Saturday, July 30, 2022

Don’t Get Your Legal Advice Off The Internet

First, and I mean no offense to say this: consider the source. The first thing you learn as a lawyer is that the plain language of a statute is not the last word; it’s only the first one. “Change the facts, change the outcome.” Case law decides what the words of the statute means and how they apply. Does Trump have a cemetery plus golf course, with all the tax benefits New Jersey law allows? I have no idea. Do I think so anyway? No. Because it’s complicated. Did he file the correct paperwork to have his golf course become a cemetery? Again: I have no idea. I’m pretty sure New Jersey public health law wouldn’t allow a burial near a golf course just because someone owned that property. That doesn’t necessarily convert all contiguous property (the golf course) into a cemetery. Indeed, Trump’s tweet indicates he got permission to use only a very limited area for burial (sorry, Tiffany). Doesn’t sound like he converted Bedminster into Deadminster. But does that mean he stopped there? Well, we don’t know, do we?  Yeah, most of the conversation is putting the cart before the horse. Ivanka is buried there because it was already a cemetery; it didn’t become one when the grave was opened. More likely than not, but I don’t know New Jersey law; by which I mean statutes and case law. Trump’s tweet supports that, so I’m going to assume Trump didn’t remove Deadminster from the tax rolls when Ivanka died. I don’t see the state allowing only 10 burial sites and then declaring all contiguous property a cemetery, just without graves or crypts or columbariums. Unless Trump’s tweet is just bullshit, New Jersey law probably provides for a state agency to promulgate regulations pursuant to statutes regarding establishing and operating cemeteries. That could be how Trump was restricted to 10 plots. Or it could be something else entirely; other statutes, case law, even state constitutional provisions.

It’s complicated. And it’s never what you think it is from Twitter; or some news articles. Journalists are honestly the worst at understanding legal matters. Twitter isn’t any better.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of the story of Virgil doing something like that by burying a pet fly at his farm, or something. With great expense and ceremony, I recall reading.