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Archive for General Law

Comparing the Years

Monday, June 16th, 2014

I have written a few blogs about age. That included the discussion of introducing evidence to a jury to consider a client’s life expectancy. Some even told me that they went to Virginia Code Section 8.01-419  just to see how long  Virginia law says that they are supposed to live.

That brings me to an interesting website called You’re getting old. It requires you to put your birthday in a box and then… it gives you all kinds of information to make you feel old. This despite the fact that it also says that the average person going to the website is 33. Yep… not much to say about that. So, for a Monday blog, I figured this might be fun discovery if you click on it.

DID YOU KNOW that the first huddle in football was formed because one team had a deaf player who used sign language, and his teammates did not want the opposing team to see the signals that he used so they formed a huddle around him?

And for pic o’ day, a bit of home security:

home security

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The Fightin’ Judge

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

This falls under the heading of  ”You don’t see that everyday”. I am regularly asked if I am working on any interesting cases. I can tell you that nothing compares to the NY Daily News story of the Florida Judge who threatened to beat up the lawyer… and then he did!

You might have seen this on the news. If you are in a position to watch the video below; then I promise, words cannot do it justice.

If you can’t watch it now, save it for later. Briefly described, Judge John Murphy argues with the public defender Andrew Weinstock. The Brevard County judge keeps telling the lawyer to sit down, but the lawyer refuses and tells the judge that he has a right to stand there on behalf of his client. The attorney felt that the judge was pressuring the client into waiving his right to a speedy trial.

When the judge was not getting the response that he wanted, he immediately asked the lawyer if he wanted to settle the matter with their fists. As the judge more forcefully asked, “If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your a$@”. The lawyer can be seen headed toward the side door of the courtroom, and then there is the sound of scuffling. When the judge returned to the bench, he turned to the people in the courtroom and said, “I will catch my breath eventually. Man, I’m an old man”.



Did You Know that King Henry I established the unit of measurement designated as a “foot”? His arm happened to be 36 inches long and he declared the standard length of a foot to be one-third of that. Imagine if his arm had been 42 inches long. Yep… a foot would have been 14 inches.

And for pic o’ day…



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Richmond is Saving History

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Writer Brandy Brubaker of Richmond BizSense recently wrote about the Historic Richmond Foundation and its decision to bring history back to life in the restoration of a 200-year-old church. The article is titled Saving History Does Not Come Cheap.Monumental church

The Monumental Church has significance to the community because it was originally constructed as a symbol of hope from a terrible disaster.  On December 26, 1811, a fire destroyed the Richmond Theatre where hundreds were inside for a play. Nearly 600 people had packed the theater for a triple-bill benefit for the theatrical company.(Richmond Times-Dispatch) As the curtain rose on the second act, a candle on a chandelier brushed against the backing of the stage scenery.

The flames spread and one of the actors raced to the front of the stage and shouted, “The house is on fire”. A later Supreme Court opinion written by Oliver Wendall Holmes noted that such an exclamation, when not true; is not a form of protected free speech. In this instance, it also led to people being crushed in a mob-like exit.

As the fire grew, it didn’t take long for the sap-filled pine roof to catch fire. As patrons rushed to escape, the rising flames and poor design of the building, coupled with the heavy smoke; made it difficult to escape.   At least 72 people died including the governor of Virginia, George W. Smith and U.S. Senator Abraham B. Venable who had been named President of the Bank of Virginia.

On that fateful night, it was difficult to determine who had died in the fire. Everything was so burned beyond recognition. Officers went door to door to try to determine who had not come home from the night before, in an attempt to ascertain all the victims. The remains of the fire victims were buried together in a crypt underneath the church.

Then Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, John Marshall, led a campaign to build a church on the site as a tribute to the victims. Architech Robert Mills, who formerly studied under Thomas Jefferson, was hired to design the church. He would later be hired to design the Washington Monument.

The church was built and held its first service on May 4, 1814. The church counted Chief Justice Marshall and Edgar Allan Poe among its members.

Over the years, the church fell in disrepair. It also sustained tremendous water damage. It was deeded to the Medical College of Virginia which later turned it over to Historic Richmond. Several years ago, the Foundation conducted an ultasound on the brick crypt and determined that there are still two boxes which are believed to contain the remains of the fire victims.

The Foundation then made significant repairs and the church is now used as a popular wedding venue. There are still remaining repairs to be done that include such things as landscaping, roofing and painting. A marble monument at the church bears the names of those who died in the fire.

