I am in the South Carolina office this week, so I thought I would post some odds and ends that have some legal connection but had not yet made it to pic o’ day. I am using the term “legal connection” very loosely…
I am in the South Carolina office this week, so I thought I would post some odds and ends that have some legal connection but had not yet made it to pic o’ day. I am using the term “legal connection” very loosely…
An argument against gun control is that you should blame the person, not the gun. For the purpose of this blog, I am not going to tackle that issue. I am not going to comment on whether our founding fathers ever contemplated assault weapons in the right to bear arms. Instead, I turn our attention to a recent robbery in Gaffney, South Carolina.
The Spartanburg newspaper reports that a jeep was recently stolen at a gas station. A man approached the driver, while brandishing a screwdriver. He then stole her jeep and drove off. Police are now looking for the stolen vehicle. It is black with gold trim and has a paper license plate. Yes… a paper license plate.
I don’t want to downplay the serious nature of this crime. I’ve just never heard of a screwdriver being used in the commission of a crime. No word on whether the National Screw Driver Association has issued a press release, reminding us that people have a right to bear screwdrivers.
For pic o’ day, here is more “behaving badly” conduct:
When I first opened our South Carolina office, I quickly learned about South Carolina’s court appointments. At the time, lawyers were court appointed to cases in every county where they practiced.
Soon, I started getting court appointments in a multitude of courthouses. Fortunately, the Chief Justice ultimately changed the rule on court appointments there. Now, as a South Carolina lawyer, you only have to have your name placed in two counties. Then, you cannot be appointed to more than 20 cases per year, and I don’t receive that many in any calendar year.
I could spend many words on stories about being appointed to matters of unusual events. For the purposes of this blog, I will discuss Union County, because of a story that I just saw in the Spartanburg online newspaper.
First, my Union court appointments. At the time, Union was about two hours from my South Carolina office. All of a sudden, it seemed that I was constantly getting several court appointments from Union County. I called and spoke to the Court clerk, who advised that there were only 23 lawyers in Union County. Since I had chosen to place advertising in their local phone book, I was added to their roster of lawyers.
The rotation of 24 lawyers meant that I kept coming back up on the master list, for court appointment and the clerk told me that there was nothing I could do about it. Next time I received a call to renew my yellow page advertisement… I did not renew. I called the clerk and advised that I no longer was advertising there and I had no phone in that county. I was taken off the list!
The story I have attached is about the Union court clerk. This clerk was sworn in around 2004; so it was after my slew of appointments. It’s a story about the clerk being convicted of embezzling county money and being sentenced to jail time, and ordered to pay restitution of $239,982 to the county’s child support fund.
I feel bad that this happened and I am only blogging on this because my of my past experiences there. Now, when a Union story comes across my “in box”, it reminds me of my “practice” there. Coincidentally, several of my appointments related to juvenile and domestic matters that also sometimes included child support issues. I still don’t feel comfortable handling those matters. Let me stay right in the practice of injury law where I am comfortable!
For pic o’ day, here’s a golf game spoiled:
Last week I was working in the South Carolina office. When I am home, I get up early and work out in an upstairs room at my house. I usually head to a workout room at motels, when I am on the road.
This time, I got up early and heard the patter of rain against my motel window. Somehow, I came up with the idea that it would be fun to walk in downtown Greenville, with an umbrella. Well, the temperature was perfect and I truly enjoyed my walk. When I got back to the motel lobby, I was basically dry. Apparently, not dry enough.
When I got home, I was already fighting the early stages of a cold. I got the Cold EEZE lozenges out and thought I could battle it. At home and at work, I was basically asked if I was out of my mind for walking in the rain. My answer… “Yes, yes I was”, as I worked on my lozenges. No one had sympathy for my cold battling.
With juries in trial, sometimes that thappens in how the evidence is viewed. Psychologist call it defensive attribution bias or availability bias as two of the viewpoints. It doesn’t matter that the defendant was the cause of the crash.
