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The Beetle Monument

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Yesterday’s stock market was almost like a Grisham fiction novel. The night before, there had been a reported ebola virus diagnosis in the United States, with the possibility of another. All of sudden this virus wasn’t in another country; It was here.

Tekmira Pharmaceutical Company is the leading manufacturer of medication for the ebola virus. It immediately gained 6 dollars a share for its stock price. Can you see why I say that it sounded like a fiction novel? One reported case… a 21 dollar stock moves to 27 dollars. Some shareholders reaped huge profits.

Wednesday’s stock market was down across the board. For some, panic set in. For others, it was a buying opportunity. The “Haves” and the “Have-nots” on opposite sides. An opportunity for some to turn a negative into a positive, if you believe that the market will rebound.

That reminded me of the beetle monument in Enterprise, Alabama. They call it something more formal: The Boll Weevil Monument.monument

It’s a tribute to the beetle that was erected by the town’s citizens, in 1919. It stands as the only monument that was built to honor an agricultural pest.

The story behind it is what happens when a negative becomes a positive. In 1915, beetles appeared from Mexico into the fields of Alabama and began destroying the cotton crops. By 1918, farmers were losing entire crops. They were in financial ruin.

One farmer saw it as an opportunity to switch to peanut farming and convinced other farmers to do the same. It was a switch to success. Soon, the catalyst for change was recognized and honored as reflected in the statute inscription which states,  “In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity…”.

In my law practice, I have seen this same catalyst occur. Some clients have taken their settlement proceeds to effectuate change or bring attention to some product defect. Others have told me that after fighting through their hardship to get better, it made them truly appreciate good health. As Albert Einstein put it, “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.

DID YOU KNOW that one out of every four “animals” on earth is a beetle?

And from our pic o’ day comes wisdom… or something like that:

on the computer

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A Note and a Newsletter

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

I have taken the blog in a little different direction today. First, I am including a quick video of an old Saturday Night Live character. Some don’t like to click on videos in the morning (if you are like me). However, you might like this “corporate lawyer” Nathan Thurm.


The second item in the blog is our September eBlast newsletter that I sent out yesterday. If you didn’t see it, I thought I would make it easy to click through to it.  I can also personally vouch for the tremendous tasting peanut butter balls!

To read our September Newsletter, click here.

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All About the Mind

Monday, September 29th, 2014

This blog cites two NY Times articles on aging and how to keep the mind sharp. One is a reminder of what to do and the other is a recommendation on what not to do.

First is the positive. The first article is titled Living on Purpose. It’s an article/story that no matter your age, you have to stay active. It’s living life with a purpose that keeps us young. It also keeps us alive!

And the second highlights a concern with medication. There could be a real connection to Alzheimer’s. This article tells us that a Study Links Anxiety Drugs to Alzheimer’s Disease.  Long term use of drugs that are used for sleeplessness like Ativan, Xanax, Valium and Klonopin is causing researchers some concern. It’s worth reading.

And finally… see, I can do a short blog!

And for our pic o’ day:


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Asked and Answered

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

As a young lawyer, I would get very frustrated when a witness would not answer the question. It was not unusual for me to continue to ask the question until the opposing lawyer would stand with the objection, “asked and answered”.

(Warning: you are going to think that I am getting paid by the word. I just really enjoy this topic! Feel free to wander)

That’s usually where I would make another rookie mistake. I would look to the judge for help in making the witness fully answer the question the way I wanted it answered. I can still hear the judge’s response, “Move on Mr. Bieber”.

Since those days, I have been taught a lot about juries as well as voters because  asking and answering plays a big role in law and politics. This even goes back to my days of being involved while working in the middle of political campaigns. So, what do I think that I have learned? Well besides “not enough”… here’s my 2 cents worth.

As to juries, I have learned that they get it. For those who attack the jury system and want to go to a more controlled environment of forced arbitrations… they don’t give enough credit to those sitting on a jury.

