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DO I HAVE A CASE?

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Home Alone

Let’s start Our Monday Blog with coffee…as it should be started. Our Coffee Time!

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And a laugh

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Today I am going to really write a legal blog. I know…it’s crazy! Let’s start with the story of the case.

The case is Gibbs v. Commonwealth, a Chesterfield Circuit Court Case.

It was the afternoon of February 22,2016. Gregory Gentry worked maintenance at the Clairmont Apartments in Chesterfield. He noticed a “little boy wearing no jacket, a T-shirt, some pants and shoes without socks” wandering outside the complex. Gentry said it was very cold, causing him to wear a sweatshirt and jacket.

He and his supervisor followed the boy (later determined to be five-years-old) as he crossed through the privacy fence of the complex, through the gate and up past the local Costco. Then, into the gas station parking lot next to the busy street.

They caught up to the boy and found out that his father was Dr. John Gibbs, who had gone to work at the hospital. The boy said that his father had told him to walk up there and meet him at the hospital. He refused to tell them his name, but said that he was thirteen-years-old.

They managed to convince the boy to return to his apartment by offering a ride on Gentry’s shoulders. There, they called the police and waited for the father (doctor) to return.

About 40 minutes later, the police arrived. Eventually Dr. Gibbs also arrived. Upon learning that his son had been wandering outside alone, Gibbs offered no thank you for bringing his son back. The only thing that Dr. Gibbs uttered was that his son was a liar for claiming that he was thirteen.

He also told the officers that his son was lying about being told to come up to the hospital. He had been instructed to stay home, because he had been suspended from school.

Gibbs was charged with… and then convicted of felony child neglect for leaving his kindergartner home alone . He appealed the conviction.

Judge Randolph A. Beales wrote the opinion on behalf of the Virginia Court of Appeals. The Court found that Dr. Gibbs acted with reckless disregard for the life and safety of his child by leaving his child alone for over an hour while he drove to a prearranged meeting.

In fact, it was noted that the child had wandered away only a month earlier, in similar circumstances. That time, the father had left the son with his older brother. The court said that this should have also alerted him that the child would wander off.

The real question to legally answer is “when is it legally acceptable to leave your child home alone?”

The Court applied six factors previously described in the case of Barnes v. Commonwealth, 47 Va. App. 105 (2005),

The first factor: the gravity and character of the possible harm.

The Court said that there was potential harm likely to occur, when the child left the apartment alone and ventured across the street, to the parking lot of the Costco and gas station.

The second factor: the degree of accessibility of the parent.

The Court noted that the record of the trial shows that Gibbs made himself completely inaccessible to his son. He was unable to see or hear him if the child needed assistance.  The Court also noted that it appeared that the child truly believed that Gibbs was working at the hospital and that he was supposed to meet him there.

The third factor: the length of time of the abandonment.

The Judge noted that although there is no rule regarding how long a child may be left alone before a parent may be considered criminally negligent, Dr. Gibbs left his son alone for longer period of time, than in prior cases where this court held that the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction.

The fourth factor: The child’s age and immaturity.

The Court notes that the child was already suspended from school at the time of the incident. His prior behavior had caused a required meeting between Gibbs, school officials and the child.

Plus, they considered that he had left the apartment by himself, just a month before this and then wandered to the apartment complex swimming pool. The evidence at trial showed that Gibbs should have known that son was immature, apparently unruly; and as a five-year-old, not mature enough to remain alone at his apartment for an hour.

The fifth factor: Protective measures taken to keep the child safe.

According to the Court, there was little evidence to support that Dr. Gibbs did anything to make the child or the apartment secure and safe before he left for his meeting. He never tried to find someone to take care of his son; he didn’t try to reschedule the meeting; and he did not consider taking his son with him.

The sixth factor: The Court considers “any other circumstance that would inform the factfinder on the question whether the defendant’s conduct was criminally negligent.”

In conclusion, the Court upheld the doctor’s conviction. They went on to reason that there is no specific rule that says that any parent who leaves their five-year-old child at home alone, will be automatically guilty of felony child neglect.

According to the opinion, parents are still given leeway regarding the care of their children. Each circumstance and child can be quite different. A parent has a right to decide(within reason), when and for how long, a child is mature enough to be left home alone.

