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The Law of Protection

Monday, April 6th, 2015

      This is a week filled with three mediations. That means that I must have patience and also deal with not sitting at my desk for most of those three days. (Reminder to self… must have patience)

     One virtue is that those days go very quickly. One difficulty is that those days go very quickly. I feel like I just recited one of those Palindromes. You know, the words like kayak, level and racecar which can be spelled backwards and forwards… or something like that.

     All said, my rambling it to lead to this. While I can’t think much about vacation this week, I still can post a reminder from DailyMail.com on statistics about being in the sun. The article recites that retirees are seven times more likely to get skin cancer than in the 1970s, with people going on cheaper vacations.

     Cheaper travel and discount cruise ships are among the reasons that cancer research has shown that men aged 65 and over are shown to be 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with malignant melanoma, than those of their parents’ generation. Women of the same age bracket are five times more likely.

     According to the research, getting sunburned once every two years can triple a person’s risk of developing melanoma. And, these statistics will only rise as children grow older… as they spend more time in the sun in their youth.

     Vigilant about the skin and wearing sunblock. Not overdoing the constant exposure and swapping bad sun habits can save lives. I know that it sounds like a public service announcement, but this research is a good reminder.  Now bring on the warm weather!

 

 And for pic o’ day… yes, it is cheesy!

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More Than Employment Cheerleader

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

The announcement came though Executive Order of the Governor. Ban the Box in all state employment applications.(Richmond Times-Dispatch)

When I saw the announcement to ban the box, I had no idea what it meant. Then I learned that state employees will no longer have to indicate on their employment applications whether or not they have been convicted of a crime.

According to the Governor, the order is supposed to remove a current barrier of employment for anyone who has not applied because of a past crime. According to the Governnor’s spokesman, Virginians who have done their time and paid their price should not be excluded from state employment. It means “forgiveness and second chances”.

I assumed that this meant that it was basically an order of encouragment. “Don’t be afraid to apply”. That Human Resources would still do a criminal backround check.

Like buying a chicken rotisserie from an infomercial… but wait, there’s more. The caveat. The order states that a background check can only be conducted after a prospective employee has been determined to be qualified and is being considered for the job. Basically, getting through the door and being considered for hiring. Maybe the perverbial phone call that says, “You are now one of three still being considered”.

One legal note on state law regarding employment for the state. This does not apply to applicatons for state jobs that involve money or the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. I almost feel like inserting a punchline there.

For positions categorized as state “sensitive” such as state troopers, child care and corrections and prison officers, background checks will still be required. A waiver will have to be signed for those to be conducted.

Does this mean that child molesters are now able to work at Medical College of Virginia hospital? That computer hackers and identify thieves will be working at DMV?  According to the Governor… No. It just means that individuals convicted of a felony are not automatically disqualified from applying for state jobs.

Does this mean that private businesses will soon be subject to this change in hiring because of a state law change? Well, such companies as Walmart, Home Depot and Target have already ”removed the box”. However, I’m guessing that Virginia still does not want to upset the apple cart of being considered as friendly for business and will not take the next step to apply this to all private businesses.

This same bill had been presented in the Virginia legislature this past session. It passed the state Senate but got defeated in the House. That’s why the Governor took the step of issuing the Executive Order.  Virginia joins 14 other states who have embraced this second chance employment opportunity in “banning the box”.

One final thought. More than 650,000 are released from prison nationwide every year according to the Department of Justice.

 

And for pic o’ day, a high five for Monday!

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Truck Crash Domino

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

I think that every Friday is a good Friday, but this is especially Good Friday!

Speaking of a play on words, a Canadian newspaper had a story about a truck wreck. The story headline stated Bread Truck rolls over, hundreds of loaves toast. 

And finally, I looked out the back window of my office and saw this sign only a few feet away. It caught my attention!

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While in college, I was driving to take a final exam. It would be another two years before I enrolled at law school. At that time, my intent was to go to law school and become a corporate lawyer. I’m not sure I really knew what that meant but I thought corporate was for me.

I stopped at a red light. Unfortunately, a TruGreen truck lost its brakes and ran into the back of my little car. The short story,  that event set a sequence of events in motion. A truck that caused me to no longer want to be a corporate lawyer. A personal injury lawyer was born!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a meaningful Easter Sunday.

