Saturday, December 30, 2006

365 Days Later

So today is the one year anniversary of the Wandering Bell.


327 posts
3125 visitors
6 months it took to notice that I had comments waiting to be moderated.


Traded 1 girlfriend for a wife.
Have actual office instead of working out of my apartment.
New computer (thanks to those frakking finks who were never caught)

Things that haven't changed

My clients
The number of jury trials I have

Happy New Year to you all.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

So Which Way Do You Come Down?

One of the benefits of honorably completing your military service used to be that you were entitled to be buried in Arlington National Cemetary. (From what I understand, because of the lack of space, this is not amended to burial at a national cemetary). Earlier this year, Russell Wayne Wagner, a Vietnam-era veteran, died of a drug overdose. He was cremated. His ashes were interred at Arlington.

Apparently, the Federal Government is going to disinter his remains.

The part that I did not tell you before was that Mr. Wagner was serving a life sentence for murder at the time he died. (Incidentally, the drug overdoes was heroin.)

I understand the desire of the victim's family to want to deny Mr. Wagner an honor in death for what he did. Furthermore, I understand the idea behind the bill that made this possible.

The reason I ask this is because there are many men and women who will and have served their country honorably and well, and not all of them will have the good fortune to be able to re-adjust once their service is over. It does not seem like a lot, but the historian in me has an appreciation for how and where people are buried. There is a difference between being buried at Arlington, or Baghdad North. So is the burial in National Cemetary honoring their service or their entire lives? Does a mistake committed later in life negate the good that was done earlier?

But then... I'm someone who hates to draw bright lines over murky swamps.

Clients... They'll Be The Death Of Me

So today is a tale of two sets of clients.

I suppose the first set is not really clients of mine. They are clients of a client of mine. Confused? Even though I have my own shingle hanging out there, I still take in contract work from other attorneys. In this case, I was hired by another solo to cover some hearings from him in one particular case. However, somewhere along the way, this attorney's clients were given my contact information and were told to contact me about some aspects of the case. This then lead to the slightly weird situation where the attorney I was contracting for would give me instructions through his clients.

Now this worked fine. Until a decision was made not to contest a tentative ruling. I received a call the day before the hearing from attorney's clients, telling me that I was going to fight the tentative. No problem, thinks I, since I had written the brief for the attorney.

Only one problem. The attorney never intended to fight the tentative (for a tactical reason which makes sense now that I've actually heard it). The attorney's clients, not fully understanding the reasoning for this, called me "passing along instructions" for me to fight the tenative.

I lost the motion. (Normally, I hate losing as much as the Osama Bin Ladin likes sitting down for pulled pork with George Bush. However, I have to say I did a damn good job.)

And I thought that losing the motion hearing was going to be the worst feeling I had until I returned a phone call from the attorney for whom I was doing the contract work. When he told me that he and the clients had decided to not contest the tentative ruling, .... Let's just say my stomach went into free fall.

Essentially the clients had lied to him and myself. Fortunately he believed me when I told him the truth that I had been told he had authorized me to go and contest the hearing. Last thing I need is to get a reputation for trying to shark other people's clients. Or that I was trying to interfere with his handling of a case. Not a good feeling to be in that position.

So the other client is one that is all my own. (Which in retrospect, should be a hint that there is something completely wrong with this person to begin with. If you look back at my postings about other clients, you may notice a theme. The theme is: they're all crazy.)

Anyways, the client was referred to me because they have a good claim about a wrongdoing landlord, but this client is going to start running into a statute of limitations problem if they do not get the complaint filed in the next few days. Sent down a contingency agreement that the client has mailed back to me. I spent a portion of the Christmas weekend drafting the complaint, after making sure that what the client said was close enough to reality to support a case. I consulted with some of the more senior members of the tribe about pitfalls to avoid in drafting the complaint. I have the client review the complaint for accuracy and sign the verification.

And then as I am about to go file the thing this afternoon, the client puts a hold on the whole thing worrying about the a) the agreement which he has signed and b) about complaint I have drafted. Now, this client is getting cold feet and wants the retainer agreement reviewed by a relative who is an attorney. Normally, I would have no problem with this, but the statute of limitations deadline is ticking away.

Clients... they'll be the death of me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I am just way to tired for this nonesense...

I mean really. I am giving people fair warning today. I am much too tired for the bull that they seem to want to pick a fight with me and my clients today.

I am trying to be reasonable. I am trying to resist the urge to go to the mattresses (which quite frankly my client wants to do) and declare all out war. It would, in the end, be counter-productive, I believe for everyone. But no one wants to even consider a frakking compromise.

All I want to do is complete the settlement negotiations. But it seems to me that the other side wants to establish a double standard and make my client the second class citizen. Now this client of mine is never going to win the Miss Congeniality competition. This client is complete pain in the posterior. This client will not listen to most of my advice. In my opinion, this person is a bit of an anti-semite.

On the other hand, the opposition is alternates between times of passive agressiveness and outright aggressiveness. They demand everything from the situation, drape themselves in the mantle of being wronged, and have not the least iota of a problem in being completely and totally hypocrtical in their arguments.

Say what you want about my client, at least this person is not a hypocrite.

The more I think about it now, the more pulling everything together for an out and out fight seems like the right idea. Now I just got to get a little smarter and figure out the best way to fight them.