 

 

For pic o’ day, I am changing directions… but this repeat always makes me laugh!

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The Controversy of Choosing to Die

This blog reminds me of the expression of the dog trying to catch a fly. I think you might have this same expression at the end. Most of the time, I like to write on positivity. Once you read the article and blog, you tell me!

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At age 104, scientist David Goodall has decided to end his life. At BBC.com, he details why he is ready. According to the article, the well-known ecologist and botanist is not suffering from a serious illness, but he now wants to end his life. Why? Because of his diminishing independence.

David Goodall has bid farewell to his home in Australia to fly across the world. He reports that “My feeling is that an old person like myself should have full citizenship rights including the right of assisted suicide“.

He told ABC News that he hoped that people would understand his decision. “If one chooses to kill oneself then that’s fair enough. I don’t think anyone else should interfere.”

This is how he looks now, and this lady is accompanying him on his trip to Switzerland. That’s where assisted suicide is legal.

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He looks fully functional, but he feels like he has had enough. The article details all the things that he has done recently, including editing a 30-volume-book on the topic of Ecosystems of the World.

I thought I would post this as a topic today because it deals with something that most people want to ignore… death. Plus, there are true differing opinions on whether a person should be allowed to determine the choice of when they die… versus leaving death to determination by God. There is a lot packed into that last sentence. Pretty intense!

I found this article to be extremely interesting because this man is not terminally ill. He just feels as though he has had enough.

And now, I want to lighten up the blog a bit. So……

For pic o’ day… who doesn’t want a pony?

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A Tall Tall Building…With Lights

The many moods of Tuesday!

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On May 1, 1931, President Herbert Hoover officially dedicated New York City’s Empire State Building. At that time, it was the world’s tallest building. From the White House he pressed a button to turn on all the building’s lights. What a great idea. But wait, much like ordering ginsu carving knives, there’s more!

Hoover’s gesture, of course, was symbolic. (That’s code for “false advertising”) While the president was supposedly turning on the lights from Washington, D.C., someone else flicked the real light switches on in New York. Something about that cracks me up. I think it’s called politics.

And just as a throw-in for today’s blog, I wanted to make sure that you saw our April newsletter. Just in case you didn’t… here it is.

And for pic o’ day, some advice from Dr. Phil!

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No Monkey Business!!

Selfies are the theme!

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Today’s legal question: Why is a corporation considered to be a person by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United Case (See Washington Examiner article) even though a monkey is not allowed to copyright his selfie? I guess I could get crazy and also ask why the PaMunkey Indian Tribe can own a casino! (Richmond.com)

Did you see this story about Naruto? (Yahoo Story) Yes, I know…crazy that we even know his name!

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Who would have thought that a monkey would be involved in a copyright lawsuit? It’s obvious that he doesn’t have good lobbyists working for him.

It all started when a judge ruled that a monkey does not have the right to own a selfie. Then on appeal, three judges unanimously upheld a lower court ruling and dismissed the original lawsuit that had been brought by PETA. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The picture was taken by using a  UK-based photographer’s camera. Apparently, the monkey walked up… and pressed the button. 

Then in 2015, PETA filed suit on behalf of the monkey against wildlife photographer David Slater, seeking financial control of the now-famous selfie of the grinning monkey in the picture above.

The Appellate Court seems irritated with having to decide this case. Here’s what the opinion said,  “We must determine whether a monkey may sue humans, corporations, and companies for damages and injunctive relief arising from claims of copyright infringement”.  Judge Carlos Bea continued, “We conclude that this monkey — and all animals, since they are not human — lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act.”

Then, they sent the case back to the lower court… to determine what attorney fees that PETA owes the photographer’s attorney. I wonder if they will ask the monkey to help bear that burden. This whole story makes me “paws” (see what I did there?) and wonder… what would cause an organization to think that monkeys should have financial rights? Come on!

 

And finally for pic o’ day, this has nothing to do with the blog but it truly makes me laugh!

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More Than A Bell Rung!

How about some motivational thoughts for Our Wednesday Blog?

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I guess it’s better than someone just simply daring us with some attitude…right?

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So let’s get down to business. This blog is about football and brain injury. I immediately get serious!

