Willett v. Harrell: The Battle for Appellate Pop-Culture Dominance
Last week, Justice Don Willett of the Supreme Court of Texas made news by citing extensively to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in a dissent from denial of review. Receiving much less media attention was a September 3, 2014 opinion by Maryland’s own Court of Appeals Judge Glenn Harrell, who similarly began a dissent from denial of certiorari by quoting Otter from National Lampoon’s Animal House: “I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile … gesture be done on somebody’s part.”[*]
It’s a slow week for appellate blogging, so let’s play the feud!
|First in Time, First in Right||12/19/2014||9/3/2014||Harrell|
|Importance of Issue||Who qualifies as a member of the “electronic media” under Texas law?||Should Maryland abandon contributory negligence?||Push|
|Movie’s AFI Comedy Ranking||Unranked||36||Harrell|
|Movie’s Rotten Tomatoes Score||80%||91%||Harrell|
|Number References to the Movie in Opinion||4||2||Willett|
|Media Coverage of Opinion||Houston Chronicle||The Daily Record||Willett (sorry, Steve Lash)|
|Accessibility of Opinion||On court’s website and should appear on Westlaw soon.||Not on court’s website and not on Westlaw. (Wow this really was a “futile gesture.”)||Willett|
|Judge’s Overall Body of Pop Culture References in Opinions||I’m not sure, but Harrell is hard to beat.||Vast, including:||Harrell|
|Judge’s Internet Presence||Over 11,000 Twitter followers.
Over 12,000 Facebook likes.
|Happy to be retiring before e-filing comes to Court of Appeals||Willett|
|Number of Letters in Judge’s Last Name||7||7||Push|
|Double-Consonant Pairs in Last Name||2||2||Push (Has anyone seen these guys in the same room?)|
|Seniority||Joined his court in 2005||Joined his court in 1999||Harrell|
|Tremendous Upside Potential||48 years old||Facing mandatory retirement in 2015||Willett|
|Robe color||Basic black||Red||Harrell|
|Flattering NY Times Profile||Yes||No||Willett|
|Home Field Advantage||I’m willing to mess with Texas for this limited purpose.||This is the Maryland Appellate Blog, after all.||Harrell|
At least from my biased perspective, Judge Harrell is the narrow winner of this fake contest. A poll is below for you to tell us who won the battle of movie citations in opinions dissenting from the denial of discretionary review.
[*] In 2013, Judge Harrell was on the dissenting end of a 5-2 vote to adhere to strict contributory negligence. Two members of the majority were retired judges sitting by designation, leading some to speculate that the Court might soon revisit the topic. But when a new petition raised the question this year, Judge Harrell found himself alone in voting for review, and he took the unusual (in Maryland) step of penning a dissent from the denial of certiorari. He found inspiration in Otter’s famous line.