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Archive for General Law

Monumental Waste of Time

Monday, April 4th, 2016

I can be accused of sometimes wasting time. However, I have never had a judge in open court make a determination that I was wasting time. Not so for some California lawyers.

A federal judge in San Francisco has showed his loss of patience with lawyers in a pending antitrust lawsuit. In the suit, the plaintiffs are claiming that credit card companies were slow to certify chip readers to assist in the fight against credit card fraud.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup declared the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction “a monumental waste of resources” in a March 16 court, while denying their motion for an injunction. The judge was so ticked off with their motion that the judge ordered the  lawyers to explain how they will provide opportunities in their litigation for “the next generation of practitioners.”

According to the Recorder, the judge wrote that “In reviewing the file, the court is of the view that the pending motion is so deficient that it would be a monumental waste of resources to require the 18 defendants to respond and oppose the motion.”

I don’t even care about the facts of the lawsuit. I am just fascinated with the judge’s order. It’s real! “Stop wasting time” is basically a good mantra to live by.

And for our pic o’ day… I couldn’t stop laughing about this when it was sent to me. Think about “Robert”.

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Police Bodycam in the Hallway

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

A Miami Beach Police officer, who didn’t trust a public defender, decided to use technology for his personal surveillance protection. (Miami Herald)

The officer was worried that his words would be twisted at the misdemeanor trial. So, he used his new “body camera” to record a hallway interview by a defense attorney without telling her. Then, when the attorney asked him to sign her notes after she interviewed the officer, he then told her that he had been recording the interview. That set off a firestorm!

Currently, under Miami Beach’s camera program, the officer did not have to inform the defense attorney that he was recording her in the court hallway. As the fraternal order of police put it, “It’s a public area. Any member of the public, including the media, can tape in that area.”

The public defender’s office was outraged that their work product could be taped without knowledge, and that it hurt representation. It basically comes down to an expectation of privacy in their eyes.

I suppose this did nothing to create a working relationship between that office and the police department. Maybe both were already a bit at odds, and body camera discussion turned the lens on the problem. (yep… see what I did there!!!!)

 

And for our pic o’ day, I have two from the “technology department”.

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Early Release: Computer Confusion

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

The power of computer software… or not!

At the end of 2015, the state of Washington announced that more than 3,000 inmates in Washington state had been released too early from their prison sentences.  Since 2002, a computer software program had miscalculated good time credits, according to Governor Jay Inslee.   At a press conference, the Governor noted,  “That this problem was allowed to continue to exist for 13 years is deeply disappointing,” Inslee said. “It is totally unacceptable, and frankly it is maddening.”

The problem was discovered in 2012 after a victim’s family questioned the release date of an inmate. Finally at the end of January, the Department of Corrections announced that the computer glitch was fixed.

On average, prisoners were released 55 days too early. Many were allowed to remain out of prison on time served, based on a previous legal precedent that allows inmates released early to get sentencing credit for the time spent outside; Assuming they have had no further criminal charges.

Websites began listing the names of inmates who were released too early.  Families of victims and victims are contemplating filing suit for emotion damages relating to these early releases. The names of the criminals released too early was publicly available… apparently from a working software program!

And for pic o’ day… some more crazy news:

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The Electric Chair Option

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Some might say that this is a story that is similar to one of Yogi Berra’s famous quotes, “We made too many wrong mistakes”. I write this blog with the realization that there are strong opinions on both sides of this issue… the death penalty.

Gallup.com,  in an article titled Who Supports the Death Penalty?, tells us that the percentage of Americans in favor of the death penalty has fluctuated significantly over the years. Those in favor have ranged rom a low of 42% in 1966, to as high as  80% in 1994.

Gallup polls now indicate a range of a little over 60% of those surveyed, support the death penalty. That breaks down by party in the following way:  Eighty percent of Republicans support the death penalty, while 65% of independents and 58% of Democrats support it. So, it appears that there is still a majority that support the death penalty in certain circumstances.