Jeff Bezos once worked at a hedge fund and was growing increasingly frustrated because he was unable to match the returns of another investor, Bernie Madoff. (Of course we all now know that Madoff’s yearly investment returns were all fake)

Bezos reportedly confided in Ted Leonsis (owner of the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals) that his frustration caused him to quit his hedge fund job at D.E. Shaw. He then started a little company called Amazon. The cause and effect.

I compare a brain injury to cause and effect. You can tell if a person has a broken arm because you can physically see their cast. There is no cast for the brain. So, it’s not unusual to miss a brain injury. It’s why they are called  the “walking wounded”. The cause is usually related to trauma but the effect is usually not known until it’s too late.

Years ago, the defense called their head trauma expert to the witness stand in one of our brain injury cases. We had already put our case on and had several treating doctors testify that our client had a brain injury. Now, this defense witness had been identified as a doctor who was going to disagree with all the treating doctors.

He admitted that our client had hit her head. He even admitted that she might have had a concussion. But he went on to say that it was just like a football player who just “had their bell rung, but that didn’t mean that they had to come out of the game”. In essence, his testimony was that our client’s brain injury was no big deal.

The NFL has announced that they are considering a radical rule change. Here is an article explaining that the NFL is poised to eliminate kickoffs. Why? According to a recent study (Here) 16% of football injuries occur during the kickoff, and those injuries have a high probability of concussion related.

It probably will not happen this year. But, it would not surprise me to see no kickoff next year, with the ball starting at the 25-year-line to start the game. I suspect they are still working out the issue of onside kicks because that adds another dimension to the end of the game… and trying to catch up.

All I know, fortunately juries would no longer put up with a hired defense expert saying such nonsense as though a head injury is no big deal when you are wearing a helmet. That’s because the NFL and its former players are putting head injuries in the headlines. Plus, no one is wearing a helmet while they drive. So these injuries are possibly even worse.

And for pic o’ day, I completely agree!

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The $20 Bill

I love good strategy. For instance, here is the story of a fake city, to avoid being bombed by Germany.

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What do you know about the man on the $20 bill? The symposium that I wrote about in yesterday’s blog, Newt Gingrich compared Donald Trump to Andrew Jackson. So, I had to admit to myself that I did not know much about Andrew Jackson. Then I learned about the strategy that he used to become president… which ultimately led to his picture on our $20 bill.

His parents emigrated from Ireland and settled between North Carolina and South Carolina. Today, both states claim to be his birthplace.

Andrew Jackson was nicknamed “Old Hickory“. He picked up that nickname from the troops that he led during the War of 1812 because he was considered tough as “old hickory”, which is considered to be the wood preferred for axe handles because of his toughness. So, during his presidential campaign, his supporters decided to use that nickname for his campaign.

Speaking of strategy, it’s probably worthwhile to have have some backbone. But maybe Jackson took it a little too far. Supposedly he participated in many duels. Estimated number ranges from 5-100. (Quite an estimate) Charles Dickinson called Jackson “a worthless scoundrel, a paltroon and a coward” in a local newspaper. So… they had a duel to settle it. (Are you still wondering what a paltroon is? So am I! Just looked it up. It means coward. I wonder how you can be a paltroon and a coward. That seems repetitive and redundant)

Back to back they faced each other. (Yes… I took a little literary license there) At the signal, Dickson turned and fired first and hit Jackson in the chest. (More strategy to let his opponent fire first) The bullet barely missed Jackson’s heart by less than an inch. Despite the bullet in the chest, Jackson measured his shot and fired. Dickinson dropped dead. Meanwhile, Jackson carried that bullet in his chest for the rest of his life.

Here’s the one final thought on Jackson and the $20 bill. It’s truly curious that we carry that picture in our wallets or pockets. (assuming you are fortunate to have a $20 bill right now) Jackson detested paper money because he took a huge financial hit when paper notes were devalued . He only trusted gold and silver. He felt banks had the ability to manipulate money. And so it goes… his fame on paper still remains.

And finally, this has nothing to do with strategy. Our pic o’ day falls under the heading of nonsense.

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Newt & Joe

Slate.com had an article about Melania Trump and how she “utilizes” (my word) sleeves. The article is titled Why Melania Trump Rarely Uses Sleeves As They Were Intended: A Few Theories.

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And when I think about it, I guess she does wear her coats often like this picture. In the article, they show many pictures of her in that coat-wearing-mode. And then they speculate on why she wears  “Shoulder-robing”.