The newspaper story attached also details acts of heroism which led to the majority of attendees escaping the fire, despite the single narrow staircase to the box seats; as well as only having three exits from the building. The front door also opened inward which contributed to the difficulties of escape. Now, fire and building codes would never allow such design and construction.

DID YOU KNOW that the fear of vegetables is called lachanophobia? It is estimated that approximately 30% of Americans report real symptoms at the mere mention of certain vegetables that include nausea and shortness of breath.

And for pic o’ day:


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Looking Back to Look Forward

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

     In personal injury cases where clients need long term care, it’s our job to prove the future medical bills. Sometimes this means having a life-care planner testify regarding future expenses that have been identified by the treating doctors, and putting a price/cost on the future care. Many times we call this a minimum life-care plan. It does not take into consideration any future procedures, treatment or medications that may become available because of medical advancements. However, some jurors smartly recognize that the evidence introduced in the plan may be limiting.

     Sometimes the best way to look forward to possibilities, is to look back. That brings me to items sent to me by Jeff R.  It gave me a good “look-back” laugh. At the end of pic o’ day, I will list the answers if you missed one. When our marketing team saw this blog, they immediately decided that they want to put a contest together with prizes. (no lovely parting gifts like Jeopardy) So, we will be putting that together soon. If we don’t have your email, please send it in to be included in the contest.

      Looking back doesn’t have to mean that it signifies anything about age. I knew the answers and I’m a youngster!!! Do these look familiar to you?

                                                                                                                                                                                   What is the connection between these two?

photo 1

                                                                                                                                                                               What is this? (no… not the back of my head!)

photo 2

                                                                                                                                                                                     Do you know what to do with these?

photo 3

                                                                                                                                                                                           Do you know how to use this?

photo 4

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Do you know their names?photo 5

     DID YOU KNOW that you can’t hum and pinch your nose closed at the same time? (Did that make you try to prove me wrong?)

     And for pic o’ day,

K Bear

     Are you a subscriber of our eBlast Newsletter? Check out our May edition here, and you can subscribe for June. here.

Promised Look-back answers: 1. pen and cassette. Pen is used to wind the tape tight when it hangs out and makes it impossible to play in a cassette recorder. 2. Jiffy Pop popcorn on the stove… ready for eating! 3. Caps for a cap gun. 4. An ice cube tray. (probably the easiest) 5. Lassie and Timmy.

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Some Random Marketing

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

If you scroll through the news headlines, you are likely to see the Justin Bieber is suspected in a robbery; or that Chris Brown has filed suit with a claim of extortion over a basketball game fight. You probably have seen the video of Beyoncé’s sister with Jay Z. Headlines are meant to grab our attention. It’s news marketing so we will read and buy or gravitate to a website.

The marketing team constantly reminds me that I am not active enough on Instagram; that I am not doing enough videos to provide content on the website and that I need to do more tweets on twitter. It’s a reminder that marketing has changed a lot since the days that I could just go in and cut a radio spot or do a TV commercial.

It’s no secret that we try to get potential clients to click over to our site if they need a lawyer for their case. Many times they are not even sure if they have a case, when in fact it is a significant case.

I have found that some of my best marketing is when I am not marketing at all. Yesterday, my waiter at a local restaurant came up to the table with his arm in a sling. Completely unrelated to whether he had a claim, I simply asked what had happened.  He went on to describe that he would have called me if he had a case. Instead, he had been on a bike and a car had run him off the road. He didn’t even know that he had a case. Potentially, his own insurance will be responsible under the uninsured motorist portion of his insurance policy. They are responsible for the fault of an unknown driver without causing the insurance premiums to increase.

One final rambling market thought. This story on google searches reminds about what subjects interest the public. It’s not just cat videos or dogs performing a sing-along. How to hide a corpse or how win a lottery are some of the search engine items. When I hear that, it makes me feel a bit overwhelmed in wondering how to make an interesting legal video for the blog!

In the DID YOU KNOW section this time, it’s a word discovery. What word can you take its first letter off and make it the last letter, making the word the past tense of the original word? (I know, I had to read that a few times) Answer: Eat becomes Ate when you move the “e” to the last letter.

And for pic o’ day, this seems to be “scared of each other”:


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Pot Meets Kettle

Monday, May 12th, 2014

First, as I noted in yesterday’s blog, I was at the North Carolina high school golf tournament. My nephew shot a first round 77 and was not satisfied. To me, it looked effortless. The temperature around 90 was pretty stifling. I have the fan blowing on high in the office today!

