Monday, October 30, 2006

Gotta Love Local Political Ads

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

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

64 minutes and 28 seconds

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thinking About Blogs And The Problems They Can Cause

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dancing With The Stars Drinking Game

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

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

Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

If you can't get paid

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

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

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

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

Until then...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Like the sound of this

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

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

And She Won't Be Back,

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

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


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

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

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

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

So I had this forwarded to me..

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington , DC 20520


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh well.


Is it legal, or ethical, to put a clause in the retainer agreement that says if client accuses the attorney of working for the other side, that the attorney will be $1000.00 in penalties?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Watching It All Slip Away?

Alright, perhaps I am too down on the events of my case today. I just keep coming back to one thing: if my client would just say what happened, rather than what they believe (in their paranoid fantasies) happened, this case would be so much easier.

Unfortunately, the demons got the better of them and now at trial they will be able to paint them in a most unflattering light.

Gah. Clients. Who needs them? They just get in the way of the case.

Alright, back to work preparing for another client's hearing.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A South Dakotan Star Chamber?

From Greedy Trial Lawyer, there comes this article about the proposed Amendment E which is on the ballot for this year's election.

The snarky part of me wants to say its not the inquisition, its the Star Chamber. The difference, the Inquisition could, and regularly did, kill people. The Star Chamber could hand down any sentence short of death.

But the more serious side of me wants to find the person who put this Amendment together and ask him what in the hell he is thinking? The supporters of it call it a judicial accountability act. If you read the actual text of the proposed amendment (available here, click on the "Read the Amendment" option), you will see this is actually "lets-have-witch-hunts" or "let's-abolish-the-judicial-system" act.

Essentially, the act allows anyone who is dissatisfied with a judge's performance on a case to bring a complaint with a special empanelled, permanently standing, grand jury. (Incidentally, my favorite part about this special grand jury is the bit where it is funded entirely by a tax on the judge's salaries. ) This special grand jury would then take complaints from any party that had been before a judge and determine whether the judge's action constitute,

any deliberate violation of law, fraud or conspiracy, intentional violation of due process of law, deliberate disregard of material facts, judicial acts without jurisdiction, blocking of a lawful conclusion of a case, or any deliberate violation of the Constitutions of South Dakota or the United States, notwithstanding Common Law, or any other contrary statute.

Now on the surface, it seems rather innocuous. Who wouldn't want to see a judge who committed a crime hauled before a grand jury. But then read it again. It includes a number of things which happen all the time and for good reason.. because they are part of the legal system under which we exist. For example, one of the categories is "blocking of a lawful conclusion of a case". That could be read by lay people, since no judges would sit on the special grand jury, to include a party who has had their case dismissed because they failed to comply with discovery, answer an order to show cause, or failed to comply with a technical rule. Another example would be when a criminal takes his case to the special grand jury because of a ruling that put him in jail (say, the judge refused to suppress evidence illegally obtained by the police, or perhaps failed to issue a writ of habeas because of ineffective assistance of counsel).

The person who has masterminded this Amendment is a man by the name of Bill Stegmeier. In some of his comments made to other blogs, he has stated that the special grand jury would " hear complaints concerning alleged violations of peoples rights, not the “decisions” of judges." That may be the intention of the amendment, but the wording allows review of any decision because every decision affects a person's rights.

Above, I mentioned the example of the criminal. He could bring a complaint to the special grand jury for the judge's failure to grant bail prior to trial. The denial of bail arguably affects his right to freedom of travel, ability to participate in his own defense, and his rights of free speach. Anothe rexample I mentioned above is the party that has its case dismissed for failure to comply with discovery rules. The party could have a claim for a violation of their civil rights (say someone was illegally detained by a store clerk on an unfounded belief that shoplifting had occurred). If the party did not comply with discovery, they could have sanctions imposed on them which could terminate the case (say, they refused to disclose their criminal history because they did have a shoplifting history in their distant past). The party's case would dismissed, their rights would be affected. Therefore, every right is determined by the decisions which the judges make on a daily baisis.

