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Archive for General Law

Tuesday Traveling

Monday, November 16th, 2015

I am coming back from some work in West Virginia. I so enjoy downtown Charleston. Not a vacation spot but a good stop-by.

I will be back in the office this afternoon, so I thought I would post a pic o’ day that made me smile!

 

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Rambling to Charitable Gifts

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

“Do you mind if I ask you a legal question?” I sometimes was asked that question, even before I graduated from law school.  Now I sometimes hear, “I know you don’t handle this kind of law but can I ask you a question?”.

I think that while I was in law school, I had  broader knowledge of the law. I know that as I studied for the bar, I definitely did. The bar made you brush up on all kinds of topics.

One of my bar questions sounded something like, ”a man fails to tie up his horse and it runs through the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor sees it and is angry that the loose horse is once again on his property, so he shoots it. It keeps running into a nearby yard, where it drops dead. Who is now responsible for removing the horse off the  neighbor’s property, if anyone?”

I’m not sure if I knew the answer then,. I would only be guessing now. I haven’t brushed up on property law in a while. Plus, I wish the example had been a fox. No one should be shooting a horse!… but I digress.

The law of personal injury does require keeping up with new cases and information. Along the way I still try to read about other areas of law. That includes articles that are quick reads that tell me “here are seven” or “here are five ways”, that I can skim through on a topic.

My ramblings lead me to an article in the area of tax from the NY Times titled Navigating the Tax Rules on Charitable Gifts. (article)  It summarizes topics of receipts, retirement accounts, donating used items, donating stocks and some property rules. I am attaching it if you want to just brush up  for year-end planning.

I have to admit that I still don’t read too many articles on the enthralling  topic of property!

And for pic o’ day, dog and homework pictures always get me!

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How About Some Drone Law?

Monday, November 9th, 2015

When Amazon announced that they were going to be making home deliveries by using drones (Fox News), I just kind of dismissed it. Sure, I thought, why not have Amazon pigeons deliver Fig Newtons.  Then I started receiving shopping catalogues with personal drones for sale. Now, I realize that the pigeons are out of business.

Which leads me to “whatever happened to the Kentucky man” William Merideth, who was arrested in July (wdrb.com) for shooting down a drone? He claimed that it was flying over his property?

By review, the “drone owner” claimed that he was taking pictures of a friend’s house for him. Meredith claimed that pictures were being taken of his 16-year-old daughter who was lying out by the pool.

Meredith got his shotgun… and boom, end of drone. Merideth was arrested for destruction of property.

At the end of October, a district court judge dismissed the charges (NBC News), on the basis that drone slayer Merideth had the right of expectation of privacy and that the evidence showed that the drone was hovering over his property. The drone owner says that this matter is “far from over”. I say, “where are the Fig Newtons?”

And for pic o’ day, it’s selfie time:

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Social Media for Clients and Employment

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

It’s not unusual to sit down at a restaurant, look around, and notice several people just looking down at their cell phones. Technology has taken over. How about this “Titanic possibility”?

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Which brings me to the topic of social media in our cases, and what’s being discussed in the employment arena.

In the last few years, one of the items that we see being requested by defense attorneys is a copy of the posts of our clients’ Facebook pages. They are looking for something in their fishing expedition that might show photographs and postings of our clients’ activities.

Their intent is to try to cross examine our clients on their injuries and an explanation of their activities in the postings. Not surprisingly, clients are bothered when the defense is asking to see such personal things.

When the defense asks for such postings, we file motions to fight that discovery. It’s not unusual for a judge to allow some form of social media discovery. Recently, one judge ordered that only the defense attorney could have access to our client’s Facebook account… and only the defense attorney… for only a period of 24 hours. Still, it shows a change in what is now considered to be relevant in a lawsuit, as well as information that is now available to be discovered.

In the world of employment, now social media is garnering attention. (Pilot Online) As indicated in the article, according to VCU Professor Marcus Messner, think about what you are posting for five minutes before posting. Remember that your thoughts are going into cyberspace.

In September, the Chesapeake School Board Chairman was under scrutiny after she posted the following on her personal account, “Muslims hate pork, beer, dogs, bikinis, Jesus and freedom of speech”. Several criticized her for this personal post because they felt that it reflected poorly on the School Board, even though they endorsed her right of freedom of speech.

Last year, a Norfolk assistant principal was suspended after she retweeted a picture on her personal account that had racial overtones involving a prom picture. She was held to a standard in her position by many, despite the account being personal.

Social media is now part of the hiring process of a lot of employers. The underlying question, “should an employer be allowed to place limitations on its employees regarding what they post on social media, even if it is a totally private account?”. Ultimately, it does go to a freedom of speech question.

The city of Virginia Beach has instituted the following guidelines regarding what is posted by its employees on social media, “make sure others know that your personal opinion is just that; be careful when and where you are posting; and do not insult others online or use questionable language”.

 

And for some positive thinking on a Monday!

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Williamsport to Hershey

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

This is a story that winds through Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and then wanders through Hershey, Pa. Then, it ends with fortunately not boarding the Titanic after purchasing a ticket. How is that for wandering?

First, I went to Williamsport on Sunday, to speak at a 60th Anniversary celebration of a church that my grandfather started. You can see that the platform is on high alert because of some of my unpredictable stories down memory lane. But, it was a treat for me to remember my grandfather and grandmother.

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And since Williamsport is close to Hershey, (unless you measure in candy bar units), on to Hershey and why I have mentioned the Titanic.

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This is a check (taken with my cell phone) that Hershey wrote, to put down a deposit for a state room for boarding on the Titanic that launched on April 10, 1912, with 2000 passengers. This $300 deposit wrote in December 1911,  is worth approximately $7281 today.