For the blog,  I titled this after the idea of  silly criticism. In this instance it led to an arrest.

This story  (USA Today) is about a woman who was ticked at her drug supplier. The marijuana was apparently a fraud.  So, she called the police, just as she said she would. Guess who paid the price! Some 911 calls are just not an emergency!

DID YOU KNOW  that Thomas Jefferson was once given a 1235 pound block of cheese for a gift?  Supposedly, that’s where we get the expression “The Big Cheese”.

For pic o’ day, some good ole-fashioned friendliness.

Giraffe laugh

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Regulations… Why?

Monday, May 5th, 2014

In 1866, Gideon John Tucker wrote a legal opinion that related to a decision in a will case, “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session”. During the 19th century, statesman Daniel Webster reportedly observed that “Now is the time when men work quietly in the fields and women weep softly in the kitchen; the legislature is in session and no man’s property is safe”.

The Libertarian Party is based on a platform that includes the following platform: “As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values to benefit others”.  They also include the specifics of that platform by further stating that, “We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose“.

There are a lot of people who are angry at the government. They read the words of Tucker or Webster and nod in agreement. They hear the platform of the Libertarian Party and it makes them want to learn more. That’s because even the word “regulation” sets some people off. They are downright angry at the government intruding in their lives. In light of that thinking, the purpose of this blog is to recognize that thought, but also contrast it with some benefits that have been provided by the government because of laws and regulations.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is in charge of the National Weather Service. That agency warns us of hurricanes. In fact, a look-back at a 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas, reminds us that it killed 8000 people; making it the deadliest hurricane in our history.

Moving forward to Hurricane Ike that hit Galveston in 2008; Because of the National Weather Service, a network of satellites worked together to provide notice of the impending weather condition. Unfortunately, more than 100 people died during the storm, but over 1 million people were evacuated to safer areas. A government agency had been responsible for saving lives that included requiring people to leave the area, when they were told to leave.

Another regulatory agency is the well-known Food and Drug Administration. It recently rejected painkiller Zohydro, calling it “Heroin in a capsule”. It also recently would not approve an epilepsy drug because it determined that the drug had very serious side effects. In addition, the FDA regulates food to keep microbes out of our food. Food and drugs can’t just hit the market without regulation. We count on that agency to keep us safe.

I could recite the benefits of other government agencies that includes the National Institutes of Health that does important research to fight diseases; as well as the Center for Disease Control, which monitors and targets health hazards.

Thankfully, there are rules that govern our safety. It’s why people in a safe community stop at traffic control signs and signals, even when they don’t see a car coming. They also sit on juries and make people accountable for breaking rules. Just some of the reasons that it’s good to have some government rules and regulations.

DID YOU KNOW that pigs, walruses and light-colored horses can be sunburned? Hmm… should they use sunscreen?

And for pic o’ day, here is some strategy:

Disguise Dog

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Decisions and Framing

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

In the book How We Decide, the author describes the thinking of gamblers. It was confirmed in a college study.  When the choice of placing a bet for $50 is couched in terms of playing a game to gain 20 dollars, 42% choose to take the chance. When that same amount is described as a game to possibly lose 30 dollars, 62% chose not to play the game. Losing hurts more than winning and the study just framed it in terms of the negative versus positive.

Marketers and advertisers have learned to use the psychology of “framing” on us. It explains why a person chooses to buy meat that is labeled 85% lean instead of being marketed as 15 percent fat. It is also why we go to the doctor and ask an opinion on a procedure or surgery to fight an illness, and expect to be told about the success of the procedure. We are comforted to hear that there is a 98% success rate, not that 2% are worse after the procedure.

In our law practice, we also see the impact of framing during  jury trials. It’s why the legislature has adopted Virginia code section  8.01-379.1, to authorize how many times that the amount of money sought in the lawsuit may be discussed during trial. The Virginia code provides that any party in any civil action may inform the jury of the amount of damages sought by the plaintiff in the opening statement or closing argument, or both. The plaintiff may request an amount which is less than the ad damnum in the motion for judgment.

The law does not allow repeated discussion of the amount that was sued for, but it does allow the jury to know how much is being sought. Repeatedly in jury exit interviews, jury consultants advise that jurors want to know the amount the lawyer is asking for, and even become a bit irritated if the lawyer does not tell them. In some states, lawyers are not allowed to discuss an amount. Those court rules or laws are usually based in the premise that jurors should not be impacted by the psychology of framing.

