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Archive for The Human Spirit

First Grade Wisdom

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Sometimes when I sit down to write the blog, I just sit there to write the blog. It reminds me of my birthday card from Dennis and Betty, that they gave me last month:


But then I saw this listing of “finished proverbs” from first graders, and I knew that this had to be for the blog today! Wisdom from first grade:


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The Little Foxes in Law

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Song of Solomon 2:15 says to catch the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

Bible commentaries explain that foxes love grapes on the vine, and they usually eat them in autumn. More from commentaries in explaining this verse: Foxes do the most damage to grapes when the clusters are young and tender.

That verse can be applied to many things in life. For the purposes of this blog, I look at it as paying attention to the details. Or the details will become bigger and require attention. In the practice of law, it’s knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

I have heard jury consultants focus on whether to wear cuff links, or what watch to wear, or whether to wear a dark suit. Those might be important but you can’t let the foxes eat the grapes of your case. Failing to pay attention to the details of the case.

Over the last 12 months, I have seen lawyers in the Firm work on some cases that other law firms have rejected or withdrawn because they did not see the probability of recovery. That could be the foxes of laziness, lack of knowledge or even failing to listen to the client.

In the cases taken after other law firms have rejected or withdrawn; many times the witnesses were never interviewed by the previous firms, or insurance coverage was missed by not following up with owners of the cars or members of household who did have coverage. A few of the cases included police officers who investigated the crash and were never interviewed or asked to provide important investigation notes that included witness to the crash.

It’s easy to worry about trying to get more cases instead of focusing on the work that is already here. That is when the foxes eat the grapes.

One celebrity was once asked how he found success in relationships. He said that he realized that he needed to stop focusing on trying to be charming or keeping up some act. Instead, he realized that the key to a good date was to put that all aside and just pay attention to her.

And finally, today is National Coffee Day. Apparently, that means that a lot of coffee shops are giving away free coffee. Starbucks says that for every pound of coffee that we buy, they will buy a tree for a farmer.  Sounds more like National Arbor Day, and I don’t know what that means. I Probably just need another cup of coffee.

And for pic o’ day…


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Johnny Cab… It’s Electric

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

I was watching CNBC as they began to discuss rumors that Apple was working on introducing cars to the market. The host of the show was interviewing an analyst about the possible news. A picture flashed on the screen of CEO Tim Cook, as he appeared to be climbing out of a car.

The analyst went on to say that maybe Apple would introduce an electric car to the market in a matter of weeks. He indicated that maybe Apple had been secretly getting it ready to compete with Tesla and their electric cars. Then, he mentioned that the cars might be even “driverless”.

A few days later, Apple announced that they expected to start delivering electric cars in 2019. (Wall Street Journal) They did add that these cars will require a driver, but should be compatible with its other products.

Right now, there are cars that can assist you in parallel parking. When I heard that analyst on Apple, I wondered what personal injury would be like with a bunch of cars on the road… without drivers.

I remember an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Total Recall, where you could jump into a waiting taxi called Johnny Cab. IMG_0309

In the movie, the writers summed up a car “without a driver”.


  • Johnny cab: Hello I’m Johnny cab, where can I take you tonight?
    Doug Quaid: Drive, drive!
    Johnny cab: Would you please repeat the destination?
    Doug Quaid: Anywhere, just go, GO!
    Johnny cab: Im not familiar with that address, would you please repeat the destination?

So, I guess I should also wonder if Johnny Cab has insurance. Yes… the future is in the future! Does that sound like Yogi Berra?

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


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Week One in the Books

Monday, September 14th, 2015

The National Football League has just completed its first full week of games. Some teams sit at the hopeful 1-0, while others are 0-1 and telling reporters that it’s a marathon not a sprint. As a Colts fan, I’m glad that week one does not decide who will be in the playoffs.

In professional basketball (NBA) the same thing is true except that teams play 82 games versus the NFL’s 16 game regular season. In 1978, the Washington Bullets faced a difficult task throughout the playoffs.