Something About the Argument Does Not Work

For more than five years the Bush Administration has been trying to roll back the civil rights of people charged with crimes. Essentially, the argument goes that there are certain crimes that the regular criminal justice system just absolutely cannot handle. Therefore, the Executive Branch must be able to make determinations in each case as to whether the a crime should be handled by the criminal justice, with all the rights accorded under the U.S. Constitution, and when you end up in a special federal prison, with extremely curtailed rights.

So far, the argument does not seem to work. Zacarias Moussaui is currently spending a life sentence in prison for his terrorist activities. And then two days ago, Demetrius Crocker was convicted of planning to use a dirty bomb.

Interestingly enough, this was a case that was conducted entirely as criminal matter from the begining by all accounts. A retired sheriff's deputy tipped off the local authorities who asked for, and received, help from the FBI. After taking the time to make sure that this was an actual crime, and not the harmless ravings and plotting of a deranged individual, he was arrested and brought to trial. There was no Navy Brig, nor military commission. Instead, he was convicted by a jury of twelve people on al lcounts which he was indicted.

So let's see, two major terrorism cases that have gone to trial. Prosecutors, despite the Bush Administration's intereference in the Moussaui case, managed to get convictions on both of them, putting both of the men away for significant terms in jail.

On the other hand, we have the ongoing embarrasment which is the Jose Padilla case. Based on the flings, he has been kept in conditions which we do not condone in other nations. And yet, we are not closer to bringing a close to his case.

Interesting Hearing That Just Finished

The f-bomb was apparetnly flying about in a Second Circuit Court of Appeals courtroom. The Second Circuit was hearing oral arguments about how the FCC has been enforcing standards for language on broadcast TV.

At issue is when is it permissible to use what some would consider profane language. Fox Television is appealing the FCC's policy on language, claiming that its too vague. For instance, language used in Saving Private Ryan, which has been broadcast on TV, cannot be used in other shows without incurring fines. Essentially, what Fox is arguing is that the government arbitrarily enforcing the rules and infringing on the First Amendment.

Not that I want Janet Jackson's nipple on my screen all the time, but I think that they have a point there.

Its a bad week...

When the contract work you are doing for various clients is having to be sent out at 5 a.m. local on successive days.

Its even worse when sending those email out means you finally get to go to bed.

Only to be awakened by calls from your other clients at 7:30 a.m. asking where the where their documents are. Leaving me to ask if they had checked their email yet.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What do you call this type of person?

Perhaps you know the type. They are the ones who make statements that insult and demean others under the guise of promoting peace or diversity or some other platitude. They are the ones who, when called upon to defend their ideas refuse.

Sometimes they have an excuse. Sometimes they just say that they refuse because the person challenging them to defend their ideas, in their opinion only, is described as someone who knows nothing about the situation.

I know what I would call them.

Now in the case that I am thinking of, the invitation for a debate was not issued by either Oxford or Cambridge Union. It was, however, offered by a univeristy which does have an interest in the situation and desire to promote discourse on the subject. Furthermore, it is not as if the person involved was being challenged to defend his position against a drunken, un-educated lout. In fact, the person who was going to put the ideas espoused by this person is a professor with more than a passing interest in matter.

So, given that situation, what would you call the person who refused to take the opportunity to defend his position?

Unfortunately, I have to call him Mr. Carter. The idea he is promoting is that Israel practices a policy of apartheid and is not committed to seeking peace, and instead seeks to perpetuate the violence in the Middle East.

The person who was offered to debate him is Allan Dershowitz, a Harvard Law professor. The site of the debate was to Brandeis University.

And Mr. Carter's response was, "I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz," Carter said in Friday's Boston Globe. "There is no need ... to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."

Now what do you call someone like this?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Death Penalty Ruling

Earlier today, a federal judge ruled that execution by lethal injection violates the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Now, I understand that some people believe that the death penalty is unjust and should be abolished. There are some days when I agree with those people. However, based on the research I have done (and I had to do alot of it), the death penalty, in virtually any form, is not unconstitutional.

The basis for most attacks on the death penalty is that it violates the constitutional guarrantee against cruel and unusual punishment. So where did we get this notion that cruel and unusual punishment should be prohibited?

Like many other concepts in our Constitution, we derived it from English law. In particular, from a guarantee in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. In it, it states, "That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;". When the founding fathers were drafting our constitution and the first ten amendments, they were essentially seeking to enshrine the rights which they had been brought up believing were inherent to all freeborn men.

Now, what became the 8th Amendment was as a result of some of the abuses which happened during the 17th century. Among them was the way in which some people were punished. The prohibition did not intend, or in fact, curb th euse of the death penalty. It was meant to curb sentences for crimes where the punishment was less than death. In particular, it was in reaction to a sentence handed down to a cleric by the name of Titus Oates, who had been implicated in teh Popish Plot against King Charles II. The sentence handed down, as related in Harmelin v. Michigan, was,

"The court then decreed that he should pay a fine of "1000 marks upon each Indictment," that he should be "stript of [his] Canonical Habits," that he should stand in the pillory annually at certain specified times and places, that on May 20 he should be whipped by "the common hangman" "form Aldgate to Newgate," that he should be similarly whipped on May 22 "from Newgate to Tyburn," and that he should be imprisoned for life.

