Saturday, July 29, 2006

Interesting stories on the current conflict

Over at Vital Perspective, there is a map of the devastation of Beirut.

Then there is this video of an aerial attack on a Hezbullah rocket team. Note how they take cover inside a house.

Hezbullah vows to continue targetting cities in Israel. (When do the terrorists get censured by the UN for attacking civilian population centers?)

And apparently, MSNBC and the AP are reporting right now that the head of Islamic Jihad's military wing was killed in the West Bank by Israeli troops.

Friday, July 28, 2006

UN Impartiality

While not from the current fighting (the clip is attributed to Reuters shooting footage in the Gaza strip sometime around May 11, 2004), it is interesting to note the UN's method of peacekeeping. It appears that the use of UN ambulances to transport armed fighters.

Interesting what Kofi Anan chooses not to talk about

Apparently, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has been turning a blind eye to what may have caused the deaths of the UNIFIL troops a few days ago. In the UN's own report on the status of UNIFIL mission, it noted:

28. Control of the Blue Line and its vicinity appears to have remained for the most part with Hizbollah. During the reporting period, Hizbollah maintained and reinforced a visible presence in the area, with permanent observation posts, temporary checkpoints and patrols. It continued to carry out intensive construction works to strengthen and expand some of its fixed positions, install additional technical equipment, such as cameras, establish new positions close to the Blue Line and build new access roads. These measures resulted in a more strategically laid out and fortified structure of Hizbollah’s deployment along the Blue Line. Some Hizbollah positions remained in close proximity to United Nations positions, especially in the Hula area, posing a significant security risk to United Nations personnel and equipment, as demonstrated during the heavy exchanges of fire on 28 May. In letters to the Foreign Minister, dated 23 March, 27 June and 5 July 2006, the Force Commander, General Pellegrini, expressed grave concern about the Hizbollah construction works in close proximity to United Nations positions and requested that the Government of Lebanon take necessary actions to rectify the situation. However, the situation remained unchanged despite repeated objections addressed by UNIFIL to the Lebanese authorities. UNIFIL observed the reconstruction of Hizbollah positions that were damaged or destroyed during the 28 May exchange of fire.
29. UNIFIL encountered an increase of temporary denials of access by Hizbollah in different areas along the Blue Line. On one occasion Hizbollah searched a UNIFIL vehicle and temporarily confiscated United Nations equipment. In general, the Force was able to regain and assert its freedom of movement within a short period of time and, in some instances, with the assistance of the Lebanese authorities.
Reading the rest of the report, available on the UN site here in pdf format, is amazing. The UN forces have watched, recorded, and done very little other than talk to the Government of Lebanon about the state of things in Southern Lebanon. They have noted a build-up of Hezbollah forces in the region and the inadequate efforts of the Government of Lebanon at mainting control over its own borders.

It is also interesting to see how the author of the report is self-congratulatory about the accomplishments of the mission, i.e. confirming the withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanon (almost 6 years ago) and assisting the return of Lebanese government authority, to a a limited extent, in the area. However, the mission of UNIFIL also included "restore the international peace and security" to the region. In 28 years, they have failed in that miserably.

This brings me back to paragraphs 28 and 29 of the report. If the job of the peacekeepers is to restore the international peace and security, what are they doing by allowing Hezzbollah from establishing fighting positions so close to UNIFIL positions?

If the report is accurate, then why did the UN not take measures to ensure that either the peacekeepers were not there or that the Hezbollah terrorists were not there? At what point does the UN admit it has failed in its mission and allow a nation the right to defend itself?

(Hat tip to Captain's Quarters)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My week in a nutshell

I spend the last two days going crazy to deal with anti-SLAPP motion for one of the attorneys from whom I take contract cases. I research, write, edit, re-edit, curse, scream, pound on the wall because the case law is a little thin for this ill-beggotten case.

I finally finish the drafting just in time to meet the deadline for the project.

Only to have the California Supreme Court come out with a case almost squarely on point two hours later.

