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Archive for General Law

Seat Rights and Fights

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Imagine a television advertisement that announces that you can now buy more room for your next airplane ticket purchase. The airline is selling tickets called “reclining seat” tickets. Or, another TV ad that says that you can now get $20 discount off your next flight by purchasing a “no-recline seat” ticket.

From San Francisco’s ABC-7 comes the following weekend news report:

A Southwest Airlines flight landed at San Francisco International Airport five hours late after an incident on board forced the pilot to return to the gate at LAX.

Southwest flight 2010 returned to LAX after the pilot declared an emergency. The plane was only in the air for 13 minutes. Law enforcement met the plane at the gate and took one person from the flight. The other passengers and crew switched planes and took off for SFO about two hours later, landing at 1:43 a.m. A passenger says she witnessed a man harassing a woman about a reclining chair.

As airlines attempt to squeeze more passengers and make us feel more like cattle, it’s no surprise that people are on edge on the plane. Then, you finally get to your seat and the person in front of you reclines… and your legs are now jammed against the seat.

Right now, airlines are siding with the reclining passengers. The “jammed knees” passenger has no right or expectation of their seating space but, there’s a solution. It’s a device called the Knee Defender.

The “Knee Defender,”  described. as a $21.95 product designed to guard your leg room. You can attach them to your seat and they work to keep the seat from reclining in front of you. They are legal. They still might cause you a bit of a confrontation when the person in front of you attempts to recline.

     According to the Washington Post in an article that came out when this product first hit the market, FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto says “the clips were not against federal aviation rules as long as they weren’t used during taxiing, takeoffs or landings.”

Knee Defenders are specifically designed to be applied and clamped to the seat while your tray table  is lowered,  except that the tray table must be up and locked “during taxiing, takeoffs or landings.” As long as Knee Defenders are being used for the sole purpose that they were designed to be used in flight, their use does not violate any US aviation law, rule, or regulation.

The solution? I think that either airlines should create a charging system for reclining; or a priority seating assignment method incorporating reeling choice, like restaurants with non-smoking sections… or allow passengers to arm wrestle for the right to recline. Or something like that!

And for pic o’ day, a better way to ride…



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Law of Heil Hitler

Monday, October 19th, 2015

When you think of pictures of Hitler, your mind probably goes to one that shows him saluting, like the picture below. It’s a picture of Hitler returning the Nazi Salute. Literally this was known as a gesture of the Hitler Salute, which was used as a greeting in Nazi Germany. Heil Hitler became a greeting with the extended right arm or left arm, if disability kept someone from raising their right arm. The salute was also accompanied with the expression Heil, mein Führer. (Hail my leader


This picture below of this crowd in Germany is an attention-grabber from that Hitler era. It shows more than just a man in the crowd. As you can see, the circled man is the only person in the picture not gesturing the Hitler Salute.  As of 1926, the Heil Hitler salute was made compulsory. It served as a display of commitment to the Nazi Party.



     Depending on the date of this photograph, the man could be facing punishment for not saluting. Compulsory saluting moved to a decree of the law, by the Minister of the Interior. As of July 13, 1933, all German public employees were required to use the salute. By the end of 1934, special courts were established to punish all citizens who refused to salute. Your failure to salute was considered rebellion against the Nazi government.

The progression of the salute as a matter of law, shows what happens when a government can continually seize the rights of its citizens. Soon, laws can have no bearing on effective governing. They simply are enacted to control.

The ending to the salute came with the defeat of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Currently, this salute is considered a criminal offense in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria. In Switzerland and Sweden, the salute is illegal and has been classified as illegal hate speech.

When I saw that historical photo of the one man, it made me think?   Even put on my thinking cat.  Yes, a crazy, scary law to test loyalty.


And now, for pic o’ day. How about some more costumes? (Can’t bring myself to mention the Colts game last night)


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The Present and the Future

Sunday, October 11th, 2015




That starting blog picture makes me laugh. It reminds of the time that a Richmond man (Richard Sharp) told me about a new business that he had invested in, and how it was going to be big. It turned out to be the business of Crocs. Sure enough, his look into the future was telling.

The future is something that is we are told to plan for, while being mindful of the present. That means pay bills while planning for retirement. It sounds awfully mature.