Hershey had founded his Chocolate Company in 1894 and had just begun to mass-produce chocolates and distribute them in 1907. So, around the time that he wrote this deposit, he was just really gearing up the business. For instance, during World War II, the Hershey company provided Ration D Bars and Tropical Chocolate Bars to all the troops through the entire war.

It wasn’t until after 1918 when Hershey transferred all his assets to a trust; that such things as the town, entertainment complex, the Milton Hershey School, and the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center came into existence. (Milton S. Hershey Wikipedia)

I took this picture of the check while touring the Hershey Archives because one of the workers pointed it out, and then explained that Hershey and his wife were to have been on that fateful ship, but had to cancel at the last moment because of work duties that called him back home. He and his wife left on an earlier ship.

Obviously, Hershey came to that fork in the road…. and made the right choice. The Hershey company doesn’t necessarily credit the hand of God or Providence, but they do quickly mention “What if?” Hershey had been on that ship. We may not have Hershey bars today!

As a side note,  history records that there were six other prominent people who missed that fateful ride, who had been booked on the Titanic. (listed here)  These other six included J. Pierpont Morgan and Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt.

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And then I conclude this with:  it’s good to go away… but it’s always good to come home!

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Ghost Evidence

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Doing a story on the Greenbrier Ghost seemed liked an appropriate start to this weekend! Sadly that tells you that there is a  scary ending instead of a happy ending of Zona Heaster Shue. But it does include the courtroom. (Wikipedia)

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Edward Stribbling Trout Shue (In all stories, maybe we shouldn’t ever trust a 4-name person ) was a drifter who came to the County of Greenbrier looking for work. Soon he was working as a blacksmith. Not long after his arrival to town, he met Zona. They fell in love and were married… despite the objection of Zona’s mother, who had taken an instant dislike to this man.

The couple lived peacefully until January 23, 1897. That’s when 21-year-old Zona Heaster Shue was found dead in her living room.  Local physician, Dr. George Knapp, examined the body and determined that Mrs. Shue’s death was due to an “everlasting faint.” Her body had been found by a young boy who had come to the home on an errand. She was found lying at the foot of the stairs, stretched out with her feet together and her hand on her stomach. She looked “comfortably dead”.

The doctor was summoned; But before he arrived, her husband had moved her body to the upstairs bedroom and placed her on the bed. He then prepared the body for burial, normally a job for the women of the community, by washing the corpse and then dressing her in a high-necked dress with a stiff collar and then placed a veil over her face.

When the doctor did arrive, he only did a cursory examination of the body because Shue was cradling his wife’s head and sobbing. The doctor noticed but did not follow up on the bruising that appeared to be around her neck.

The doctor later amended his findings to include  that the death included “and childbirth.” Her husband of 3 months kept an amazing vigil over her body and would let no one near the coffin.  At the funeral, locals later testified that they noticed that her neck did not look normal against the pillow in the casket.The matter was “laid to rest” when Zona was buried.

According to  Zona’s mother; four weeks after the burial, she woke up in the middle of the night to a chilly room and found her deceased daughter standing at her bedside. ”Her daughter” then told her over the course of 4 nights,  “I was murdered, Momma—Trout strangled me!” She went on to describe that he had gone into a fit of rage over her not cooking meat for dinner, and he then choked her so hard that it caused her neck to break.

The  mother was so convinced that this was not a dream that she went to the local sheriff and begged him to investigate her daughter’s death as a murder by Trout Shue. The sheriff reluctantly agreed, and Zona’s body was exhumed.

Zona’s body showed that she had a crushed windpipe and a broken neck. Trout Shue was charged with murder.

At the trial, the judge was determined to keep out any evidence of the “ghost story”. The prosecutor was determined to just stick to the evidence. Despite the judge’s attempts. the mother discussed her “daughter’s visits”.

It became clear that the jury believed the mother. Trout was convicted by the jury, and sentenced to life in prison. When the story of that trial is told, it is also concluded that Trout Shue was the only known case in the U.S. where a ghost’s testimony allegedly helped to reopen an investigation, and then identify and convict a murderer.

Have a great weekend and be safe out there!

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History, Furniture and Fishing

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Sometimes when I walk into the office in the morning, Dennis tells me that he just read the blog and he wished that I would post more history blogs. Well Dennis, I hope to quench your thirst today!

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Since there was no blogging in Colonial Days (I tried to come up with a joke there, but my Captain Obvious statement will have to stand alone) , we rely on such things as the letters of our founding fathers. Our second president, John Adams, was known as a constant letter writer. There have been many letters between he and his wife that have become part of the historical archives.

One letter that he wrote to Abigail Adams dealt with his complaint of having to clean up the President’s House as he moved in following the Washington Presidency. The President’s House in Philadelphia, served as home to Washington and then Adams, until the government was transferred to the District of Columbia, with Adams then moving to the White House in 1800.

So, as Adams was moving into that Philadelphia location after George Washington’s term, here’s what he wrote:

Last night for the first time I slept in our new House. But what a Scene: The Furniture belonging to the Publick is in the most deplorable Condition. There is not a Chair fit to sit in. The Beds and Bedding are in a woeful Pickle. This House has been a Scene of the most Scandalous Drinking and Disorder among the servants, that ever I heard of. I would not have one of them for any Consideration. There is not a Carpet nor a Curtain, nor a Glass nor Linnen nor China nor any Thing. Dont expose this Picture.”

I posted the letter as it was written, including the curious spellings on a few words. So, that gives Dennis some history; some excuse when I might misspell a word in the blog; and the reminder that no one ever wants to be in a woeful pickle!

And for pic o’ day… a day of basic trout fishing:

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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

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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.

 

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     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.

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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

 

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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 (Goupstate.com) 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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