But the result should make the Lord of the Dance happy. (Some stories on the case can be found here and here).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Must Go! (An Open Letter to the San Francisco Giants)

Dear Mr. Magowan,

I have been a committed, rabid Giants fan for 21 years. That's right, I began my love affair with the Giants when they were in the midst of their worst season ever.

As a fan, I have sat in the cold of Candlestick at more night games than I can count. I have the Croix de Candlestick to prove it.

I suffered through Greg "Moony" Minton and John Burkett. I have tolerated Scott Garrelts, and was rooted for Rod Beck the night he threw his glove to the duggout because Roger Craig pulled him for Burkett who coughed up the runs that lost the game. I have sat with confidence as Rob Nen walked up to the mound, knowing, with almost absolute certainty, that the game was as good as over.

Unfortunately, your managment has decided, for whatever reason, to stay with Armando Benitez (pictured attached). I understand that you, and your ownership group, are running a business. I understand that you have expenses as a group which constrain your ability to lure certain players to the organization. However, with all this in mind, it is time for Benitez to go. He must go! If he still has the ability to act as a closer, he has proven that it will not be shown with this team, with this organization.

Simply put, he is a head case. That was his reputation when he was brough in by Brian Sabean. His injury last season shielded you and the fans from realizing the extent of the problem. Last season, he returned from the disabled list and saved a number of meaningless games. They were meaningless because the team was far out of the contention.

In looking at Benitez's record, it is clear that this man is not a "big game" pitcher. His three best save seasons were, respectively, 47, 43, and 41. In only one of those years, 2000, was his team in contention for a playoff spot. Outside of this, the majority of his saves have been for teams who are out of contention.

This team, each time it is about to surge, is shackled by this pitcher surrendering leads and games. Nowhere has that habit been more noticeable than in the recent three game losing streak. Benitez surrendered the lead in the finale of the San Diego series, a game that would have put the team 1.5 games ahead of the Padres. Tonight, he did worse, giving up both the tying and winning runs against the Washington Nationals. His record does not suggest that this is abnormal for him. Of his 19 save opportunities, he has blown 6 saves. Nearly a third of his chances.

Nearly a third of the time is clearly not doing the job, especially if you are serious about bringing a World Series title to this city. This team has made some big mistakes letting players go. It would be a bigger mistake letting Benitez stay. Benitez must go!


Angry Bell

He really should do it another way

So yesterday, I pointed out the story of Rob Moodie, a lawyer in New Zealand who is protesting the legal system there by wearing women's clothing. Moi, over at Sidebar, picked up on the story as well and managed to track down a photo of Mr. Moodie in his new "court" attire.

He really needs to find a new way to protest the system. Its not a look he pulls off well.

Interesting Picture

Over at Israellycool, I noticed the following photo. Apparently, this alleged to be a photograph of the UNFIL. If it is, then I have to wonder at the impartiality of any UN-authorized peacekeeping force that may be dispatched to Southern Lebanon.

On the other hand, part of me wants the UN to stay out of the mess entirely. Previous UN missions have been so successful. Witness UNDOF (which worked in the sense that Syria stopped using their own artillery and started to support terrorist groups which used rockets from Lebanon instead) and UNTSO, founded in 1948 and is the oldest peacekeeping mission in the world (despite the fact that there has been 1956 Suez Campaign, 1967 Six Day War, 1970 - 1971 War of Attrition, 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1982 Lebanon Invasion). And of course, there was UNFIL, established with the mission "confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore the international peace and security, and help the Lebanese Government restore its effective authority in the area." This was in 1978, after the first attempt by Israel to clear terrorist bases of operation from southern Lebanon was thwarted by the UN. Apparently 28 years, continuing use of the region by terrorist groups attacking Israel, two invasions (one by Israel, one by Syria) and protracted civil war is the UN's definition of restoring internation peace and security.

