Tuesday, July 28, 2009

People v. Hirata (Cal. Ct. App. - July 29, 2009)

How often do you see an opinion begin by quoting lyrics from an old jazz standard? Here you go.

It's actually pretty relevant, too. Okay, maybe not relevant, but at least somewhat on point. Here's how the opinion begins:

"September Song" laments, "Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December." June 14 to September 5 is a shorter while. But here it is too long a while. In an affidavit in support of a search warrant, June 14 is the date that criminal activity is alleged to have occurred. September 5 is the date the search warrant issued. Here we conclude the warrant fails the test of time, and the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule does not apply.

I do wonder which version of the song Justice Gilbert was thinking of. Maybe the most famous version is by Sinatra -- though old-timers might think of the version by Jimmy Durante (and really old-timers might even recall it from the 1938 Broadway musical Knickerbocker Holiday). If you're a hipster, though, you gotta love the version by Lou Reed. Which, I imagine, sounds especially (and perhaps only) good on smack. Ah, the 70s. (My favorite in this genre is honestly the Cowboy Junkies' cover of Lou Reed's Sweet Jane, which in my view out-Lou Reed's Lou Reed.)

This is not the only legal reference for that song, by the way. There was also an early 90s BBC sitcom about a widowed solicitor and a much older woman called -- you guessed it -- "May to December". I'm sure we'll see a U.S. adaptation on CBS sometime soon.

Given that the temporal gap in the search warrant here was actually from June to September (rather than May to December), Justice Gilbert might also have wanted to cite the 1991 article in Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications (talk about fascinating!) entitled: "It's a Long, Long Time from June to September." Proving once and for all that some people don't actually know lyrics very well. As if that principle actually required proof.

As someone who's in academia, by the way, and hence has the summers (technically) off, I'm going to have to add my own two cents. Which is that the period from June to September is not long at all; indeed, it's way too short. Which, as the clock starts to tick on the recommencement of law school, is a fact of which I'm highly cognizant at present.