A Sampling of Judge Evans' Opinions

United States v. Murphy, 406 F.3d 857, 859-n.1 (7th Cir. 2005):

The trial transcript quotes Ms. Hayden as saying Murphy called her a snitch bitch 'hoe.'  A 'hoe,' of course, is a tool used for weeding and gardening.  We think the court reporter, unfamiliar with rap music (perhaps thankfully so), misunderstood Hayden's response.  We have taken the liberty of changing 'hoe' to 'ho,' a staple of rap music vernacular as for example, when Ludacris raps 'You doin' ho activities with ho tendencies.' 

Crue v. Aiken, 370 F.3d 668, 670 (7th Cir. 2004):
This case, raising First Amendment issues involving the University of Illinois, concerns "Chief Illiniwek," who, depending on one's point of view, is either a mascot or a symbol of the university. More on this distinction later but first, before getting to the issue at hand, we detour for a brief look at college nicknames and their embodiment as mascots.

In the Seventh Circuit, some large schools — Wisconsin (Badgers), Purdue (Boilermakers), Indiana (Hoosiers), Notre Dame (The Fighting Irish), DePaul (the Blue Demons), the University of Evansville (Purple Aces), and Southern Illinois (Salukis) — have nicknames that would make any list of ones that are pretty cool. And small schools in this circuit are no slouches in the cool nickname department. One would have a hard time beating the Hustlin' Quakers of Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana), the Little Giants of Wabash College (Crawfordsville, Indiana), the Mastodons of Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne (Fort Wayne, Indiana), and the Scarlet Hawks of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

But most schools have mundane nicknames. How can one feel unique when your school's nickname is Tigers (43 different colleges or universities),1 Bulldogs (40 schools), Wildcats (33), Lions (32), Pioneers (31), Panthers or Cougars (30 each), Crusaders (28), or Knights (25)? Or how about Eagles (56 schools)? The mascots for these schools, who we assume do their best to fire up the home crowd, are pretty generic — and pretty boring.

Some schools adorn their nicknames with adjectives — like "Golden," for instance. Thus, we see Golden Bears, Golden Bobcats, Golden Buffaloes, Golden Bulls, Golden Eagles (15 of them alone!), Golden Flashes, Golden Flyers, Golden Gophers, Golden Griffins, Golden Grizzlies, Golden Gusties, Golden Hurricanes, Golden Knights, Golden Lions, Golden Panthers, Golden Rams, Golden Seals, Golden Suns, Golden Tigers, and Golden Tornados cheering on their teams.

All this makes it quite obvious that, when considering college nicknames, one must kiss a lot of frogs to get a prince. But there are a few princes. For major universities, one would be hard pressed to beat gems like The Crimson Tide (Alabama), Razorbacks (Arkansas), Billikens2 (St.Louis), Horned Frogs (TCU), and Tarheels (North Carolina). But as we see it, some small schools take the cake when it comes to nickname ingenuity. Can anyone top the Anteaters of the University of California-Irvine; the Hardrockers of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City; the Humpback Whales of the University of Alaska-Southeast; the Judges (we are particularly partial to this one) of Brandeis University; the Poets of Whittier College; the Stormy Petrels of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta; the Zips of the University of Akron; or the Vixens (will this nickname be changed if the school goes coed?) of Sweet Briar College in Virginia? As wonderful as all these are, however, we give the best college nickname nod to the University of California-Santa Cruz. Imagine the fear in the hearts of opponents who travel there to face the imaginatively named "Banana Slugs"?3

  1. See list compiled by Adam Joshua Smargon at www.smargon.net/nicknames.
  2. What in the world is a "Billiken"?
  3. As evidence of the Banana Slug's uniqueness, we offer this:  of all the nicknames to choose from, acclaimed film director Quentin Tarantion selected it to appear in one of the memorable scenes of his 1994 classic, "Pulp Fiction."  Although the movie includes scores of unique scenes (film critic Roger Ebert gushes over it in his 2002 book, The Great Movies), it was certainly shocking to see stone-cold killer Vincent Vega (John Travolta) wearing a Banana Slug T-shirt after being "cleansed" at the end of the picture (but not the end of the story-you have to see it to grasp the distinction).

Billy-Bob Teeth, Inc. v. Novelty, Inc., 329 F.3d 586, 588 (7th Cir. 2003):

When "International Man of Mystery" Austin Powers gazes at the comely British agent Kensington and purrs "groovy Baby" or "oh behave!" he always smiles, exposing a set of teeth that the best orthodontist in the world could not improve. They are ugly, and therein lies their beauty, at least from a financial point of view. This copyright/trade dress infringement case involves "novelty" teeth-oversized, crooked, and chipped teeth that fit over a person's real teeth. People wear them to get a laugh. Actor Mike Myers wore them when, as Austin Powers, he foiled the diabolical plans of Dr. Evil to achieve world domination. So where did this all begin? To answer that question we go back 10 years when a dental student named Rich Bailey, for a gag, created a set of novelty teeth.