Which brings me to an article in the Spartanburg newspaper ( 5 things ‘Back to the Future II got right about 2015′. That movie is now being discussed because it is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary and because of its prediction about the Chicago Cubs. So, here are the 5 things that it told us about the future that aren’t part of the future anymore:

1. Drones:  In the movie, drones are shown walking dogs. Now, with Amazon discussing drone delivery, dog-walking doesn’t seem so outrageous

2. Video phone calling. At the time, that seemed pretty futuristic. Now, almost anyone with a mobile device has the ability to see the person on a call. Of course, technology will still not change that many people do not want to be seen.

3. Hoverboards: Michael J. Fox aka Marty McFly, zoomed around on something that looked like a skateboard, above the ground. Seemed silly at the time. However, the technology is here and a company called Ax Pax has brought its Hendo Hoverboard idea to reality.

4. The love of sequels: The movie was a sequel. Still, it made fun of movie sequels by talking about Jaws 19. That didn’t come to pass, but we are all familiar with many sequels including such movies as Fast and Furious. It seems that is probably around number 19 by now.

5. Fingerprint scanners: In the movie, people didn’t need keys. Homes were equipped with fingerprint scanner doors. Now, that just seems old-school. What’s next?

What hasn’t come to pass yet is the prediction in the movie that the Chicago Cubs would finally win the World Series. And now, the Cubs are matched up against the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs. (Game 3 tonight. They would need to win this series and the next series to get to the World Series this year)

What does the future hold? Well, as we continue to plan at the Firm, I am reminded that The secret of the future is hidden in your daily routine. (Mike Murdock)


And for pic o’ day I am getting started on the costume theme! Not too far into the future!!



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Lawyer Advertising History

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

When Colgate started marketing toothpaste in Spanish speaking counties, it faced a little adversity because the word Colgate sounded like a Spanish word that translated go hang yourself. Now, it’s no problem because they have marketed enough that people associate Colgate… as a toothpaste. Good marketing!

In 1972, John Bates and Van O’Steen graduated from Arizona State University Law School. Two years later they formed a legal clinic partnership with the goal of providing legal services at modest fees to persons of moderate income who did not qualify for governmental legal aid. (Wiki)

Why am I writing about two Arizona lawyers in the 70′s? Because they fought the good fight for lawyers in the historical Supreme Court case of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona.

Two years into their law practice, the two lawyers realized that their business model was not working. So, they placed an advertisement in the Arizona Republic that showed their services such as adoption and divorce, and then included their fees for those services, in the ad.

The Arizona State Bar initiated disciplinary proceedings against the two lawyers because lawyers were not allowed to advertise under their ethics rules. The disciplinary committee conducted a hearing and recommended six month suspensions for the lawyers. The lawyers then appealed their suspensions to the Arizona Supreme Court asserting a violation of the First Amendment right of freedom of speech.

The Arizona Supreme Court was faced with a bit of precedence in that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in the previous year that pharmacists could not be forbidden from advertising prices for prescription medications that they sold. The Arizona Supreme Court probably knew that the “train was coming down the track”, so they upheld the recommendation of discipline by the Disciplinary Committee, but reduced the punishment on the two lawyers to a censure, with no suspension.

And you know why I am writing about this case! Because the U.S Supreme Court heard the appeal by oral argument. The Arizona bar argued that lawyer advertising undermined the attorney’s sense of dignity and self-worth and maintained that such advertising would effect the professionalism of the profession.

The Supreme Court dealt with the arguments against lawyer advertising in their opinion… and then removed the barriers to lawyer advertising and characterized Arizona’s State Bar rules as a violation of the free speech guarantee in the Constitution. The opinion did add that states could still regulate advertising so as to ban false, deceptive or misleading advertising by lawyers.

Game, Set, Match!


And our pic o’ day is all about friendship:


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The Tort Law Museum

Monday, September 28th, 2015

The Chevrolet Corvair is in the car graveyard. Do you remember it? Probably not. GM’s engineers got creative by putting the engine in the trunk. For a while, GM had a hot selling car on their hands.

It has disappeared from our highways because drivers complained that they were suffering an unexplained loss of control. Over 100 Lawsuits were initially filed against General Motors for crashes occurring from a loss of control, and car crashes that included the cars rolling over.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader addressed the handling of the car in his book Unsafe at Any Speed. It was determined that the Corvair’s suspension was the cause of the control issues, and discovery in those lawsuits showed that GM had denied the request of the suspension engineer, who had fought GM’s decision to remove an anti-sway bar during manufacturing… for cost reasons. Economics had impacted safety.