Essentially, this ballot measure would provide for a "loser's justice". Loser's justice is where the loser gets to say that they lost, but only because "they was robbed!" Any party that was not happy with a ruling, could use that as a basis to bring a suit under this act and have the judge prosecuted and convicted. Three convictions, and the judge is permanently retired from service. So in addition to ruling on cases, the judge would have to be fighting for their jobs form all the people who feel that because they lost, it must have been because the judge was violating the will of the people and ruling in an inappropriate fashion which violated the law.

But this brings us to the real question, what is the purpose fo the courts? Is it to rule the way the mob wants it to rule? Or is it to apply the law in an even handed manner in an attempt to do justice to both parties?

Under the former, justice ceases to be justice and instead becomes trying to appease all in the name of popularity. Standards for ruling on points of law are destroyed and instead the only standard applied is "Will I be prosecuted for ruling on this case?"

Under the latter, there are standards. There may be different judicial philosophies applied, but there will at least be a fairness and impartiality in the application of the law. Conservative and liberal judicial thinkers may differ on how they interpret the law, but at least each side can point to a system by which they arrive at their conclusion. A state where the judciary is held hostsage by the fear that the magistrates will be prosecuted for any ruling or judicial action which they make, is state where the electorate has ceaed to be interested in justice as an institution and simply want jduges who care only appeasing the population.

Is that what you want from your judges?

Passing this type of law is going to undermine the judicial system. How can you expect someone to do their job in an even handed manner, if all it will get them is a reward being prosecuted? How will you get qualified people to serve as judges in a climate where decisions are not only questioned but investigated by a permanent grand jury of people who are not qualified to sit as judges, or even as jailhouse lawyers.

Hopefully the people of South Dakota are not so foolish as to throw away the Anglo-Saxon system of law away in favor of some new rule by the mob. Then again, the mob has a way of dissappointing.

If someone lives in South Dakota reads this, please vote no on this amendment.

Because if it passes in South Dakota, there is a national organization hoping to follow it up in other states.

So ask yourself, what kind of judge do you want on the bench?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bring Back Willa!

With a hat tip to the fiancee, it appears that Sara Evans has bowed out of the compeition for "personal reasons".

Hopefully it means that Willa will be back in the competition. According to the story, ABC has yet to announce what will happen and that the answer will be revealed during the next episode.

So hopefully, Willa will waltz again.

This Is Wrong

So in a previous post, I mentioned I went to a gala. That gala was the fundraiser for the San Francisco Bar Association's programs, which include the VLSP, diversity programs designed to promote women and minorities in the legal field, and programs such as the school to college program and the San Franciso Law Academy.

But while I was there, I was talking with a Social Worker friend of mine that I have worked with on a couple of cases. Currently she is working on campaign to get supportive housing in San Francisco to be.... well supportive. Now, the Mayor, Gavin Newsome, ran a few years ago on changing how homelessness would be handled. He has, to an extent.

Where before money was basically going to shelters and direct payments to the homeless people, now the movement is to get everyone housed. Good idea. Problem is, where do you find people who are willing to accept below market rates and provide services in a city that has some of the highest property values in the U.S.

Obviously, the city cannot just go out and buy property and run it as a city operation. For one thing, even if they simply took out long leases for the buildings, it would be extremely expensive. Tack on to that, supportive housing means not just providing living space, but usually also an array of social services in the form of social workers and programs designed to make the people more self-sufficient.

Now some of people who contract out for this work take the job seriously and understand the sector of the population that they are going to be dealing with. Simply put, the people that end up in supportive housing are poor, disabled (often mentally) and are not used to living like people who are able to read online blogs (or even normal people). For example, Tenderloin Housing Clinic, has evovled over time from simply being a tenant activist organization to helping provide supportive housing in San Francisco. They seem to understand that the people who are their tenants are transitioning from being out on the street to establishing something more permanent. They also, in my experience, seem to understand that simply putting a person in rental unit is not going to change them or their behavior over night.