Then again, what could one expect from an organization that allows gross human rights violators to head the commission on human rights? That has passed a resolution 3379 (stating that Zionism was racism and equated it to apartheid), but never passed an equivalent resolution condemning the PLO, Hamas, Hezbullah, or any other Islamic terrorist group with the avowed purpose of eliminating the Jewish state and expelling the jews (these groups all espousing a "doctrine of racial differentiation or superiority")? Or that failed to act against senior members who accepted kickbacks from a country that was working to circumvent an embargo designed to punish it for waging aggressive wars and brutally repressing ethnic minorities? Or failed to keep refugee camps places of refuge, instead of bases for operation by irregular, un-uniformed combatants (See paragraph 45 of the UN report)? Or for that matter, allowed its ambulances to be used to transport weapons for terrorist groups?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

CNN at it Again

About two weeks ago, I ranted about CNN's fondness for terrorist groups. Apparently, I was not that far off. Over at Newsbusters (who I don't always agree with), there is this piece on Nic Robertson, one of CNN's reporters for the conflict, admitting that a recent piece where he was given a guided tour by a Hezbullah terrorist press officer was perhaps.. well... stage managed by Hezbullah for the media. Of course, bein the experienced, senior international correspondent, he apparently did not notice any of it at the time.

In a more general vein, when did reporters stop thinking for themselves? Are they subscribing to the Colbert Report's rule, that all real journalism occurs by taking press briefings and press releases and editing them for presentation to the public, without realizing that that Colbert and his writers were making a joke?

A Different Tactic For Battling The Old Boys

Apparently a lawyer in New Zealand has begun wearing skirts to court. 67-year old Rob Moodie announced that "I will now, as a lawyer, be wearing women's clothing." He has forgone traditional court dress, even male dress, in order to protest the "old boy" network which, in his opinion, dominates the New Zealand legal community through intimidation, power and control.

Good luck to Ms. Alice (as he has asked to be called in court). Though I am still unclear how this will change anything.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Is the world ready for this?

Or is the better question, does the world really need this?

Apparently David Hasselhoff is heading off to Australia to star in a stage production about his life. He hopes that it will make to Vegas. According to the snippets I've seen so far, he got help writing this musical from "the guys who did Chicago."

I do not know about the rest of you, but if he wrote it, why do I think it is not going to concentrate on his more interesting co-stars. (And no, I do not mean the Baywatch ladies. I mean KITT of course!)

Politics and Public Safety

So back in January, I posted about the FDA and their attempt at pre-empting state laws with their regulations regarding labelling laws (there is also a link to Greedy Trial Lawyer post on the same topic). The basic rationale is that the FDA does enough to protect the citizens of the United States and the legislation in the several states would cause a checkerboard of regulations which makes it hard for the pharmaceuticals to comply.

Well, from TortsProfBlawg, there is this troubling story from the Union of Concerned Scientists. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 18.4% of scientists responding to the survey and working for the FDA stated that they "have been asked, for non-scientific reasons, to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information or their conclusions in a FDA scientific document."

Not only that, but 61% of the respondents said that they knew of cases where political appointees had inappropriately interjected themselves into FDA determinations. Almost half, 47%, think that the "FDA routinely provides complete and accurate information to the public." Furthermore,

  • 81 percent agreed that the "public would be better served if the independence and authority of FDA post-market safety systems were strengthened."

  • 70 percent disagree with the statement that FDA has sufficient resources to perform effectively its mission of "protecting public health…and helping to get accurate science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health

  • Based on this, the Bush Administration wants to support pre-empting state laws that would bolster this? That would afford people some protection? Ok, now I am concerned.

    The Ladies of the Weekend

    A little background on me is needed for this post. I have been an AC/DC fan since sophmore year of highschool. I at one point, prior to a disastrous trip for interviews during law school, had all the albums. When they come around on my playlist or on the radio, my head instinctually starts moving. However, because of absolutely bad planning on the parts of my science teachers in high school, race officials in college, and law professors in general, I have managed to miss them everytime they have been on tour near me.

    So my fiancee decided that it had to be remedied, espcially after she set her ring tone for her new phone to Thunderstruck (she could not find Hell's Bells). Unfortunately, AC/DC is not touring in the States right now, so she found the next best thing: AC/DShe.

