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Monumental Waste of Time

I can be accused of sometimes wasting time. However, I have never had a judge in open court make a determination that I was wasting time. Not so for some California lawyers.

A federal judge in San Francisco has showed his loss of patience with lawyers in a pending antitrust lawsuit. In the suit, the plaintiffs are claiming that credit card companies were slow to certify chip readers to assist in the fight against credit card fraud.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup declared the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction “a monumental waste of resources” in a March 16 court, while denying their motion for an injunction. The judge was so ticked off with their motion that the judge ordered the  lawyers to explain how they will provide opportunities in their litigation for “the next generation of practitioners.”

According to the Recorder, the judge wrote that “In reviewing the file, the court is of the view that the pending motion is so deficient that it would be a monumental waste of resources to require the 18 defendants to respond and oppose the motion.”

I don’t even care about the facts of the lawsuit. I am just fascinated with the judge’s order. It’s real! “Stop wasting time” is basically a good mantra to live by.

And for our pic o’ day… I couldn’t stop laughing about this when it was sent to me. Think about “Robert”.



California Inmates are Crowded

A panel of three federal judges have ordered Governor Jerry Brown to release 9600 California prison inmates by the end of the year. (LA Times) The judges have ruled that the prison system is overcrowded, which violates the Constitutional  prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.


The above picture of one of the state prisons does look overcrowded to me.  I can see why there are two sides to the argument of releasing 8% of the prison population in California.

The Court has ordered that prisoners from a list of “low risk” offenders are to be released. Conversely, Governor Brown is taking every possible avenue to appeal the order and have it overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A spokesman for the California Police Chiefs Association says that the court order shows, “a complete disregard for the safety of communities across California”. As Covina Police Chief Kim Raney put it, “Pressing for 9,000 more inmates on the streets shows an activist court more concerned with prisoners,  than the safety of the communities”.

The California legislature is trying to figure out an alternative. It would include funding for prison expansion. In the meantime, Governor Brown is potentially facing a contempt order, if he does not comply with the mandated release.

What do the voters think? An independent poll was taken to determine how California voters view the early release of low-level, nonviolent offenders. In the poll, sixty-three percent said that they favored the early release. The wrestling match will continue.

And for pic o’ day, a bit of Psalms 23!


The 7 Million Dollar Surprise

     Walter Samasko Jr,. was known as a recluse. I typed that because it sounds like being a “friendly stranger”… but I digress.

     He passed away in his Nevada home (story) in May, but his body was not discovered until June. (I think that’s a pretty good sign that he kept to himself). What else he kept is really the subject of the blog.

     At the time of his death, he had $200 in his bank account. He had lived modestly on income that was generated from $200,000 in stock investments.

      As his house was being cleaned for sale, they found among cans of tuna fish that he had stored gold bars and gold coins in the garage and house. The coins had been minted in such places as Mexico, England, Austria and South Africa. Some dated as far back as 1872.

     There were so many coins that the Carson City court clerk used a wheelbarrow to haul the gold to a truck for deposit and safekeeping. At the time of Samasko’s death, he had no will and no close relatives. His mother has died in 1992.

     Using a list from those that had signed as attendees at his funeral, the clerk tracked down a first cousin that was living in California. When she was told about her unexpected inheritance, she could only exclaim, “oh, my God. Oh my God”.

     She had not spoken to Samasko in over a year. No one knew that he was hoarding gold among the cans of tuna. Especially shocking was that they were worth an estimated value of $7 million dollars. It’s a story that almost sounds like something from the movies.  A surprise inheritance from a man who collected coins: who took no time to draft a will and apparently lived a life where a month could roll by without anyone noticing his death.

     For pic o’ day I looked for the joy of simple things (or maybe this is just simple!) :


















     And being surrounded by friends:

Cash Only… Medical Marijuana

The Social Media team at the firm is always reminding me to use titles and wording that will help optimize my blogs. Then, I’ll write a blog and realize that I have a real boring title and that I have gone off in so many directions with the blog, that there is no optimization hope! I now imagine that you are nodding “yes”.

This time, I figured I had a title that would optimize. Then, I realized that I was wandering off topic again.

OK… here’s the real topic. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Californians are now learning that they have to pay cash for their medical marijuana. Visa and MasterCard will no longer honor their purchases. Maybe ATM machines are going to see a new influx of business fees.

This topic has always interested me because it’s a State versus Federal issue. Marijuana for medical use is legal in 17 states plus the District of Columbia. However, it is still against federal law to “distribute or cultivate marijuana” and such properties are subject to forfeiture.