501 U.S. 957

And by and large, it has remained that in American jurisprudence. The Supreme Court has variously held that hanging, firing squad, gas, and the electric chair are all allowed under the Eighth Amendment. The one that I am aware of that has not been allowed is drawing and quartering.

So is this is a correct ruling? Based on my understanding of the Eighth Amendment, the judge has written a bad decision. (As of this time, I have not been able to get a copy of the ruling.) However, does that make me hypocritical when it comes to my basic support for judges who interpret the constitution rather than remain strictly literalist?

How Sad

So K-Fed is threatening to write a tell-all book about Britney Spears if he does not get what he fels he should. Apparently, being a kept man with no marketable skills, other than dancing, entitles him, according to his filings, to 20 million dollars and sole custody of the two sons he has with Britney Spears.

I'm wondering... has he ever tried to get sole custody of any of his other children? Or is it only when he can shake down their mothers for millions?

In other news, Mr. Federline has apparently rented a house for $7,000/month. He says, ""It's a great area for young families and it's safe and peaceful." Since he's got multiple families, maybe my earlier thought was wrong and he is actually trying to pull all his children together under one roof.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

This is the way my life works

Over the past two years, I think I have taken a number of cases from the VLSP. Most of them on the eve of trial. All of them with the hope of actually taking the case through to a jury trial.


Because I am still waiting for my first jury verdict.

So anyways, the people over the VLSP took my name off their list of people to call while I was away on my honeymoon. And then they did not put my name back in the rotation as cases came up that would require an attorney for trial.

And one of them, one that I would normally have been on the list for, went to verdict today.

On the one hand, I'm happy that a friend of mine got the case. On the other hand, I'm jealous as all hell.

Oh well, that is the way my life works I guess. I'd still rather be married.

This Is Something Important To Think About

And my initial reaction is that this is an extremely ill-conceived notion.

What is this of which I speak? It is a bill which was introduced recently and called "Stop the Online Exploitation of Our Children Act of 2006".

So am I for the exploitation of children? Of course not. What I am against is are some of the provisions of the proposed bill. As Think Progress noted, the bill would do some of the following:

– Commercial websites and personal blogs “would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000.”
– Internet service providers (ISPs) are already required to issue such reports, but under McCain’s legislation, bloggers with comment sections may face “even stiffer penalties” than ISPs.
— Social networking sites will be forced to take “effective measures” — such as deleting user profiles — to remove any website that is “associated” with a sex offender. Sites may include not only Facebook and MySpace, but also, which permits author profiles and personal lists, and blogs like DailyKos, which allows users to sign up for personal diaries.

A bill like this would certainly abridge First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and turn hosting sites and ISPs into monitors of what is and is not legal. And we all know how much corporations like to err on the side of protecting themselves.

Now, I know that its very rare that I get comments here, but think about other sites where you do leave comments and what that does add to the discussion of... anything.

If you would like to speak out on this to McCain directly, you can do so here. If there is some other way to protest this bill that someone else is aware of, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I Actually Remember Watching This Back in 1978


The Worst President and Now The Worst Ex-President

James Earl "Jimmy" Carter was, in my humble opinion, one of the least effective presidents we ever put in office. One of the few good things which could be said about his administration is that it ended after only four years. He managed to create a deadlock with Congress (controlled by his own party), preside over stagflation, allowed Americans in Iran to be held hostage for more than a year, and made the most ineffectual protest to an act of aggression by cancelling the United States' participation in the 1980 Summer Olympics.

After leaving office his triumphs have included the now failed North Korean nuclear weapons deal. This was supposed to provide a solution to the proliferation of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.

And now, almost thirty years after the Camp David Accords, Mr. Carter has decided to weigh in again with a new book and speaking tour. Its nice to see that he is providing a balanced look at the Arab-Israeli problem with comments such as:

"No, that's not true at all," responded Carter. "Israel hasn't really tried to give 'Palestine' back to the Palestinians. They did give up some of Gaza. And then they moved out, and the Palestinians captured one soldier and tried to swap [him] for 300 children – some as young as 12 years old – and 94 women, but the Israelis wouldn't swap. So then Israel reinvaded Gaza. But if Israel ever wants peace – and they do want peace – a majority of Israelis have always said, 'Let's get rid of the land, and let's have peace.' That's what we need to have."

and this lovely pronouncement from a man who failed to rescue people under his leadership

"I don't think that Israel has any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon. What happened is that Israel is holding almost 10,000 prisoners, so when the militants in Lebanon or in Gaza take one or two soldiers, Israel looks upon this as a justification for an attack on the civilian population of Lebanon and Gaza. I do not think that's justified, no."

An advocate of trades, he fails to see what trading prisoners for hostages has gotten Israel. In his own article, Carter notes that the three of trades involved, "1,150 Arabs, mostly Palestinians, for three Israeli soldiers in 1985; 123 Lebanese for the remains of two Israeli soldiers in 1996; and 433 Palestinians and others for an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three soldiers in 2004."

