Court of Petty Appeals: In Re Karsh Money

In re Karsh Money

452 UVa 382

JANI, J., sitting by designation delivered the opinion of the court, in which RANZINI and ELICEGUI, JJ., joined. VANDERMEULEN, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in which SCHMALZL, J., joined.

Justice JANI, sitting by designation, for the Court.

Hello, fellow students! Welcome to the 2018-2019 Virginia School of Law academic year. To all the 1Ls, your experience here at UVa Law will be a transformative experience. Your cheerful dispositions and naïve attitudes will soon be challenged and transformed into a deep cynicism which will remain with you for the rest of your life. This Court greets you as you ascend to the distinguished club of jaded alcoholics we call the legal profession. To all of the 2Ls, this Court offers its compliments for surviving the human petting zoo that is OGI. Some of you have undoubtedly accepted offers to your future firms and others of you have not. Be kind to each other, regardless of employment status. This school is already too much of a floating ship filled with barrels of rum for second year law students to start lighting matches. Enjoy your upcoming summer and your daily steak and sushi lunches. Just realize that, like your law school relationship, the affinity you feel for becoming indoctrinated into your law-firm tribe will not last. To the Class of 2019, cheers, you all have made it through the “real” part of law school. Now you get to relax and bathe in the basking glow of top dawg status. Have fun reading for class when you feel like it, delegating all your club/journal work to the 2Ls, and enjoying the previously forgotten concept of a full night sleep. Do not let the fact that you are paying $80,000 for a seemingly meaningless year of school sober you from your drinking and your “hey, we’ll never see each other again” trysts.

Now that salutations are out of the way this Court has decided that it would behoove all to recap the rules and norms that govern behavior before this court and within the institution of this journal at-large. The Court celebrates the Chief Justice’s effort to establish the standards of the rule of this bench. However, the Court believes the Chief Justice’s genteel nature and courteous spirit may have led to confusion among some of our student population. We reiterate the thesis of the Chief Justice’s treatise on the Rules of Petty Procedure: there are no rules. We take no heed of the past or the future, we do as we wish, when we wish to do so. In the past, more generous jurists have solicited the grievances for adjudication before this Court and some have gone even further and given weight to the amicus curiae briefs submitted by students and faculty, and in the future a more judicious arbitrator of pettiness may choose to do so again. This Court, sitting by designation, could care less about the moans and grumbles of the student body or our benevolent overlords. This Court does what it pleases without regard to the desires of the less enlightened public, which provides an almost too effortless segue to the second major precept. DO NOT TAKE OUR PAPERS. As this Court sees it, there are three main reasons the Virginia Law Weekly confines its editors in SL 278 every Monday night until sometimes early Tuesday morning. The first is to provide a journal of the events at the School, which includes the thoughts and emotions of the students which encapsulate it in any given academic year. Our institution’s recordkeeping goes back to 1948, and any member of the Law School that so pleases is invited to visit our office to see Professor Jefferies’ larger-than-life mustache or the volumes from the late 2000s that almost got this paper shut down. The second is to provide a source of levity and humor in the otherwise grueling and soul-grinding slog that can be law school. And the last is to provide a platform through which students, faculty, administrators, and other members of the public can share their opinions and sentiments freely and clearly. One is allowed to be offended or even disgusted by the views of another, but the oppression of that person’s independent views is unacceptable. This Court cares not if members choose to live their lives in a bubble, protected only by the soft cushion that is the bubble wrap they’ve encased themselves in, but when that personal choice is turned and used against the rest of the public, this Court will not stand for such repressive conduct.

With the pleasantries out of the way, the matter before the Court of Petty Appeals today is one that is of great importance to the destitute students of this great institution. On May 10th of this year it was announced that Martha and Bruce Karsh, Virginia Law alumni and deceptive perceptions that law school relationships bring enduring love and wealth, will donate $25 million U.S. to the Law School. The gift, which kicks off the Law School’s bicentennial celebration as well as its Third Century Campaign, will be matched with $18.9 million from the University’s Board of Visitors. This Court notes that word “matching” implies that the size of the Board of Visitor’s donation should be equal in number or amount to that of the Karsh’s. An amicus curiae brief filed with this Court on the back of an envelope by Darden MBA students, who ran the figures during in the small window of time between their debauchery and general drinking, confirms that 18.9 does not, in fact, equal 25. Nevertheless, the gift is quite sizable and generous.