They seem to recite what might be considered as… the democrat theory. Because maybe it’s her way of not having to hold hands with the President. Come on! Their additional theories are all over the board. It’s all about looking at thinking through the lens of perspective.

I think that if the writer is going to speculate about not wanting to hold hands with her husband, they should also include viewpoints from other political views.

For instance, maybe if you are a republican, you might speculate that she is very fashion-forward. As an independent, you might think she is simply cold. If you have no political view, you might speculate that she is Inspector Gadget. Yes…that’s it! Inspector Gadget!

Of course, it could be like looking at this person. At church or in McDonald’s? Although they clearly answer it for us with the caption:

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There are different ways of looking at things. That’s something Captain Obvious would say. But, I saw it occur at the Richmond Forum on Saturday night.(Info on the event here)

Joe Scarborough and Newt Gingrich and moderator Mara Liasson addressed the topic “Perspectives on the Party in Power”.

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Former Speaker Newt Gingrich brought a laugh to the crowd when he described how politicians used to be able to work together. He said that politicians from both parties would argue in the morning, negotiate in the afternoon, and drink together at night. And that’s how they got things done. Now, there is not as much communication.

I looked for an article to attach on the evenings events, but couldn’t find it. The reason I am blogging about it is because I thought that the topic was well handled from two different viewpoints.

Joe Scarborough is a former republican congressman, who is now an MSNBC host. He had a falling out with the President. Then, President Trump publicly attacked him by calling Scarborough “crazy“, and also calling his co-host/now fiancee Mika Brzezinski “dumb as a rock“. (Story Here) So there might be some personal motivation in his disagreement with the President.

Newt Gingrich is known as a supporter of President Trump. His wife was appointed by Trump as an Ambassador to the Vatican. (She was confirmed by a 70-23 vote in the Senate) And he is now a Fox News contributor.

Mara Liasson was also an interesting pick as the moderator because she is a political correspondent for National Public Radio (which republicans sometimes attack as too liberal) and she is also a contributor/panelist for Fox News. Thus, she gets attacked by both parties.

Scarborough has recently written a book titled “The Right Path“, which discusses where he believes the Republican Party has gone off the rails and how it can be restored to again be the Grand Old Party.

Speaker Gingrich has recently written a book titled “Understanding Trump“.  In the context of the book, he was able to ably defend President Trump. He views the President as a Disruptor that was needed. I looked Disruptor up for definition: to cause disorder or turmoil.  Gingrich believes that right now, that is exactly what this country needs.

I am not going to recite their differing perspectives (I went to the Wizards game last night and saw an exciting win, but now I need more coffee!), but I found myself persuaded by both of their viewpoints. Pretty impressive persuasion!

One of the last things that Newt (I just wanted to use his first name because it has always grabbed my attention. Plus, I do like Fig Newtons… just throwing that out there) mentioned that was not necessarily related to Trump. But, a good reminder on how to get things done politically.

You ought to know who you are, what you believe, and what you’re trying to accomplish. And then you got to find a way to get it done“. That sounds good for politics, but also good advice for every day living!

And for pic o’ day…things do work themselves out!

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Political Winds Plus Some Ramblings

This is a thinking blog starter for Friday… right? It is only understood by coffee drinkers!

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Let’s start with something that is hard to understand. And then something that is understandable.

Hard to understand? It’s a story from Wavy.com. This whole story is crazy to me. Especially the Cheetos.

The title of the article says it all.  Homeowner finds naked intruder in her tub, eating Cheetos. There is a lot wrong with that. Hard to understand! I guess you can look for the positive and be thankful that she did not steal their goldfish! Boom!

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And now to the understandable.

Earlier this week I had breakfast with a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. I had never personally met him, so I did some background research on bills that he had introduced in the last session, bills he had supported, and donors who had made contributions to election/reelection.

I found that Geico had been one of his contributors. They had given more significantly to some Republicans, but he was one of the few Democrats that had received a political contribution from the insurance company, even though it was only $250.

I asked him why he thought that Geico had contributed to his campaign. He advised that he sat on a subcommittee of three legislators that handled insurance legislation. All three of them had received political contributions from Geico.

And that’s how it works! Easy to understand. Does it make you want to say “Good Day”?

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And finally, have a great weekend!