I now believe that juries get it when a witness constantly dodges an answer. I’ve also seen them greatly discount defense experts who are professional witnesses for the defense versus the testimony of treating doctors. Plus, it’s better for me to let the jury be bothered or angry at a witness, rather than me trying to beat up on that witness. Since the jury has the ultimate final say in the case… they will take care of it.snack

(Just to break my rambling up, I thought I’d better throw in a random pic o’)

I’ve also learned that people don’t necessarily answer what they truly believe. When a waiter walks up and ask, How is everything?”, many people say it was fine. Never mind the fact that they were just complaining about the taste of the food or the terrible service. We just don’t want to get into it.

When a prospective juror is point blank asked, “Can you be fair in this case?”, rarely will a person answer that they cannot be fair.  In fact, we really have a hard time admitting that we can’t be fair. Instead, the juror might answer that this might not be the case for them because of some reason. Or, they might admit that something is going on in their lives that makes it difficult to fully sit through the case and be attentive.  That might come out with some kind of response to someone being sued or whether there are too many lawsuits.

We all carry some form of bias or prejudice. Just sometimes, it’s hard to admit it.

That brings me to the political process and voting. When Eric Cantor was running for his re-election  nomination against a same-party opponent, his pollsters advised that he was leading by approximately 34 point (National Journal), leading up to election day. Then, he was crushed for the nomination, by 10 points.

Now why were the polling numbers so wrong? Well, the article does give some possible explanations. I think that people are tired of pollsters. Plus, they might just give a wrong answer… just because.

That leads me to the final poll thought. Jim Gaines (Reuters) has discussed in this attachment, a recent poll that shows that one in four Americans wants their state to secede from the U.S. That’s what people truly said. That they want their state to be independent and leave the U.S. Do you believe that they really mean it? Once again, I think that they are answering in the affirmative… just because. Asking might bring an answer; just not the real answer.

And for our pic o’ day, here’s a cow asking:

cow asking

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Friday And Then Some

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

For our week-ending blog, I have put together a a collage from the collection of possible pic o’s that have been sent to me.

First, is a jury applying the double negative grammar standard.

Double Negative

Next is a bit of Friday.



And some more Friday:


      Have a great weekend!!

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Making Choices

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

I still can’t decide whether I want the new iPhone. One of our lawyers handed her new phone to me and it just confused me more. Maybe if I understood the features, it would entice me to choose to upgrade.


See, I think the features even confuse me more! Plus, it seems too big and now I’m told that people are having trouble with the phone bending. Which brings me to the blog topic of choices.

Sometimes we call it, “If only I had (insert choice)”. That thought takes me back to one of my law school choices.

I was becoming acutely aware that I was losing hair. I even started the “mirror thing” by constantly checking with a hand-held mirror, to see if I had lost more hair. That’s when my haircutter suggested that I lighten my hair. Supposedly that would make my hair look less fine, which was code for balding. That, and people start making jokes about your hair like, “I guess you have summer hair… Some are here and some are gone”. Now, the Internet is the new joke place, right?

Internet crying

Anyway, that was my motivation for my color choice. So I gave the “go-ahead” for the lightening of the hair. Soon the hair dyeing commenced. When it was done, my hair color had moved from my brown God-given to  some kind of unidentified, never before seen red. The lady said not to worry; that the red would wash out and it would turn more to blond.

Six weeks later… they were still calling me “Orange head”. It had lightened to an out of this world color. My bad choice.

Looking back, I still shake my head at the memory. As you read this, do you blame me or the hair person? You’ll notice that this story is told from my point of view.

In auto accident cases, psychologists say that you should always tell the story from the point of view of the person at fault. Jurors more easily place blame on that person. That means that if you tell the story of the case from your client’s perspective of getting hit, jurors may put blame on your client. They should have been more careful; or gotten out of the way; or not travelled down that road that day. Blame falls on their choices rather than the person who caused the crash.

So as I sit here typing today, perhaps I should have told my hair story a little differently.

So the hairdresser said, “you really should change your hair color”. I started to shake my head no…

And for our pic o’ day, some perspective:


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Reportable Errors

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

There are now several billboards across the country that advertise for hospital emergency room care. Many of them have a digital clock attached that tells you the current waiting time. No one questions why they advertise the need for emergency with the identification of wait time. Isn’t that what is called an oxymoron? Instead, most of us just nod our heads and say something like, “Look, only 9 minutes to wait”. It’s like a scoreboard.

