Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Lawyers need math too

The Volokh Conspiracy has an interesting recent post about a court attempting to decide whether the distance from a school should be measured in walking distance or "as the crow flies." A man convicted of selling drugs to an undercover cop will receive a harsher punishment due to a law requiring tougher penalties if drugs are sold within 1000 feet of a school. The defense attorneys argued that buildings were in the way and that the walking distance should be used since "crows do not sell drugs."

Now, I think that there are a few interesting points to be made about this case, but the question I want to ask is whether or not their decision made sense. They argued that the intent of the law was clearly to create a buffer zone and was designed because of the prevalence of drug activity within a 2 block radius of schools. The radius element was something that the court decision focused in on. However, if we are looking at intent then we should not be focusing on the radius but rather the idea that the law was meant to create a buffer zone. If buildings obstruct part of the path to the school grounds then they constitute an additional obstacle and act as a buffer and therefore I am hard pressed to see how we can not include this obstacle in our calculation of the distance to the school. Apparently the overwhelming precedent is that these things should be measured "as the crow flies" but I find the arguments presented in the opinion uncompelling. Maybe it's because I'm not a lawyer, but I would have found the defendent's argument rather compelling.

Good is an adjective (a word that describes nouns). Well is usually an adverb (a word used to describe verbs).

• Neil, who is notorious for his good behavior, has never shoplifted.
• Brian hides his anger very well.

People often use good when they should use well, especially in speech. Remember, do not use good to describe verbs.

• Shandron did well on that pop quiz.

Note that you can use well as an adjective when you’re describing how healthy someone feels or looks.

• Despite her pasty appearance, Thea insisted that she felt well.

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