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The Friday Notebook

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Sometimes I see a possible idea for a blog and I tuck it away. Then, I go back to those “tucked ideas” and I can’t figure out any blog idea. They are just like fingernail polish… without the nails. Or something like that.

So, here’s from the notebook. You’ll see why I ran out of creativity to make them into blogs from just thoughts.

During his entire life, Vincent Van Gogh sold exactly one painting, Red Vineyard at Arles. Makes me feel encouraged if I only write one book!

History tells us that the two robbers crucified next to Jesus were named Dismas and Gestas. You are probably wondering why I thought this was a blog idea. Yes… not so much.

If you have time to watch a presentation from Ted Talks, here’s a good one on How to Spot a Liar by Pamela Meyer. (Here)

And finally, Cinderella’s slippers were originally made out of fur, until a translator changed the story in the 1600′s. I guess 4-inch high-heeled fur sounds a little crazy!

I hope you have a great weekend… be creative out there!

And for pic o’ day…

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Free Speech or Just Against the Law?

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Did you know that it is against the law to do the Hitler Sieg Heil Salute in Germany. In fact, you can face jail time. I thought that this story would put into perspective our freedom of speech in the US.

This old story comes from the DailyMail.co.uk. The story of Adolf the dog.

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There are TV shows on how to train your dog to sit, rollover and even bark a song. But in Germany, one man learned that government officials take it seriously when you break the law on the Hitler salute.

A German dog owner taught his dog Adolf to do a Nazi salute. The German Shepherd mixed-breed lifted his paw up high on command, which made the dog look like he was giving the infamous raised-arm greeting that was used by Hitler and all of Germany during World War II.

The dog owner, known as Roland T, would command his dog to “give the salute” right in front of police. Even though it was a dog trick, the Nazi salute is banned in Germany. Multiple times he was told to stop but he wouldn’t stop. Finally, they arrested him,  jailed him because he could not pay the fine.

The article goes on to give us a clue on how crazy this dog owner could carry his obsession. He told police that since the dog was born on Hitler’s birthday, that he also planned to have him put down on the anniversary of Hitler’s suicide.

I guess we learn a bit about free speech laws; a view into crazy; and wonder what this dog owner would have done… if he had owned a Unicorn. OK, maybe we don’t wonder about that last one.

And for pic o’ day… this one made me smile!

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All in the Words!

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Facetious and abstemious  are the only two words that contain all the vowels in their correct order. That brings me to how two words played a role in a recent alimony case.

A lawsuit was filed by a New Jersey man, who claims that he suffered emotional distress when his ex-wife wrote the notations bum and loser on the memo line of her alimony payment checks to him.

Francis Wagner Jr. claimed that the name-calling worsened his health conditions, including cancer and a bad heart, according to the lawsuit.

His ex-wife, Diane Wagner, told the Daily Record that she agreed to pay her former husband $744 a month in spousal support for six years, because she didn’t have the money to fight it in trial. She says that she also has cancer and is terminally ill.

“As far as I’m concerned I can write anything I want on the memo line because it’s a note to myself,” Wagner told the Daily Record. “I was the victim in that marriage. What more blood does he want from me? I pay him religiously.”

Wagner told the Daily Record she also suffered emotional distress when the law firm that filed the suit, Trautmann & Trautmann, posted a photo of one of her alimony checks. The memo line read “alimony/adult child support.” The law firm claimed that they were trying to  “put a stop to that harassment.”

No word on whether the words have stopped. But apparently he keeps cashing the checks! And isn’t life more in the details than in the words!

And for the blog… winner winner chicken dinner!

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Photos and Law

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Last week, Geoff Glick and I attended a seminar in Charleston, South Carolina. That caused me to miss writing a Friday/Mother’s Day blog; but it didn’t get in the way of Geoff shopping for some Charleston hats! Of course, I promise to mention some law so we don’t change this to a fashion blog. coach 1coach 2

Today, I think,  I would prefer to keep posting pictures. Like this one that was sent to me. Can you see the combination personality on the T-shirt… in front of the White House. It’s a bit of a riddle for today! Hint: “cartoon plus hair”.

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But I digress! Here’s SOME LAW. It involves Uber and includes a case from South Carolina. It’s also a reminder to be vigilant for safety, even when we think that all is safe.