However, there are others, who I will not name, who do not appear to view their business in the same way. They take the view that it is a business first and only. The profits need to be maximinzed, within the contract which they have with the city. People transitioning from being on the street or in temporary shelters are expected to act like model citizens from day 1, regardless of their condition. And they enforce these expectations in the easiest possible way: use of the unlawful detainer.

Now, what is an unlawful detainer? Its what lay people call being evicted. The landlord serves a notice to quit (for either an alleged nuisance or non-payment of rent). Once the notice expires, the landlord then instructs his attorney to file a complaint for unlawful detainer. Since the tenants have little in the way of resources, they often do not get a lawyer, unless they are able to get in touch with organizations like the Tenants' Union, the Eviction Defense Collaborative, or the VLSP.

From representing some of these people, I have noticed a pattern. A landlord who has an actual problem with the tenant will be able to list out a series of acts which constitute a nuisance. When the landlord simply does not like the tenant, they find one incident and allege it as a "nuisance". For example, in one case where I helped represent a tenant, a severely disabled man (organic brain damage which caused him to yell at people) was being evicted for nuisance because he got into a loud arguement with another tenant. While in some states single nuisance acts is not grounds for eviction, it can be in California if it serious enough. In this case, it was a 60 year old client in an argument with a 30-something tenant who was literally head and shoulders taller than him. Fortunately, he was able to get representation through HAP. We forced a dismissal when the other side realized that a) we were going to go to trial and b) that they had been ignoring this man's disability in dealing with him.

If they are not able to get an attorney, they typically face a trial in which they are ill-prepared and do not fully understand how to conduct. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot learn how to conduct a jury trial by watching a few episodes of Law & Order, Boston Legal/The Practice, and Judge Judy.

The upshot is, most of these people end up getting evicted. As a result, an unlawful detainer goes on their record. It affects not only their credit, but can also affect their benefits. So now you have taken a person off the streets, housed them for a few months and then evicted them and sent them back on the streets until they can once again qualify for housing. Some people resort to desparate measures in order to get a roof over their head, like Timothy Bowers of Ohio.

So where does that leave us?

Well, back to my social worker friend. She has decided to take the case to the city supervisors and the Mayor. In particular, she is working to get action taken to make supportive housing work. However, a perusal of the Mayor's disclosures show that he has been receiving money from at least one of the landlords who is, in my opinion, less than supportive in providing suppportive housing (I have not looked up all the names and permutations of other landlords participating in the supportive housing scheme).

Despite having promises from the Mayor to sit down with her and review the program. For the past few weeks, after sending a letter confirming this, he has been ducking her. So my friend has decided she needs to take more drastic action if she can not get the system to work.

She's preparing for a hunger strike. Right now, she is pulling permits (yes, in San Francisco, you need a permit to conduct a hunger strike in front of San Francisco City Hall), arranging for a port a potty, and a tent. Rather than sit down and deal with a problem that is supposed to be a high priority of the City's government, they have forced this advocate into a position where she is preparing to risk her health (she is not a spring chicken, nor an impulsive once) in order to get an appointment that the Mayor already agreed to give her but has since reneged.

I understand the landlord's need to make a profit. However, they should know what they are getting into, namely providing services to damaged people.

Anyways, the basic idea is that the way we are treating the homeless once we start transitioning them back into society is broke and needs to be fixed. There needs to be better oversight and procedures in place to deal with people. There needs to be better taining of the people who work there to ensure that they are able to deal with some of the more difficult people around.

I Go To One Gala..

... and suddenly America loses its mind.

Explain this to me, how in the name of all that is right does Sara Evans go on and Willa Ford get sent home on Dancing With The Stars? Did people watch the dances?

I know, I should not get worked up about this show.

But really, can someone tell me with a straight face that Sara Evans is a better ballroom dancer than Willa Ford?