That brings me to recent legislation in Virginia that has been placed on the Governor’s desk for signing into law. It is still a question whether he will sign it. It’s not whether the death penalty should exist… it’s whether method matters.

Currently Virginia carries out the death penalty through lethal injection.  The drugs for lethal injection are becoming scarce.

New legislation would bring back the electric chair. This, despite the fact that the electric chaired has been determined to be cruel and unusual punishment in two states. Georgia and Nebraska are the states, with the Georgia court criticizing the execution method for its “specter of excruciating pain and its certainty of cooked brains and blistered bodies.”

As a basis for the passage of the legislation,  Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw reasoned that when someone murders multiple people, they no longer deserve to be treated humanely.

“When you commit acts like that, you give up your right to, as far as I’m concerned, to say well I want to die humanely,” Saslaw said.

In 2014, Tennessee passed a similar law to this Virginia legislation. Oklahoma became the first state last year to approve nitrogen gas for executions if the lethal injection drugs are not available. Last year, Utah approved firing squads for executions if the drugs aren’t available.

It is a serious subject. No fiction, all reality! It reminds me of another Yogi Berra saying “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is”.

A lot at stake for the Governor’s signature.

I usually close the blog with  pic o’ day. Fortunately, it is not a serious category. After that blog… I needed something that made me smile.  Credit goes to Amy M, who sent it:

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Munchkin Evidence

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Is it forensic evidence… not so much! It’s how the internet can get a story started and then somehow it becomes real.

Here’s what the internet started as a story about the Wizard of Oz.  ”In the original Wizard of Oz, during the scene in the forest, you can see a body hanging from a tree in the background. This is real. He was an actor that hung himself after he didn’t get the part of the Tinman. They cut it out of the later versions, but if you have a movie from before the golden age of film editing, you’ll see him.”

So, here’s the copy of the movie that shows the forlorn Munchkin that hung himself:

 

 

As you watch it, especially when it plays in slow motion, it makes for an amazing story. A hanging Munchkin?

No… it’s all a hoax!  Once people started to really watch the clip of The Wizard of Oz on video, they noticed that in the background of that scene, you can see something moving. Something crazy there!

Unfortunately, the resolution of the clip is not very good to make out exactly what is going on there. But it does look as if it could conceivably be a munchkin, suspended from a branch and slowly turning as though he had hung himself.

The rumor gained momentum, that a munchkin had been driven to suicide by his misery of either not getting a key part in the movie, or his misplaced passion for another munchkin.  Judy Garland  (Dorothy) might have fueled the notion of the heartbroken munchkin by telling stories on talk shows of the conduct of the munchkins on the set.

To this day, people still claim that there was a suicide on the set, and that it was covered up by Hollywood. Just google it, and you will see the argument for it, despite the craziness of the actors dancing toward a supposed hanging body on the set.

The reality is that it is nonsense. It’s probably something related to a bird’s wing, and then someone just decided to “doctor” the movie a bit.

It’s somewhat like crazy forensic evidence without proper support. The story doesn’t make sense, but I guess we see what we want to believe.

I have been watching the TV show The People v. O.J. Simpson on FX Network. In it, the defense lawyers are trying to figure out a way to explain the evidence away. Finally, Johnnie Cochrane blurts out that it doesn’t matter what the evidence is, if you can get people to believe the trial story. That was Hollywood’s quote, but he was basically saying that once people make up their minds, the rest is ignored.

The Munchkin suicide story is all over the internet and people defend it. In reality, it really is a crazy story… but it’s Hollywood!

And for pic o’ day, I thought I would include something that Ronald Reagan wrote to Nancy, in one of his love letters. There’s something truly touching about such emotion, as we say goodbye to Nancy Reagan.

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The 911 Call

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

This is a quick story about one of our cases… and not taking no as no!