A defensive attribution bias causes a juror to say, “I would have been able to avoid that car cutting in front of me” or “I would have gone to seek a second or third medical opinion, I would not be in the same position as the plaintiff”. That juror places blame on the plaintiff and forgets about the conduct of the defendant.
The availability bias also attacks the plaintiff. Psychologists say that people are more ready to criticize those that they are more familiar with, or if they potentially share the same life experiences as the plaintiff. Again, this is an overlap in believing that they would have acted differently. Specifically, they take the information already available to them like taking medication, going to the doctor or how they drive a car, and they put extra burdens on the plaintiff. No matter that the defendant acted inappropriately!
The Judge instructs jurors to only consider the evidence. That doesn’t mean that they have to leave their common sense outside the Courtroom, but it does mean that they are not allowed to ignore evidence, just because they think that they could have avoided the crash. Or, that they excuse the defendant because the plaintiff didn’t act the way that the juror would have acted. Again saying, “That wouldn’t have happened to me”.
Yes, I probably thought I could avoid getting a cold. I guess I did leave my common sense in the motel room.
For pic o’ day… I respect creativity:
On the way home from South Carolina, we saw two speeding police cars go past us. We were creeping along the road in Charlotte. We knew that we would probably be creeping a little longer because the problem was obviously more than just morning traffic.
When the police cars raced by, someone mentioned that it sure looked odd to see them driving so close. In fact, it almost looked like one officer was chasing the other. That leads me to what happens when a Deputy crashes his own patrol car.
KATC.com reports that a Louisiana Deputy did just that. 911 had been called to report that a police car had hit a tree.
When we start our representation of a client, we usually mail a letter under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get a copy of all the 911 calls. I wonder if the Louisiana call sounded something like, “This is Deputy Hyer. I’d like to report a single-car accident involving a drunk driver”. (911 operator): “Deputy, would you go to the scene?” (Deputy): “I am the scene”.
According to the story, the Deputy has resigned. I guess if that tree had not jumped out in front of the Deputy, there would be no story. This story ends with its own wisdom. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drink and drive in a police car. Yes, watch out for moving trees. And then there’s that.
For pic o’ day, how about some computer advice!
Some have studied the Zapruder film, frame by frame, to conclude that the government is still hiding something about the Kennedy assassination. Others have concluded that there is a connection to Communism, the mob and organized crime, or even Lyndon Johnson.
The majority now believes that there was no gunman on the grassy knoll. They accept the government’s full investigation. I suspect that others have tired of the topic and may just think that Zapruder is a new meatball sandwich at Subway. If you obsess over something, you can convince yourself into belief.
Anyone can combine beliefs with events, and come up with their own reason for an occurrence. Soon, logic is thrown out the window and conclusions are made to fit that belief system. It’s as simple as coming to the conclusion that, since you might know that Canadians play hockey, then all Canadians are good at Hockey. Or, since you’ve seen fast marathon runners from Kenya; then everyone must be a runner from Kenya.
Politicians know that we all believe that the United States needs more jobs. So, they take that information and apply it for a political belief system. Or, support agendas when large donors “financially suggest” their beliefs.
If Oil companies are supporting a candidate, then we might hear that candidate say that more drilling is needed to create jobs. Have you heard this one? “We need lawsuit caps, or a removal of regulations on businesses; because those are hurting job creation”. It’s easy to say a big, hearty amen, because who doesn’t want more jobs? It’s also easy to forget the consequences of those political agendas.
Pharmaceutical companies are still pushing to have caps or restrictions on lawsuits brought against them. Then, politicians get up and announce that we need to curb or eliminate liability on Drug companies; or else they will not have an incentive to experiment and invent more medications to get us better. Don’t we all want to get better?
I was reminded of this logic when I read the Sunday paper (well, Internet) from Spartanburg, South Carolina. GoUpstate.com had an article titled “Gov. Haley endorses Bright in state Senate race“.
Governor Nikki Haley has taken the unusual step of endorsing one Republican candidate over another, for their upcoming primary; to determine the Republican candidate for that Spartanburg Senate seat. Usually, office-holders stay out of inter-party races. In fact, many Republicans employ the old adage of Ronald Reagan who always said, “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican”.