It did put Ralph Nader on the map as THE consumer advocate, as he was involved in several consumer safety issues and regularly testified before Congress. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson invited him to the White House to witness the signing of new highway safety laws. In fact, he would later run as an independent candidate for President in 2000; and some credit his candidacy in  helping to elect President George W. Bush. It was presumed that his supporters would have supported Al Gore in that tie-breaking election.

Now at age 79,  the New York Times is reporting that Nader has established an American Museum of Tort Law, with exhibits that show various products that have been removed or made safer; as well as lawsuits that were successful in helping consumer safety.

The full article (here) tells about the exhibits in the museum. And here is a picture of Nader at the museum.


The museum claims to describe the evolution of the laws of negligence and liability. It includes exhibits of the Ford Pinto, the asbestos claims, and the tobacco lawsuits. Nader also hopes that students will come to the museum for mock trials to reenact some of the historic trials that are mentioned in the exhibits.

Nader regularly writes a blog on consumer topics at

And for pic o’ day, I am posting a “previous” because this team always makes me laugh.


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Traffic Ticket Thoughts

Friday, September 25th, 2015

How about a short blog on traffic tickets for the weekend?

A while back, CNBC posted an article titled Three big misconceptions about auto insurance. Titled just like that! So, I clicked on it to see the misconceptions.

The CliffsNotes  (Glad that a man named Cliff Hillegass started his notes!)version of the article would probably note three things from this study done by I suspect that’s also code for “click here for an article while we give you a quote”.

The three things:

1. Wealthier drivers get more tickets.

2. Younger drivers are riskier and get more tickets than older drivers. (I think Captain Obvious came up with that. Although, maybe wealthy, younger drivers really get more!)

3. Once a driver is in their 30′s,  insurance premiums are less likely to rise after a ticket.

Nothing unusual except that tickets and insurance do not mix well for premiums.


I hope you have a great “First Fall” Weekend!


And for our weekend pic o’… here’s another from my Mom! (For Mom’s sake, I was rooting for the Redskins last night.  Not good)



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News Bits

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Sometimes I see news stories that I tuck away for a blog. Then I think to myself, what a wonderful world… or something like that song, but not related to these stories. But,  I think that these news reports deserve a blog.  Sometimes, I can even keep from making a comment.

In the world of fake Tiffany,  we travel to a story about Costco. (Reuters) Tiffany & Co. has filed suit against Costco Wholesale Corp for selling counterfeit diamond engagement rings with the Tiffany name.  Costco filed an answer claiming that Tiffany’s trademarks were invalid because they should be able to use the term Tiffany as a generic description of the type of ring setting.

How did the judge respond to that argument. Predictably, the same way you have reacted. Judge Laura Taylor Swain of Manhattan wrote, “Despite Costco’s arguments to the contrary, no rational finder of fact could conclude that Costco acted in good faith in adopting the Tiffany mark”.  Now, it’s just a question of how much Costco must pay in damages.

Next, an article from, here are 14 Reasons to Stop Drinking Mountain Dew. It includes a concern over bromine poisoning, which also happens to be in bleached white flour. The preservatives and dye; and of course, the dental effects are among the reasons.

And the final news story for this blog really also asks the question, “what is it worth in damages?” From The Columbus Dispatch comes a story of a family who arrived at the funeral and realized that someone other than their sister was in the casket. The funeral home had mixed up the bodies and dressed the person in the sister’s clothing. And… the story gets worse if you want to read more here. Suit has been filed.

And for pic o’ day, I think that Will Farrell’s “Hall-of-Fame” plaque that he received for playing during spring training is a self-explanatory laugh.



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Abraham Lincoln the Lawyer

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Usually when we think of Abraham Lincoln, it relates to his years as President. Before being elected as President, he did have a successful law practice. He attended law school for less than a year but became a lawyer because of a law that went into effect in Illinois in 1833. A person could be sworn in as a lawyer if they obtained “a certificate procured from the court of an Illinois county certifying to the applicant’s good moral character”.

According to the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, he was involved in 5173 cases with his partners. Records show that Lincoln did represent a variety of clients including collections and even arguing over disputes between landowners over their cows. His primary client was doing defense work for the Illinois Central Railroad.