    On Saturday night, we went, and the show rocked (even according to my fiancee who is not a fan, or was not until after the show.) If you get the chance to see this tribute band, you should.
    Both Bonnie Scott and Agnes Young were spot on and captivating during a loud, impressive, and rocking 90-minute set that covered the Bon Scott era. If the lead singer had been born a little bit later, I'd swear she was Bon Scott reincarnated.

    So if you have a need to fill, let them do it. You will not be dissappointed!

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    Passing of a Genius

    It was announced that the man credited with creating the cheesesteak died yesterday. Harry Oliveri was 90 years old when he died of heart failure. Depending on your loyalties, he was the originator and co-owner of Pat's King of Steaks.

    If I could, I'd have one in his honor tonight.

    American Trial Lawyers Association/American Association for Justice

    Alot of other people have put up their opinions about the name change that became official. I just want to note that, in my opinion, its usually when people are ashamed that they make a name change. For example Phillip Morris changed its name to Altria.

    Anyways, for others view on on this, Evan Schaeffer has some thoughts, as does Bob Ambrogi. has an article where ATLA/AAJ explains their reasoning.

    Sign of the Apocolypse?

    If you have ever watched Bill Maher you may have detected that perhaps he is not a supporter of President Bush or any of his policies. However, today he posted the following over at Arianna Huffington's blog:

    And I hope this doesn't ruin your birthday, but I have to say, watching George Bush talk about Israel the last week has reminded me of a feeling that I hadn't felt in so long I forgot what it felt like: the feeling of pride when your president says what you want your president to say, especially in a matter that chokes you up a bit. I surrender my credentials as Bush exposer - from the very beginning - to no man, but on Israel, I love it that a U.S. president doesn't pretend Arab-Israeli conflict is an even-steven proposition. Lots of ethnic peoples, probably most, have at one time or another lost some territory; nobody's ever completely happy with their borders; people move and get moved, which is why the 20th century saw the movement of tens if not hundreds of millions of refugees in countries around the world. There was no entity of Arabs called "Palestine" before Israel made the desert bloom. If those 600,000 original Palestinian refugees had been handled with maturity by their Arab brethren, who had nothing but space to put them, they could have moved on -- the way Germans, Czechs, Poles, Chinese and everybody else has, including, of course, the Jews.
    But I digress. I really wanted to say that, for all those who accuse the likes of myself and the birthday girl of being unpatriotic, or hating America first, the feeling I've had watching Israel defend herself and a US president defend Israel (a country that is held to a standard for "restraint" that no other country ever is asked to meet, but that's another story) just reminds me how wrong that is. I LOVE being on the side of my president, and mouthing "You go, boy" when he gets it right. He just, outside of this, almost never does.
    I think this might be a sign that the end is pretty well-nigh. On the other hand, I agree with his sentiments. (Hat-tip to Israellycool.)

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Political Cartoon

    Busy Day

    So I've had a really busy day. And its not all contract work! Yay!

    In addition to working on one of the cases I contracted on, it looks like I've picked up two new clients that are personal to me. (A new record for me!).

    One of them I picked up from the local bar's referral program. This person would be about 20th person they have sent over. They are also the only one who can afford my low fee panel rates (they've all been from the low fee panel.). However, I have noticed something about the people they refer over to me. I need a little longer to investigate out if it is just coincidence or perhaps it says something about the type of client they think of me when it comes time to do the referrals.

    The other one came via my advertisement. And it looks like an interesting issue.

    More on both of these cases if they start to merit commentary on the issues.

    Ruling Out In the Domestic Wiretapping Case

    Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a proposed class action earlier this year against AT&T for cooperating with the U.S. Government's domestic wiretapping program. The government intervened and tried to have the case dismissed.

    In a 72-page ruling today, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker found that "Dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security." The rest of his order is here at the EFF site. EFF has also set up a number of pages about thsi suit, including an excellent primer FAQ.

    The right is going to howl about how this is simply another block to prosecuting the fight against terrorism. It will be interesting to see where this case leads.