The background to this race is that Senator Bright is the State Senator incumbent. His current opponent, John Hawkins, held the seat from 2000-2008. In 2004, Hawkins was challenged by Bright, but won the primary against him, by a mere 31 votes. In 2008, Hawkins stepped down and Bright beat the other candidate(Hawkin’s friend) by 198 votes. Good old fashioned politics.
I’ve given you some tedious detail to get to the point of Haley’s endorsement. She says that she is endorsing Bright because “John Hawkins was an incumbent we were lucky to get rid of the first time. We don’t need any more trial lawyers who are going to feed off the system”. She said that Hawkins “feeds off the worker’s comp system” because he represents injured workers.
Here’s where my earlier logic discussion applies. Very few people would disagree with the concept that we have too many lawyers. Then, politicians, The Chamber of Commerce, and Big Business have done a great promotion of the message that, lawsuits and lawyers hurt job creation. They even say that lawsuits keep businesses from coming to (insert state name) where the election is occurring.
I’ve attached the article for full reading of the background on this election. Those who accept Governor Haley at face-value on these statements woud not be impacted by any other reasoning. Some might say that the real reason that she endorsed Bright is because Hawkins supported her opponent in the 2010 Governor’s race. Also, Hawkins claims that Bright has held fundraisers with trial lawyers and received thousands of dollars in lawyer campaign contributions. But… those are just mere details.
One final note, I do smile when I read Haley and Hawkins going at it. Not long ago, I was reminded that I first met Nikki Haley, when she was a receptionist/office manager for a chiropractor in South Carolina. I don’t recall her dislike for lawyers back then.
A while back, I was informed that John Hawkins was quoted by the newspaper, by complaining about my South Carolina advertising. He later went on to introduce legislation in an attempt to regulate lawyer advertising. Isn’t life funny! For blog purposes, I just blog… you decide!
I first thought about a “no advertising” sign for pic o’ day
Then, I got distracted like Clyde
About ten years ago, we moved our South Carolina office from the town of Easley, to downtown Greenville. Now, it literally sits next to the Greenville County Courthouse.
Because a lot of traffic drives right by there and on to Route 395, I decided that I wanted to put a large sign right there in front yard of the office. I know, it’s hard to believe that I would want a large sign there!
Soon, I learned that we would need a permit for the sign. Downtown Greenville has gone through a very impressive facelift and everything, including signs, has to comply with a specific sign code, and be approved by City Council. So far, no surprise there.
Dennis Lanier called a sign company and met with them to discuss the designs. Then, a plan was submitted and we heard that the application was going for approval. Soon, we received a call that the sign had been denied. What to do, what to do?
We called our real estate leasing agent and met at the front of the building, and described our problem. We want a sign but can’t get it approved. He gave us another company to call. The owner of that company was married to someone on city council.
I cannot say what made the difference. BUT, the plans were submitted; the sign was approved; and we had our new shiny sign installed in a few weeks. Which brings us to that same office space today:
A car ran into the retaining wall right outside of the office. That is what I look at when I am sitting in my office chair; and, it is directly acrosss the street from the Greenville County Courthouse. It has been like that since a Progressive Insured ran into the wall.
Progessive has told the landlord that they will pay to fill in the bricks. They will not replace the wall; and, unfortunately, the bricks do not match.
It’s not my fight except that the wall is getting worse. I guess at some point, Progressive will have to do more than a few bricks because the wall will come tumbling down.
Meanwhile in the regulation department, no one has called from the Courthouse or the “government” to complain about that wall directly staring them in the face. Well, I take that back. Today, someone did call the landlord and wanted to know “what was going on?”.
The moral of the story is that advertising signs must not take away from the beauty of the city. Crumbling walls; well, perhaps they remind us of history and isn’t that what restoration is all about?
And for pic o’ day, I went with a sign in the window of a dentist… isn’t that the truth!
