On Tuesday, Judge Brown with the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals published her majority opinion in the case of U.S. v. Emor.
The case centered on civil forfeiture laws following the U.S. government's seizure of property that a scheming private school founder, Charles Emor, defrauded from his own institution.
So whom did Judge Brown turn to for inspiration? Why, her favorite friends, of course!
Here's the opening paragraph of her decision:
In an episode of the iconic 1990s television show Friends, Joey Tribbiani tries to dissuade Rachel Green from moving to Paris. Joey asks Rachel to flip a coin. If he wins the coin flip, she must agree to stay. Rachel flips the coin; Joey loses. When later recounting the story to Ross Gellar, a befuddled Joey says, "[w]ho loses fifty-seven coin tosses in a row?" Friends: The One with Rachel's Going Away Party (NBC television broadcast Apr. 29, 2004). Before Ross can answer, Joey explains Rachel's rules: "Heads, she wins; tails, I lose." Id
The judge then accused the U.S. government of being a total Rachel.
She wrote that the government was trying to have it both ways by excluding the school from the criminal case against Emor, but then arguing the school couldn't bring a case to get the stolen property back because it wasn't part of the initial case.
"Because this heads the government wins and tails SunRise loses form of criminal forfeiture does not comport with the statutory scheme, we reverse," Brown wrote.
It's good to know the characters on Friends will be there for you when the rain starts to fall/when you need to rule on executive authority.
But, wait. It gets better. Judge Brown's first name?
Read the full decision here.
H/T Jon Swaine