And no, for any of those of you who have been reading this long enough, this has nothing to do with the fact that Willa is blonde, like the last boneheaded decision made by the Dancing With The Stars watchers on which I commented.

Honestly... she's a fine singer but put Ms. Evans in some ballroom heels and she looks uneblievably wooden. Gah.

To Messers Goodman and Tonioli and Ms. Inaba, what are you thinking giving her halfway decent scores when clearly she is not hitting the steps nearly half as well as the others who remain in the competition? Not to mention the fact that she does not exude fun or sexiness when she is dancing, like Jerry does. Yet each week, it seems to me that you are kvelling over her like she is a princess about to emerge.

The competition is half-over and if the judges were to be honest, they would probably say that she has earned the score she deserved once (when she did the jive to "These Boots Are Made For Walking"). Yet this week, when Ms. Evans danced the Samba, you gave her 8's (I believe she got a 24).

Now, I know its not fair to compair... but should you wonder what a good Samba looks like, here is Stacy Keibler's from last season.

Compare that with what Ms. Evans managed this week.

Or to be more fair, here is Ms. Evans and Ms. Ford's mambos. First Ms. Evans:

And now Ms. Ford:

So please, vote for someone who is not Sara Evans next week (unless she suddenly develops into a ballroom dancer a la Fran). And to the professional judges... be judges. Stop this kvelling over the popular ones and let the ones who are more entertaining go on.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cost of Freedom: Priceless

Oover at Lowering The Bar today, Kevin Underhill has a story about a man who was recently acquitted of misdemeanor intent to defraud. The underlying facts of the case was that the man had ordered a meal, received a dish that bore little or no resemblance to what he had ordered, and refused to pay the $46 dollar tab after management refused to rectify the problem. Interestingly, he attempted to have the local BBB mediate the bill with the restaurant.

Ralph Paul, a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, was subsequently arrested by the local sheriff's department. Now, he could have plead out the case. He was facing up to 60 days in jail. If he had no prior record, he most likely would have been ordered to pay restitution, and been placed on probation.

However, if he had done that, he would have had a crime on his record. Not only that, it would be a crime of fraud. In California, and many other states, that would be something that would haunt him since it show moral turpitude. Not only would it be something he would have to reveal in a variety of situations, Mr. Paul said that he could just not look at himself in the mirror if he just plead guilty.

So instead, Mr. Paul went out and found the best criminal defense attorney he could. After spending a few thousand dollars (since the trial and deliberation lasted a full day, plus prep time, all at the cost of $500 per hour), the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

Now, many people have reacted to this case stating that Paul was wrong, that it was a waste of time allowing this case to go through a full jury trial. Which leads me to ask: What are people thinking?

The courts, although they need money to operate, should not be judged by how much it costs. The simple fact was this: Mr. Paul's liberty was threatened. It should not matter that the basis of the charge was $46 or $46 million. His liberty, and how courts, future employers, lenders and others, would view him, were at stake.

Frankly, more people should take their cases to trial if they feel that they are in the right. Giving up, taking the easy way out and accepting a plea when they have an actual case inevitably lands them in more trouble.

Congratulations Mr. Paul, Rumpole would have been proud of you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Supreme Court Doesn't Overturn the Ninth

For those who are lawyers, this is a man bites dog category.

Today, the Supreme Court declined to review the Ninth Circuit's decision in a case involving W.R. Grace & Co. The matter in question has to do with W.R. Grace's operations in Libby, Montana. Essentially, W.R. Grace mined asbestos there.

Since the 1930s, the asbestos industry knew that asbestos could kill the people who mined it, refined, worked with, or was exposed to it. And like responsible corporate citizens, they suppressed the information. Finally, the EPA and the government got around to prosecuting W.R. Grace for the pollution that they had caused to the town of Libby. They were found guilty.