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Politics…Or Just Ticks?

Yes…. it’s Monday, so let’s start casual

feelin cool

Instead of stressed!

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Does it feel crazy out there? Of course it does. Lots of grab for power. And right now federally, the Republicans are doing everything they can to hold on to the House and Senate with the upcoming mid-term elections.

Conversely, the Democrats feel that they will win the House and Senate majority. Probably part of Speaker Ryan’s reason for not seeking re-election. Probably a better chance in the House according to political analyst. But if they win the Senate, you will probably see them try to start impeachment proceedings for the President.

Meanwhile, we suffer while no one works together. The desire for power!

But, uncertainty is the only certainty in politics. There is a long way to go before November. With that background, I thought that a look-back in this day in history would serve as a contrast to the seeking of power of today.

On this day in 1789, George Washington left his home at Mount Vernon, Virginia, to travel to New York to be sworn in as President. According to the George Washington Papers, many had previously written him and visited him, hoping to get him to agree to be the first president.

In one letter that he wrote to Alexander Hamilton, he let Hamilton know his thoughts, “it is my great and sole desire to live and die, in peace and retirement on my own farm“.  In another letter to Hamilton, he wrote, “I call Heaven to witness, that this very act would be the greatest sacrifice of my personal feelings & wishes that ever I have been called upon to make”.

On April 6, 1788, the senators and representatives met in New York to count the electoral college votes. Washington received all 69 votes for president. Washington was not there. He was reached at Mount Vernon and told of the election results.

And now April 16, 1789, before leaving for New York to be sworn in as president, he spoke to a group of citizens in Alexandria to express his emotions about leaving. “At my age what possible advantages [could I gain] from public life?”

And for our pic o’ day

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STOP CALLING?

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Are you tired of getting phone calls from strange numbers. Or worse yet, now the calls are coming from phone numbers that look familiar. Telemarketers have taken their schemes to a whole new level of “fake” caller i.d. numbers. Sometimes I answer and sometimes I don’t. Each time it irritates me. I know the same thing is happening to you.

I find myself hollering at a prerecorded voice, “I don’t need a new deal on my cable TV“. Do people still have cable? And what happened to all those lonely cable boxes? I seem to remember that someone suggested that you make cat beds out of them. That is a horrible idea!

I don’t need to hear about insurance or their concern about my car maintenance plan. And now I strangely receive calls… and no one is there. I have found myself repeatedly saying “Hello...Hello“.  What in the world? What is going on?

I remember hearing a warning not to answer phone callers who immediately ask, “Can you hear me?”. Supposedly, when the person would say “Yes“, their voice could be used for fraudulent credit card approvals. Come on!

So what can we do besides throwing our phones out and hollering real loudly. Or, hooking up the two Campbell Soup cans to string, to talk to each other. (Do you remember that?)

Let me attach two articles from USA Today that can better describe the problems as well as identify possible actions that you can take to protect yourself.

The first is titled The robocall battle continues at the FCC and the FTC. (Here)

The article reports that the Federal Communication Commission gets about 200,000 complaints about robocalls each year. In 2017, The Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million complaints about unwanted calls. Now according to the agency, they get about 400,000 daily. Fraud from unwanted calls is reportedly costing about $9.5 billion annually.

The article goes on to discuss the actions being taken and the regulations that are being proposed, to track these callers and to stop them. The government also calls on consumers to notify the FTC and FCC about robocall complaints at ftc.gov/calls and fcc.gov/robocalls.

The FTC representative quoted in the article notes that “The FTC is publishing complaint data daily, which is helping in the fight. Companies are sharing information with each other to trace back illegal robocalls.” Also, both agencies have a Stop Illegal Robocalls Tech Expo scheduled for April 23 in Washington.

The second article:  How to stop those annoying endless robocalls to your smartphone (Here) gives ideas on what we can do personally.

Ideas include googling your phone number to see if it is being fraudulently used; add your number to the National Do Not Call list; use your phone settings to block numbers; and purchasing apps that assist in blocking and eliminating these calls.

The article is thought-provoking. (I find that so descriptive. Plus, apparently I am fascinated with random thoughts in quotes.)  The cost and applications are discussed.  I also have to show respect to the marketing idea of naming an app NoMoRobo!

And finally for Our Pic O’ Day:

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