Staub v. Proctor Hospital, 560 F.3d 647, 650 (7th Cir. 2009), reversed and remanded,       U.S.     , 131 S.Ct. 1186 (2011):  

One would guess that the chances are pretty slim that the work of a 17th century French poet would find its way into a Chicago courtroom in 2009. But that's the situation in this case as we try to make sense out of what has been dubbed the "cat's paw" theory. The term derives from the fable "The Monkey and the Cat" penned by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695). In the tale, a clever-and rather unscrupulous-monkey persuades an unsuspecting feline to snatch chestnuts from a fire. The cat burns her paw in the process while the monkey profits, gulping down the chestnuts one by one. As understood today, a cat's paw is a "tool" or "one used by another to accomplish his purposes." Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1976). More on this a little later.

United States v. Moore, 563 F.3d 583, 584 (7th Cir. 2009):

The time: 6 p.m. The place: Ho-Chunk casino in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The event: a drawing to determine who would walk off with $10,000. Undoubtedly, excitement was in the air. Realistically, the average schlemiel had only a .000067 percent chance of winning. But another participant in the drawing had to like his chances: Bruce Knutson had a 30 percent chance of coming up a winner. And when the winning entry form was pulled from the barrel-ta da-the winner was Bruce Knutson! The lucky winner then posed for a publicity picture, signed off on a tax form, received a check for $5,000, and pocketed $5,000 in cash. It was, we suspect, a night to remember. But all was not, as we shall see, quite as it seemed. The rest of the story explains why Knutson and his buddy, Darwin Moore, are here appealing their convictions after they were found guilty of bilking the casino out of $10,000.

Lake v. O'Neal, 585 F.3d 1059, 1059-60 (7th Cir. 2009):

The Duck Test holds that if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Joseph Lake, the plaintiff in this suit, flunks the Duck Test. He says, in effect, that if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it sure as heck isn't a duck.

The crux of Lake's argument in this appeal is that a voter registration form is actually a motor vehicle record. He argues that the Chicago Board of Election *1060 Commissioners (Board) violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)1-which regulates motor vehicle records-by disclosing personal information it obtains from voter registration records that were completed at an office of the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). After a parallel claim in state court was dismissed with prejudice, Lake instituted this class action suit against the Board. Recognizing a fatal flaw in Lake's argument, the district court granted the' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

Georgia-Pacific Consumer Prods. LP v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., 647 F.3d 723, 725-26 (7th Cir. 2011):

 Toilet paper. This case is about toilet paper. Are there many other things most people use every day but think very little about? We doubt it. But then again, only a select few of us work in the rarefied air inhabited by top-rate intellectual property lawyers who specialize in presenting and defending claims of unfair competition and trademark infringement under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1051 et seq. And the lawyers on both sides of this dispute are truly first-rate. Together they cite some 119 cases and 20 federal statutes (albeit with a little overlap) in their initial briefs. We are told that during the "expedited" discovery period leading up to the district court decision we are called upon to review, some 675,000 pages of documents were produced and more than a dozen witnesses were deposed. That's quite a record considering, again, that this case is about toilet paper.

We'll start by introducing the combatants. In the far corner, from an old cotton-producing state ( Dixie: "I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten.") and headquartered in the area (Atlanta) where Scarlett O'Hara roamed Tara in Margaret Mitchell's epic Gone With the Wind, we have the Georgia–Pacific Company. Important to this case, and more than a bit ironic, is that the name of Georgia–Pacific's flagship toilet paper is Quilted Northern. In the near corner, headquartered in the north, in Neenah, Wisconsin (just minutes away from Green Bay), and a long way from the land of cotton, we have the Kimberly–Clark Corporation. Ironically, its signature toilet paper brand is called Cottonelle.

The claim in this case is that a few of Kimberly–Clark's brands of toilet paper are infringing on Georgia–Pacific's trademark design. But again, this case is about toilet paper, and who really pays attention to the design on a roll of toilet paper? The parties, however, are quick to inform us that in a $4 billion dollar industry, designs are very important. Market share and significant profits are at stake. So with that, we forge on. 

Spears v. City of Indianapolis, 74 F.3d 153, 154 & n.1 (7th Cir. 1996):

What a diff'rence a day makes ... twenty-four little hours." 
(Dinah Washington,1 Circa Summer of 1959)

This case is about "what a difference a day makes ... twenty-four little hours" when responding to a motion for summary judgment. If Charles Spears and the other plaintiffs had twenty-four little hours more they might still be in the case. Without twenty-four little hours extra they definitely are out of court. And "that's the diff'rence a day makes."

n.1 Dinah Washington was not the original artist who did "What a Difference a Day Makes." Billboard magazine reports that it was first recorded by The Dorsey Brothers in 1934. Washington's version, however, made the song a classic.