And what have these trades gotten Israel? Certainly, it has not put an end to the Arab practice of taking Israelis hostage. It has not increased the chances of a workable peace, since it merely returns willing foot-soldiers to the ranks of the terrorist groups which seek the destruction of Israel. In reading the Washington Post editorial from August 1, 2006, it is clear what he wants: for Israel to appease, at all costs, the demands of the Arabs. He makes the obligatory remark that Israel is entitled to defend itself, and then immediately undercuts this position by stating that its attempts to are per se inhumane and counterproductive and should be abandoned. IF that is the case, then under Mr. Carter's formulation, national self-defense against outlaw groups can never be justified if civilians sheltering them might be injured or killed.

In case anyone wonders who the people that the Arabs seeks the release of from Israelis prisons, here is one that has been at the top of their demand list for years. His name is Samir Kuntar, his story is here. Its nice to see that an ex-president of the United States is urging the release of people who have committed those crimes. Had he been tried in some U.S. courts, he would have long since been executed.

Mr. Carter, on the off chance you are reading this, please stop talking and writing about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Your stature as an ex-president gives too much weight to your ill-conceived notions of what is right and what is just in that region. Your desire for peace appears to be a peace at any price, in much the same way that in an earlier generation Mr. Chamberlain desired peace over the Czecheslovakian-German dispute. Please, quiet your voice and stop adding stature and support to people who have been unwilling to make peace at any price short of the destruction of what is still the only functioning democracy in the Middle East.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Things I Am Never Doing Again

Allowing a client to go line by line through a motion I have drafted as a trial brief. I cannot believe I allowed myself to get sucked into that. They kept questioning every tactical decision made in the brief forcing me to explain, multiple times, the purpose of the motion and the underlying law which dictates why certain things are written in certain ways.

So not only did I get to spend last night writing the thing, I got to miss my yoga class tongith.


I understand that clients have to have some say over the work, but they wanted to correct the freaking grammer... when sometimes the bad grammar is caused by the old legal terms of art.


So that is an hour and a half. I feel guilty about it, but I am going to have to bill them for this. And I hate billing for things when I do not feel that they have advanced my representation of the client.

Yes, perhaps I am ill. I do not like running up the client's bill.

So Its After Midnight

And I keep getting emails from other attorneys. I thought it was only the big firms where the lawyers were up at all hours. Aren't we solos supposed to be doing it this way for a better quality of life or something like that?

Back to prepping a trial.

Monday, December 11, 2006

California Rulle 1-400

Apparently I ran afoul of it today. Now in the process of memorizing it.

Apparently on one of my advertisements on craigslist, I forgot to put "AngryBell" on it to identify who put the message out there.

Rather embarassing.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Lounge Wear

While I'm sure this is not what the U.S. Government intended when it developed a new battle uniform for the U.S. military...

But maybe there might just be a market for husbands who want to hide on the couch and watch football.

HT: to Op-For.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sad News

So this might not mean much, but for long-time Giants fans some sad news came over the wire today. Apparently Jose Uribe, who played most of his 10 years for the San Francisco Giants died yesterday in a car crash.

He never made it big, but for ten seasons he was a solid shortshop who always made the play (to the tune of .996 fielding average). And I always liked watching him play. Had it not been Ozzie Smith of the Cardinals, he would have earned a few more gold gloves over his career.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Even Pornstars...

Will not admit to shagging K-Fed. What does that say about him since the divorce proceedings began?

Careful what you wish for....

I've said that a hundred times. Of course, then I went and wished for it.

Ever heard about those nasty family law divorce and cusotdy disputes that drag on forever? Well, if you have not, then I suggest you pop on over and read about the case of Jacqueline Anom and John Ofori-Tenkorang.

Now cases like these are not restricted to family law alone. However, I got off of a conference call which had been proposed by one of the parties in a case that I am involved in. The party proposing the call wanted to try and work everything out so that we could avoid a hearing tomorrow. Unfortunately, it appears that their version of working things out is asking for a surrender.

Now my client in this matter is already feeling extremely put upon. And my client, after hearing the proposal made by the convening party is digging in his heels. Hard.

And suddently my office is starting to feel alot like the Red October steel factory.

I'm starting to wonder...

...if adding a blog to my list is a way to kill it off.

Sadly, Sidebar appears to be going off the air.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gaming the System/Abusing The System

Well, there is a reason why there is a push to "reform" our civil justice system.

Did someone forget their ethics?

Anyways, read the story here.

In my previous incarnation as a defender of insurance companies' monies, I routinely faced one of the firms in the article. I was always left with the impression that they were somehow... no better than the firm I was a part of (and if you want my opinion about them, you will have to ask me in person).

Fortunately the plaintiffs attorneys that I interact with now are more interested in representing people with actual cases, instead of double dipping mentioned in the article.

Anyway, if you want to read about my thoughts on the mess that asbestos litigation has become, that posting can be found here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Thinking About The TSA

One of the wonderous bureaucracies created by terrorist attacks on 9/11 was the Transportation Security Administration. In addition to be so very effective as the guardians of who gets on aircraft, they also screen the baggage on all the flights.

This comes to mind, only because there was recently a great number of people which I was talking to about their flights. And a number of them seemed to complain about things going missing from their bags. One person in particular had gifts, which he was carrying for a number of people, stolen from his bag. Now, unlike one friend, who had her iPod taken, these were not small things. They were large bottles and boxes which were removed form his bag.