From The Recorder comes a court case about an Uber driver named Abderrahim Dakiri of Boston, who was convicted in February of assault and battery. The second Uber case being appealed relates to kidnapping and sexual assault charges against another Uber driver in question, Patrick Aiello, are pending in Charleston, South Carolina. In both instances, according to the Court opinion, It’s not whether the two drivers committed the acts, it’s whether Uber should be responsible. Their hiring practices and screening of their drivers is the real legal question . Uber’s defense is that each of their drivers is an independent contractor. So far, in other cases, that defense has not gotten any play. The Court recited in the opinion that: “It may be that facts will ultimately be revealed that disprove plaintiffs’ allegations or that tilt the scales toward a finding that Uber drivers are independent contractors,” Illston’s order reads. “However, taking the allegations in the amended complaint as true, plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts that an employment relationship may plausibly exist.” Factually, Plaintiffs in the South Carolina tort claim have sued Uber for negligent hiring, citing evidence that Aiello had a 2003 assault conviction. According to the pleadings, Uber missed that in his background check. In their response to the lawsuit, Uber described the conviction as a “12-year-old disorderly-persons offense that could have been expunged,” according to Illston’s order. The Judge denied Uber’s motion to dismiss the negligent hiring claim in regards to Aiello, but granted it in the Boston Dakiri case, because the plaintiffs did not present evidence that there was anything in his background that should have prevented him from driving for Uber. As a sidenote regarding Uber, it recently settled a class action suit that was brought for driver wages and tips. The settlement gave drivers an approximate $84 million resolution, but Uber still did not admit that it’s company definition of their drivers’ status “independent contractors” was incorrect. So that will probably still be a continuing defense in other case. Just worth noting… Uber is only as safe as each of its drivers.  And for pic o’ day: I think this cartoon from WUMO tells the current state of technology:

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Bark at the Dog

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

If you are an NFL football fan, you might have been watching on the third day of last week’s draft.

The fourth-round pick of the  Indianapolis Colts, was Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison.  There was some question about his past conduct, because he had been arrested on July 2013 for barking at a police dog.

Charges were dropped three days later, with officers stating that they had determined that Morrison didn’t bark at the dog out of malice. On the Florida police report it was noted that Morrison’s defense was that he barked because the dog barked first.

Now that’s a defense. Of course, best not roar at a lion…if they roar at you first!

And this pic o’ day reminded me of how good it makes me feel to be told, “you’re having a bad hair day”. That’s a compliment when you are follically challenged! (Of course, I promise you will never say I look good in a tank top. Not part of the wardrobe! Some things I can control)

 

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Supreme Court Thoughts

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Some people like to announce things… to the shock of others. This blog deals with the Supreme Court… and their recent case announcement.

What About Bob was an old Bill Murray movie. Maybe I should have called this blog “Should Bob be worried”, based on Bob McDonnell’s court case that was heard in front of the Supreme Court as the last case of the session.

I thought that the case recited below that was heard by the Court a few weeks before the McDonnell appeal might have some analogy; but hopefully for Bob… not similarity. So, here’s some court stuff:

This Supreme Court opinion dealt with the facts of a lower court criminal case, involving a Baltimore body shop, that gave kickbacks to police officers who referred drivers with crashed and damaged cars.

In a 5-3 decision,  the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that although the defendant police officer  did not try to take anything from third parties, he could still be convicted of conspiracy to commit extortion under the Hobbs Act.

Several times between 2009 and 2011,  Officer Samuel Ocasio, while on duty, encouraged auto accident victims to take their cars to the Majestic Auto Repair Shop. The shop reportedly paid police officers a referral fee of between $150 and $300 for each referral. Officer Ocasio was  caught and convicted of three counts of extortion and one count of conspiracy.

His attorneys argued that he could not be charged with conspiring with the owners to get the payments, because a conspiracy conviction would need proof that they tried to extort property from a third party.

The Supreme Court majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, found that because Ocasio was acting  as a public officer while reaching an agreement with  body shop owners to get cash payments,  and that the conviction should stand. He was joined in the majority by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Their opinion in part read:

In order to establish the existence of a conspiracy to violate the Hobbs Act, the government has no obligation to demonstrate that each conspirator agreed personally to commit—or was even capable of committing—the substantive offense of Hobbs Act extortion,” Alito wrote. “It is sufficient to prove that the conspirators agreed that the underlying crime be committed by a member of the conspiracy who was capable of committing it.”

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in dissent:

Under a correct understanding of Hobbs Act extortion, it is illogical and wrong to say that two people conspired to extort one of themselves. As explained, in a Hobbs Act extortion case, the only perpetrator is the public official; the payor is a victim and not a participant.”

Another dissent opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts disagreed with the majority’s interpretation of the Hobbs Act. When conspirators want to extort something from someone, she reasoned, they frequently look for victims outside their group.

“’ I But in upholding the conspiracy conviction here, the Court interprets the phrase extorting property ‘from another’ in the Hobbs Act contrary to that natural understanding,” Sotomayor wrote. “It holds that a group of conspirators  can agree to obtain property ‘from another’ in violation of the act even if they agree only to transfer property among themselves. That is not a natural or logical way to interpret the phrase ‘from another’ I respectfully dissent.”

