• Show Notes

Dear Reader,

It’s been a wild, ridiculous, consequential year in legal news. So let’s have some fun. We deserve it.

To celebrate the end of 2023, I present to you below seven trivia questions about legal news stories from the year that was. If you score above five, you’re a certifiable genius (and you might be paying a bit too much attention to the news). Anything below three, and you fail. And yes: this goes on your Permanent Record. Here we go… 

Question 1: On which two items listed below did George Santos not spend his campaign donors’ money?

A. Botox

B. A pet lemur

C. OnlyFans (look it up if you must, but only if you’re over 18)

D. Rent

E. Clothing from Hermes

F. Gambling on the WNBA playoffs

Answer: B and F. But there’s still time. 

Question 2: Santos made history (of sorts) in 2023 when he achieved the rare distinction of getting thrown out of Congress, pursuant to Article I of the Constitution. (This is a legal column, purportedly, so that’s my hook.) Since the end of the Civil War, how many other people have been expelled from the House?

Answer: Two. There’s James Traficant of Ohio, who some might remember from his 2002 expulsion following a federal conviction for racketeering, bribery, and other offenses. And then there’s a personal column fave, Michael (Ozzie) Myers from Pennsylvania. I’ve told this story before but heck, it’s Christmas time, so gather ‘round. Myers first got busted when he took bribes from undercover FBI agents during the infamous Abscam sting in the late 1970’s; he was convicted of bribery, and then got thrown out of the House in 1980. Oh, but our tale does not end there, friends. Fast forward four decades, to 2020, when Myers – then 77 years old and still at it – got charged again, this time for bribery and stuffing ballot boxes in favor of fellow Democratic candidates for office in the Philly area. In 2022, Myers took a guilty plea, and he now resides in federal custody. Let’s end on a happy note: Myers, now 80, is slated for release on July 11, 2024.  

(If you said five, you get half credit; three Reps were tossed out in 1862, before the end of the Civil War, for supporting the Confederacy.) 

Question 3: On which one of the following did Hunter Biden not spend money that he received from foreign corporations, according to the Justice Department’s tax fraud indictment? (Hey, fair’s fair.)

A. Health, beauty, pharmacy ($237.496)

B. “Various women” ($683,202)

C. 2000 copies of his own book, Beautiful Things ($58,284)

D. Phone and utilities ($118,440)

E. “Adult entertainment” (as distinct, apparently, from “various women”) ($188.960)

Answer: C. DOJ does, however, use Biden’s memoir against him in the indictment, quoting several incriminating stories to prove that, during years when he took substantial tax deductions for business expenses, he actually was… well, let’s just say he was decidedly not doing any actual business. 

Question 4: The House of Representatives set a record (of sorts), with three members being formally censured in 2023, the most ever in one year. Match the Representative from Column A with the offense in Column B (I made up two fake ones for each column.)


A. Rep. Rashida Tlaib

B. Rep. Jefferson Sturgeon

C. Rep. Adam Schiff

D. Rep. Jamaal Bowman

E. Rep. Melinda Sykes


A. Pulling the House fire alarm to prevent a vote

B. Statements regarding Israel-Hamas war

C. Stealing Ben and Jerry’s Peace Pops from the House cafeteria kitchen freezer

D. Flipping the bird to the House Sergeant-at-Arms

E. Accusing Trump of colluding with Russia in 2016

Answer: (A. Tlaib: B. statements about the War) (C. Schiff: E. statements about collusion) (D. Bowman: fire alarm). Ok, this one was too easy, but I couldn’t resist. 

Fun fact: I actually did the two extra things here, as a teenager. I flipped off an angry lunchroom monitor when I was in 8th grade, and got detention for it; not great. But I stand by the Peace Pops incident. I was 15 years old, working 12-hour days in an industrial kitchen, and the Head Chef was siphoning the operating budget to buy luxury confections for his own private consumption. My fellow “Potwashers” and I – our official job titles, capital P please – were actually doing a Robin Hood-like public service by taking his Peace Pops and eating them ourselves. I’d do it again. Cherry Garcia for me, thnk you.  

Question 5: Donald Trump faces 91 criminal counts, spread across four indictments. Which of the four Trump indictments contains the fewest counts?

Answer: Jack Smith’s federal election subversion indictment, with four counts (which may soon be whittled to two, as I explained here). Smith’s other indictment, relating to classified documents at Mar-A-Lago, includes 40 counts against Trump,  The Manhattan DA charges Trump in 34 counts, while the Fulton County DA lodged 13 counts.

Admittedly, I’m using this one as a bit of a soapbox. May I politely suggest, as we head into 2024, that we all agree to drop the old refrain: Ohhhh, 91 counts, that’s so many, he’s going down! Trump might indeed be going down, but the number of counts has nothing to do with it. Prosecutors have wide latitude to decide how to charge a case, and how finely to subdivide conduct into separate counts. Any of the four indictments could’ve been reduced to one count (if phrased as a broad conspiracy) or, who knows, 80. As the best indicator of the irrelevance of count tallies, consider that the most important case – the federal election subversion case – has the fewest counts, by far. Heck, Trump is charged with nearly ten times more counts in Manhattan DA’s hush money case. It’s not the 91 counts that matters. It’s the four indictments. (Sermon concluded. Thank you for your indulgence.)

Question 6: According to the Justice Department’s indictment of (my) U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, he and his wife took which four items as bribery payments in exchange for official action:

A. Mercedes-Benz C-300 convertible

B. Luxury box tickets for a Bon Jovi concert at Metlife Stadium

C. Over $100,000 worth of solid gold bars

D. Over $480,000 in cash, some containing the DNA of the bribe-giver, some wrapped in a jacket bearing the Senator’s name

E. Over $6,000 worth of high-end, imported cold cuts

F. Luxury home furnishings

Answer: A, C, D, and F are real. I made up the Bon Jovi tickets and the deli meats, but I felt like they were pretty believable. Hey, I’m a Jersey kid, I get the culture here.

Question 7: In 2023, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson completed her first full term as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In important respects, she is a historic trailblazer, the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. In others, Justice Jackson is decidedly not a trailblazer, as she became the 8th of 9 current justices who graduated from either Harvard or Yale Law Schools. Who is the one outlier, and where did that Justice go to law school?

Answer: Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a graduate of Notre Dame Law School, 

Needless to say, this sent me down a rabbit hole. Harvard and Yale dominate historically, with Columbia a distant third. The top public law school appears to be Michigan, with three justices. Two justices went to Cumberland School of Law, which is part of Samford University – the same number produced by similar-sounding, higher-falutin’ Stanford Law School. A grand total of one justice went to mega-prestigious UPenn, UChicago, Duke, Georgetown, and Cornell, combined. 

Barrett is the first Notre Dame grad, putting the Irish on the list with other single-justice schools including New York Law School (NYU, about a mile away but higher on the rankings, has zero); Centre College Law School in Kentucky; Transylvania University School of Law (I’m not being silly; Justice John Marshall Harlan graduated from this Kentucky school in 1850); and Howard Law School (the great Thurgood Marshall – not bad if you get one).


Hope you enjoyed that. It was fun to put together – as are all these columns, serious or goofy or somewhere in between. 

As we head into 2024, I want to thank all of you for reading and listening every Friday this year. I work hard on these pieces, and it’s a true privilege to share them with you and to hear your responses.

Wishing you health and happiness in 2024. See you then. 

Stay Informed,