And a couple of theme pic o’s:

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April Fools on the 2nd

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

I’m not big on April Fool’s Day so I didn’t mention it yesterday for the blog. I think that it does bring out the two categories of people. Some love practical jokes and others are not as humored by them. I’m personally not big on pranks.

A newly signed Indianapolis Colts player tweeted that he had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. Then he announced it was an April Fool’s joke. I received the tweet as a Colts fan. For his sake, I hope no one nationally will notice his choice of prank.

If you are a Colts Fan you might find this funny….The Indianapolis Colts uniform introduction:

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They announced that the Colts would be wearing all white next year. That’s a funny April Fool’s joke at no one’s expense!

A couple of people had asked me why I didn’t write an April Fool’s Day blog. I guess I just did!

And for pic o’ day, a bit of (missing) leadership:

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Mystery of the Axman of New Orleans

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

It’s still considered unsolved.  From May 1918 until October 1919, New Orleans residents lived in fear as a serial killer brutally murdered at least 8 people and may have attacked more. The victims included women and children.

In most instances, the back door of a home was smashed, followed by an attack on the residents of the home who were either killed with an axe or a straight razor.

Nothing was stolen from the homes and the only possible motive was that many of the victims were Italian descent. Reporters of the day began referring to the killer as the Axman of New Orleans.

On March 13, 1919, a typed letter that was supposedly sent to the newspaper from  the Axman was published to advise that he would kill again at 15 minutes past midnight on March 19. However, he advised that he would spare the occupants of any household where a jazz band was playing.

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Once the letter was published in the newspaper, people rounded up every instrument in town, parties were planned and dance halls were filled to capacity. All professional and amateur bands were hired and played jazz at parties in hundreds of households throughout the city. Sure enough, the city awoke to learn that no murders had been committed that night.

The last attack occurred in August of that year. The Axman was never caught and brought to justice. Speculation was rampant that he had something to do with jazz and that he was a respectable citizen with an alter ego like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type.

Wikipedia lists the victims and also suggests why the killings may have stopped including the fact that perhaps the husband of the last victim exacted revenge by ultimately killing the serial killer.

One of the tunes that likely was performed on that fateful jazz night was The Mysterious Axman’s Jazz (Don’t Scare Me Papa) by local musician Joseph John Davilla.

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The sheet music for that song became a “best seller” and still remains on display in a New Orleans museum.

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The Axman’s letter stated that They have never caught me and they never will. His letter turned out to contain that truth.

 

 

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Some Caring From History

Monday, March 30th, 2015

In the Sunday church sermon, the Pastor told the following story as a challenge to care for others. I can’t write it any better than this so, I found it and pasted it below:

From Brian Cavanaugh’s The Sower’s Seeds and then told in the book  A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup.

It was a bitter, cold evening in northern Virginia many years ago.  The old man’s beard was glazed by winter’s frost while he waited for a ride across the river.  The wait seemed endless.  His body became numb and stiff from the frigid north wind.

He heard the faint, steady rhythm of approaching hooves galloping along the frozen path. Anxiously, he watched as several horsemen rounded the bend.  He let the first one pass by without an effort to get his attention.  Then another passed by, and another.  Finally, the last rider neared the spot where the old man sat like a snow statue.  As this one drew near, the old man caught the rider’s eye and said, “Sir, would you mind giving an old man a ride to the other side?  There doesn’t appear to be a passageway by foot.”

Reining his horse, the rider replied, “Sure thing. Hop aboard.”  Seeing the old man was unable to lift his half-frozen body from the ground, the horseman dismounted and helped the old man onto the horse.  The horseman took the old man not just across the river, but to his destination, which was just a few miles away.

As they neared the tiny but cozy cottage, the horseman’s curiosity caused him to inquire, “Sir, I notice that you let several other riders pass by without making an effort to secure a ride.  Then I came up and you immediately asked me for a ride.  I’m curious why, on such a bitter winter night, you would wait and ask the last rider.  What if I had refused and left you there?”

The old man lowered himself slowly down from the horse, looked the rider straight in the eyes, and replied, “I’ve been around these here parts for some time. I reckon I know people pretty good.”  The old-timer continued, “I looked into the eyes of the other riders and immediately saw there was no kindness or compassion for my situation.  It would have been useless even to ask them for a ride.  But when I looked into your eyes, kindness and compassion were evident.  I knew, then and there, that your gentle spirit would welcome the opportunity to give me assistance in my time of need.”

