Friday, March 31, 2006

Alrighty this week is down

And this has not been one of my most successful weeks as an attorney. Other than my one good hour at the courthouse, when I was there for settlement confernces, I have been pretty much awful.

What have I done wrong?

I managed to screw up a proof of service. (Time go back and redo my blank one)
I have made glaring errors in drafting a complaint, which fortunately were caught prior to going out, but still terrible nonetheless.
I cannot seem to bill properly so that my clients do not get cranky (Fortunately not a matter of over billing, a matter of language)

In addition to all that, I have managed to completely make a mess of my time management. I am neither working efficient nor timely.

While there may be worse attorneys out there, this week, I'm not sure there were that many between me and the bottom.

Time to go back through and rip it all apart and start it again.

Are the dominoes starting to fall?

So Abramoff has plead guilty the other day and received 6 years. On the good side, he's plead guilty. On the bad, he only got six years, the minimum he could get.

And today, Tom DeLay's ex-deputy chief of staff, Tony Rudy, plead guilty to conspiring with Abramoff. He will receive a year of probation, a year in which is he is banned from lobbying, and approximately $325,000.00 in fines and restitution. Nice, but not nearly enough in my opinion.

Hopefully that Texas prosecutor will be ablt to knock over the next dominoe: Mr. DeLay himself.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

All Natural In Space

This story gave me a chuckle when I saw it today. Apparently, Virgin Galatic (Sir Richard Branson's proposed Earth to space airline) is considering banning passengers who have had breast augmentation surgery.

If that is the case, what female celebs are they going to get to go up to outer space with William Shatner?

(hat tip to Ace of Spades)

Not filling me with hope

Apparently the head of the IAEA has said that sanctions should not be imposed on Iran. According to the BBC, Mohamed ElBaradei believes that further negotiations should be allowed in order to keep the peace, which would undoubtedly be strained if the West is succesfull and imposes sanctions on Iran.

Well, that might be nice ... if Iran was willing to suspend its nuclear program.

However, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA, Aliasghar Soltaniyeh, stated definitively that, "We will not, definitely, suspend enrichment," its ambassador to the IAEA, Aliasghar Soltaniyeh, said earlier on Thursday. "

So what is Mr. ElBaradei's plan? As he laid out yesterday, "“The five measures I have outlined – tightening controls, protecting materials, supporting verification, reinvigorating disarmament and strengthening the Security Council – are all necessary and urgent steps,” Mr. ElBaradei told a conference of German dentists in Karlsruhe over the weekend, in an address aptly called “Putting Teeth in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Regime.”

Now, I used to be a fan of the United Nations. But then there was Somalia. And then Rwanda. And the Balkans. And the pre-9/11 Iraq issue. And the Oil for Food fiasco. Let's not forget that this was the organization that thought it was a good idea to allow Libya and Burma sit on Humans Rights Commission.

So why should I not believe them this time? The UN can only move forward when there is agreement. And the only things that the nations will agree on is the absolute minimum. The U.S. and United Kingdom, and possible France, see Iran as a dangerous country once again under its current leadership. Russia and China see it as a client and a source of opposition to U.S. hegemony over the Persian Gulf region. It would be interesting to see how China views Iran after it starts giving more aid to dissident Muslim groups in China. Or if the Chechens suddenly found that they had a sponsor willing to lend them some plutonium for say a dirty bomb.

Iran has been and continues to be a sponsor of terrorist groups. And by terrorist I mean groups who as primary means of resistance/attack (depending on your view) target civilians deliberately.

Now if only the Iranians were as blinkered as the Iraqis, and put their program in convenient location... this could be dealt with.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Sign of the Apocalypse

Comes with this statement from Mr. Britney Spears, "My album is sure to set the dance floors across the world on fire."

Apparently, as if "Popozao" wasn't bad enough, there will soon be a whole album of K-Fed's musical stylings.

And a tour.

I'm convinced that pale horseman's coming up the street soon.

Not my week

This week just has not been fun. And to top it off, some jack*&^@ just left what appears to be spam. And here I was thinking that it was an actual comment. Grrr!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Notes on Wedding Planning

So as some of you may know, I recently proposed to my girlfriend, making her my fiancee (yikes!).

Anyways, we have been looking this weekend and last for places to get married. And the one thing that I am firmly able to say is that she is definitely a Coach/Burberry/Channel girl and I am definitely a Target guy and this wedding is going to be expensive.

For example, I would be happy with DJ. She wants a 8 piece swing band (who are really good). I don't particularly care where the wedding takes place. She wants some "va-voom" cachet attached to it. I just want to make sure there are functional, comfortable chairs. She keeps talking about special ordering Chiavari chairs (whatever those are. I think I spelled it correctly, so I get points).

I think I may just stop looking at my bank account and just assume that as of now it reads zero or less until this all over. It will make things a lot easier for me.

Now if she will just decide on which place we will spend all the money, and when, I can start telling my guys when the bachelor party will be.

So there is an upside to this... I guess.

P.S. I do love her.

This weekend

Part of the reason I no longer work for a law firm is that I have a problem with doing things which I know to be the wrong way. Only right now, I am being told to do something that others in the legal profession, and even the practice guides, suggest is going to end up being an abuse of the system.

I've lodged my protest with my client. My client has stated that they want it done this way. So now my Sunday is shot.

Well... if I wan't here working on this, then I would be out looking for wedding sites.

Frying pan and fire.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Interesting article of today

Over at the Wall Street Journal's site, there is an intersting article about lawyer's blogging. The author, Cameron Stracher, tries to explain why so man lawyers have taken to blogging. He writes,

In the dark hours, writing seems like a natural escape. It's what most lawyers
do (when they're not reviewing documents), and though blogging is very
different from drafting a prospectus, it's lose enough to fool many lawyers into trading one form of verbiage for another. Writing a blog can also be done in secret, on your own time (or during office hours if you're careful), and it is potentially lucrative (if you can get some ads or make a name for yourself). For many lawyers, writing is also their true love, a dream they had before financial concerns and parental pressure drove them into drudgery. Some turn to nonfiction, hoping to transform their legal meanderings into punditry. Others (myself included) seek to channel their inner McInerney by penning the next great American novel, or at least a best seller.

Anyways, kind of an interesting quick read. Back to my drugdery. Its name is a meet and confer letter from hell.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Requirements that the rest of us don't make...

... when booking a room.

I do not know what it is about today, but it seems like everywhere I look I am seeing bits on what people (read: those more important than the rest of us) are requesting for their rooms.

First up is the Vice President. Mr. Cheney apparently requires "fresh-brewed, decaffeinated coffee, four to six bottles of water and four cans of caffeine-free Diet" and "that the TV be tuned to Fox News, "The Smoking Gun" reported. And he likes the suite equipped with extra lamps, with all the lights turned on, as well as copies of the local newspaper, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today." Its nice to know that Mr. Cheney reads a range of opinions. However, it does beg the question, what papers does the President ask for? For Cheney's full list of requirements, take a look at the document over at the smokinggun.

While not stating what kind of beverages she wants in her dressing room, it appears that Pink does have a special requirement: a stripper pole so she can give dances to her husband private dances before her shows.

I'm sure that Legally Intoxicated would love to be able to make these requests after his last trip.

You know things are not going well..

When I suddenly become the most reasonable person in a situation.

What situation is that? That would be wedding planning. When this is all over, I think I will need a very large bottle of single malt. 21 year old please.

How did Justice is Blonde survive this far getting ready for her wedding?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Being that guy

Today Debra Lafave, a teacher accused of having sex with one of her middle school students, had her case dropped by the prosecutors when her "victim"'s mother refused to let him testify.

After the case ended today, she told CNN, "My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this," she said. She also described herself as "a strong Christian woman". Well, judging by her looks, two out of three for sure.

Somehow, I am thinking that her true greatest regret was that she was caught.

My other thought, totally not based on anything legitimate or legal, on this case is that she got a break because she is blonde and attractive. In another case, where the adult woman bore the victim's child, after having sex with him in similar circumstances, the woman received a nine-month prison sentence.

Lisa Lynette Clark's mug shot is here. Debra Lafave's photos are here.

How much of a geek am I?

I am listening to a series of podcasts about this season's Battlestar Galactica while I draft what is looking like an extremely long meet and confer letter.

Damn You TiVO

So my fiancee decided we needed, absolutely had to have, TiVO. So I said ok.


So we then went and got TiVO at a large, big box store where we were informed that the new TiVO systems did not require a phone. Which is perfect because all I have is a broadband connection, having ditched my landline years ago.

And that is where the trouble started. Apparently, it was not loaded with the new system software. Which meant we had to take it to a place where there was a landline.

Which we did. Only to find out that it required 4 to 8 HOURS!!!!!! How convenient of the help people at TiVO to omit that part.

So what should have taken one session and perhaps waiting an overnight, is now going on to its third session of set up. Thanks alot.

Monday, March 20, 2006

My heart just bleeds ....

... for Phillip Morris (Now Altria Group Inc.).

The Supreme Court apparently denied cert to their case where a Los Angeles County jury awarded the family of a dead smoker $5.5 million in damages and $3 billion (later reduced to $100 million) in punitive damages. Going to show that there are times when multiple digit multipliers (in this case 18:1) will be upheld.

(Hat tip to the TortsProfBlog of Prof. William G. Childs)

Is $77.50 worth $25,000?

It is when you are keeping your promise.

Robbie Linton used to be an oil field worker. Then he was injured. He navigated the worker compensation system with the help of a six person law firm now known as Wellborn Houston. At the end of the case, the partner representing Mr. Linton gave him a letter explaining what his rights were. It also said that if he needed further help with this matter, that he was to come back to Wellborn Houston and they would help him.

Eventually, the insurance company, which under the ruling from the workers comp case was supposed to cover his prescriptions, started to deny him coverage for his medication. The total in denials was only $77.50. But when he could not get it resolved with the insurance company, Mr. Linton took the letter his old attorney had given him and returned to Wellborn Houston.

As the article comments lawyers are accused of being greedy, but apparently the attorneys at the firm, who it appears have been hired since Linton's orignal case, know how to honor a promise. They took the case to verdict, expending almost $25,000.00 to do so, to honor the promise. There's a couple of mensches there.

Friday, March 17, 2006

In Honor of St. Patrick's Day...

As I sit here listening to Flogging Molly, I came across this post at Blackfive - The Paratrooper of Love's blog.

LONDON - People celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Wednesday can cross one topic
of conversation off their lists.
Guinness bubbles really do sink.
Scientists said Monday they had finally proved that the dark stout’s creamy bubbles defy expectations and flow down instead of upwards.
“Our group carried out preliminary experiments at a local pub a few years ago, but the results proved inconclusive,” said Dr. Andrew Alexander, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry.

They first thought the dark liquid flowing down as a pint was poured gave the illusion the bubbles were going down as well. Now close examination has revealed that, as a pint settles, bubbles touching the walls of the glass experience drag, similar to that a person feels sliding a finger along glass, and that prevents them floating up.
The bubbles in the middle however, are free to rise, creating a circular flow within the glass that causes bubbles at the edge to be pushed downwards on the inside
surface of the glass.
The Edinburgh team, working with researchers at Stanford University in California have produced high-speed video footage of the sinking bubbles — to put at rest the minds of any drinkers who might have felt they were seeing things.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

It's Just Like Prom

So today has been on the weird side of things. It was one of those days when I was saying things that I should not have said. For example, one of the people who has an office in the suite I share asked me if I was busy today.

Like a fool I said, "Not really."

By this afternoon, I suddenly was staring down the barrell of a couple of thousand pages of documents that the opposing counsel in one case I am working for another attorney which arrived today and needed to be triaged ASAP. Then there was the sudden realization that a deposition needed to be noticed right away. A meeting for tomorrow got calendared and the referral service called to see if I could see someone who needed a lawyer.

Not a bad day, but then I got a phone message from a friend of mine who is still at my old firm. When I left, it was not exactly pretty. With the exception of my friend and one other person there, I could really give a frak (excuse my Battlestar Galactica-speak) about them. Her message sounded bad so I called her right away.

Turns out that they have a client in need of representation. A conflict had arisen in a case which another client was going to trial on. The other client, we shall call them Client-A, needed someone to represent them to keep them out of the case. And my old firm, in particular a senior associate who made my life there the experience I would only wish on a select few, was hoping that I could take on the client for a limited purpose.

So why is this day just like prom? Well, when I was a junior in high school, my then-girlfriend mailed me a Dear John letter the day before we went to my junior prom. The letter, on torn binderpaper, arrived two days later, on the Monday, to tell me that she had broken up with me. Needless to say, there were no kind words that flowed between us for quite sometime.

Flash forward a year. It was early April, I had just gotten a date to my senior ball. Literally (and my sister is a witness to this) just after I had put down the phone, it started to ring. Looking at my sister, I said "Its my [name of ex]" and then picked up the phone. (For those wondering, this was pre-caller ID). Sure enough, it was my ex-girlfriend. And she had just been dumped by the guy who she had been dating all year. And she needed a date for prom. Would I go with her?

"You gotta ask me nicer than that," was the response then and now.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

Question to the peanut gallery

Does anyone know any restaurants that are a) gluten free and b) not solely vegetarian in San Francisco?

I've been put on this gluten free diet by my doctors to see how I react. Its ok, but I really, really miss bread and that rice bread just is not cutting it. So I thought I would see if anyone had any suggestions.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ending privacy by regulation?

As I was procrastinating from doing what I should be doing (namely making some calls to people I do not want to talk to today), I came across the latest attempt at legislation by regulation from the government. Apparently, the IRS wants to adopt a rule which would allow tax preparers to sell a client's financial information.

Under this rule, along with the other myriad of things which people do not look at when they sign, they want tax preparers to slip in a form that asks if you want to have your information shared. Currently, tax-preparers are allowed to share your information only with others only as it pertains to doing the person's taxes. Makes sense to me.

Apparently some people find this new proposed regulation to be desireable. The author of that blog makes a couple of good points. He notes that the new regulation would require tax-preparers to disclose if they outsource your information to sub-contractors (here or overseas). It also extends the coverage of the regulation to people who are not bound by the old rule (which apparenlty covers only CPAs, attorneys, and certain other types of tax-preparers).

If that was all that the regulation did, then it would be a good thing. However, the proposed regulation takes ti further. Not only can the tax-preparer share your information for tax preparation services, but they can now sell the information. According to the release on the proposed rule, the tax-preparer's notice must only disclose the types of purposes that the information is being allowed to be used. Conceivably, if worded properly, an unscrupulous tax-preparer could word this in such a way as to allow the sale of your information for virtually any pupose. And as long as you, most likely hurriedly, signed the form, your information would be allowed to pass out into the public.

Furthermore, there is a recognition in the rule, and the warning which is required by the proposed rule, that there is no way to control what happens to the information once it passes out into the hands of a third party. The third party, not being under the control of the tax-preparer, could then resell it to another party who is not bound by the restrictions in the initial release.

In reading this proposed rule, it is clear. Once again the Administration's appointees are trying to erode consumer protections by sugar coating with something palatable. It appears that if the IRS was actually interested in the protection of consumer privacy, then it would have ommitted the provision allowing the sharing of information beyond what is needed to actually prepare the taxes.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Looking at the world around me

And I am very confused. Take for example Iraq. (Without getting into who is right and wrong about what is going on there.)

I was reading over at where they had an positing for a site called Iraq The Model. It was interesting and disturbing at the same time. When I went to the site, I found, at the time, the lead post which was concerning the present discussions between coalition government which is forming in Iraq.

If it were not for the fact that it is Iraqis shooting Iraqis (based on whether they are Sunni, Shiite, or Kurdish it seems) it read alot like the aftermath of an election in any country, including Israel. One coalition party thinks it should have the premiership, the other partners counter that it should not be X but Y or possible Z from one of the junior members of coalition.

But all this going amidst "troubles". The left calls it a civil war. The right insits that it is not. My question then becomes what do you call it? There are quite clearly organized groups of people shooting at each other and setting off bombs. Yes, there are probably a number of foreigners who are shooting at U.S. and allied troops, but they are not, so it seems, the majority of the people involved in the violence.

What if it is a civil war? Is that much removed from an "insurgency"? I have read more than a fair share of military history. It seems that the two are pretty closely related. I understand that the right may believe that calling the "troubles" there a "civil war" would be an admission of failure of the mission. However, it seems that to call it anything else is disingenous. According to the American Heritage dictionary definition I found, a civil war is defined as "A war between factions or regions of the same country." Let's see. The Sunnis are a faction. The Shiites are a faction. The Kurds are another faction. They, or members of each group in a somewhat organized fashion, seem to be conducting violence against one or more of the groups and the elected government. So it would seem that it meets the definition of a "civil war"

According to the same site, which attributes it definitions to the American Heritage dictionary, an insurgency is "1. The quality or circumstance of being rebellious. 2. An instance of rebellion; an insurgence." Technically, there is an elected government in Iraq, even if some parties did not particpate as much as people would have liked them. There are people rebelling, through acts of violence, against that government. This sounds an awful lot like a civil war.

It may be interesting to note that the official title, in government records, of the Civil War fought between factions of the United States between 1861 and 1865, is The War of The Rebellion.

It seems to me that it would be better to just call what is going over there what is, instead of trying to paint a rosier picture.

Now for the people who are glorying in this Iraqi Civil, I have to ask them: Are you freaking sick?

Do you have any idea of what war does to people. I personally do not, but I do not wish it to happen to anyone. However, it seems that people are happy that this is going on. They seem to think that if they can get the Bush Administration to admit that there is indeed a "civil war" going on in Iraq, then it will lead to the fall of the Bush Administration, the pull-0ut of troops and peace in our time.

For those who believe that I have a couple of bridges to sell you. Leaving aside the debate of whether the invasion of Iraqui was right or wrong, pulling up stakes in Iraq now would be a huge mistake. It would signal a retreat. It would allow an already unstable situation to get worse. It would repeat the mistakes of Somalia, the Persian Gulf War of 1991, Lebanon in 1983, Iran Hostage Crisis of 1981, and the Vietnam-era.

It is things like this that make me despise both wings of this country. One seems unwilling to say what is happening while the other hopes for the worst to happen.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Silly Law Suit of the Day

As I was reading the TortsProf Blog today, I saw his bit on the latest (and in my opinion, silliest) lawsuit. Apparently 9 people are suing Clay Aiken's record company because they are claiming that company, and others, "engaged in collusion to prevent public disclosures they believed might be harmful to their product." They go on to state that the album is a defective product.

So is like the Sony CD's from last year, which left a little gift for any user who popped it into their computer? Are Clay Aiken's CD's forcing others to have to listen to his musical stylings against his will?

Apparently, its far more insidious. Apparently, people purchased the albums believing he was "a virginal, asexual character..." and that he was a wholesome pop act. Packaged of course, quite blatantly by the nice people at Fox and American Idol, yet they now feel duped.

And the great crime that Mr. Aiken has alleged to have committed? Apparently, it is alleged, by such an esteemed publication as the National Equirer, that Mr. Aiken is, of all things, gay. (And suddenly I am reminded of this song from Avenue Q). People complain about cases clogging up the system. Unlike a majority of cases, this one is just silly.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What a let down

So I worked until 2:30 a.m. this morning getting ready for trial. I had motions in limine ready, including a nasty little Motion for Order to Show Proof. I had my jury instructions, my trial breif, and my photo exhibits all lined up.

I got up at 6:30, showered, shaved, and hustled off to Kinko's where I made my copies and then on to the court. Show up to court, get called by the Presiding Judge (we use a master calender system here in San Francisco).

I have to say, I did love the look on the landlord's face when he realized that this was no longer an un-represented tenant. The PJ sent us off to a judge pro tem for further settlement discussions.

And that's when it began. The back and forth. Over and over as the pro tem and I worked on options only to have the landlord insisting that he was here "for the kids" who lived in the neighborhood. He was convinced that the my client was the cause for all the problems in the Bayview-Hunters Point area of San Francisco.

Essentially he keeps telling me over and over again how he is going to win because he "knows" she must be dealin and using drugs because she has been talkin to african-american men.

That would work, at least be evidence, if this were a nuisance case. However, since this was a non-pay of rent case that was not going to happen (if I had any say about it; UD's are a summary proceeding which focus primarily on the complaint and not on extraneous matters).

So eventually he made an offer. My client countered. His next offer was worse (leaving me thining, am I in a bad comedy?). Offers go back and forth for about an hour and a half. Eventually, the landlord and his mom made an offer that was, to my mind, insulting to my client (and contradictory if he really was there "for the kids" and not just himself.).

My client, of course, rejected this and sent back a final offer. I took it to them, figuring that the way things were going that we would be heading back to the presiding judge in time to beat the rush of the asbestos attorneys. When I got to him, he started with this rant aout all the violations (unplead in the complaint and notice) that my client had committed.

I smiled and said "That may be, but lets take a look at my favorite provision of the lease. The one that awards attorneys fees to the prevailing party. Now lets see, I've already put 15 hours in on this case. And that's not counting the three hours we've been here today. Or the ten hours I will end up billing tomorrow if we continue this. You want to pay my fees. Be my guest, I could use the money. And if you think that you won't pay for my time, let me remind you that none of your so-called 'evidence' is going to make ti to the jury."

That knocked them back a bit and made them actually consider the offer my client made. They then asked if the initial deal was still on the table. I checked with client, and she said yes it was.

So we agreed in principal to a pay and stay arrangement. Unfortunately, I had not brought a stipulation with me and neither had they. (Hell, I figured this was going to a jury, or at least the motions in limine.) So I got to write it out by hand in the hallway on a legal pad.

Of all the provisions that the landlord argued with me over, were the ones that protected him, Not the ones which required him, and implicitly acknowledged that there were breaches of the warranty of habitability on the premises. I like that part.

Finally we read it into the record at around 2:30. My head hurts and I did not even get to make a single argument.

Dammit, I want my trial. I have done the work and now have a pile of useless jury instructions.

On the up side, my client stays housed. She has no eviction on her record. And she gets to go back to trying to pull her life back together after some fairly serious tragedies that have befallen her recently.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

An interesting 3 Day Notice

As I prepare for trial, I have been doing some research to finish my briefs. Since this case is an unlawful detainer (what normal people call "eviction") I found this three day notice and accompanying brief on line.

The lawyer in me noticed that the Notice was defective, which probably explains the initial problem (it seems like they are alleging a nuisance).

Friday, March 03, 2006

Clearing for Action

If this was a Horatio Hornblower or Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin novel, this would be the point where the order would be given to beat to quarters. Translation: I have a client (probono) with a case and trial is on Monday.

Yeah, trial is on Monday.

On the good side, I have a sympathetic client. On the bad, there is this little problem that she has a problem with paying (this is an unlawful detainer) her rent, hence how she got into this situation. Now I just need to pull a jury together that will look beyond that.

After all the running around I did today, I am taking some time off tonight. Tomorrow, I will be a brief writing, legal researching, investigating maniac.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I love my new toy

Alright, so it is not really a toy. However, I do think it is the coolest piece of equipment I have purchased since I got my new laptop last year. It is my HP 4215 all-in-one. I am probably the last person on earth to get one, but I really like it. Good price, good quality in what it is supposed to do. The only thing about it I am dissappointed is that they did not incude USB cable with it.

I'm not ready yet to go completely paperless, like some small firms, it is where I hope to be ventually. So if you are looking for an all-in-one that will not break your budget, check it out.