    More of the Wal-Mart case in Maryland

    Prof. Richard Bales, at Workplace Prof Blog, has a couple postings up about the decision in the RILA v. Fielder case (striking down the Maryland law which would have imposed a tax on companies not spending at least 8% of the payroll on health care if they were over a certain size) that you might find interesting.

    Its supposed to the be sports page

    Its not supposed to be the indictment page. Its not supposed to be about whether there is going to be a case against a player. Put that in the news page.

    I know the media loves to hate Barry Bonds. He does not come off as a likeable guy to the press because he does not like to play the press' game. He likes to play baseball (and earn an exhorbitant amount of money doing it. Good on him.).

    When the story should have focused on Ray Durham's offensive streak of late, and especially his play yesterday, the reporters managed to make it all about Barry's woes. Why? It was easier than waiting for Durham to get out of the training room it appears.

    So how about it? When is the sports page going to go back to talking about sports and not about criminal cases?

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    Round One To The Evil Empire

    You may be aware that a few months ago, Maryland passed a law which mandated that employers over a certain size within their state to spend at least 8% of their payroll to provide health care for their workers. The only entity which this affected was Wal-Mart.

    As you may know, I am not a fan of Wal-Mart.

    In any event, Wal-Mart, through The Retail Industry Leaders Association, brought suit to declare the law invalid. The suit was venued before the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland where the Hon. Judge J. Frederick Motz concluded that the Maryland law conflicted with ERISA and were therefore preempted.

    So despite the fact that Wal-Mart is one of the most profitable companies going it, it will continued to be allowed a free ride on health care for the majority of its workers by forcing them to rely on Medicaid and other state options.

    There is talk that Maryland will appeal this ruling to the 4th Circuit. Good luck to them.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Words That Put Fear In My Heart

    There are certain phrases which should never be said. This list includes the old standbys of:

    - What could possibly go wrong?

    - I'm so bored, I wish I had something to do at work.

    - I'll be right back (ed. note - only if in a slasher/horror movie type situation)

    To this I have to add the one word that I think a litigator should never use:

    - That evidence is irrefutable.

    Its much like Dusty Baker handing Russ Ortiz the ball before the last out of the World Series in 2002 is recordered. Sure it sounds cool to say that to the jury, but to say it before closing arguments is like asking for heavens to open up and alter the universe to prove that the evidence is refutable.

    Which is why I shudder every time a colleague of mine uses it to describe his case. Then I start inching away to avoid the thunderbolt strike from the heavens.

    Way to Go Mom!

    Alright, this was not done by my mother, but I could see my mother doing this and more in similar circumstances.

    Apparently, the RIAA decided to target Debbie Foster and her daughter Amanda for illegal copying and downloading of copyrighted music. They filed suit and made an offer to settle the case for $5000.

    Debbie Foster, however, did not cave in. Instead, she fought back and demanded (most likely in discovery) that the RIAA show her when and which files were allegedly downloaded through her internet account. When the RIAA failed to produce the evidence, she filed a motion for summary judgment. Realizin that they were in a losing situation, RIAA apparently moved to dismis the case rather than lose at summary judgment.

    The Court granted the dismissal, and then went a step further stating that Ms. Foster was the prevailing party. This means that Ms. Foster may now apply for her attorney's fees to be paid by the RIAA.

    (Hat tip to Recording Industry v. The People for the order and other background on the case.)

    The rule from childhood comes back: don't piss off a mom!

    Civil Justice/Tort Reform Debate

    Over at the Legal Underground, Evan Shaeffer has apparently brow beat ATLA's magazine into making available without subscription this month's Trial magazine. This month, the main articles all deal with Tort Reform, access to Civil Justice, and whether there is a litigation crisis in the court systems fo this country.

    Even if you are a reader of Overlawyered, you should take a look at these articles for a look at the other side of the debate.

    Diplomatic Language

    So by now I am sure that most people have heard what President Bush said during a coversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair about the situation in the Middle East. If not, below is the video. Some people have been outraged that he would act like this.

    My fiancee was horrified by this. Not by the language but by the way he acted towards Blair, i.e. talking over him and talking with his mouth full. And she is the Republican.