In 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo to U.S. attorneys around the country,  that they should “not focus federal resources in your states on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana”.

Some of these marijuana dispensaries are facing problems with the IRS because they have attempted to deduct business expenses from their tax returns, like payroll and office rent; and the government will not allow such deductions for “the trafficking of controlled substances”. Guess they will have to hit the ATM a few more times for that too.

This is an interesting addition to the Politics of States’ rights!

For pic o’ day, I thought I would post something on “how to improve a golf game”.

One Push-up Short

This is a blog that combines fitness, or lack of fitness; with a story about a scary text.

Our first story takes us to a lawsuit filed against the FBI in Chicago. An intelligence analyst missed becoming a special agent because he failed the physical test by one push- up.

Here’s the kicker. His lawsuit claims gender-discrimination because it is flawed and biased against men. Now you see why I included this in my blog. You probably could go a long time without ever seeing that kind of lawsuit again.

The story goes that Jay Bauer joined the FBI in 2009 as a doctoral graduate from Northwestern University. He passed his fitness test at the new-agent Quantico, Virginia training facility. There, he graduated at or near the top of his class in everything from firearms to academics. He was even picked as leader of his class by his classmates.

Trainees must then pass another fitness test at the FBI Academy. Men have to complete at least 38 sit-ups in a minute and at least 30 untimed push-ups. Male candidates must also sprint 300 meters (I had to look that up to learn that 300 meters is 328.08 yards. That bares repeating the joke of how many feet are in a yard… it depends on how many people are standing in the yard. I know, it didn’t bare repeating)

Back to our fitness challenged analyst story. Unfortunately, he did everything but could only do 29 push-ups. The lawsuit is now pending because he is still unable to become an agent, while  female trainees do not have the same requirement.

Speaking of “bares repeating”, the second story is posted as the video below. I have written in the past about not sending a text while driving. Well, if you haven’t seen it, this man almost ran into a bear while sending a text to his boss. Apparently, this is a wooded area in California and this bear is hanging around out there. No texting while running into bears is now added.

California has issued the following warning about what to do if you encounter a bear, “do not run. Instead, face the animal and make noise and try to appear as large as possible”. I guess now that they also may want to include, “and hand the bear your cell phone to distract him with a text or word games”.

The Rich and their Rules

Steve Jobs was famous for wearing black turtleneck shirts, New Balance sneakers and blue jeans. As a business man, he looked the part of a rule breaker.

In his biography, Jobs claimed that he ended up wearing the black turtlenecks, because his employees complained loudly when he announced that he wanted to have a “wholly original” uniform, and it was going to be a nylon jacket. When that didn’t go over well… the turtleneck “uniform” was the choice of attire.

     If you read his biography, you’ll learn that his outward appearance was an indication of his life. During his lifetime, if you ventured on to the Apple parking lot, it reportedly was not unusual to see his Mercedes parked in a handicapped parking spot.

His Mercedes SL55 AMG was photographed may times over the years. In each picture, there is never a license plate. Do you think that he wanted to maintain his privacy; which caused him to quickly run up and take off the license plate  before each photo?

You know that’s not the answer because you continue to accumulate amazing information by reading the Joel Bieber blog! You have the combined intelligence of the CIA coupled with cat-like instincts.  You search farther and refuse to take No for a Yes. You don’t even have to stay at Holiday Inn Express. (snagged an old advertising campaign there)

There was never a license plate in the pictures because Jobs was a rule breaker. But, he wasn’t a law breaker. In fact, he learned about an unusual loophole in California law. Anyone with a brand new car had a maximum of six months to affix a license plate to the back of their new car.

Jobs worked out a deal with a local leasing company. He would always get a new Mercedes during the sixth month of the lease. So, at no time did any of his cars fit outside the time requirement of affixing a license plate to the back of the car. It wasn’t the intent of the law but it was the letter of the law. And, it made the leasing company happy. Plus, someone out there kept buying 6 month old cars, after Jobs was turning them in.

And for St Paddy’s Day, we turn pic o’ day focus to a strange Leprechaun:


Traffic Ticket Chain Gang?

     In the 1960’s, a Paul Newman movie called “Cool Hand Luke” became an instant classic. Newman played the role of Luke, a man who would not conform to a Florida prison system.

     Luke was initially arrested for cutting off the heads of parking meters during one drunken night of escapades. Initially, he was asked why he would do such a thing. He said, “Small town, not much to do in the evening”.