In the Eastern Conference semi-finals between the Bullets and the San Antonio Spurs, the Bullets fell behind in the best-of-seven series 3-1. All San Antonio needed to do was win one more game and advance to the finals. The Bullets coach, Dick Motta, overheard a broadcaster talking about the series, which caused Motta to tell his team, “The opera ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”

Sure enough, the Bullets came back to win the series, advance to the NBA championship, and ultimately beat the Golden State Warriors to become NBA champions. Throughout, their mantra remained the same with many Bullet fans wearing t-shirts bearing that slogan.

Which brings me back to football and the Colts. In 1955, Pittsburgh Steeler coach Walt Kiesling called quarterback Johnny Unitas into his office to tell him that he was going to be cut from the roster because, “I’m sorry, but we can’t use you.”

Just three years after being cut by the Steelers and having to play semi-pro ball until he could get back in the NFL, Unitas was playing quarterback for the Baltimore Colts. In the 1958 NFL Championship Game, he passed for 322 yards to lead the Colts to a championship over the New York Giants. Later, he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Vince Lombardi gave good life advice about difficulties in life. “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.”

I regularly see clients who have gotten knocked down by an event like a car crash. I also am challenged personally as I see them get back up,  and while not letting difficulty stop them.

And for pic o’ day, this is dedicated to those who can’t put their phones down.


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Brooks Robinson For 150 Please

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

Reporters wrote that Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson visited the Baltimore Oriole locker room on Saturday, with his son and grandson. Several players hugged him as he walked around the locker room. A life long iconic former Oriole player who still means a lot to the organization. He spent his entire 23-year baseball playing career with the Orioles.

During that period he won 16 yearly Gold Glove Awards as the best fielding American League third baseman. Oriole fans probably remember him most from his amazing play in the 1970 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .429 in that series with 2 homerun.  But, he really remembered for his amazing defensive plays at third.

At the time, Reds manager Sparky Anderson could not get over the impact the Robinson’s defense had on the series. As he put it, “I’m beginning to see Brooks in my sleep. If I dropped this paper plate, he’d pick it up on one hop and throw me out at first”.

In 2011, he was honored for his great fielding by being voted as a member of the All-Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team. If you go to Camden Yards to see the Orioles play, you can find a statute of Brooks that depicts him throwing out a runner at first. When he was asked about being honored with a statue, he smiled and said that, “it gave him more hair than he deserved”.

I remember reading Brooks: Biography of Brooks Robinson, when I was a kid. It’s why I titled the blog like a category in Jeopardy.

In his biography, players reflected on how Brooks came to be so good at fielding. Multiple former players and teammates reflected on the fact that every day, he would field 150 ground balls. He’d work on short hops, back-hands, slow rollers and anything that he could imagine that might be hit to him during a game.

Former manager for the Orioles and the Nationals, Davey Johnson, also played with Brooks. He noticed that every day before the game, Brooks’ uniform would already get dirty before the game would even start; Just from practicing and diving for batted practice balls.  Johnson asked him, “Why do you take so many grounders when you already have all those Gold Gloves?”  Brooks replied, “Because I want to get another, and the only way to do it is work at it.”

That’s a good reminder for how to get better in whatever we do! In my law practice, trials can be long and demanding. However, the real work is in the months leading up to the trial. Fortunately, at least I get to wear a clean suit to the courtroom!!!


And for pic o’ day… all about looking good!


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The Winds of Change

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Seinfeld is a well known sitcom that ran during the years of 1989-1998. Usually with comedy, you can get away with saying some outrageous things. However, NBC ran into some major criticism over one of the episodes during that time because it was considered politically incorrect to joke about certain topics.

The episode Puerto Rican Day became that seminal episode of the show. Seinfeld and NBC were criticized for several items in the show.

First, there was criticism over the character Cosmo Kramer, who accidentally set a flag on fire and then was stomping on it to put it out.