    Personally, I do not have a problem with the language. It was a conversation that was not really meant for public consumption. Furthermore, its probably the most coherent policy that Bush has been able to articulate since he was back at Yale.

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Off Topic

    There is an interesting blog from Israel by Israellycool, from an Israeli perspective, about what is going on there.

    Friday, July 14, 2006

    Interesting Idea

    In the wake of the World Cup debacle, U.S. Soccer has let Bruce Arenas go. Apparently, there are people talking about trying to get Jurgen Klinsman to coach the U.S. Team. Klinsman has said he is burnt out on coaching and has not expressed any interest in the job, but would be an interesting pick to take over the U.S. side.

    Tales of Two Cases Filed

    The first is the one filed by Debbie Rowe against her former husband, Michael Jackson. Apparently, as part of their disolution agreement in 1999, Mr. Jackson agreed to pay her 1 million dollars per year for the first three years and then $750,000 a year for the next six years. Apparently, Mr. Jackson is about $245,000.00 behind in his payments. The money, she claims, is so that she can continue her fight to regain custody of Prince Michael and Paris Michael, the two children she bore for him during their marriage.

    Apparently, the 1999 deal included terms the Rowe was only allowed to see her children once every forty-five days. In return for essentially abandoning her children, she received a house, a 1998 Ford Explorer, and the monetary payments.

    In 2003, when the child-molestation case against Mr. Jackson started, Ms. Rowe sued to regain custody of her children. According to news reports, when that happened, Mr. Jackson stopped making the payments to her.

    Does anyone else wonder if maybe the courts should get the kids away from their parents? If the state can open a child welfare case against Brittney Spears for driving with her kid on her lap, where have they been with this situation? One seems to like sleeping with little kids in his bed. The other is willing to let them go for a house, a car, and some cash.

    The other case is the one which Valerie Plame, of kerfluffle fame, and her husband have filed against Vice-President Cheney, Karl Rove, and Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Anthony Sebok has an interesting look at options open to Plame and defenses open to the defendants, apparently written before the complaint was filed.

    I wonder if this will end up with Clinton-esque questions at the deposition.

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Apparently CNN likes terrorist groups

    So I clicked over to CNN a few minutes ago. And there, on the screen was a picture of flames. Next to it, a headline blaring "Israeli gunships hit fuel tank at Beirut airport." Of course, you have to read the story to understand that the airstrikes were a response to Hezbollah rocket attacks from Lebanon. It should be noted that the Lebanese government has in its cabinet members of Hezbollah's political wing.

    And of course, the lead headline is not that Hezbollah has taken more hostages (Ehud Goldvasser, 31, from Nahariya, and Eldad Regev, 26, from the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Motzkin). It is not that Israel has been hit by 70 rockets in the past 24 hours.

    I hope it allows you to have acess to stories...just like it did in Iraq. (For CNN's admission, the NY Times Piece is here, but you need a subscription. The Wall Street Journal piece is here and the Washington Times piece is here.) So thanks CNN for making it look like Israel is just bombing other countries randomly.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Why is Zidane apologizing?

    I'm not a fan of the French national team, though I am friends with a number of their supporters. Zinedine Zidane has had a brilliant career, but it is going to forever be tainted by this one act.

    At any rate, today, he apologized for the violence, but not for the act. Some people can't understand that it is an apology. In my opinion, his apology made sense. Effectively he said he was sorry that he got violent, but he does not regret it.

    Why should he have to regret it? Based on what was going on, Marco Materazzi should be doing some apologizing. He was the one who insulted Zidane's mother and/or sister. According to one version, Zidane was called a Harki which appears to be roughtly the equivalent of Malcom X calling Marin Luther King, Jr., an "Uncle Tom".

    Is this what we want to do with the French? Make them apologize every time they stand up for themselves?

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    I will pay for this posting

    But someone on one of the listservs I belong brought up a case that he has dealing with an engagement ring. Apparently, the potential client was dumped by his fiancee. He is upset, but she now his engagement ring, one that has been handed down and is a family heirloom. Understandably, he wants to get it back.