According to the TSA, since they took over screening the bags, they have received 84,000 "administrative claims" (translation: claims that items have been taken from travellers bags) during the period up to May 6, 2006. That works out 2,100 claims per month.

Now, the absolute numbers may not be that large, but at the same time, how can people who are charged with the security of air travel allow that many reported thefts to occur.

Some Katrina Litigation News

As you might have heard, Hurricane Katrina caused a lot of damage. The insurance companies, they who had incredibly profitably years of late, decided to exclude damage caused by water during the storm. Consequently, a lot of people's claims were denied. A number of them have sued, though some like the Paul and Julie Leondard lost at trial.

However, a recent E.D. of Louisiana decision gives hope to some. Apparently Judge Stanwood R. Duval refused to dismiss a case. He found that while exclusions of the policy could be construed to exclude damage from water caused by the storm, the standard exclusion language does not cover damage as a result of negligent maintained or defectively constructed levees or dikes. Therefore, the plaintiffs now need to prove that there neglience with regard to the construction or maintainenance of the man-made water barriers.

Whether they will be succesful at proving that remains to be seen. Hopefully they will.

Either way, the insurance companies in the case have stated they will be appealing the ruling.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Two things I re-learned today

First is how much clients like it when their attorney will sit and listen to what they have to say.

Second, I'm not a hugger. I'm just not.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Now why didn't I think of that?

This would have been an interesting case to be a part. Apparently someone finally brought suit to get the federal government to change the money so that those with vision impairments can tell the denominations apart.

When I lived overseas, I got used to just feeling into my pocket or wallet and not having to look down to make sure that I had the right bill when I was paying for something. Now I have to look.

However, I wonder if this might slow a push to making all transaction based on some sort of electronic cards like we have now.

Is This Worth 50 Million a Year?

Apparently our government pays around $50 million dollars a year to try and teach abstinence to the nation's youth. These programs have been so effective that the Bush Administration has decided to expand them.

That's right. Instead of just trying to keep teens from having sex, the government is trying to get the word out that people should abstain from sex until they are married, or at least 30.

I wonder when the Republicans are going to try and prevent drinking... again.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Do we really need this sequel?

As I was being an uber geek tonight, I ran across an interview with Katee Sackhoff (that would be Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica), mentioned that she was auditioning for parts during her hiatus. Among the parts was a bit in Rambo IV.

Did we really need a Rambo IV?

Intellectual Property Run Amok

Apparently, it was announced today that McDonald's is seeking to patent sandwich making. And its not a machine they are trying to patent, it is the method of making deli sandwiches.

Is this taking things too far? I can just see it being approved and then out go the cease and desist letters to people for making toasted sandwiches.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I need my fix!

I need it! Its been too long.

And yes, I am a frakking geek.

Ron Moore, get your frakking podcast up!

And to the rest of you... take a look at Battlestar Galactica. Who knows, you might like it.

After reflection

So I noted that today that the Supreme Court refused to uphold the the punitive damages awarded against Altria f/k/a Phillip Morris (who makes, markets, and sells cigarettes). In light of the State Farm verdict a few years ago, as well as the subsequent refinements which have been made to the holding in that case, this should have come as nothing as a suprise.

Which to my mind seems to show that the Supreme Court, as composed in this court and in the Rehnquist one which preceded it, seems to want to gut punitive damages. There are those on both sides of the litigation debate who will tell you that punitives are too high and onerous or too low and easy for the wrongdoers, but it seems that right now the jurisprudence is taking the side of businesses who seek to escape from punitives.

Punitives are there to ensure that a person, or corporation, which does a bad act that rises to a certain level should be punished for that act. By limiting the amount, the court is seeming to encourage the kind of risk calculation which gave us the Ford Pinto. It seems to me what the court should have done was up the standard by which defendant is judged when it comes to determining whether punitives are available. That way the true malfeasors are still held accountable in a way that does hurt them and avoids assigning punitive damages to simple negligence situtations.

Those are my half-formed thoughts on the subject.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I paid attention during high school.

You paid attention during 100% of high school!
85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

and I am also ...
Which God or Goddess are you?
Your Result: Ares Greek God of War
You laugh in the face of War. You revell in conflict and power. You are manipulative, seductive, and a strategist. Your carnal heart enjoys a good battle.
Zeus Greek King of the Gods
Aphrodite Greek Goddess of Love
Artemis Greek Goddess of the Hunt
Dionsyus Greek God of Wine
Hades Greek God of the Underworld
Which God or Goddess are you?
Quizzes for MySpace

Back From Maui

So as you might have noticed, I got married on November 11.

First off, I want to say, if you want an incredible band to play at your wedding (or any event for that matter), Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers should be at the top of the list. They were great, flexible, and very professional (both musically and business-wise).

Maui was great. If you want to go snorkling or scuba diving, I highly recommend the folks over at Trilogy Excursions. One, unnamed reviewer, unfairly panned this outfit. They offer a good outing, complete with meal, and gear at a fair price. And to boot, they're nice and fun on the boat.

On another thought, I think my Maui experience (since it was my first) my have ruined me for good. How? We stayed at the Four Seasons on Maui. Cost alot, but wow, did it include some great service.