Not only was the flag-burning incident not well received;  but, also the perceived negative portrayals of Puerto Ricans.

The show has a scene where an angry mob of parade-goers damages Jerry Seinfeld’s car. Later in the episode, Kramer is heard uttering, “It’s like this every day in Puerto Rico!”  The episode brought angry letters to the studio as well as physical protests outside  of NBC’s Rockefeller Center in New York, and complaints from Puerto Rican activists.

NBC formally apologized for the episode, and later pulled it from summer repeats. Public opinion had influenced the airing of the show. It did show back up in the box sets that were sold, as well as in later syndication.

It goes to the topic of what is considered to be publicly acceptable. I just mention this because immigration is now a hot topic in the presidential race. Now, some are arguing that this is a country that was built on being all-inclusive as the Land of the free and the home of the brave.

This campaign has brought out the other side of the issue. This country needs to mind its borders and send back those who are illegals. Public opinion through the voting booth may decide what is publicly acceptable for this country. The winds of change may be in the air!

And for pic o’ day… choices and consequences:


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Mr. Happy Man

Monday, September 7th, 2015

220px-JohnnyBarnesStatue      Coming out of a long weekend makes it harder to get geared up! So, I thought I would write about something positive.

When I traveled to Bermuda for the first time, I noticed a man waving at the entrance of Hamilton. I asked the cab driver why there was a man standing at the foot of the city. “Oh, that’s Johnny Barnes. He’s been there rain or shine since 1986″.

The town has now erected a statute of him, and he still sometimes stands next to it, waving at the traffic and calling out, “I love you, and God loves you”. He stands waving in morning, usually between the hours of 3:45 a.m.-10 a.m.  Because he is at a roundabout traffic circle, nearly all cars coming in and going out of the city can see him.

He asks for nothing in return. A documentary was made about him in 2011 and he is simply known as Mr. Happy Man. What a wonderful way to be known. Just being positive and encouraging to others!

I figured he was a good way to welcome us back from the long weekend.


And finally, here’s a pic o’ day from my mom. A bit of “after Labor Day” humor:


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A Labor Day 2015 Blog

Friday, September 4th, 2015


Whenever I start to type my Labor Day blog, I always google how the holiday started.  This year it felt like I had previously done that very search several times. I looked and noticed that I have written over 1700 blog entries … So yes, I have previously written several Labor Day blogs. It also gives me an excuse to write one blog that will be good for a few days!

Just a reminder, if you are keeping a Labor Day blog score at home. Yes, I know… no one really is keeping score…moving on.

Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday on February 21, 1887. In 1894, it became a federal holiday, and officially celebrated as a holiday by thirty states. Then, it was approved as a national holiday, following the deaths of workers from the U.S. Marshals and military during the horrible events of the Pullman Strike.

Most of us think of Labor Day as the last days of the summer season, including that most pools close after this weekend. Many people will spend this weekend with family or at a neighbor’s or friend’s barbecue or picnic.

Which brings me to two quick stories. One is a story from the Bible and the other from just Daly life… or something like that.

First, Labor Day reminds me of The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20: 1-16 because it is a story that involves working, pay, and contract.

I just mention it to remind you of workers who agreed to, and were happy to work for a specific wage… and then were unhappy when they heard about what others were also being paid. A rare Bible story involving labor.

The second story is a bit off the beaten path, but I throw it in because it seems just as incongruous with Labor Day, as picnics and BBQ might seem to some. But we “comfortably” connect them as we previously noted, and because blogging just takes us there.

This is the story of John Daly ”living life”. Not much about labor… which might be his problem too.

From SBNATION, we’re told why Daly believes that he recently survived after he collapsed on a golf course and was left without a pulse for three minutes. He feels he is fine now because fortunately, “I only smoke two packs of cigarettes a day, not three, so I’ll be all right”.

A story that changes up the Labor Day blog!

I hope you have a great weekend… and a meaningful Labor Day!

And in keeping with the genre of picnics for our pic o’ day…



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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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