The Verdict

BY ALEX SUNDSTROM

IN RE HARKNESS CAFETERIA, 117 REC. 9 (2003)

Chief Justice PETTINATO announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion of Court in which Justice TORRES joined.

I. “My heart goes out to those who have fought Justice Dick’s paternalistic and self-serving standard announced in In Re Boca Grande by continuing to serve what arguably are meals, though this Court, under the reign of that tyrannical justice, have deemed them outside the protection of the law. They are meals within the law’s meaning, despite what this Court has announced,” the Chief Justice writes in her latest work on the Court’s jurisprudence, “Against All Enemies: Wiggling Out of the Greasy Grip of the In Re Boca Grande standard.”

II. The facts of this case are not in dispute. The Harkness Cafeteria is located within The Harkness (hereafter “The Hark”), which is located on the Harvard Law School campus. After waiting for two hours at The Hark for a blind date, the Chief Justice, fuming at her eleventh rejection that week, ordered food from the grill and deli as well as making herself a salad comprised of only Italian dressing and cottage cheese. Although the Chief Justice finished 99% of her enormous meal, she claims she could not finish the last bite of her 12′ sub because it had a “disgusting taste.” The Court immediately convened.

III. The question before this Court is whether The Hark, a cafeteria that serves the Harvard Law School community, is worth going to.

IV. “A meal is a meal when I say it is a meal,” Justice Dick wrote in his infamous opinion, In Re Boca Grande. Because that standard has proved unworkable and because we are upset Justice Dick has never authored a dissenting opinion, we hereby overrule In Re Boca Grande insofar as the standard it announces relies on Justice Dick’s taste in food. We are all too happy that our decision today comes two days before Justice Dick’s book on In Re Boca Grande, “Down and Out in Cambridge and Boston: Why so Few Restaurants Meet Justice Dick’s Standard,” was to be released.

V. With the In Re Boca Grande standard dead and buried, we announce a new standard that relies on the trustworthiness of taste buds as opposed to the reasoning of Justice Dick. The new standard is a meal is not a meal if it places an “undue burden on one’s taste buds,” with “one’s taste buds” defined as my taste buds. I ask the Law School community to look to my tongue to help guide them through the rough waters of Cambridge restaurants and cafeterias.

VI. Turning to the facts of this case it is clear The Hark fails the standard announced today. Not only was I unable to finish the sub I was eating because my taste buds rejected the flavor of the sub, but the extensive research I have done sampling every type of food at The Hark convinces me that few foods pass the undue burden on one’s taste buds standard. The few that do cannot make up for the many that don’t. As such, my ruling is clear.

VII. The Court finds that The Hark is not worthy of a student’s limited time and money.

It is so ordered.

Justice DICK, dissenting.

I. “For today, at least, the law of meals stands undisturbed. But the signs are evident and very ominous, and a chill wind blows.” I wrote those words in my concurrence to the Court’s judgment in In Re Montrose Spa. I had hoped that the lone justice that could prevent the Court from abandoning its own line of precedent could be persuaded not to join the tyrannical regime of the Chief Justice. Unfortunately, that justice has fallen under the spell of this queen of the damned who finds pleasure in wrecking standards that have been built upon well reasoned arguments and around which people have built their lives.

II. In place of the easy standard announced in In Re Boca Grande the Court has adopted an undue burden on one’s taste buds standard. It is completely unclear where the Court finds this standard, since it is even more strict than the intermediate standard it used in In Re Montrose Spa and certainly more strict than the In Re Boca Grande standard. So in the span of two decisions the Court has first lowered and then raised the standard used for gauging whether a restaurant serves a meal.

III. But how can students trust the thought process of the Chief Justice when she has been diagnosed with over twenty psychological disorders and has seen over ten psychologists and psychiatrists in the past three months. Just read what one psychiatrist wrote after seeing the Chief Justice for the second time: “She is absolutely, certifiably, crazy. I have given her a month’s supply of anti-depressants, but at ten times the dose. Even so, I have no faith she will not call me at three in the morning begging me to say I love her or that someone in this world loves her or even that if there is a God that she loves her. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell her such lies. I have an ethical duty to not lie to my patients. So I just hung up the phone and went back to sleep.”

IV. The current case is also clear as to why the undue burden on one’s taste buds is unworkable. Here the Chief Justice had consumed 99% of her meal, yet because she could not finish the last bite of her sub she ruled that The Hark does not serve meals and, thus, The Hark is not worthy of a student’s limited time and money. I wonder how much food the Chief Justice must consume in order to be satisfied.

V. I would hold under the In Re Boca Grande standard that what The Hark serves are meals. As such, I dissent.

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