    Now I remember back in law school, there was a nasty court battle over a an engagement ring, except that in that case, the guy had broken off the engagement.

    Apparently, as someone on the group pointed out, California is much more sensible. The Civil Code here states,

    § 1590. Gifts in contemplation of marriage; recovery
    Where either party to a contemplated marriage in this State makes a gift of money or property to the other on the basis or assumption that the marriage will take place, in the event that the donee refuses to enter into the marriage as contemplated or that it is given up by mutual consent, the donor may recover such gift or such part of its value as may, under all of the circumstances of the case, be found by a court or jury to be just.

    Of course, had I been watching TV, I would have remembered that this was covered in Veronica Mars. So maybe they are right... everything I needed to know in life is on TV.

    And if my fiancee reads this posting... the wedding is not being called off!

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Ruling in CleanFlicks

    In case you had not heard, there was a company in Utah that was selling edited versions of movies. Apparently aghast by the sex, drugs, violence, and foul language, this company catered to people who wanted their movies....well.... dull.

    Eventually the Director's Guild caught wind of what was happening to their movies and filed suit. The judge hearing the case in the federal district court for Colorado handed down a ruling forcing the company to turn over al their edited movies to the movie studios.

    The Rocky Mountain New story quoted the decision, where the judge held that,

    "The accused parties make much of their public policy argument and have submitted many communications from viewers expressing their appreciation for the opportunity to view movies in the setting of the family home without concern for any harmful effects on their children," Matsch wrote.
    "This argument is inconsequential to copyright law and is addressed in the wrong forum. This court is not free to determine the social value of copyrighted works.
    "What is protected are the creator's rights to protect its creation in the form in which it was created."
    Now, where was this ruling when Ted Turner went and colorized all those westerns?

    A really large award out of the Vaccine Program

    I think that I have mentioned the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program before. Essentially, it is a no-fault system where the injured person, usually a child through their parents, applies to the fund claiming that they have suffered an injury as a result of a required vaccination.

    According to the DOJ, in the twelve years fo the program, more than 1500 people have recovered approximately 1.18 billion dollars. When I was in law school, there was a clinic where the law students could actually try the issues to the panel. This always left me with the impression that not a lot of money was involved.

    Apparently I was wrong. Apparently a boy, aged 7, who was rendered a quadripligic because of side effect suffered from being innoculated for measels, mumps, and rubella, recovered $43.1 million from the program.

    I'm sure he would rather be walking and not in a chair, but that is still pretty impressive recovery by his counsel. I wonder if the Vaccine Compensation Program will now be labeled a judicial hellhole?

    Another NTE

    Since my contract for my government job ended a few moons ago, I have been trying to a jury trial under my belt.

    And today seemed like it would finally happen. For the past week, I had worked it up (considering I got the case Friday last). Done the depos, written discovery, and prepped the motions for trial.

    Alas, my client crumbled on the courthouse steps and took the deal. So another near trial experience.

    I am very bummed.

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    "You really got to hand it to those Marshals"

    "He didn't hang himself by his laces or slash himself with a butterknife."

    "He got into full dress uniform,drew a nickel-plated pistol, -"

    "- and fired a bullet into his mouth."

    "Since we're out of witnesses,I thought I'd drink a little."

    Name the movie while I prepare my case for trial on Monday. Kaffey, pass me Mr. Daniels!

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    In the, "You've Got To Be Kidding" Category

    As I alluded to yesterday, I have taken an unlwaful detainer case from the VLSP. The unlawful detainer is based on a Three Day Notice for non-payment of rent. My client alleges some retaliation and some habitability issues.

    All in in all, its pretty much a standard non-payment case.

    Now, when I deal with the usual rogues gallery of landlord attorneys, this case would have proceeded to its trial date with some written discovery and some negotiations, most likely resulting in a deal at the mandatory settlement conference.

    Instead, both sides (prior to my involvement) have gotten their hackles up. Its as if both sides are saying, "I don't care how much it costs, I want to win." Unfortunately for my client, he is short on the money end of things.