Those heartwarming comments touched the horseman deeply.

I’m most grateful for what you have said,” he told the old man.  “May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond to the needs of others with kindness and compassion.”

With that, Thomas Jefferson turned his horse around and made his way back to the White House.

And for pic o’ day, speaking of looking in the eyes:

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Why Unlock the Technology?

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Years ago when you checked into a motel, the front desk would hand you a key. An actual physical metal key. Then you would proceed to the room and insert the key and unlock it. It felt good. It was what everyone knew.

The downside to the key system was that guests regularly left the motel with the metal key in their pocket. Each time that would happen, the motel would call the locksmith to change the lock. It was costly and slowed down the check-in process.

Then the electronic key system was invented and marketed. The motel could now change locks right at the front desk. The key expense was diminished.  No one was leaving with keys unless it was the skinny economical electronic key. In fact, the motel could even place ads on these keys, such as restaurant hours or discounts on their food. It was sure to take over all motels.

All motels should have immediately converted to the electronic key system but not all did. Motel owners did not want to expend the money or experience the down time of installing all those electronic key systems for each door. Instead, many refused the new technology. Then, guests started complaining about the old key systems and finally the electronic systems were implemented.

Now, Starwood Preferred has announced that their chain of hotels is adding a new feature. You don’t need to check in at the front desk nor get one of the electronic keys. You can check in through your cell phone, arrive at the hotel and go right to your room. With your phone, you can unlock your room. Will all motels go to that system?

I was reminded of technology advancements at the trial lawyer seminar this past weekend. Several braved an early morning to attend the law firm exchange. Paperless filing, scanning, and indexing organization were the key terms. New equipment was discussed.

Much like the motel lock systems, there will always be some who don’t want to use computers, insist on entirely having an all paper file system and have little or no scanning. These are the same lawyers that have big storage facilities to keep all their closed paper files.

Our firm is determined to keep ahead of the technology curve. The other day I mentioned “getting paged” when I really meant that I had just received a text. That got a laugh from those around me. At least I didn’t say to check the weather with Poor Richard’s Almanac!

The good news is that we don’t have storage sheds or spaces, because every document and paper is scanned when it comes in. I am surrounded with technological minds!

I guess the day might arrive when I can even get into the office with my cell phone… or maybe my watch!

And for pic o’ day… some real technology entertainment:

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Not On the Lam!

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

I was going to start the blog by saying that I am going On the Lam. Then, I searched it to realize that it basically relates to a criminal who is fleeing arrest or is a fugitive from the law. So… change of plans. Not On the Lam.

It’s one of those old English expression that has changed over time. It used to be more associated with leaving or departing. Hence…

Our Virginia licensed lawyers are going to the Greenbrier in West Virginia, for a Virginia Trial Lawyers conference. They move it to different locations each year but this is one of my favorite places.

As is our firm custom, we always get together for dinner on Thursday night and tonight we are eating at the golf course restaurant. Good food without having to get too dressed up.

I will try to come back with Monday’s blog with more wisdom and creativity. More realistic is that I will come back with a few more pounds because of the good food!

In the meantime, if you did not receive or read our March eBlast here, I am attaching for “quick click” ease. You can also subscribe to the monthly eBlast here or if you are not receiving my daily blog in your email, you can subscribe here.

Ok, that’s probably too many “heres”. I know it’s too early for it but it always feels good to say… I hope you have a great weekend!!

And for pic o’ day, this negativity makes me laugh:

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Not the Tricks

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

There used to be a cereal commercial for Cocoa Puffs where Sonny the Cuckoo Bird would scream that “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs”.

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I imagine that part of the reason that General Mills knew that it would be such a hit as a cereal, was that they literally and proudly stated on the box that the cereal was made with real Hershey’s chocolate.

Of course, if parents really believed that they were doing a good thing by serving that to their kids…. then someone is cuckoo. However, I was reminded of that cereal advertising…

(This is kind of like a mid-blog commercial to say that I’m glad that General Mills has modified the ingredients of Cocoa Puffs  to make it almost as healthy as a Pop Tart or maybe candy corn, and yes that is sarcasm. Now back to our blog! )

As I was saying, I was reminded of that Cocoa Puffs advertising when I recently read a sales list that suggested doing the following to be a successful sales person:

The world’s best salespeople take charge of sales meetings by adjusting their chair’s seat height. They begin meetings with their chair adjusted slightly below their customer’s, which subliminally signals that the customer is in a dominant position. As the meeting goes on, the salesperson will slowly elevate his or her chair in order to sit slightly higher than the prospect—putting them in a dominant position. The slow transition subliminally stages the prospect to be more receptive to suggestions from the salesperson. And if they can’t adjust the chair, they simply change their posture to achieve the same effect.