I wonder if that gives us any insight into how the court will rule on our former Governor’s conviction, here in Virginia. Former Governor McDonnell needs those same 5 votes to go his way. A 4-4 tie will only serve to reaffirm his conviction. Like all politicians…he is still looking for the votes.

Court opinions are based on what? Not mood and attitude. As some coaches used to say about how hard practice was going to be, “It’s based on mood and attitude. My mood and your attitude”.

That leads me to our pic o’ day… and some body shop sign humor:

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Circus News and Claims

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Over the weekend (CNN), Ringling Brothers. and Barnum Bailey circus had its last show with the elephants. No longer an elephant in the room for the 145-year-old circus. Yes… they still have the lions! But, when I saw the elephant story, it reminded me of the recent entry from The Luminary, the weekly Muncy, Pennsylvania newspaper.

This might be something that only my dad and I found interesting, but it comes from the section called Peeks of the Past. Here’s the history from April 29, 1881:

135 years ago: Miss Carrie Ort. Robert Barr, of Port Penn, while repairing the canal bridge near the P. & R. depot last Friday, cut himself on the arm with an axe. During the performance at the circus last Saturday night a portion of the seats gave way, injuring a number of persons, the most seriously being George Colley, of East Muncy, whose leg was broken in six places. The management of the circus settled with Mr. Colley’s father by the payment of $82. Some thieves effected an entrance into the clothing store of John H. Roker recently and stole goods to the amount of $100. Thirty Muncy people saw “The Union Spy” in Williamsport Thursday evening.

That little “blurb” has news of a job injury; an injury at the circus; and how much was paid for the negligence of the circus. Plus, you can compare the payment against the worth of the stolen goods at the grocery store. Yep… just some “negligence history” in Muncy!

“If a lion could talk… we couldn’t understand him”- Ludwig Wittgenstein

(Guess you have to be a lion to understand)

And for pic o’ day, I know this feeling!

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The Question of Attorney Fees

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

I start out with a picture my mom sent me over the weekend, because she knew that I had some good meals at The Greenbrier in West Virginia… and she knows I like “labs”.

 

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Today’s blog is about something that lawyers usually don’t like to talk about. It’s the subject of attorney fees. So, let’s take a look at a recent case in Florida and why it’s worth mentioning.

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that an attorney fee schedule that resulted from a Florida 2009 state law, is unconstitutional. The law limited attorney’s fees that could be paid to claimant’s lawyers in worker’s compensation cases.

In the case where the Court overturned the 2009 law, based on the attorney fee scale, the claimant’s lawyer was to be paid $164.54 for over 100 hours of legal work. That amounted to $1.53 per hour.The court also found fault in the fee-capping law because it provided no procedure for lawyers to challenge the amount of the attorney’s fees that was set by this law. The Court said,

It is undeniable that without the right to an attorney with a reasonable fee, the workers’ compensation law can no longer ‘assure the quick and efficient delivery of disability and medical benefits to an injured worker“.

Now, why should anyone feel sorry for lawyers and their attorney fees? Who cares if a lawyer feels without? Here’s a thought:

It’s the cause and effect. You might notice that all of these laws impact the claimant side. I never see a law that restricts the amount that a defense lawyer can charge.

Typically, legislators claim that such attorney fee laws protect the injured worker. In fact, in states with similar laws, it makes it harder for injured workers to find lawyers to represent them. So, the effect that the fee restriction has is that employers  are represented, and employees have a system that makes it harder to find lawyers to represent them.

Here’s a better solution. Why not make the employer’s insurance company responsible for reasonable attorney fees, when they have denied an injury that turns out to be job-related. Because… I’m guessing that insurance companies are against it. So where are all those legislators who want to protect the injured worker?

I guess this is one of those blogs that goes against the grain. It talks about money and fees… and protecting injured workers! And the Lion goes Roar!

And for pic o’ day … maybe we are headed into beach weather soon?

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The Key Doesn’t Fit

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

It kinda sounds like a story of “If the key doesn’t fit… ” Instead of trying to top this by blogging about it, I am just pasting. It made me laugh:

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And since it’s the weekend of the NFL draft, I thought I would mention this one old law from Massachusetts. No one may take a bath in that state without a prescription. No wonder I root against the New England Patriots. No bath this weekend… but there will be!

Have a great weekend! and for pic o’ weekend…

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Categories : Current Affairs, Sports
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Watching the Lions

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

There are just some things that you can’t take your eyes off. Going to the zoo, you can laugh at the monkeys. You might marvel at the giraffes. You might even wonder if they ever have sore throats, with their long necks… and do they make cough drops for a giraffe?

You don’t wonder about the lions. You just can’t stop watching them! Right?

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That’s my lead to our Wednesday pic o’ day. (Went blog light today, since we sent out our April newsletter email) Some animal analysis. This is more ”animal” department. Part wreck… part dinosaur humor.

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Ok… you don’t like T-Rex humor? How about some medical humor?

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