There is some indication that he received some complaints because his law office had a sign hanging out in front with the law firm’s name.  Some lawyers felt that such “advertising” was undignified for the profession.   (something about that warms my heart!)

The following is part of a closing argument from a transcript of one of Lincoln’s trials, where he was defending a man against a claim for killing a dog:

My client is like the man who was going along the road with a pitchfork on his shoulder when he was attacked by a fierce dog that ran out from a farmers yard. He uses pitchfork to defend himself and in the process killed the dog. The outrage farmer demanded: “what made you kill my dog?” To which the man replied “what made your dog try to bite me?” The farmer retorted “why did you not try to go after him with the other end of the pitchfork?” To which the man responded “why did not the dog come after me with his other end?”

It sounds a bit different from the Gettysburg Address!

And for pic o’ day, a dog meeting over evidence:


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Relatives in History

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

I keep seeing sponsored link stories at the bottom of some of the Internet news articles that I read. I think it’s a marketers method to grab my attention while I click to some “informational item” that is usually more gossip than newsworthy.  Do you see the same stories?

These usually appear under some kind of entertainment subject matter.  Sometimes it’s an article that tempts me to click and learn about “celebrities with the highest IQs” or “Movies that will make you want to travel”. Usually, I’m not tempted too much by those titles. I even get irritated with titles that include “jaw dropping” in the headline.

I did see one that caused me to click. The title was something like “Did you know that these celebrities are related”. I think I clicked on that one and also the one that discussed who was related to Abraham Lincoln… but that’s just me!

That brings me to the relatives of Francis Scott Key, the author of The Star Spangled Banner. Because of him, we remember the rockets red glare! He also made some history as a lawyer, both as U.S. Attorney and as a private lawyer.  It’s worth clicking on his story here. But,  I am trying to keep this blog short and to the point, instead of where I seem to be taking it… toward Key’s law practice.

So, let me get back to the point of this blog, to write about those of significant historical significance who are related to Francis Scott Key. It would be like seeing a story at the bottom of this blog as a sponsored link that might ask something like “Your jaw will drop when you see Key’s relative“. Or something like that. Then you would click on it and your jaw would not drop.

However, I wrote all of the above to say… here are the relatives for the blog:

First, he was distantly related to F. Scott Fitzgerald (famous novelist including author of The Great Gatsby)

As a horrible historical side note, Key’s son was shot and killed by U.S. Congressman Daniel Sickles.

Another historical relative was  Roger B. Taney, who Scott’s sister had married. Taney would later become Chief Justice of the United States U.S. Supreme Court. The significance in that was that Justice Taney wrote the historical opinion in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857). (Story) An important case about slavery.

On one hand, Scott had previously argued cases on behalf of freeing slaves, and had written our National Anthem. Now his Supreme Court Justice relative was writing an opinion that would certainly have provided some curious family dinner conversation.

Among legal scholars, the Dred Scott opinion has been called the worst decision ever rendered by the Supreme Court. A ruling that determined that a slave (Dred Scott) who resided in a free state where there was no slavery,  could not be a free man. According to the Court, Africans/blacks were not and never could be citizens of the United States. They were merely property.

The Supreme Court, with that language, helped to ultimately fuel the Civil War.


And finally, my mom in on a roll. She sent me this pic o’ day last night that got me!


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Professional Juries Pros and Cons

Monday, August 31st, 2015

I get a few magazines in the mail for the reception area. One of the favorites of the office comes from Costco as a result of my membership. It’s not even a paid magazine subscription, unless you count the membership fee. Free is good!

The September 2015 edition of The Costco Connection has an article titled Are professional juries a good idea? The article title is answered with brief responses for both sides. One is an answer of YES  to the question and right below it is the responsive answer of NO. The September edition is not yet online, so let me summarize the positions.

The answer of YES is written by a retired FBI agent. He basis his answer on the benefit of familiarity. He believes that juries would do a better job if they were trained and understood the law when sitting on a civil or criminal jury. Just as police, and prosecutors, and judges are trained, so should be juries.

An attorney writes the response for NO. He argues the benefits of a jury of peers, and that a professionally trained juror would not be within that definition. His argument is based on an interpretation of the Constitution.

I have attached two other articles  below, that deal with professional juries. No one argues that there should be justice. It’s just a question of how best to get there.

What are the pros and cons of ‘professional jurors?’   and Professional Juries: Veritas or Vocation?


And a pic o’ day from my Mom:


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