The question remains, what should the Law School do with this money? As of the time of this decision, the Law School and the Karshes have decided that the gift will, fund the Law School’s premier student scholarship program which will be renamed the Karsh-Dillard Scholarship, establish the Karsh Center for Law and Democracy, and create an endowed professorships fund to support faculty affiliated with the Karsh Center. The described uses of this fund have garnered significant grousing within the student population. As one 3L stated, “I mean, I guess it’s cool, but couldn’t they get us another massage chair? Professor Kordana is always stealing it for himself.”

As such, this petition has made its way to this court of second instance after the plaintiffs were denied relief in the lesser courts, most recently by Judge J. Ryan for failing to state a claim. We take up this matter in hopes that our ruling will provide all parties with equity.

We start with gratitude. The Karshes did not have to give so magnanimously to the institution we call home. While the gift undoubtedly provides the family with significant tax breaks and stature, this Court is under the belief that converting the $25 million to gold coins and then diving into the pile would have furnished the Karshes with the same happiness and sense of pride. This Court, nevertheless, is a bit skeptical of the allocation of this gift.

If $25 million dollars doesn’t change the name of the Dillard Scholarship to the Karsh Scholarship, then what is the money really buying? Without deciding whether or not funding more scholarships is a good idea, this Court is under the impression that the Dillard should be dropped from the Karsh-Dillard Scholarship. We understand that Hardy Cross Dillard, former Dean of UVa Law, remains an institution at this establishment, but that’s old money, already gone and spent. The name of Dillard can be honored by remaining with the Legal Writing Fellows forced to read terrible briefs of, and meet with, apathetic 1Ls.

This Court is not sure if it is a mistake or if the Karshes have not heard the news, but democracy is dead. Although some may believe that democracy is still well and alive living on some beach in Europe with Tupac and the Lindbergh Baby, this Court assures the public that democracy is dead and has been for some time. Trying to revive this system of government by establishing a center is a fool’s errand like trying to drain the ocean with a tablespoon or taking M&A with Professor Choi and expecting to do well. With the political climate and the state of affairs as they are today, it would be more apt to establish the Karsh Center for Edgy Memes for T-14s.

Instead this Court suggests that the money be spent towards more productive means. For instance, maybe we can all stop eating Aramark in the Sidley Austin Café. The same company that provides the food for the Law School also services prisons, and while many may feel as if it is apt considering the metaphorical iron bars that encase the library, this Court has taken notice that prisoners around the country have gone on strike due to Aramark’s food. The Karsh money could also be used to fund electric scooters for the entire student population. There is no practical reason for this or any tangible benefit that the Law School will gain, but this Court believes it would be really funny to watch Professor Abraham dodge students on scooters while on his daily walk around school grounds. The Court’s final suggestion, and perhaps its most sensible one, is to reduce the cost of tuition at UVa Law. Fifty million dollars as a perpetuity at a 3% rate, quite a safe and conservative figure, will provide the school with interest payments of $1.5 million dollars per year. This is enough to reduce tuition for each student at the Law School by approximately $5000 per year, or $15,000 over three years. As the current fixed interest rate for a Direct PLUS Loan is 7.6%, the average student can save almost 30,000 dollars over the course of ten years. If the pursuit of legal studies is something that this Law School wants to open up to students of all socio-economic backgrounds, then this Court implores the School to do something about runaway tuition. Multi-million dollar gifts are great and a half-billion dollar endowment is even better, but if the money isn’t put towards the benefit of all students, the gap between the haves and the have-nots will continue to widen, and if it isn’t dead already, democracy soon will be.

Of its suggestions, the Court likes the scooter one best. It is therefore ordered that Stephen T. Parr purchase one scooter for each student and faculty member. See you on grounds, Abe!

It is so ordered.

Chief Justice VANDERMEULEN, concurring in the judgment.

I have no idea what my Brother Jani is prattling on about, but I’d really like a scooter, and I’d like to see Professors Ferzan and Mitchell scooter-racing to the death. Bring on the scooters!