Alright, back now to clearing through a week away.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Programming Note

Just in case any have been wondering, there is a reason why I have not been posting as regularly as I usually do.

The reasons is actually pretty good.

I'm getting married this weekend (Saturday to be precise... and no I am not going to say where) and then heading off on my honeymoon for week.

See you all when I get back.


I have not seen Borat yet, however I have heard its pretty funny.

However, there are some people who do not think its funny. Including some of the people who were in the movie. They have filed a lawsuit against Twentieth Century Fox, though oddly enough not against Sacha Cohen.

The plaintiffs, who filed as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 to protect their identity, claim that they were the frat boys featured in one of the film's segments. They claim that they were duped into making racist remarks by getting them drunk and then having them sign their releases while they were intoxicated.

Now in my experience, inebriation does not bring out new things, it just removes that filter which prevents it from coming out in polite society. But hey, that's just my thinking.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Free At Last, Free At Last

This nightmare of a client finally came in today to sign the papers that removed me as the attorney of record from his case. Its only taken a motion, more than a dozen phone calls, and begging with him to do it.

And the frakker acts like it is my loss that I am no longer representing him and how he can not possibly understand how I would want to done with him. And then he said "I sense some hostility in your voice."

I said "Yes," in response to that. However, if he knew what the alternative was, he would have stayed quiet and just shut the f*#% up until he was out of the building.

And in related news, I just did a CLE on red flag clients. Want to know how many he flew under the teacher's recknoning?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Whatever Happened to Disagreeing Without Slander?

Perhaps slander is too harsh a word. However, I think that in this case, it might be the right word.

I should put in here that I am not a big fan of Seymour Hersh, or at least not a fan of his post-9/11 work. Mainly this is because I feel that his reporting and writing is influenced by a personal desire to find another My Lai.

In any event, at McGill university the other day, Mr. Hersh was giving a talk. It started out fine, with Mr. Hersh reminding everyone that the bad news is that there is 800+ days left in the president's term of office, but that tomorrow morning means that there will be one less day.

Then he went on to say that,

“In Vietnam, our soldiers came back and they were reviled as baby killers, in shame and humiliation,” he said. “It isn’t happening now, but I will tell you – there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq.”
Not only is this probably not true (if you want to see an American force that was violent and murderous try taking a look at Philippines Insurrection during the Samar campaign), but its not helpful to the situation. Does Mr. Hersh believe that reverting back to the Vietnam-era form of protest by belitting, disparaging and insulting service personnel is the right way to go?

Mr. Hersh needs to apologize for that comment. Disagree with the policy. Disagree with the president. Protest, complain, vote. But how about not reverting to something that caused such deep psychic scars for many people who ultimately had little say about how, when, and where American policy was and is carried out. They and their families do not need someone doing this to them.

Made to Hang

It was announced today that Saddam Hussein has been found guilty and will be sentenced to hang. Fortunately, the court and participants were able to get this case to verdict despite the fact that tye were all, defense, prosecution, and judges, targets of one faction or another.

The appeal will be filed in the next ten days and briefing will be done in 20 days. I do not envy the junior attorneys on this case that have to do the grunt work on this case.

It will be interesting to see the reaction when the sentence is carried out.

Friday, November 03, 2006

All Hail Vizquel

He doesn't just field his position flawlessly. He doesn't just hit for average. On a team that was going nowhere fast for most of the season, he was the one that hung in there and kept trying to provide that spark that a team needs in order to win games.

At least he got some recognition this year. Congrats Mr. Vizquel on your 11th Gold Glove award.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Too Little Too Late I suppose

So yes, my odd obsession with Dancing with The Stars continues. I did not really warm to Monique throughout the series, but her cha-cha-cha was great. Unfortunately for her and her partner, it just wan't enough to save her.

So who do you think will win? Can Joey upset the favorites? Will Edyta be upset that it was the guys who kicked their legs past their ears during the Fame number?

What Should My Response Be?

Before we start, I think something needs to be explained about me. Since highschool, some earlier, I have been accused of having a problem with authority. I spent an entire semester in detention (which was called J.U.G. where I went to school) rather than agree that a teacher was right and I was wrong. (It was later demonstrated that I was completely and totally in the right in the situation and the teacher was completely and totally wrong).

I suppose you could say that my instinctual reaction to stupidity and being pushed is to push back. Hence why I no longer work for others.

As you might have noticed, I do a fair amount of work on behalf of tenants in San Francisco. I also belong, if you could call it that, to what is, in my opinion, a dysfunctional group of tenants right's activists. My opinion as to their dysfunction goes to their organization, not what they provide in service to tenants in the community. But that is not the issue.

Recently, this group started a listserv. I joined it. I participated in it. And I have now been kicked off of it. Why? Because apparently they don't like the name which I chose for my account. Now this is not the email address that appears in the message, but rather the login to gain access to the litserv. The name used is not offensive. When I signed up, I was not informed that I could not use it. I was also not informed that there was a special format that I had to conform to for my name.

So today I received not one, but two (that's right two) emails telling me that my privileges were revoked until I 1) gave them my contact information 2) provided bona fides as to my commitment to tenant's rights and 3) changed my screen name.

Now, they have my contact information. They also have my bona fides. As for the third thing... I know this will sound silly but I just cannot change it. Not because I am attached to it, but because the request is STUPID.