I just returned from work in Charleston, South Carolina. While there I also took one of their historical bus tours. The picture here is the old jail. Because of preservation laws, it cannot be torn down. So, it sits unoccupied except for periodic tours.
The jail comes with many stories that include the story of one former occupant, Lavinia Fisher. According to our tour guide, how she got there and her resulting death has become a merger of history and legend.
Lavinia Fisher and her husband owned and managed a hotel named the Six Mile Wayfarer House. It was located about six miles outside of Charleston. The Fishers were also known for making money by coming to town to sell things.
After a short time, several reports were made to the local sheriff’s office about motel guests disappearing. Of course, the Fishers simply said that the guests had left and their whereabouts were unknown to them.
One day, a John Peeples went by for a room and was told that there were no vacancies. The Fishers did offer him tea. Despite Peeples not liking tea, he did not want to offend their hospitality and accepted a cup. While Lavinia was not looking he poured it out.
While sitting with the Fishers during this time, he was quizzed about his life and work. Lavinia’s husband kept giving him odd looks during the conversation. After a period of time, Lavinia left the room and soon returned with great news; they now had a vacancy. So, Peeples was given lodging.
When he went upstairs to his room, he could not get the curious looks and conversation out of his head. So, instead of sleeping in the bed, he slept in a chair near the door. In the middle of the night, there was a large bang, as his supposed bed went crashing through the floor and out of sight. Peeples immediately leaped out the window, climbed on his horse and rode quickly to town.
The Sheriff returned to question the Fishers. He still believed that something was going on there, due to the prior disappearances. Now, he had someone claiming that the Fishers had tried to rob him.
Through investigation, it was determined that Lavinia had been drugging or poisoning the travelers that would stay at the motel. Then, when those unsuspecting guests went to bed, if they had not died from the tea, the collapsing bed would ultimately kill them. The sheriff found several items in his preliminary search that revealed a connection to the missing travelers. Then a full search of the house found the remains of several bodies in the Fisher basement.
The Fishers were tried and convicted of highway robbery, which was a capital offense at that time. Both of the Fishers were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.
At the time, a woman could not be executed if she was married. Lavinia argued that a sentence of death was against the law. So, the Judge informed her that her husband would be put to death first, so that she would not be married at the time of her hanging. When hearing that, she asked the Judge to allow her to be hanged in her wedding dress and to be able to say some final words at her hanging. Those strange requests were granted.
Sure enough, her husband was hanged the day before Lavinia. So, when she was taken before the crowd to be hanged the next day, there she stood in her wedding gown. The assigned priest was next to the gallows. Lavinia came up with a loophole for the law.
History records that she was a woman of great beauty. She stepped forward and called out to the men present and invited any man to marry her. If someone took her up on the invitation, she could not be hanged. When no one stepped forward for her hand in marriage, she angrily began screaming and pointing to the local socialites and blamed them for her conviction. Then, she shouted out, “If any of you has a message for the Devil, tell me now… for I will be seeing him in a moment”.
Then, she jumped from the gallows without waiting for the executioner. In doing so, she committed suicide. Legend says that she was kicking and screaming for over 15 minutes before the noose finally choked her to death. She was unable to convince anyone to help her take advantage of that legal loophole. Instead, she still faced the real loophole.
On February 4, 1820, Lavinia Fisher became the first woman to be hanged in the United States. Witnesses record that 27-year-old Lavinia Fisher never showed any remorse. Instead, she went to her death with a chilling sneer and wicked stare at onlookers.
For pic o’ day, I wanted to somehow mention the great Charleston hush puppies. One restaurant was even giving them out on the street. Guess that’s why there are T-shirts that say this:
Sunday, a South Carolina Beach mayor was arrested on suspicion of DUI. (story) Politicians and alcohol are not really an unusual story. In fact, I thought I would find the new Walgreens in Chicago to be more “blog-worthy”. I mean, where do you see a pharmacy store that offers sushi, manicures, a barista and eyebrow-shaping. That’s real blogging right there. Until….. I saw this story.