Some think that a high amount causes jurors to cut it in half anyway. For instance, a juror may hear an amount of 1 million dollars and decide that they will only come back with 500k as their verdict. The greater dollar amount has framed them to a potential higher amount than they might have returned. Consequently, a lawyer who sues and asks for too much, may seem greedy and cause the jury not to take that lawyer seriously or as the one telling the truth.

DID YOU KNOW that according to scientists, kissing for one minute burns 26 calories?

And for pic o’ day, this TV  program sure is getting some attention:


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The Jury Summons Scam

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

From South Carolina’s Aiken Standard comes a story of another “beware of scam”. This one involves jury duty.

According to scam that was reported, someone calls to identify themselves as working for the court clerks’ office or the Solicitor’s to advise that the person is being fined for missing jury duty. The person is then told that  they are being fined $500 for not showing up for jury duty. However, they can avoid the fine if they give the caller an But, “for an amount of money, he would prevent them from getting a warrant, for failure to appear for jury duty,”  The scammer  reportedly identified himself by the name “Earley” and told potential victims that he could take care of this fine because he worked for the Judge.

The scammer then tells them that they need to go purchase a money card for the $900 amount, and then call him back with the number on the card, so he could access the funds. The reporter for the newspaper did not indicate whether anyone had yet fallen for this scam.

This was a “new one” to me but also a reminder that I constantly have to be vigilant. Every time that I receive an email from a bank, or supposed eBay notification,  or  some other institution that tells me that I have to log in to receive something or pay something, I immediately become suspicious and go to their actual website to check there.

When I read this jury story, I was also reminded of the time that I showed up in Chesapeake, Virginia, to find that there were not enough there for a jury panel. First, the judge asked us if we were willing to go with a smaller jury. Lawyers can agree to do that and waive any objection to having less than the normal seven-member jury.  In fact, the panel has to include enough for each side to have three strikes, plus the possibility of having alternate jurors.

Alternate jurors may be indicated in a case that could last for a long period, and the judge is basically making sure that a sick juror or a family emergency, would not cause the case to be declared a mistrial. Jurors do not know that they are serving as an alternate until it is time for them to go in the back and deliberate. At that time, the judge tells them that they were an alternate, and they are then excused from service.

When we did not agree to a smaller jury in Chesapeake, the judge did ask us if we wanted him to send the bailiffs out to bring the individuals in who had ignored their jury summons. The defense lawyer and I agreed that we would rather have a continuance than that kind of juror. Still, it serves to show that the jury system runs into trouble, when prospective jurors do not comply with the summons. It’s also why I thank the jurors for serving at the end of each case. Having been told in the past that there were not enough for a jury, does make me truly thankful that each juror showed up and served.

DID YOU KNOW that a mongoose is not a goose but more like a meercat, which is not a cat but more like a prairie dog, which is not a dog, but more like a squirrel?

And for pic o’ day, this does prove that water makes you look heavier!

water fat

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Bully Punishment

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

     An Ohio man claims that a Judge’s punishment has ruined his life. From WKRC-12 comes a story of the Ohio bully.

     62-year-old Edmond Aviv has feuded with his neighbor for the past 15 years. The most recent issue related to neighbor Sandra Pugh’s vent dryer which was irritating Aviv. He continued to complain of the putrid smell and decided to blow the smell back on to her property. So, he hooked up kerosene to a fan for that purpose.

     Ultimately, Aviv was charged and pled guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. His neighbor claimed that she was fearful of him because of that and many other instances. There had been evidence that he had spit on her, thrown dog feces on her windshield and once even smeared feces on the wheelchair ramp that was used by her adopted children, who live with cerebral palsy.

     After Aviv pled guilty to the charge, the judge ordered him to also serve 15 days in jail and undergo anger management classes. Aviv also had to issue an apology. He did that. What bothered him most was that the judge also made him stand for five hours at a traffic intersection with a sign that read, “I AM A BULLY! I pick on children that are disabled and I am intolerant of those that are different from myself. My actions do not reflect an appreciation for the diverse South Euclid community that I live in”.

     Aviv claims that, “The judge destroyed me”. He also felt that it was unfair that the judge made him stand in the intersection with the sign, after cars came by and continually beeped their horns at him. Several pedestrians even stopped to take his picture.

     His neighbor has still expressed her fears to the judge in a letter. She wrote, “I am very concerned for the safety of our family”. She said that she just wants to live in peace. For now, they continue to be neighbors. And, this story became a national news story.

     For pic o’ day, here is a pickpocket:


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