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The Friday Collection

Friday, March 13th, 2015

I figured that if you managed to make it through my long blog yesterday,  you deserved a shorty today. So, from the pic o’ notebook collection, I post some from the pet collection that were sent to me. The last one is a horrible spoon invention!

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and

 

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and

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and finally the spoon!

 

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Have a great weekend!

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The Massie Trial in Hawaii

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

This is the story of a historical trial that took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. According to Wikipedia, it was known as the Massie Trial or also the Massie Affair. It first began with a rape trial that then led to the Massie murder trial.

Thalia Fortescue, had come from a “well-to do” family and married a rising United States Navy officer named Thomas Massie. They attended a party in September 1931. There, Thalia Massey, apparently got drunk, got in a fight which resulted in her slapping an officer at the party. Then, she raced out the door and home alone.

Later that night, reportedly her officer/husband, Lieutenant Massie, found her at home where she made the claim that she had been raped by several Hawaiians. When she described the event later to police, she described her attackers simply as “locals”.

In short, several charges were brought based on some questionable evidence, including the fact that the police told her several pieces of critical evidence because she could not provide even basic identification of some of the defendants, and even a purported license plate number which she originally did not know. A fabrication of evidence was later suggested.

Eventually these defendants were brought to trial on the rape charges. This, despite her questionable testimony that did not hold well under cross examination.

The jury  included two Chinese and two Japanese jurors. Closing arguments in the trial were made on December 1, 1931.

Throughout the trial, the newspapers had been rife with rumors of Thalia having an affair with another officer before all these events. In addition, it was speculated that she originally had never in fact been raped. Instead, the claim was that it was her own husband who had come home and beaten her up and broken her jaw.

Compounding all this, her well-to-do mother arrived to support her daughter. Practically, she was really there to conduct a public relations campaign to salvage the family name.

After ninety seven hours of deliberations the jury announced that they could not reach a decision. They were deadlocked at six to six. The jury was dismissed without a conviction.

Racial tensions were high after the hung jury.  Across the island, there were fights between whites and non-whites.

Her officer/husband, Tommie Massie, was afraid that a second trial might also fail to bring a conviction. He conceived a plot  to obtain a confession.

He and three others kidnaped one of the defendants, a local well-known boxer named Joe Kahahawai. He was the darkest-skinned of all the original defendants who had been found not guilty in the original trial. These white men held him at gun point with the intent of forcing him to confess to the rape,.

When he would not confess to the rape, they beat him and then one of them shot him, in a fit of rage. They then wrapped his body in a sheet with the intent of dumping the body in a desolate place.

A police motorcyclist saw their car and thought that it looked suspicious. He pulled them over and discovered the body. All four were then arrested for murder.

Now, racial tensions were even worse because the killing was seen by the locals as a lynching. Conversely, the white community was in sympathy with Masssie and his friends.

A grand jury indicted all four. Famed defense lawyer, Clarence Darrow, who was seventy- five-years old and in retirement, decided to come out of retirement to defend the four.

He was promised a fee of $40,000; a very substantial amount of money in those days. He was assisted in the defense by attorney George Leisure, who arrived by ship on March 24, 1932. They were met by crowds of people, reporters and curious onlookers, at the Honolulu dock. This was a front-page case in Hawaii.

The trial began on April 4th in a packed courtroom. Throughout the trial, Thalia Massie attempted to portray herself as having no knowledge of the events or anything that her husband might have done.

However, the prosecution managed to prey on her feeling of superiority above the islanders; which led to her losing her temper, and ripping up a piece of evidence, and storming from the witness stand.  On that, the prosecution rested.

Defendant Thomas Massie was Darrow’s first witness. His defense was temporary insanity. Darrow called two psychiatrists to testify that the defendant had been temporarily insane at the time of the killing. He also called Thalia Massie who testified about the original alleged rape.

Darrow’s final argument was  carried live on local radio. He argued that the mental suffering of the rape and hung jury had driven the defendants to do what they had done. He occasionally wiped away tears while emphasizing the “black gates of prison” that they would face if convicted.

He argued all morning and into the afternoon. In his conclusion, he praised Hawaii as a “kindly and dispositioned people” and ended his closing with,  “I ask you to be kind, understanding, considerate – both to the living and the dead.”

The jury began deliberations on April 27th. After 47 hours,  their verdict for each defendant: “Guilty of manslaughter. Leniency recommended.”

Again, racial tensions were high. Martial Law was considered.