Researchers tells us that more than 440,000 people die each year in the United States from preventable medical errors. When Joan Rivers died from a recent simple in office medical procedure, the news services immediately began to report on the investigation of that medical facility. Yet, there is very little reporting on the safety of local hospitals.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently reversed itself and will now begin to release data on hospital mistakes. (USA Today)  I don’t expect to see highway signs to tell us how many medical mistakes have been made at a hospital this week, but that sure seems more important than advertising wait times. At least public safety numbers are becoming more available.

Wouldn’t transparency of hospital safety and care seem like a sensible concept? Well, right now there is a movement to get Congress to make laws requiring such reporting. Hospitals are reportedly fighting such disclosures because they claim that the information reported is not reliable. Hmm.

DID YOU KNOW that over 15 billion prizes have been given away in Cracker Jacks boxes? Who doesn’t like a prize!

And our pic o’ day:

stop the wedding

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The Real Vision

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

I usually start out my opening statement in a trial by telling the jury that a driver has a duty to see what is to be seen. The safe vision of a good driver. Using this standard doesn’t always work in real life. For instance, the profile of Coach Lane Kiffin recently demonstrated the power of hacking as well as what happens when an opposing college football fan base is angry at a coach:

Kiffin profile


Something tells me that Alabama did not list his profile as Position: Coaching Idiot. Or Experience: Losing. I guess it is true, you can’t always believe what you see on the Internet.

That brings me to the story of seeing what is to be seen on an injury case. A Geico adjuster recently sent us pictures of a car that my client had been traveling in, when she was a passenger in the crash. The driver was the person at fault in the crash.

The pictures showed no damage, which led us to believe that either it was a very low impact or maybe the adjuster was mistaken about the car being involved in the crash. Do you know where this story is headed?

Because we had gotten involved in the case a year after the crash, we were relying on evidence that was already collected. That included the other insurance company, Alpha Insurance. We also requested their pictures and statements. Soon, the same picture of the car that previously  sent by Geico was also sent by the Alpha adjuster.

One small difference. The Alpha photograph had arrows drawn on the picture, pointing at specific areas on the car. We called the Alpha adjuster to find out why she had drawn “high-tech” arrows on the photograph of the car. She replied, “Oh, that’s where the car was repaired after the accident”. Hmmm…to see what is to be seen!

DID YOU KNOW that our eyes are always the same size from birth? Our nose and ears never stop growing.

And for pic o’ day, I guess this is a cookie’s greatest fear:

cookie fear

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A Working Blog

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

I felt like I spent all weekend downloading the new Apple update. Every device would remind me that I had downloaded on another device. The update took so long to download that I felt like answering each device with… no kidding. Yes… I know that the iCloud is on the other device. Just my quick Apple rant!

I titled this  A Working Blog because it includes  “work stuff” variety. Here are two pictures from our TV production last week. First is from the spot that we shot for a UNOS TV spot. It has Lisa Shaffner, public relations director for UNOS, and me. We are doing a commercial to advertise the upcoming UNOS event supporting Donation and Transplantation. As soon as the spot is ready, it will be on the website.


And then a shot while I was filming one of our 15 second Joel Bieber Firm TV spots. I am always fascinated with the green screen and how barren that a TV production studio feels and looks. After the magic of production, they can put any background in there they want, and it makes it look like I am standing in front of a bunch of books or an office overlooking some grand window. The finished product always makes me smile. Maybe someday they will even make it look like I have hair!!!!!


And since we have been hiring additional paralegals, assistants and lawyers, I thought this was firm timely. Here is a funny interpretation of the interview process:

Job interview

I hope it’s a great Monday! As I say at the conclusion of each of our attorney meetings… Carpe Diem!

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On a Friday

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

This Friday brings some interesting news. Today, Chinese E-Commerce stock Alibaba goes public with its IPO. I am always fascinated at the announcement of an price opening which happens to be at $68 this time.  Meanwhile, I am sure that we as regular investors can only  attempt to buy it at a much higher price when it opens trading. Another reminder of the stock market’s insider favoritism!

Instead, some pic o’ day church humor!

church humor

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