Now, my impression of that sales recommendaton borders on nonsense and unbelievable. Or, it’s at the intersection of offensive and the advertising of a chocolate-covered cereal.

What am I saying? What ever happened to honesty and integrity? There are still people who believe that the most successful lawyers are the ones who are slick and tricky.

That’s why it was refreshing when I recently attended a trial lawyers’ seminar where the speaker stated that the most successful trial lawyers are the ones who honestly present their case and have jurors truly believing the evidence. That there is no place for tricks in the courtroom, and that jurors see through that anyway.

I guess a cereal doesn’t have to be covered in chocolate to be profitable!

And finally, because it is officially spring… our pic o’ day:

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Oh That Glove!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

During game 1 of baseball’s 1996 American League Championship series between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees, a fan impacted the result of the game.

The Yankees were trailing the Orioles 4-3, going into the bottom of the eighth inning. Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter hit a high fly ball to right field. Oriole right-fielder Tony Tarasco moved back toward the fence and waited to catch the towering ball.

Just as Tarasco was about to catch the ball, a glove from the stands appeared over the fence and snatched the ball, before it came down into Tarasco’s glove and the field of play.

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The play was ruled a home run instead of fan interference. OK… I can tell that you think that I am just a bitter Orioles’ fan. Here’s another angle.

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Now do you believe me? The baseball rule that applied states that if “a spectator reaches out of the stands, or goes on the playing field and touches a live ball” spectator interference is to be called.

Right field umpire Rich Garcia immediately ruled the play as a home run, which tied the score at 4-4. The Yankees ended up winning the game in the 11th inning,  showing the impact of that call. The 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier had changed the game and and the series.

The umpire later admitted that there was spectator interference, but he maintained that the ball was not catchable anyway. According to the rules, had the umpire determined at the time that there was fan interference, he would have then used his own judgment to determine the likely outcome of the way… whether it be an out or awarding Jeter a hit such as a double.

Here’s the transcript of the announcer for Orioles baseball as he called it in real time:

There’s a high fly ball to right, deep…Going back is Tarasco, to the warning track, to the wall, he’s under it now…AND IT’S TAKEN AWAY FROM HIM BY A FAN, AND THEY’RE GONNA CALL IT…A HOME RUN! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! Richie Garcia is calling it a home run, and Tarasco is out to argue! A terrible call by Richie Garcia! IT’S ALL TIED UP! —Jon Miller Orioles radio.

     The next day, that umpire was shown along the Yankee sidelines as he signed autographs for the fans. That just added insult to injury for O’s fans. Umpire Garcia instantaneously became a New York celebrity. Meanwhile Jeffrey Maier also became a celebrity. A local newspaper gave him tickets behind the Yankee dugout for other playoff games and he appeared on national talk shows.
     In February of this year, the Maier glove was auctioned by Heritage Auctions. An anonymous buyer paid $22,705 for the cowhide glove that interfered.
     Going back to that 1996 game, at the time, Orioles manager Davey Johnson came racing out to argue the call. He was ultimately ejected for arguing. A Baltimore reporter for MASN recently asked him about that call and getting ejected in light of the glove’s reported sale.

     “You need breaks and that was a big one for the Yankees. And I don’t know how I could see it from about 300 feet and Richie was right next to it, looking up, and couldn’t see that. That got me thrown out,” Johnson said.

Did Johnson consider bidding on the glove?

No, I don’t want anything to do with that glove, before or now,” he said. “It cost me money, so why would I pay for it?”

     When I read about this, I was reminded of what usually transpires at the end of cases that I handle.  I will ask my client whether they want their file; or more specifically, do they want the photographs and various drawings that might have been part of the evidence. Almost always, clients will express similar sentiment as manager Davey Johnson was about that glove. They will tell me that they just want to put it behind them and want no reminders of their claim.
     Now… I just wish I could forget about that cowhide glove!

And for pic o’ day, a bit of toothbrush sampling!

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