Hawaii Governor Lawrence Judd received a call from the President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, who urged that they be spared jail time. The governor agreed. He commuted their original 10-year sentence “to one hour, to be served in the custody of the sheriff.”

Wikipedia concludes with the following:

After a flurry of diplomatic maneuvering between Washington, D.C. and Honolulu, martial law was avoided. Instead, under pressure from the Navy, Territorial Governor Lawrence M. Judd commuted the 10-year sentences of the convicted killers to one hour, to be served in his office. Days later the entire group, including the Massies, the two other Navy men, Fortescue and Darrow, boarded a ship and left the island in turmoil. Thalia and Massie divorced in 1934; she committed suicide in 1963; he died in 1987.

Like an ending to a movie… In 1966, Albert O. Jones admitted that he was the one who had actually shot Joeseph Kahahawai.

Even though the blog is so long, I still include pic o’. This has its own curious bumper sticker evidence!

tailgate

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The Virginia General Assembly

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Mark Twain said, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session”. That saying always makes me smile and then nod.

I start the blog out with that because I have asked Brian Sullivan to do a summary of the past Virginia General Assembly session. I’ll let you decide if you think Mark Twain was right. On to Brian’s analysis:

 

This past January and February, the Virginia General Assembly met and considered nearly 3,000 bills, resolutions and budget amendments.  Of those, the House passed 456, and the Senate passed 344; for a grand total of 800 new laws!  Well, slightly less since some are doubled; but it’s still a lot and most of these go into effect on July 1st.   So you better get to reading!

Fortunately, the vast majority of these will have little to no effect to you whatsoever.

For example: House Bill (HB) 1545 and Senate Bill (SB) 685 removes the word “inspection” from references to the United States Postal Inspection Service in several criminal procedure sections.  Exciting, right?

Other new laws may effect you, but almost unnoticeably; HB1440 & SB899 allow the ABC to round the final price of each container of alcoholic beverages it sells to end with a nine (9).  Under current law, the final price may be a multiple of five (5).  So if you’re planning a large Independence Day party, be sure to do your shopping a week in advance to save those 4 pennies!

News coverage for the session has mostly focused on new laws concerning the handling and reporting of sexual assaults on college campuses, ethics reform, budget amendments, and a few others.  Most of the other bills passed are technical adjustments or minor policy changes, others only effecting associations or a small subset of the population.  But there are a few that could be of interest to you.  Let’s take a look:

  • HB1342 & SB1220: These bills expand the law against following too closely to more than just cars.  This now includes non-motor vehicles like bicycles, electric assistive mobility devices, electric power-assisted bicycles, and mopeds.
  • HB1499 & SB1427: Provide that a mother may breastfeed in any place where the mother is lawfully present. Current law only allows breastfeeding on any property owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth.
  • HB1307 & SB1293: Public elementary and secondary schools will no longer be permitted to require parents to provide the student’s social security number.  Instead, an identification number program is being developed.  (goes into effect August 1st.)
  • HB2090 & SB1260: Require new training standard materials and regulation for Restaurants that address food safety and food allergy awareness and safety.

And last but not least:

Of course, depending on what you do for a living or what your interests are, there are potentially many new laws that may directly effect you.  If you’d like to take a look at all the bills that were passed by the General Assembly this year, it’s as easy as clicking here.

And now for our usual blog pic o’ day…

Bear

 

 

 

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Dr. Bill

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Bill Whitehurst was dressed in his “Sunday-go-to-meeting” suit because he really was in church. At the time, he was Congressman from Virginia’s second district and I worked for him in the Norfolk district office. Just as many others, I knew him as Dr. Bill.

As a backdrop, I had come to work for him as a summer intern. He then asked me to continue on staff while I attended college during my junior year. So, everyday I would race from my classes to work half-days at the Congressional office. That meant that I usually would answer mail and phone calls. Which brings me back to that Sunday morning.

He had been invited to my church that morning to briefly speak. When I saw him come through the church door, I made a beeline toward him. That’s when he greeted me and also handed a few of letters to me. They were letters that I had prepared for his signature.

Usually, he would come back from Washington on weekends and personally sign each letter that had been prepared for him during the week. He always wanted to personally sign his mail even though most other elected officials used those signature machines. It was a lot of letter signing each weekend.

These were the days before spell check and computers. When he handed me my prepared letters, I noticed that a couple had corrections on them with an attached instruction note. He asked me to make some changes that included spelling… which I did. I couldn’t help it, it made me laugh out loud because that was his personality. He actually brought the mail to church because he wanted to get it right and get them mailed out the next morning.

