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!

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

Can You Run Me Off a Gun?

This post is not legal advice; it’s only my opinion. And unless you’ve retained me by a signed contract after an in-person consultation, I’m not your lawyer. If you’re considering printing this project, hire a lawyer who knows the area of law — both federal law and your particular state/county/city/whatever’s law) and consult him. Or better yet: buy a lower. It’s cheaper than hiring a lawyer and probably more fun!


Now onto the interesting stuff.

Recently, a Thingiverse user posted a file that can be printed on a 3d printer to create a (theoretically) functional AR-15 lower receiver. This upset some members of the Thingiverse community, as you can see from the lively discussion on the project page. Tech  Crunch covered the controversy and asked a few important questions. Is printing a gun the same as buying a gun? Is the printed lower receiver a weapon? Is it a part? Is it Illegal?

In short, no, printing a gun isn’t the same as buying one because the user is a manufacturer instead of a consumer. The lower receiver is still a firearm under federal law (and probably state law) as opposed to being just a part. And, finally, printing a lower is not prohibited under federal law for those allowed to own firearms, but your state’s law may vary. Continue reading

And the storm rages on

Hurricane Katrina came and went almost six years ago, but the litigation it spawned is nowhere near complete. And more surprisingly, there are new Katrina-related lawsuits still being filed daily.

In Louisiana, many lawsuits are subject to one year liberative prescription. What that means, effectively, is that after an accident or storm or other event that damages a person, that person has one year to bring a lawsuit to make him whole, either against the person who did him harm or against his insurer or both. Normally, if the person doesn’t bring his lawsuit within the one-year window, he can never bring it.

But after Katrina, the legislature extended the normal prescriptive period because of the huge number of insurance claims and the general disorder left in the storm’s wake. The legislature extended the deadline from August 29, 2006, to September 1, 2007, unless a longer period was provided by law or contract.

But a recent Louisiana Supreme Court decision has effectively extended that deadline indefinitely. Continue reading