very good!

Last month, Philip Gragg reviewed the Dictionary in the latest issue of LSU’s Journal of Civil Law Studies. From the article:

This work is a great access point to Louisiana law, particularly for those unfamiliar with the state. It is also a quick reference that could be used by practitioners.

Those are two of the main audiences we were shooting for with the Dictionary: out-of-state attorneys just wading into our legal system and practicing Louisiana attorneys needing a quick reminder about words they promptly forgot after taking the bar exam. Success!

Just today, Jeff Richardson reviewed the electronic version of the Dictionary on his blog, iPhone J.D. His review even included some really nice screenshots of the e-book version in action on his iOS devices. Shiny.

His bottom line:

If you practice law in Louisiana, or if you just want to impress your friends with legal terms that almost sound naughty such “naked owner” and “usufruct,” then consider getting this ebook for your iPad and iPhone.

I appreciate that someone else finds those legal terms vaguely dirty. (As for dirty common law terms, have I got a springing executory interest for you.)

Many thanks to both Messrs. Gragg and Richardson for taking the time to write these very nice reviews!

I got elected!

A few weeks ago, Louisiana republicans voted on delegates to this year’s state Republican Convention. The results were certified this week, and I won! Thanks to everyone who came out and voted for me!

I will be representing my congressional district next month at the state convention. There, we’ll select the delegates who will represent Louisiana at the Republican National Convention this year in Tampa and will help pick our presidential nominee. Very exciting.

So you want to buy a machine gun.

Since I’m a lawyer and a gun enthusiast, I occasionally field questions like “Can I buy a machine gun?” or “Are silencers legal?” from friends and family members. And like so many other questions, the answer is almost always “Maybe.”

Federal law prohibits certain individuals from possessing any firearms (under the applicable laws, a silencer counts as a firearm by itself, which is linguistically and logically silly). The list includes felons, fugitives, illegal drug users, those who have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, and those under certain restraining orders. For the whole rogue’s gallery, see 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). States have similar prohibitions against certain people possessing firearms. And individual states may also regulate gun ownership for those who aren’t prohibited outright from owning guns. For example, New York bans the possession of machine guns but allows other guns. In Massachusetts, would-be gun owners must complete a licensing process. On the other hand, some states take a much more permissive view of gun ownership. I happen to live in a free state, and I’m most familiar with Louisiana law, so I’ll focus on it. Continue reading

Louisiana tax sales: a field guide

When property owners don’t pay their property taxes, the parish tax collector (the Sheriff in most places) advertises the property in the parish’s official newspaper and sells it at a tax sale. But buying property at a tax sale isn’t quite like buying it in a normal sale.

What you’ll pay now.

At least at first, the price is fixed. It’s the amount of taxes due on the property plus interest and costs for the advertisement and sale of the property. Unsurprisingly, this is often quite a lot less money than the property is worth. In municipalities with over 450,000 residents, if the property doesn’t sell for the asking price, the tax collector can offer the property for sale again with no minimum bid. But before you get too excited about your fantastic deal, you should know that there are a few little wrinkles.

You don’t fully own the property right away. If you buy at the tax sale, you purchase a “tax deed” from the tax collector and you have something called “tax sale title.” Some time after the tax sale, the tax collector will file a tax sale certificate in the parish’s public records. That certificate makes your tax sale victory official and formally notifies everyone that you bought the property’s tax title. But more importantly, the recordation starts the clock running on the last owner’s redemptive period. Continue reading

In Support of VPNs

I’ve written about VPNs before on this site and how they can provide a layer of security for mobile attorneys. A few weeks ago, Ars Technica published an article entitled Die, VPN! We’re all “telecommuters” now—and IT must adjust. The thrust of the article is that, with the rise of mobile devices and other technologies (like cloud storage), the VPN is obsolete. It doesn’t suit the way we work.

Today, Ars published an op-ed piece disagreeing with that article. It’s worth the read for anyone who does make or may make future security and IT infrastructure decisions.

The author points out the ever-increasing number of corporate data breaches and suggests that VPNs can alleviate a lot of the problems. After walking through a real-life corporate breach and how it might have been prevented, the author warns, “while VPNs might not be a perfect solution to every problem, they serve a critical purpose in today’s world where, indeed, we’re all telecommuters. Abandoning VPNs because you heard they are inconvenient is, frankly, a reckless and potentially devastating mistake.”