When I had first come to work as an intern, the office manager, Rena Wasserman, had given me some words of advice in working there. She did so with a smile. One recommendation was to never drive him in my car. Whenever he wanted me to drive, I would just hand him my key. It was true, he was a terrible “backseat driver”.

Years later, I now have a note and a letter from him that are framed together. One is the note that was attached to those letters that he gave me on that Sunday, asking me to make changes. The letter framed beside it was the thank you that he sent me after my last day of employment.

His thank you meant a lot to me and the note of corrections reminded me to pay attention to the details.

letter W.

Dr. Bill made a lasting impression on how I work. He never felt that it was necessary to stand on the floors of Congress to make speeches. Instead, he emphasized taking care of those that he represented. That was emphasized to everyone that worked for him.

He once told me that the best part of working in Washington was seeing it in his rearview mirror each weekend, as he headed back home to Tidewater. It’s too bad that there aren’t more of our elected officials less consumed with Washington and more consumed with the detail of doing a good job and taking care of those who elected them.

I decided to write about Dr. Bill when I read Philip Walzer of PilotOnline.com , who wrote an article about Dr. Bill receiving the First Citizen Award from the Norfolk Cosmopolitan Club. And, this Thursday that he is also going to be celebrating his 90th birthday.

He attributes his long life to not smoking, “pushing away” from the dinner table and teaching, because “students energize you” according to the article. He continues to teach at Old Dominion University.

You’ll learn a great deal about Dr. Bill in this well written article from the Pilot. It brought back some great memories. A man who has influenced many including me.

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate to attend a dinner that honored Dr. Bill. Following that night, he sent me another letter to tell me that he is proud of me. Yes… I have that letter framed too!

And for pic o’ day…

 Picture1

 

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A Recipe of Loss

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Just looking at this picture makes me hungry! These are called “cruffins”. A combination of a croissant and muffin.

Ry Stephen, the proprietor of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, grabs a finished tray of cruffins, his croissant/muffin hybrid, in San Francisco.

They are made at a bakery in San Francisco named Mr Holmes Bakehouse.(SeattleTimes.com) The baked cruffin has various fillings that include Fluffernutter cream or strawberry milkshake. Here are pictures of a couple different fillings:

 

filling

 

 

Apparently the cruffin is so good that it created temptation to commit a crime. Someone broke into the bakery during the night last week. In the morning, nothing from the bakery was stolen… except the recipe for the cruffin and 230 other recipes from the bakery.

The empty folders were even left behind. Only the recipes were taken. The owner of the bakery learned of the theft just a short time before his bakery was to open. His staff called to tell him the recipes were gone. So, he didn’t even have time to call the police. He knew that he needed to race to the bakery and get as many items made as he could, because people would be lining up outside, with the doors to open at 7am.

So far, there are no suspects. Police think it could be a competitor. The employees are already allowed to take home any recipe that they want, so they are not current “cruffin suspects”.

When I read this story, it made me wonder about the value of the recipes. What if a jury had to decide their value in a civil case? At the end of the article, the reporter quoted one customer who said that as soon as she heard about the theft, it made her want a cruffin. “If someone stole it, it’s got to be good”.

That last quote reminded me of some of the things that insurance adjusters have said to me in automobile claims. The theft of the recipes has created value… “and they are now actually better off”. I never get used to such nonsense in negotiations. But writing this blog still makes me hungry!

 

And for pic o’ day… probably hard to listen to these instructions:

calm down

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Writing on Anything

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

With the craziness of the weather, it caused me to want to write about something I wanted to write about. So I thought, “What do I want to write about?”. Time ticked on.

Then I thought that I would figure out a way to write about baseball. Still, I couldn’t figure out how spring training belonged in a legal blog. Boom… it happened.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have announced that they are going to be selling the Churro Dog during the season. Right then, I knew what I needed to blog about. Somehow, I needed to make this a contract matter. The Churro Dog!

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It is described as a “warm cinnamon churro sitting inside a Long john chocolate-glazed donut which is then topped with frozen yogurt, caramel and chocolate sauces”. The estimated calorie count? 1117 calories.

That’s when I realized that I had my contract. For $8.50… 1117 calories.

Last year, Arizona announced that they were selling a D-Bat Dog for the tidy sum of $25.