Anyways, click here if you want to see my response to this inane idiocy. Yeah, I know, not classy but I'm not in the mood to conform with their arbitrariness.

Good Result

So yesterday a Georgia court sentenced a man to ten years for genital mutiliation. An emigrant from Ethiopia, he will now spend the better part of the next ten years in prison.

Now, this is a good thing. Genital mutiliation of females is a bad thing. Usually because it is done in secret, with crude implements and without the supervision of someone who has been trained.

I suppose the quesiton I have, is why weren't these cases prosecuted under the other laws, such as battery, child endangerment, or any of the child abuse statutes that are out there?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Gotta Love Local Political Ads

Now, I am not sure what this ad is supposed to show me, other than the supervisor rides a bicycle and likes to shake hands with people, but it sure looks kinda dopey to me. Maybe they are trying to lighten up his image.

Now I have not been able to find a video for Rob Black, the primary challenger for Supervisor Daly's seat. In the interest of fairness, all I can do it put up a link to Black's website (should someone find something for Black, let me know).

64 minutes and 28 seconds

So this weekend was a mess on so many different levels. Most of those I am not going to go into.

However, for 64 minutes and 28 seconds, the things that were going wrong were apparently broadcast to at least my father and possibly the rest of my family because my handy-dandy new phone triggered itself and dialed him.

Because its not bad enough that it happen to me, it should also be on display for my family to see.

I may be able to show my face again at family events in a few years. Ugh.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thinking About Blogs And The Problems They Can Cause

If you are reading this, then I am going to assume you understand the basics of a blog. Recently, blogs have become the subject of a bit of legal thought and especially how the blog can be used in the workplace. The first time I remember hearing about people being penalized for what is said in a blog was the Delta Stewardess incident where she was fired for her postings.

More recently, there was the Apple lawsuit against bloggers who publishing information about Apple products which they did not want to get out in the public. The California Court of Appeals for the Sixth District came to the conclusion that authors of those postings were journalists and therefore accorded the same protections, especially when it comes to the reporter sheild law.

All of which leads to today. A friend of mine was quoted in someone else blog. Now this blogger writes on a variety of topics, including where he works, used to work, and more recently what happened when he got his nails done. In the original posting, he put her first name and identified what department she worked in at the company she works at. He also attributed a quote to my friend to the effect that the company was falling apart and about to go under. Now, apparently this blog has a bit of a following at the blogger's old job, where my friend works. And one of them appears to be in a managerial capacity. And this manager apparently showed it to some other people in power.

And suddenly my friend was called on the carpet and was issued a formal warning, which at that company is effective double secret probation. Alright, so it isn't that arbitrary, however the point is that she never made the comment. It was simply attributed to her by a reckless blogger.

Now I need to go and see about what legal remedies are available in a situation like this. I think at the least the blogger needs to do more than change her name in the posting from her name to "she who must not be named". A nice posting of apology with a retraction in full is what should happen.

Time to see what New York Times v. Sullivan has as its progeny in the digital age.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dancing With The Stars Drinking Game

So after watching Dancing With The Stars tonight, I decided there needed to be a drinking game for it. Here are my initial rules:

Every time Edyta Sliwinska puts her ankle past her ears take drink.
Every time Len Goodman says there were no heel leads do a shot.
Every time Samantha Harris says "heroic" finish the drink of the person to the right.
Every time Tom Bergeron says "heroic" finish the drink of the person to the left.
Every time Mario Lopez breaks the rules drink two drinks.
Every time Cheryl Burke flips her hair dramatically during a routine take a sip.
Every time Karina Smirnoff has to yell at Mario in a training session take two sips.
Every time Monique Coleman says she has to represent because she's the only girl left finish the glass.
Every time Joey Lawrence starts licking his lips drink until he stops.
Every time Bruno Tonioli pumps his fist in the air drink two shots.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

If you can't get paid

You might as well become the talk of the skilled nursing facility.

Today I had to pick up some property for a client of mine who is restricted to a skilled nursing facility. This facility is approximately 26 miles away.

Add that into a 7 am meeting, six hours of deposition on another case, and I have had a hell of a long day.

But apparently, my drive out to Hayward really impressed the geriatric community. Now I just need to find a way to impress the richer community .. or the community with good claims against deep pockets.

Until then...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Like the sound of this

FTC is proposing to ban pre-recorded telemarketing messages. And right after I got a new number and a pre-recorded telemarketing call (in spanish no less!). I like the sound of this idea.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Now why would I put his name up here? Well, first off, he is the kind of person we need more of in the world: namely one who is trying to promote dioalog, instead of violence, between Islam and other religions including Judaism. This is pretty rare, especially in his countryof Bangladesh. For his work, he recently received the Moral Courage Award from the AJC.

The other reason why is because he is now about to stand trial for sedition in Bangladesh. Why? Because he published some articles which criticized radical Islam and the threats it poses. To hear some of his views, there is the audio here.

For his views, the government has arrested him before. Recently, he was lynched by an angry mob. Fortunately, he survived the attempt only to be arrested and charged with sedition.

