Last night I failed to heed that sage advise of President Reagan’s: “trust but verify.” I trusted ACCA, but I failed to verify what it wrote.
Let’s recap. In its opinion in United States v. Hearn, __ M.J. ___, No. ARMY 20060128 (A. Ct. Crim. App. July 17, 2008), ACCA borrowed a voluntary intoxication test from State v. Kruger, offering this citation: “67 P.3d 1147, 1149 (Wis. Ct. App. 2003).” Hearn, slip op. at 13. Last night, I used that citation as an opportunity to poke fun at my friends from the Badger State: “In Hearn, ACCA follows the lead of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Based on many of the Badger Staters I know, it seems sensible to use Wisconsin law as a model when considering voluntary intoxication.” It didn’t occur to me until today to wonder what the heck decisions from Wisconsin are doing in West’s Pacific Reporter 3d Series. It turns out they aren’t; Wisconsin Court of Appeals decisions are published in the West’s North Western Reporter. Hearn was actually a decision of the Court of Appeals of Washington, Division Three, not the Wisconsin Court of Appeals as ACCA erroneously wrote and as I erroneously copied.
But that said, for a company with a compass direction in its title, West Publishing does seem to have an amazingly poor sense of geography. I tend to think of Washington and Oregon as Northwestern states. But I am wrong; according to West Publishing, the “North Western” part of the country consists of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, and Iowa. Of course, there actually was a time when that general part of the country was thought of as the Northwest. West Publishing’s North Western Reporter may be a quaint homage to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. But wait a second — didn’t the old Northwest Territory include what are now Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, the home of Northwestern University? So what are those three states’ opinions doing in West’s North Eastern Reporter? Can someone please alert West Publishing to the concept of the “Midwest”?
But at least some of the states covered by the North Western Reporter were once considered the Northwest. I’m pretty sure there was no point in American history when Kansas was considered a Pacific state. The only waves in Kansas are made of amber grain. Yet West’s Pacific Reporter publishes decisions from Kansas courts. The capital of Kansas, as I learned in elementary school while studying the big rectangular states in the middle, is Topeka. Topeka is 300 miles closer to the Atlantic Ocean than it is to the Pacific Ocean. Topeka is also closer to the Gulf of Mexico, all five Great Lakes, Canada’s Hudson Bay, and Lake Okeechobee than it is to the Pacific Ocean. Kansas is one of two states (the other is Oklahoma) that are entirely on the Atlantic watershed side of the Continental Divide but that West Publishing puts in its Pacific Reporter, which also includes cases from such “Pacific states” as Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. I can only assume that no one at West Publishing has heard of the Rocky Mountains.
And apparently the next time I have a craving for Southwestern cuisine, I can head to KFC since West publishes decisions from the Blue Grass State in its South Western Reporter. When I think of the Southwest, I tend to think of New Mexico and Arizona. But according to West, those are “Pacific” states. S.W.3d is filled with decisions from such Southwestern states as Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee.
So maybe it’s understandable that ACCA thought West would publish Wisconsin decisions in its Pacific Reporter. But ACCA borrowed its voluntary intoxication test from Washington, not Wisconsin. So I’m putting down my Leinenkugel and lifting a Redhook to toast the Washington Court of Appeals.