D-Bat

It’s described as an 18-inch corn dog stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapenos and bacon. And, served with a side of fries. So, I suppose that they are counting on people to start out with the dog and finish off with the Churro. That’s a meal that will separate us from the herd!

herded like cattle not used

Just as a side note, the Texas Rangers first introduced a $25 dog in 2012 that was 2-feet-long. They called it the broomstick. They sold over 20,000 of them that season. So…. there is a market for those fix ins’.  And for me… a blog that makes me hungry on a Thursday. Well, maybe just a little hungry.

And for pic o’ day, I imagine that some are also saying “Really?” But others might be saying…

ex

 

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Brian Sullivan’s Guest Blog Post

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

I asked Brian Sullivan to write a blog post on lobbying. Then, I realized that I needed to write a quick introduction to this guest blog post. So… Brian  came to work at the firm a few months ago, with an emphasis on governmental issues. Even though he is not a lawyer, he has a diverse background in political/oversight/non-profit organization.

He was present at the 2015 Virginia General Assembly and  worked on/monitored legislation that impacted our firm and practice. We sure enjoyed his reports.

I asked him to write a guest blog on lobbying. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did…

From the desk of Brian Sullivan… 

What is a Lobbyist?  You are!

Dinners, trips, gifts and deals.  These are a few of the things you may think of when hearing the word “lobbyist”.  Things aren’t always what they seem in the movies, or even in the news; so what exactly is a lobbyist?

Strictly speaking, in Virginia, a lobbyist is:

“any individual who is employed in any manner or who is reimbursed for expenses, or who represents an organization, association or other group for the purpose of influencing or attempting to influence executive or legislative action through oral or written communication with an executive or legislative official; this includes anyone who solicits others to influence an executive or legislative official.”

That’s quite a broad definition.  However, paid lobbyists aren’t the only ones who are involved in the process.  Anyone who has ever written an email or called their representative is in fact “attempting to influence executive or legislative action”.  By the above definition, “lobbying” even includes soliciting others to advocate as well.  So, if you’ve ever had a heated discussion on a public policy issue, it could be said that you have engaged in “lobbying”.  Congratulations!

As members of a Representative Democracy, it is our right, and even our duty, to contact our elected officials; it’s an integral part of the process.  Not only do our elected officials want to hear from us about the issues before them, they actually rely on it.   While a legislator’s role is to represent a group of people and cast votes based on that representation, the role of a lobbyist is to represent a single or group of interests, and to provide information to support those interests.  The process just doesn’t work without everyone involved.

This year’s session was 44 days, with 2,775 bills, 10+ hour days packed with Committee, constituent and voting session meetings, not to mention the hundreds of daily phone calls and emails.   To say this time is busy, would be like saying Boston got a bit of snow this year!  As busy as the schedule is, the hallways (and especially the elevators) are even busier! On any given day, the building is packed with hundreds of registered lobbyists, and as many non-registered individuals and groups.  It would be safe to say that the ratio is 50:1.

But as hectic as this all may sound (and it is!), as each bill comes up in Committee, the question is always asked: “Is there anyone from the public here to speak in favor or against this bill?”.  More often than not, the side with the most support from the public is the one that prevails.  From time to time, a legislator will even cast a vote based on a single communication from a constituent!

So, do you need access to private jets and expense accounts to get your voice heard?  No.  All you need is the time it takes to make a call, write an email, or even make your way downtown.  Don’t have time for any of that?  Well then……….……just hire a lobbyist!

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I Want My Pen!

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

I have been to several courthouses in several different states. They all have a form of security. Some much more strict than others. Sometimes, it feels like you are getting ready to board a plane.

Some courthouses security requires that you place items in bins as they go through a scanner. To date, I haven’t been asked to take off my shoes. For one lawyer in Nebraska, he has a lost luggage feeling. And he apparently believes that The pen is mightier than the sword.

Attorney John Kerwin went through courthouse security at the Douglas County Courthouse in Omaha, Nebraska. He accidentally left his keys and Montblanc ballpoint pen at the security kiosk. (Omaha.com)

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Later he asked a Judge to unlock the kiosk to get his belongings. The Judge handed him his keys but the pen was missing. The lawyer values the pen at $500; but worse, it has sentimental value because it was given to him by his uncle.

The pen is nowhere to be found. Surveillance video shows the officer who last touched the pen before it went missing. Now, Kerwin wants the County to either find the pen or replace it. And, he is serious. So serious that he has filed suit against the County Clerk’s office.

Kerwin says that he “just wants his special pen back”. I suspect that they will pay him $500 to reimburse him.

I wonder, do you think that the effort is worth the reward? Maybe he should just say… it’s Saul Good!