    The result is that in the past two days, opposing counsel and myself have been shooting letters back and forth over discovery. Then today, there was a six and half hour deposition followed by an hour and half of site inspection.

    Now, from prior experience, and talks with landlord attorneys, the usual landlord attorney charges somewhere around $1000 to $1500. This will take the landlord from notice through to the trial call, at which point the meter starts. In just taking the last two days, the landlord's attorney has spent, conservatively, approximately 12 hours. So, before the cost of the deposition is factored in, his rate has already dropped to $125 per hour.

    This is before you realize that he has had to draft both the notice and complaint, and then pay for it to be served, had to survive a motion to quash, and answer a number of discovery requests. So assigning arbitrary estimates to these tasks, the attorney is working at about $89.00/hour. And judging by his office, which I saw at the deposition today, that just is not going to cover his overhead. Which leads me to think that one of two things is going on in this situation. First, he is on an hour retainer fee. Second, he thinks that they will really be able to recover all their expenses from my client (good luck, since they also know he is on public assistance).

    I can understand in some cases wanting to take a deposition (in UD land). But in this case, with all written evidence (there is a pile of letters), it seems that it is superfulous, costly, and unnecessary. Especially when one considers the amount of money involved is probably less than what the plaintiff has already spent on this case, or would have spent on this case if they had done (at least in my opinion) what they should have done back in January.

    So with everyone dug in, throwing good money after bad, neither side wants to talk a reasonable settlement. And neither side seems to have a good word about the other. Trial is on Monday. And its going to be interesting.

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    View in the halls this afternoon

    Today I was at settlement conferences for the unlawful detainer calendar in San Francisco. I have done this a number of times, and ususally I see more people settle their cases than go forward to trial.

    Usually at the settlement conferences, the tenant gets a wake up call to the realities of their situation. Those who are unrepresented realize that, "hey, the other side has an attorney who talks like he knows what he is doing." I have seen landlord attorneys use this fear to force an unfavorable deal on the tenants.

    In the last year and half, the San Francisco Bar Association's Volunteer Legal Services Project, has been running a program which provides tenants, and occasionally landlords, with attorneys for the settelement conferences only. Usually, this results in more deals that are fair (which I define as the landlord getting what they should get, not what they want, and the tenant having a chance of not agreeing to something which will result in their being evicted for failure to comply with the agreement.)

    Today was not usual. For the first time I am aware of, there was an excess of lawyers there to represent the tenants. And this was with the coordinator of the attorney of the day project confident that most of the cases would be resolved.

    I think that was the equivalent of telling G-d your plans.

    The final score today? All but one of the cases are going to trial on Monday. I saw normally mild mannered attorneys going toe to toe, a la baseball managers arguing with umpires. Both sides saying that the other was "completely unreasonable" and not wanting to settle.

    Among those failing to settle, my own case. Although unlike most of the tenant attorneys there, I will be seeing this one through trial. Could I finally get the full jury trial experience? Past experience says no, but this one is just wacky enough that it could beat the odds.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Happy Fourth of July

    While I'm in movie/TV quoting mood, here's the appropriate one for today:

    "A toast? Yeah. To high treason. That's what these men were committing when they signed the Declaration. Had we lost the war, they would have been hanged, beheaded, drawn and quartered, and-Oh! Oh, my personal favorite-and had their entrails cut out and *burned*!"
    -- Nicholas Cage as Ben Gates in National Treasure.

    So lift a glass to high treason! And enjoy the fireworks.

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    House's First Rule

    What is House's First Rule? Anyone? Anyone?

    The answer is: everyone lies.

    This includes the clients. This includes the client I have just picked up from the VLSP. Its not that he is lying about the facts. Its that he says things like... I answered that.

    When he did not.

    So I got to scramble today. And by scamble I mean hit the buses just right, hotfoot it down the hospital where he was just admitted with a variety of problems. Then run like hell to catch a bus, grab my car, drive the last 4 miles cross town to my client's place to search for his answers. Then to get the documents, revamp them into legal english, as opposed to english english, and then get him to verify them by driving all the way across town. Finishing with a drop in the post box.

    How did I forget House's first rule?