I think anyone who can survive being lynched for speaking out against hatred deserves at least a few seconds of your time. Over the AJC, there is a way to send letters to Secretary of State Rice and Ambassador Hamsher M. Chowdhury in support of Mr. Choudhury.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

And She Won't Be Back,

At least that the latest I have read on the whole mix up on Dancing With The Stars. So here is the final dance of Max and Willa (for which the viewing audience let them down).

Ok, I'll let it go.... soon.


So I was representing a person. This person would not listen to my advice, was ordering me to not respond to discovery requests, and topped it off by accusing me of working for the other side when I tried to tell them the consequences of their instructions.

Needless to say, the client fired me. (That, and for the language I used when he accused me of working for the other side.)

And I have been waiting for the form needed to file with the court to withdraw as counsel. Then this morning I get a phone call from this client asking if I won't consider coming back and doing the case.

I need the income, but I don't think I need it that badly.

So I had this forwarded to me..

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington , DC 20520


I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.

-- I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.

-I graduated from Yale University with a low C average.
-I was a cheerleader.

--I ran for U.S. Congress and lost.
--I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas . The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.
--I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money.
--With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry, including Enron CEO Ken Lay, I was elected governor of Texas.

--I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union.
--During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America.
--I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money.
--I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history.
--With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.

--I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record. I
-- invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week.
--I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury. I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history.
--I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.
--I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.
--I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the US stock market.
--In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.
--I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleeza Rice, had a Chevron oil tanker named after her.
--I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations.
--My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.
--My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision.
--I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip-offs in history.
--I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed.
--I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history. I changed the U.S. policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
--I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history.
--I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.
--I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history.
--I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission.
--I withdrew the U.S. from the World Court of Law.
--I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention.
--I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election).
--I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television.
--I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period.
--After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.
-- I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S.the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.
--I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.
--I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community.
--I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families-in-wartime.
--In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends.
--I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security.
--I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD.
--I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden [sic] to justice.

--All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view.
--All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.
--All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.
--I am a member of the Republican Party.


Oddly enough, some of the things on this are distortions, some are probably untrue, and some are very true but are not the evil that you think that they are.

Now does this mean that I suddently support the Republican Party in general or the President? Nope.

For example, there is the business about the 2000 election and the Supreme Court. Personally, I think that the court reached the right decision, though probably not in the right way. The real problem, to me, was that Gore was only asking for a few disputed counties, thereby saying that the rest of the counties votes should not count as much as theirs.

Another example is the International Criminal Court (improperly identified as the World Court of Law). This is a relatively new international court which the U.S. has not ratified the treaty for and which the government (meaning the Senate leadership and the President) will not push for ratification. It should be noted that the previous administration, that of Bill Clinton, signed onto to the agreement. However, the Clinton administration did so only so that it would be part of the negotiations. Even though the treaty creating the court was completed during the Clinton administration, Clinton took the position that as drafted, the treaty would infringe too much upon U.S. sovereignty and would open the possibility of politically motivated prosecutions. Then, there are also the constitutional questions with regards to joining such a court.

Then there is my favorite charge against Bush: that he is the first president to order an unprovoked attack on someone. The American Indians were not angels, but simply stating that we never provoked them into attacking us, or vice versa, is to ingore history. As far back as the colonial days, there were Indian tribes we favored and those that we attacked. We have ordered Marines to land in Central America, South America, Korea (in the 19th Century), and a variety of other places. Those operations were not on the scale of the Iraqi campaign, but at the same time, they were often done under the rubric of taking up the white man's burden or protecting a trader (who often times turned out to be afoul of a local law). My favorite was our invasion of the Phillippines during the Spanish-American War. Instead of letting the local insurrectionists finish off the Spanish forces still on the islands, we landed Marines and soldiers and took the surrender of the Spanish and then forced the surrender of the Phillipino insurrectionists who wanted to establish their own, independent, country.

Was it wrong to invade Iraq? In my opinion, it was not. Then again, I probably would have supported most of the other small wars in this nation's history.

Finally there is the issue of allowing Red Cross representatives in to see Guantanamo Detainees. Now, while I do think that there needs to be some oversight in these cases, the people at Guantanamo are really not prisoners of war. The Third Geneva Convention identifies members of militia or volunteer corps as:

(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

(3) Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.

(4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization, from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.

(5) Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.

(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
Now, for the most part, the people held at Guantanamo do not fall into any of the categories listed above which would get them the protections under the Geneva Conventions. Because they were captured while, allegedly, taking part in hostilities against the United States, they have forfeit their protections by operating in the way that they do. Essentially, they are outlaws. (Which, I sometimes think is a concept worth having again)

But as for the rest of the stuff in the resume... I just wonder why it is that we keep electing him. Unlike some presidents he seems not to be able to tell when something should be kept secret and when it should be open to public debate (i.e. his Texas documents or the meetings of the Cheney enegery committee).

He has also introduced a meaness into the office. To him any dissent is wrong and un-patriotic. He does not attempt to engage in debate, just in demagougery.

And then there is his relationship with the truth. At least when Clinton was in office, he was only lying about who he was shtupping.

Even knowing all this, and admit it, this information was out there, how have we continued to keep these people in office? In my opinion one reason: the Democrats have failed to provide a compelling vision of what their policies would be. Its 2006 and we still faced with candidates running on the platform of "I'm not with George W. Bush".

Oh well.