Our client said that he was driving down the road and got rear-ended by another driver who was not paying attention. Our client pulled off the road as close as possible to the side, to properly get his wrecked car off the roadway.  The other driver slowed down, and then just gunned it and raced away from the scene. It was a hit and run crash.

Now to make matters worse,  Our client went on to say that within a minute or so, a truck driver came down the road and swerved and clipped the back of our client’s car, causing it to spin around…and more injury to our client   Not good!

We initially filed a claim for both crashes. The first against the driver who left the scene. That claim was filed under our car’s uninsured motorist for the car that took off. That is known as a John Doe claim because that driver is unknown.

The second claim was against the truck driver. Soon, we learned that the insurance company for the truck driver was claiming a different story. The insurance adjuster said that their truck driver/insured said that we (our client) had swerved into the trucker’s lane. He couldn’t help but hit us.

It was our client’s word against the truck driver. As the insurance adjuster put it in denying the claim against the truck driver, “we have to believe our insured”.

Meanwhile, the John Doe claim only has $25,000 minimum limits, and that company offers its limits because of the significance of the injuries. The crash with the truck had caused significant medical bills unrelated to the John Doe claim… but we were at a standstill. What to do? What to do?

We did a Freedom of Information Request for the emergency dispatch records. Jackpot! Another driver coming up the road had saw the truck hit our car on the side of the road. That person called… and it was recorded. That unknown caller simply told the 911 dispatch operator that “a truck just hit a car on the side of the road” and went on to describe the car and truck.

Later… the truck driver’s insurance company just said, “Our insured lied to us”. They paid on the claim. Without that 911 call, it would have been uphill sledding! Our client had been hit by two different drivers without the character to accept responsibility.

And for pic o’ day that was just sent to me, no matter where you fall politically, this still is funny!

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Self Analysis

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist and the father of Psychoanalysis. So I start with him because this blog might seem to be a bit “psychological. I might be able to explain the blog. I cannot explain why Freud would have such an angry face… and want the sculptor to forever catch that angry face!

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Of course, you don’t have to take a family photo for the eternal posting on Facebook to prove that you are happy either!

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But there are some clients who tell me that they “want their day in court” while others nudge me toward settlement because “they want to put it behind them”. On occasion, I suspect that they really don’t want to go to court. Could it be a bit of introvert/extrovert considerations? Maybe sometimes?

That’s why it caught my attention when I saw this article from Quiettrev.com that asks the question, “Are you an introvert or an extrovert?”.

For the blog today, I thought I would paste this 10 question test (RIGHT HERE) in case you like these kinds of tests. The very first question is “Do you feel drained when in a large crowd of people?”. I’m glad it doesn’t ask, “Do you feel drained by long blogs?”.

I know I have already posted 2 pics today… but pic o’ day is my favorite part of the blog. This is one that reminds me of either church or my law school classes. Who likes up front?

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The Love of Lawsuits

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

When two words are combined to form a single word, the new word is called a portmanteau. For example:  motor + hotel = motel, breakfast + lunch = brunch.

When you just read that sentence, did you ask ”Why?”. Maybe you wondered whether this warrants a mention in a legal blog. Of course, I have been known to wander a bit!

I wrote it because it came to mind as I watched an old episode of Shark Tank the other night. For brevity, I won’t discuss the show except that start-up businesses are pitching their idea to get a “shark” to invest.

One man presented an idea about providing water to plants and trees with a conservation hood over each. By description, it saved hundreds of gallons of water and also better watered the plants and trees.

The “Shark” who calls himself Mr. Wonderful, was clearly bored with the initial idea until he learned that this start-up might be in litigation with someone infringing on their patent. He admitted that he got excited because he likes to sue people.  His possible reason for an investment.

I watched that and just asked myself “Why?”. How can that be a business investment motivation?  But, there are people who love the conflict and not the resolution.

Lawsuits can be a necessary evil to hold someone accountable.  But an investment reason?