I’ll just recite and let you draw your own conclusions. It will be hard, though, not to be a bit sarcastic. So, here goes:
A call was received by the local dispatch, advising that there was an SUV that kept just stopping on the roadway. When the police found the car, it was sitting still at a green light.
The officer stated that the SUV stayed motionless and then began moving slowly. It then straddled the roadway and then stopped at the green light again.
At that point, the officer activated his lights to make a traffic stop but the SUV did not stop. Finally, it stopped on a bridge up ahead. Yes, directly on the bridge with no where to get off the road. The officer then came up to the vehicle and moved it to a safer location.
It was the mayor sitting in the SUV, and her eyes were reportedly glassy. She failed several sobriety tests and was arrested for DUI. Officers located three pill bottles in her purse containing Percocet, Toradol and Flexeril.
At the Detention Center, the mayor’s blood registered a 0.00 blood/alcohol content. She was requested to give a urine sample but refused because she wanted to keep half of it with her, according to the report. When she was told that she could not do that, she refused the sample.
The next day, during a hearing at Municipal Court; As she was being led into the hearing, she began to holler, “I was on my way to church, and they put me in jail overnight, knowing that I don’t drink. It’s Horry County as usual, with their corruption and with their evilness, trying to do onto Retha Pierce”.
Her hearing is currently set for February 8. It is her second DUI arrest.
I blog and you decide. In this instance, you will decide the “evilness” of Horry County or the believability of Retha Pierce.
And now, pic o’ day. Above, you see the angry mug shot of Retha. Below is a dog that is showing his serious face as well.
Would it have been better to have Richard Simmons in his party dress?
There’s an old-fashioned tug of war going on in South Carolina. It involves what Republican Glenn McConnell describes as (President of the State Senate) “This is a sledgehammer”.
South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley has been in office for about 6 months now. She came in with hopes of having a better relationship with the SC Republican controlled legislature, then her predecessor, Governor Sanford. Sanford is famous for finding his “soul-mate” during his international travels.
Governor Haley wants certain measures introduced and made law, that would restructure parts of the state government. She is demanding that the rebellious State Senate get back to work and take up four issues.
She wants a department legislatively created that would allow her to manage day-to day governmental operations. Basically, she wants to create a new cabinet position;
She wants to merge the departments that oversee corrections and probation. She believes that consolidation would save money;
She wants to make the Superintendent of Education as an appointed position. No more elections with the Governor having additional appointment powers;
She wants to change the way that candidates run for statewide office. She is asking a change in how candidates run for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. No individuals. A joint ticket of Republicans or Democrats instead.
As a response to her proposals, the legislature is refusing to take up these measures and believes that the Governor does not have power to force them to do so. She told them to get back to work. “Play your games. That is fine. But do it at home and not at the Statehouse”. She then issued an executive order to require the legislators to get back to work and take up her proposed measures.
Remember, those that she is fighting with, are of her same political party. This same discord was occurring with Governor Sanford and, he got so angry that he came to the legislative floor with two pigs under his arm because he was angry that they would not adopt his budget. He claimed that they were not getting rid of all the pork.
Now, you can see that this involves a balance of power argument between the Governor and the Legislature. Then, the South Carolina Supreme Court, by a vote of 3-2 ruled against the Governor and said that Governor Haley’s executive order violated the separation of powers. The Legislature has the right to set its own schedule.
This has been brewing between the legislators and the Governor. She had an end-of-session cookout at the Governor’s mansion. When some of the legislators arrived, they found out that they were not allowed in.
The Governor’s spokesman said that the Barbecue was only an invited event for her supporters. The 10 lawmakers left off the invite list must have left with watery mouths and without the requisite cornbread. Exactly, the pain of no BBQ.
One legislator, according to the NY Times article, stated, “I think she’s lost her mind. She’s hiking the Appalachian Trail”. That was a quick reference to Governor Sanford’s excuse, when he really had gone to Argentina. The political wheel of the balance of power keeps turning. Turning without the BBQ.