What’s in a Name? Crowdsourcing the Search for Legal Aptonyms
First, thanks to the CoOp crowd, and especially to my colleague Danielle Citron, for having me as a guest. I look forward to the rest of the month here (assuming I’m not kicked off after this post).
In the spirit of impending spring break, I thought I’d seek CoOp’s crowdsourcing assistance on a more whimsical project. I’ve just finished a draft of a short essay about legal aptonyms. For those currently scratching their heads — or opening up Google in a separate tab — aptonyms (literally “apt names”) are proper names that are “regarded as (humorously) appropriate to a person’s profession or personal characteristics.” Think of Shakespeare’s quick-tempered Sir Hotspur, Dickens’s acerbic Mrs. Sowerberry, or J.K. Rowling’s pernicious Draco Malfoy.
I’m collecting legal ones. And not for law-related people (although there are many great ones, starting with Judges Learned Hand and John Minor Wisdom). I’m looking for cases where one of the named parties describes the legal rule, such as Loving and the right to marry, or even where one of the individuals in the case who is not a named party describes the rule (e.g., attorney Irving G. Brilliant in Surowitz v. Hilton Hotels, 383 US 363 (1966) (holding that an uninformed plaintiff can rely on the good faith advice of a knowledgeable attorney in verifying a derivative complaint)).
The other two I’ve got are Raffles v. Wichelhaus (the Peerless Case), and Schmuck v. United States, 489 U.S. 705 (1989). I promise to add the best candidates (with proper credit if you use your real name in the comments or email me at aaron.zelinsky(at)gmail.com) in the next draft.
For a draft of the essay, forthcoming in Michigan Law Review’s First Impressions, please see here.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia.