Friday, April 28, 2006


Here in San Francisco, one of the largest owners of apartment buildings is outfit that goes by various names, though all appear to be owned by the same entity: Skyline Realty. Working as a tenant's attorney for the past couple of years, I've heard them associated with some unsavory practices when it comes to evictions. However, it appears that today, Skyline finally pushed their tenants too far.

According to this story in the San Francisco Chronicle, Skyline Realty, its subsidiary CitiApartments, and one of its employees has been sued by 23 of its tenants alleging that Skyline uses intimidation, including armed men, to force tenants to give up their leases. The suit alleges that when Skyline, which is alleged to be merely an alter ego of the Lembi family, buys a new building it conducts sweeps to eliminate tenants that do not fit its "profile".

If it turns out to be true, this will be a huge case. If you want to read the complaint, it is here on the San Francisco Superior Court's website (or go to and look for case CGC-06-451694).

Treble damages for unlawful evictions are a good thing.

Be Careful What You Blog

District Attorney offices apepar to have programs where they allow firms to provide them with temporary attorneys. I know that the Marin County DA does this with one of the bigger firms in San Francisco, but apparently the San Francisco DA does this as well.

Unfortunately, sometimes, this ends up putting the attorney who switches over to criminal law in some trouble. And sometimes, the lawyer does it all to himself. Skelly Wright, over at Arbitrary and Capricious, is a public defender who has been keeping tabs on one of these lawyers in particular.

Apparenly, Kuo blogged his case on his website (apparently down at this time). Unfortunately, as part of the recap of the days events, he made a number of less than advisable comments about the jury, the opposing counsel and the judge. And apparently the judge reads law blogs.

Incidentally, his name is not up on the firm site where he works (or is it worked?). So beware what you blog I suppose.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Either this kid is amazing...

Or this ex-teacher is really sick. Once again Pamela Rogers is back in custody. After completing the custodial part of her plea agreement, Ms. Rogers decided that she needed to have some fun.

So what did she do? She tried to contact the "victim" whom she previously had sex with. Her method of contacting him was apparently to create sexually explicit videos of herself and send them to him.

So now she is awaiting a probation hearing where the DA has announced he would seek to have her sent away for her full sentence: 7 years.

What is this woman thinking?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I Cannot Believe I Am Saying This

I am a renter. I am also an attorney who does a fair bit of work (most of it pro bono) for people in danger of being evicted. So, when I hear a new anti-eviction measure is in the works, my ears prick up.

For what I'm about to write, I am probably going to get pounded on by the other tenant's rights lawyers and tenants' activists.

That said, apparently the Board of Supervisors in the city has decided to try and kill three birds with one stone. The three birds being: the decreasing quantity of affordable rental housing in the city, the rate of condo conversions and the surge of evictions to create the right climate for condo conversions.

In case you don't know, here in San Francisco, in order for a building to go condo, it must be go through lottery process. Many would be conversions languish there for years as they wait for their number to get called. I'm not going to go into the process, but while its not permanent purgatory it can seem like that to the people who are on the list for the second and third times.

Anyways, apparently under the proposed new law if a building has a history of two or more evictions, then it is barred from the condo conversion lottery. Apparently, the wording of the proposed ordinance covers any buildings going back as far as 1999. Potentially, this means that a building that has changed hands, and is otherwise legitimately ready to enter the lottery, could be barred from the lottery because of the actions of a prior owner.

To my mind, this seems a little too draconian. The objective is good: prevent people from being evicted solely to clear the way for condo conversion. The problem is there are probably a number of building owners, especially in the two and three unit buildings in the avenues where there has been an eviction prior to the sale of the building. Once the new owners get around to converting, they are going to find a nasty little surprise for something that they did not do. Yes, they would benefit from it, but I'm not sure that this is an equitable solution.

On the other hand, two strike rule might be cutting the baby. However, in reading the proposed ordinance, I find it interesting that they do not mention unlawful evictions. Why only penalize what may be good faith evictions (say the tenant has refused to pay rent, or better, the tenant has burned down part of the unit)? I would think that if the landlord had committed an unlawful eviction or a forcible detainer, then they should get a ban from the condominium lottery.

Then there is another thing that this proposed law could run afoul of, namely takings issues. I am not an expert on this, but I predict someone, if this was to be signed by the Mayor, would challenge it on those grounds.

I think something is needed to slow the condo conversions in the city that are powered by evictions to clear the buildings. However, I do not think that this law goes far enough. The law I would like to see would include: penalties for unlawful evictions and forcible detainers; no entry into the lottery for five years if there is a history of evictions for good cause for five years; and no entry to the lottery for ten years if the evictions were of a protected person (in San Francisco that means some one over 60 who has resided in the unit for ten years, or is disabled and living in the unit for ten years or more or catastrophically ill and living in the unit for 10 years).

Not that the Board of Supervisors or Mayor Newsome is going to listen to me. But that is my idea. Everyone gets something.

Will Someone Please Explain To Me the Insurance Industry Like I'm a 5-year old?

Because I really, really do not understand them.

First, a few weeks ago, the insurance industry's profits were tallied against their losses by the L.A. Times. The conclusion of this research? The Insurance Industry had its most profitable year in a long time. Their profits, even taking into account the nasty natural disasters (which they have tried to avoid paying out on), went up 18.7%.

What does 18.7% translate to, you may ask? Well, according to the same article the insurance companies made a collective profit of about $44.8 billion (yes that is with a "b"). That is after all the payouts from claims last year. In addition to the profit, their surplus went up 7% to $427 billion.

However, despite all the billions of dollars in profits, the insurance companies spokesman downplayed these profits. They stated,

"We're not being good stewards of our investors' capital or our
policyholders' surplus if we keep doing business where we can't make

Imagine that. Turning a profit and providing a service that society needs (albeing providing the service part grudingly) is apparently not enough. Apparently record breaking profits is not making money these days. This then begs the question, at what point are the insurance companies being "good stewards of [their] investors' capital"?

So as promised, today it was reported that many insurance providers are cancelling coverage for hurricanes in states from Texas to Florida and up the Atlantic coast to New York. Apparently AIG is taking it a step further.

Somehow, I'm sure, the insurance companies will start blaming the lawyers for this.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Coward of the Weekend

It was a tough call on this one, but I decided that the idiot award of the weekend should go to the umpiring crew at the Giants-Rockies game. However, Mr. Mesa showed what a true coward he was by throwing at the head of Omar Vizquel of the Giants over some comments that Vizquel made about him after the 1997 World Series. So what makes Mr. Mesa's act so cowardly? He is a relief pitcher, and a late inning one at that. This means he almost never gets to take an at bat and have to face the retribution for throwing at a batter. If he was a man, he would have taken it up with Vizquel face to face. However, Mr. Mesa, proved once again, as he did back in the 1997 World Series when he blew the save in game 7 against the Marlins, that he just is not the man his mouth wishes he was.

Now if Bud Selig was a quarter of the man Judge Kennesaw Landis was, he would suspend this coward and leave the umpiring crew and Giants' starter Matt Morris alone. Unfortunately for baseball fans, Landis is in the grave and Selig is still the commissioner.


So this morning as I was on my way to an appointment, I was listening to the local alternative station (Live 105) and their new morning show. One of the stories that they did just before 7 a.m. dealt with an apparently request for a temprorary restraining order by WalMart against a man who has been campaigning against them by selling his t-shirts on (If you want to visit his sites, they are here and here.)

After bashing WalMart, two of the three morning show personalities went on to say how they shopped at WalMart, even though they hated it. If you are going to be against something, be against it. Don't be a hypocrite and rail against it because its the proper liberal/progressive thing to do.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Its either "Grounds for a mistrial" or "Died protecting his client"

I'm not sure which, but apparently a criminal defense attorney dropped dead of a heart attack while giving his closing arguments.

Which would way would you go with the title?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tort Reform?

I saw this over on TortsProfBlog and thought it was appropriate, especially in light of one of the proposed ballot initiatives that tort reformers are trying to get on the ballot here in California. Apparently, they want to sheild manufacturers from punitive damages in cases where their products complied with applicable state and federal regulations.

At first glance, this seems to make sense. But then think about it. How long does it take the state or the federal government to properly regulate something. For example, how long did it take the government to start regulating the tobacco industry versus when did the tobacco industry have knowledge that its products were the cause of people's deaths?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Things must be bad..

When an attorney who makes his living defending insurance companies is actually hoping that people will begin filing suit against corporations.

All I can say is, I hope someone answers his call (and if I had the opportunity I would).

What is this about?

Uncivil Litigator posted some thoughts about the current posture that many internet portal providers seem to be taking in regards to the Peoples Republic of China. I really cannot add a whole more than this thought: If we are a nation that believes in the principal of individual freedoms, how can we tolerate it when large corporations assist in the oppression of others beyond our borders?

As a side note, I just discovered that my blog is findable by the PRC version of Google. So without saying anything more....

Now I have another thing to check for each day.

I love my grandfather

I do. I really, really do. However, there are times I want to hit him with something.

Take Sunday, for instance. It was Meet the Parents. In a stunning turn of events, my parents were not the Fockers, her's were. We were doing brunch at my parents house so that the two families could finally meet before the wedding.

And in the middle of it all this exchange happened:

Fiancee: Oh yeah, I had to try on 35 dresses yesterday.

Just like a hooker, taking your clothes all
the time

My mother threw an immediate flag on the play, but my fiancee's family got a free kick later in the day. I can't wait for the wedding. This was with everyone sober.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tempory, Taxes, and the U.S. Government

Apparently, there has been a temporary tax on the books affecting telecommunications. Originally, it was to fund to help combat operations by taxing those people who had telephones.

When was it enacted? 1898.

The combat operations it was meant to fund? The Spanish-American War.

Now, I don't mind paying taxes (beyond that "ouch" factor when I actually write out the check), but this does seem to indicate that the Libertarians and old-style Republicans may have a point when it comes to what the government really means when it enacts a "temporary" tax.


So I just got off the phone a little while ago with my fiancee.

As those of you who have read, her car was stolen yesterday. In fact, this is the second time that her car has been stolen. The first time this car was stolen, about 3 years ago, her car was recovered when the police raided a chop shop.

Apparently this morning, the police found it again. Abandoned in a supermarket parking lot. According to the police officer nothing was taken from it. The car was apparently not hot wired, leading the police to believe that the thief used a master key.

My fiancee is a little bummed though. She was looking forward to using this as an excuse to buy a new car.

On the other hand, I am now calling this car "Bad Penny". Because it keeps coming back.

In honor of tomorrow

I will be sending in my taxes later today. I need some stamps.

Anyways, just thought I would link to this CNN article about the president and vice-president's income tax returns.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

As if things were not stressful enough

Hot on the heels of Tuesday's debacle, we have this morning.

Where my fiancee's car was stolen.

The day before her parents were supposed to show up.

And I finally got her calmed down about her car being broken into six months ago.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Doveryai, no proveryai

That is today's lesson. No more taking the lead dog's word for stuff when I am not the lead dog.

Trust but verify.

Trent Lott, Tort Reformer

The following was sent to me on a listserv I'm on:

"The Democrats seem to think that the answer is a lawsuit. Sueeverybody."- Sen. Trent Lott, 7/20/01

"I'm among many Mississippi citizens who believe tort reform is needed."- Sen. Trent Lott, 5/8/02"

You know, obviously we should [enact tort reform]...Someday it willhappen, and the sooner the better."- Sen. Trent Lott, 1/24/01

" Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi today credited the agenda of tax cuts,deregulation and tort reform initiatives passed by the Congress andsigned into law by President Bush with the overall upturn in thenational economy."- Sen. Trent Lott press release, 12/2/05

"If their answer to everything is more lawsuits, then yes, that's aproblem, because I certainly don't support that."- Sen. Trent Lott, 8/2/02

"It's sue, sue, sue... That's not the answer."- Sen. Trent Lott, 8/4/01

PUNCHLINE: Today, Senator Trent Lott and his wife Sue, sued State FarmFire and Casualty (those good hands people) for the loss of his home. Iguess tort "reform" is a bad idea when it is his home that is destroyed.

BILOXI, Miss. - A lawyer for U.S. Sen. Trent Lott (news, bio, votingrecord) said Monday that State Farm Insurance Co. is destroying documents that could show the insurer has fraudulently denied thousandsof claims by Lott and other policyholders whose homes were destroyed byHurricane Katrina. Zach Scruggs, one of Lott's attorneys, says his client has a "good faith belief" that several State Farm employees in Biloxi are destroying engineering reports that gave conflicting conclusions about whether wind or water was responsible for storm damage. Like thousands of Gulf Coast homeowners, Lott's claim was denied because State Farm concluded that Katrina's flood water demolished his beach-front Pascagoula home. State Farm says its policies do not cover damage from rising water, including wind-driven water. But lawyers for the Mississippi Republican claim Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm has routinely pressured its engineers to alter "favorable"reports that initially blamed damage on hurricane's wind, which the company's policies cover. A State Farm spokesman said Monday he couldn't immediately comment onScruggs' allegations. Lott's allegations come on the heels of a lawsuit filed by Kiln, Miss., couple who claimed they had obtained copies of conflicting reports prepared by State Farm's engineers on what damaged their home. They said one report traced the destruction to Katrina's winds while a later report said flooding was the culprit. In response, State Farm spokesman Phil Supple had said the second report was the only one the engineering firm sent to State Farm's claims office. In an interview Monday, Scruggs said corporate "whistleblowers" who are cooperating with Lott's attorneys have provided evidence that StateFarm employees are destroying or moving those "initial favorable"engineering reports. "We believe that this is a systematic practice," said Scruggs, who isLott's nephew by marriage. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood also says he is investigating allegations that State Farm manipulated engineering reports to denyclaims after the Aug. 29 hurricane. A judge ordered State Farm to turn over copies of its Katrina engineering reports to Hood's office. The judge also ordered Hood'soffice to set up a "Chinese wall" that would keep the documents out ofthe hands of lawyers with civil cases against State Farm.Because Hood also has filed a civil case on behalf of the state against State Farm and other insurance companies, State Farm is asking the judge to bar Hood himself from seeing the records. State Farm denied Lott's claim in December based on a report prepared byJade Engineering & Construction Inc. that concluded that the house was "probably damaged by storm surge/flooding and not by wind." Scruggs is asking a federal judge to order State Farm to turn overLott's entire case file as well as records for other policyholders' claims.

So I'm wondering what he thinks of tort reform and caps on punitive damages now?

Monday, April 10, 2006

New Note To Self

Stop putting things in places so that they do not get destroyed.

Those are always the last places I think to look for them. Stick with the system you have. Or should have.

I must be in a weird mood today...

I am agreeing with Arnold Schwartzenegger. Well not entirely, but I am mostly. Yes, we should keep a better watch on our borders. But what we really need to do is to come up with a system of allowing immigrants to work here that will convince them its easier, cheaper, and better to use rather than the coyotes that smuggle them over the borders. Besides, deporting 11 million people for the simple fact that they were not lucky enough to be born here and that they want a better life is just wrong.

Then there is the John Fund editorial that worries that the Republicans are in danger of being on the losing of a 1994-style mid-term election. Now, while I would heartily welcome a brake on the current administration policies (and some abuses of powers), I just do not see this happening. Why? Because at the end, the Republicans are going to wave the bloody shirt and win enough seats to keep majority in both houses.

Why? Because unlike 1994, the Democrats are for the most part coming out and saying what they are against. What they are not doing, at least in my opinion, is showing how they can offer a better future. As much as I dislike the current Republican Party, which really dates back to that 1994 election, that is what they are good at doing. Take for example the 1994 election. They came out with the "Contract with America". Brilliant. It showed the voters exactly what they were standing for. It told them where they wanted to go. It stated their goals. The Democrats, again this is my opinion, just keep banging the same drum "Bush is bad. Bush lied." That does not make me want to vote for you. It makes me not want the other guy to win.

If the Republicans can come up with a cohesive plan, why not the Democrats? Why should we not expect it of them? Simply defending what was acheived, or not, under the last Democratic administration is silly. The whole idea is to move forward. And that is something that I just do not hear most of the Democratic Party talking about at the national level.

Wow! I hope I can be like this guy if I'm ever in this situation

Deputy Public Defender Michael Pentz went a little farther than most attorneys for their clients. He was held in contempt, sentenced to 5 days in jail and fined $250. But in the end, he was vindicated. Read the decision here.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Medical Malpractice

So as I reading Greedy Trial Lawyer, the top story at the time was about how medical errors continue at hospitals continue to rise.

This leads me to wonder. There are as many 1.2 million incidents in a two year period (the last one ending in 2004). The insurance industry has been spending millions of dollars on its attempts at "tort reforms" (including malpractice caps and other ideas) because of the rising costs, or so they say, due solely to the "evil trial lawyers". And the insurance companies state that this will bring the costs back down.

Now, if they are spending this much to stop the suits from coming, I wonder what would happen if perhaps they spent that money on actually eradicating the problem: namely the avoidable errors that happen in hospitals that cause people to seek attorneys to be compensated for their injury. Maybe pay the nurses a little more. Spend some more time on developing commonsense things (like standardized ways of marking body parts prior to surgery)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Apparently Love Stories

... are banned at Massachusetts State Correctional facilities.

Alright, thats unfair, but apparently some are too graphic. Like Brokeback Mountain.

Apparently, the guard in charge of movies at the prison is in trouble for showing to the population.

Ace of Spades, whose site I spotted this, had this to say:

"The film, for reasons I cannot fathom, was deemed "inappropriate" for a population of caged sodomaniacal felons.
The prison is also investigating the propriety of displaying certain other films, such as Howard Hawks' 1935 classic, How To Make A Shiv And Gut The Guard That Always Hassels You In The Yard, Ron Howard's 1991 box-office bomb Smuggling Cigarettes And Methamphetamines In Your Girlfriend's Ass, and the Drew Barrymore/Adam Sandler romantic comedy Tossed Salads.
They expressed "no problems," however, with the cop-buddy film Rimjob, starring Martin Lawrence and Nick Cage.*
* Blame LauraW for that. She's just filthy."

A Deposition or Prelude to Fight?

Check out this video from a deposition.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Birthday of a Giants Great Today

And I forgot about it.

It was on this day in 1873 that John McGraw was born. One of the all time great baseball players and managers. After managing for three seasons in Baltimore, he took over the Giants in 1902 and lead them until 1933. In that time his teams finished second eleven times, won the National League 10 times, and won 3 world series titles. He finished his career with a .586 winning percentage (2763 wins 1948 losses).

Thoughts as I was looking through

Go J.K.! She's right.

Rolling Stones have finally caved and are complete sell-0uts. Look what Google has started!

(Unfortunately the video links wouldn;t link, but these links should get you to the copy that explains my reactions)

Its part of the guy code

That's the only reason I can justify putting up a link for this.

Apparently, this guy's girlfriend went all on in a bet with him. And now she is going to have to pay up.

Now you can help by voting on the candidates.

New areas

Back in law school, I took a number of courses, including those on labor law and employmenbt law. I took them because they were interesting and the professor was a good teacher.

However, since law school (all of five years ago), I have not touched an employment matter. Starting this week, though, I've become involved in a wage dispute matter. Our client just flat out did not get paid.

So in addition to the complaint before the superior court, we are also taking this to an administrative hearing before the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, which is part of the California Department of Industrial Relations.

Now, while I do not advocate people trying to represent themselves, and I am certainly not giving out any legal advice or creating a legal representation (sometimes I just feel like I have to cover myself), for those who feel they just have to do it without a lawyer and they believe they have a wage dispute, the site to check out is here.

Did he get my good side?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Disturbing things

Apparently schools are now punishing students for hugging.

Not for fighting. Not for having drugs or sex at school. But for hugging.

And the culprit? A 5 year old. This is nuts.

When confronted about punishing her, the principal started to blame the other half of the hug. The 5 year old's friend.

Of course, as disturbing was the fact I got desperate for a new book to read. So I borrowed my fiancee's copy of the Da Vinci Code. Less than 13 pages in, and the main character has already had the thought "How coincidental that this is all happening on my one trip to Europe?" Please, it works in Kim Possible when Ron says that sort of stuff. Not in what is supposed to be the "best" thriller of the last few years.

Now if Clancy would only start a new universe to get out of the corner he has written himself into ... the escapist fiction would improve. (Or if any of my other authors would start cranking out manuscripts again!!!!)

Eva Longoria... from outer space

Apparently, in case any one up on the ISS is bored and wants to read some fluff during their down time, Maxim has come to their rescue with a cover they claim is big enough to read from space.

Oddly enough, although they have made the cover easy to see from space, you need to be a subscriber (or so it appears) to see it on the web.

IP law

I remember working at one temp job where I made some friends. One in particular (Trixie... I will not explain the origin of her name) was a hardcore IP proponent. Just to be contrary, I took the other side. But the more I think about it, the more I think it was the right side to be on.

However, this is an area I know only a little about. What I know about it is that the RIAA used it to shut down Napster and Grokster and take a bunch of people to court for copying music that is far too expensive in the first place.

I also know, or at least have read, that it is used to protect people's inventions. Though, these days it seems that pharmaceutical companies use it to prevent others from taking away their market share. There is the argument that the company, like a lawyer working on contingency, takes great risks ot produce the medicines and as a result they should reap the benefit of that.

But as I was reading over at Greedy Trial Lawyer, this argument may not be as strong as I once thought. The full article against patents and pharmaceutical patents is found here.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rites of Spring

Baseball has returned. The world, despite the rain falling, is a much, much brighter place.

Now, all we need is the Giants to start winning!

Aww darn

Tom DeLay has resigned from the House of Representatives and will be pulling out of the current campaign.

Could not have happened to a nicer person.

Unfortunately, he is getting off the ballot in Texas the easy way. He is moving to Virginia. (The other two ways are to be dead or have plead guilty to a crime. I was kind of hoping for the third).