For pic o’ day… I think this was something like my expression as I watched the episode:

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O.J. Simpson Upcoming Television

Monday, January 25th, 2016

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story  premiers on FX Network on February 2. In June, ESPN’s 30 for 30 series will air a five-part mini-series on the rise and fall of Simpson called O.J.: Made in America.

I will probably watch both the docudrama and the documentary. I have a clear memory of that fateful night when O.J. in that white Bronco, captured the nation’s attention. Then his trial on national television everyday, watched faithfully by viewers who treated the televised trial like a riveting soap opera with tremendous ratings. (Click here if you want a refresher on the O.J. Simpson murder trial)

I read an article from Business Insider as a primer for the upcoming ESPN documentary. After watching the upcoming documentary, the writer tells several facts that he learned about O.J including the following:

1. O. J. was asked during his career why he wasn’t doing more for civil rights and African-Americans. His response, “I’m not black, I’m O.J.”. The crafting of a persona for marketing purposes.

2. During the years that Simpson and his wife Nicole were married, the police were called to the house over 10 times.

3. One time that the police were called, they found O.J. holding a bat while his wife was crying hysterically next to a car with its windshield completely smashed.

4. The series gives details about O.J. and Nicole Brown’s murder including Simpson’s blood being found at the scene of the crime and a trail of blood leading back to his home.

5. Simpson declined the police request that he take a lie-detector test after the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. His reason as told to his friend was that “I’ve had dreams of killing Nicole”.

6. To help pay for his “Dream Team” defense team of lawyers, he would sit in his jail cell each night after trial and autograph items for sale. Supposedly, that memorabilia brought him over 3 million in proceeds.

So… that’s probably why I will watch both of these!

And for pic o’ day, I am posting one of those family photos that they classify as “gone horribly wrong”. In this instance, it’s some “superheroes” posing like they did several years ago. This seemed appropriate to the subject matter of the blog. Comparing O.J. looking bad during the trial… and looking worse now! Of course, the more I look at this picture… the worse it gets too!!

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The Florida Black Robes

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

A few years back I drove past a plumbing supply business in Virginia Beach. I recognized a man in the front yard, mowing the grass. What really caught my attention was the fact that he was mowing the grass in a suit and tie.

I stopped the car and hollered, “Hey Hicks!” He idled the mower and asked me how I was doing. Then I asked, “Why are you mowing the lawn in a suit?”. He replied, “There’s no sense in looking bad and feeling bad too!” All about the clothes!

I was reminded of that story, as well as the importance of clothing on an attitude, when I read that the Florida Supreme Court has ordered that all Florida judges must wear black robes. That made me read closer, because I wouldn’t have guessed that they were wearing wild outfits.

So here is there reasoning: Seeking to promote uniformity in judicial attire, last fall the Florida Supreme Court adopted Florida Rule 2.340 on its own motion. This rule governs attire during judicial proceedings and declares that judges’ robes must be “solid black with no embellishment.” A consistent uniform, the court stated, will “promote public trust and confidence in the proceedings and the judicial system as a whole. Guess shorts don’t promote respect?

According to the ABA Bar Journal, apparently. some judges’  choices in apparel had led to the order.  One Union County judge was seen wearing a camouflage robe. Jennifer Zedalis, director of trial practice at the University of Florida’s law school reported that  “Litigants took a photo and posted it. There were complaints. While not blatantly racist, the camo robe was perceived as part of a good ol’ boy sensibility.”

According to Zedalis, this isn’t a new issue in Florida. She also indicated that a blue robe was spotted in Tampa; and  that back in the early ’90s, a judge in the Florida Keys wore a flowered robe, like a Hawaiian shirt.” I guess he was a Jimmy Buffett fan.

The Florida Supreme Court went on to add that non-black robes or those with braids, buttons or velvet panels, might be confusing to litigants,. It might cause them to wonder whether something other than a standard black robe indicates a judge’s mood, status, tenure or ability. “The people of Florida have a right to expect equal justice every day,” the court declared.

 

And for pic o’ day, I am posting two for cats and dogs!

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