       He was sentenced to two years of prison, but failed to adapt to prison life. His troubles came from not complying with rules of the inmate pecking order or the prison warden.

     I remember the vivid images of Newman working on the chain gang. The movie shows all the prisoners in the hot sun; surrounded by armed guards, while working to pave a highway. Luke never does conform and the movie tracks the discipline, escapes and sad ending of Luke.

     Songs have been written about working on the chain gang. Even today, there are times when I drive by a highway site, and see a bunch of men in orange uniforms, picking up trash. Usually, it’s now the local sheriffs department that coordinates these community work forces, that get things done along the highway at cheap labor prison prices. 

     The chain gang labor is not as bad as it used to be. There aren’t men being whipped, for not keeping up the grass mowing pace. Plus, I don’t think that it’s as physical. I do remember, though, a few stories where sheriffs would have the “work-force” over at their house, tending to the grass. Some sheriffs faced charges of misappropriation or malfeasance, for such conduct.       

      Now, California is floating the idea of paying for your traffic ticket by doing community service or by picking up Litter.  You can get a traffic fine reduced by $50 for every eight hours of community service that you work.  This has become more popular, as a result of the unemployed having difficulty in making payment for their tickets.

     In Tyler, Texas,  full-time students and the unemployed are eligible for programs, similar to those in California. The community service may also include working for non-profit organizations.

     Usually, I try to end my blog with some kind of wrap-up thought or story. Here, I just think that it seems like a good idea and might even get some involved in projects, that may actually want to do more as volunteers. 

     No,I don’t think we should expect to see someone at the Salvation Army Christmas kettle, wearing an orange jumpsuit that says “inmate”. Maybe we will start seeing novelty items that say “I got caught speeding, and all I got was this T- shirt and 8 hours of hedge trimming”.  (Couldn’t help it)

A Computer Hacker Reminder

     This blog story is a reminder of the computer predators that lurk out there, and the techniques that can be employed to get our personal information. The ending of the story, as reported by PCWorld, is that the hacker/predator is facing six years in jail for  felony hacking, child pornography and identify theft. Now, here is the tale of a bad person that did harm with technology.

     23- year- old George Bronk was arrested in October, after police found evidence that he had hacked into 3200 email accounts. His purpose was to look for compromising photos of woman in their email accounts. His method was to use simple information that was already out in the public domain. In 172 accounts, he found such photos.

     Bronk would go to websites including  Facebook, and look for basic information about the individuals. Then, posing as the victim,  he would  go to Web-based email services such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail, and click that he had forgotten the  password.

     Often, to provide the password, automated questions would be sent back such as “What is your high school mascot?” or “What is your father’s middle name.”. From information collected from the sites, he could figure out where they had gone to school and even google the mascot name. The family names were easy, as well.

     Bronk is going to jail. However, he posted some of the pictures on the Internet. Those could be floating out there forever. The jail time is little consolation for those victims. The California Attorney General said in a statement, “This case highlights the fact that anyone with an email account is vulnerable to identify theft”.

Knock Knock, I’m Coming In

     The Mercury News  is reporting that The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that  allows a lawsuit to proceed.  A  former California resident  filed suit against the city of San Carlos and two police officers. The officers had appealed the filing as having no basis to proceed against them as officers. 

      In 2003, the resident, Bruce Hopkins, was involved in a traffic accident. It was a low impact accident and he apparently just left the scene without stopping. According to the factual account, the other driver followed Mr Hopkins to his residence and called the police.

     When the officers arrived, they knocked on a screen door but got no answer. They then cut through the screen and entered the house with their guns drawn. According to the officers, as listed in court documents, they entered the home “because they had been trained that what a layperson might describe as an odor of alcohol (according to the other driver) might be a ‘fruity smell associated with a diabetic emergency. The officers found Hopkins on the floor of his bedroom and handcuffed and arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol,  after he failed a Breathalyzer test. No mention as to whether the officers tested his blood sugar.

      County prosecutors dropped all charges after Hopkins’ attorney had filed a motion to suppress the evidence as illegally received, after they had entered the residence to “rescue”  Mr Hopkins.  Then, Mr Hopkins filed a civil rights action against the officers. Based on the Supreme Courts’  ruling,  a trial in the case is expected to be scheduled  in the next few months. 

     The officers have left the police department and are working as officers in other cities. I wonder if they think that it would be ok to break into an ice cream store and take the ice cream, to make sure it doesn’t all melt. Just a thought.

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