There are write-in advice and answer columns in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and blogs, addressing every conceivable topic. But how many of these openly address fabricated e-mails from "audience" members who are admittedly imaginary? Only one! "Valley Views on the Law," San Joaquin College of Law's monthly legal information radio show on FM 88.1. KFCF, in Fresno, does just that. In the "Dear Professors" segment, I answer the pressing and topical legal questions generated by my own perfervid imagination (along with one actual e-mail from an actual listener) every month, for the edification of the audience. You can also send me an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Here is a recent one preceding a discussion of drunk driving.


DEAR PROFESSORS:

I can't believe you Valley Views on the Law guys are doing another show about drunk drivers! There are so many critically important legal issues that the public should be educated about, and you're making it safe for incredibly selfish people to drink and drive, risking everyone's lives, without suffering the legal consequences they deserve. If you had any talent, Professor Purvis, I'd say this show was a waste of your time and talent, but let's just say it is a waste of your audience's time. Start addressing some meaningful topics or I and many others will be cancelling our subscription to Valley Views on the Law!
--Carlos Brito, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

It appears to me that you have two objections to today's show, Mr. Brito. One relates to how Valley Views on the Law selects topics, and the other relates to how our legal system treats persons accused of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant.
As to topic selection, we consider various factors, including whether the topic will be one of interest to our audience, whether we can provide information about the law that they might not already know, whether the topic is currently at issue in the appellate courts or presents a timely matter of public policy, and whether it is of interest to us. The United States Supreme Court is considering the case of Bernard v. Minnesota, which involves the constitutionality of a regulation requiring drivers to submit to a blood alcohol test when stopped by the police. Because the Supreme Court is deciding the case, and because that court decides very few cases each year, a great deal of public and lawyerly interest is generated. The last time we covered this topic, about a year ago, the Supreme Court had just refused to hear a case involving a very similar issue, so we were very interested to follow up on our previous discussion. Driving while intoxicated is an issue of ongoing public importance, and as always at Valley View on the Law, we regard it as part of our public service to inform people of their rights under the law, especially for those who are innocent of charges that may be brought against them by the government.

With regard to the broader question about how the law processes drunk driving prosecutions, as I suggested during our previous show, I might agree that our legislatures have not effectively addressed the public policy issues at stake, but I am always skeptical that draconian punishments do anything other than making problems like this worse. We have only to consider America's long, hideously expensive and completely failed "War on Drugs" to conclude that even where addictive behavior results in significant danger to others, believing that filling the prisons with drunk drivers will end the carnage on our roadways is foolish. If we could get one of our California legislators as a guest we would love to talk about better ways to reduce deaths and injuries from intoxicated drivers, and if any of them are listening, give us a call at San Joaquin College of Law. We have invited a graduate of SJCL who has developed an expertise on the scientific and legal issues presented to talk to us about the pending Supreme Court decision and related matters, and as you know, we love to talk to our former students.

So please do not cancel your subscription--Dean Atkinson and I desperately need your money to supplement the paltry salaries we receive as law professors.
I should mention to our listeners that, like so much of the Dear Professors segment, I completely fabricated the suggestion that VVOL has subscriptions or that we receive any money in connection with our show. We are volunteers, and we love being radio superstars and do it for sheer joy. However, everyone should make a donation to KFCF, 88.1FM, because it is a nonprofit entity bringing valuable radio programming to the people of the Central Valley and beyond!