And for pic o’ day, here’s some wisdom:

wisdom

 

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How About a Cup of Coffee

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

For years, car manufacturers fought regulations that would require them to include airbags in their cars. “Too expensive” was one of their reasons. It wasn’t until 1968 (wiki) until cars had to be equipped with seatbelts. Even then, they were initially only lap belts. Of course, those were the days when car-makers were selling cars that were so low to the ground, they were basically lawn mowers with seats. Not a lot of safety consideration.

Now there is a lot of thought and testing that is going into making a safe football helmet. I suppose the NFL won’t get too serious unless they think that their product is threatened by either less TV viewers, or less parents who are willing to allow their kids to play in youth leagues. Remove the interest; impact the dollars; and the NFL will certainly make safety more than a talking point.

For now, I can’t do much to impact those two things but I can give you something to think about… as it effects “your thinker”. Today.com provides benefits and statistics on daily coffee drinking. Of course, because I am such a coffee fan, I decided that this article needed to go right into the blog. Some of this is even cut and paste.

The latest news about coffee is that it may lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. Researchers presented data at a Neurology seminar that suggests that coffee consumpion may help because of how its properties impact inflamation.

coffee

       Researchers enlisted 1,629 Swedish patients with MS and compared them to 2,807 individuals without it. In addition, the researchers compared 584 California patients to an additional 581 healthy participants of the study.

Their findings: In the Swedish group, consuming at least 6 cups of coffee a day lowered the risk of MS by 33 percent. The American group showed researchers a suggested finding that consuming four or more cups of coffee a day also lowered the risk by 33 percent.

That’s one of those studies that makes you go Hmmm. Also, researchers at Pittsburgh Medical Center have released some additional findings on coffee. This  medical facility has also been in the forefront of brain injury research that includes concussion studies.

According to Leslie Bonci,  their Director of Sports Nutrition, coffee appears to help prevent Parkinson’s disease and help control the tremors in patients who have already been diagnosed with it.

So, with that in mind, the article referenced above also provides the following health benefits from drinking coffee:

1. It protects the liver from a disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis, as well as possibly counteracting the harmful effects of drinking alcohol, according to a 2014 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

A separate 2014 study from researchers at the National Cancer Institute found people who reported drinking three cups of coffee a day were less likely to have abnormal enzymes in the liver, indicating improved liver function. The researchers tracked 27,793 men and women, age 20 or older.

“That doesn’t mean you should drink a lot of alcohol and then have coffee to protect your liver,” Bonci says.

2. It increases the amount of sex hormone binding globulin, which in turn lowers the risk of diabetes. There are scores of studies on coffee and diabetes and the results are consistent: Coffee drinkers have lower diabetes risk. “And this isn’t a caffeine effect,” Bonci says. “But rather an effect of the antioxidants and polyphenols, which are plant nutrients, some of which are unique to coffee.”

3. Moderate consumption may lower the risk of heart failure, according to a review of five studies. The key is moderate: about two cups a day.

4. It possibly protects against certain kinds of cancer. “There have been studies looking at coffee lowering the risk of various cancers,” Bonci says. “That’s hard to tease out. But there does seem to be evidence that people who drink coffee have a lower risk of liver and prostate cancer.”

5. It helps athletic performance. Caffeine boosts endurance so you can exercise harder and longer, studies show. To get a rough idea of an effective “dose” for you, take your weight in pounds, divide it in half and multiply by three, says TODAY nutrition and health editor Madelyn Fernstrom. If you weigh 200 pounds, that would be 100 x 3 = 300 mg, about the amount in a large coffee.

Perhaps too much of a good thing is too much. For now, I’m glad that my morning coffee appears to be beneficial.

 

 

And for pic o’ day, this one made me stop and think…and agree:

car alarm

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A Bunch of Snow

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Someday I hope to be scrolling through the blog collection on a hot day, and then stumble on this Friday blog. I know it’s not much of a legal blog but it does reflect the mindset… SNOW!

It did allow us to return some phone calls and get caught up on email. And, the lawyers in the intake department stayed faithful. Way to go Intake!!! The offices that really never close, even when the doors might be closed.

Meanwhile, I worked a bit (a very little bit) from the warmth of my home office. And here are the snow pictures from the house. Maybe you’ll come back to this blog on a hot day too.

From the side of the porch

snow 1

 

From the back of the house… through the window. (that means I was being really lazy)

snow 2

And then down the street from the front door.

snow road

I hope you have a great weekend!!!!

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