On appeal, W.R. Grace complains that they should not be forced to pay for the clean up. Let's see, you've been convicted, the industry has lost literally thousands of cases for the harm caused by your product, and now they claim that they should not have to bear the burden of cleaning up the costs. Chuzpah?

Fortunately, the Ninth Circuit upheld the lower court's ruling, which the Supreme Court has seen fit to not overturn. So in essence this was a two for one.

This Morning's Tasks

Get Marriage License - Done!

Monday, October 09, 2006

From the weekend

The weekend was a whirlwind of fun. My fiancee had her bridal shower. Her friend came in from D.C. and a good time was had by all.

In addition to the shower, my bride and her family set about getting the chuppa ready for the wedding. Seeing as how they had only a fuzzy idea of what a chuppa is, since they are catholics (yes, it will be a dual officiant, interfaith, mixed marriage. Score cards will be available), they did a pretty good job at creating one.

Among the better news of the weekend was that the Tigers defeated the New York Yankees. According to some reports, this could be the end of Joe Torre as the manager for the Bronx bombers. The rumour is that he will be replaced by Lou Pinella. Pinella has been in talks, according to various sources, with a number of teams, including the San Francisco Giants. Which leaves me wondering, would Torre be good for the Giants if he did become available? Or the better question is, can Torre be successful without the same amount of financial support that Steinbrenner has been providing all these years, which the Giants ownership could nto hope to match?

But the best news of all from this weekend? The Dodgers lost.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Just got done watching Battlestar Galactica tonight....

Wow. I know there are going to be some right-wing blogs out there that are going to be screaming about the themes of the show (which in case anyone missed it seem to clearly place the Colonial civilians and military as the Iraqi resistance and the Cylons as the United States).

But the episode had a couple of great lines, most of them from Col. Tigh. Among them:

My only wish now was that the web series that was supposed to bridge last season with this season were not done the way they were. Instead of ten, perhaps they should have cut back a little and condensed them into longer episodes to allow them to more fully explore a couple of issues. The one that is the most critical to the show at this point, I would have thought, would be how does one resist against an enemy that cannot be killed but you can. Or to look at it another way, when does sacrifice for one's belief become self-defeating.

Anyways, those are just my thoughts.

Friday, October 06, 2006

As the week goes by

So things have been a little hectic here in the Law Offices of the Angry Bell. Clients have been going from angry to incredibly happy with me, usually after they finish hearing what I have been trying to tell them.

To anyone out there that might be thinking about hiring lawyer, please do you and your prospective lawyer a favor and do the following:

1) Let the lawyer do his job. Most lawyers out there have some idea of what they are doing. At the very least, if they've passed the bar and practiced in their field for a year of more, they probably know where to look for things when it comes to an issue which they do not have experience in dealing with.

2) Listen to what the lawyer says. This is not the same as taking everything that the lawyer says at face value. This is not to say do not question what the lawyer is telling you when you do not understand. Listen to what the lawyer is saying, because in my experience, the answer the client wants is usually right there in the answer if they would only listen and not talk.

3) Remember this: even if you are a lawyer, you are still the client. After you remember that you are the client, go back and read rule 1.

4) Only hire a lawyer you are comfortable dealing with. For the attorney-client relationship to work, you need to trust that the lawyer is going to work for you. If you don't get that feeling, find someone who earns that trust. Chances are, if you are in a lawyer's office, its imporant enough that you need someone who is there to actually represent you and not collect a billable.

5) Understand that sometimes your lawyer will have to tell you unpleasant things. Just because you have a lawyer does not mean that everything will be all daisies. There are times when the law is going to require you to do some things, including some things that the opposing party is going to want to have done. For example, say you are involved in some nasty litigation and the other side wants to do a site inspection. As long as the conform with Code of Civil Procedure (and assuming that there are no grounds to move to deny this), they are entitled to inspect the real property. Its part of the rules. You want them changed, there had a better be a good reason. Another example would be when you have a case that is weak, which you know is weak, and which you have no ability to make any stronger, and the lawyer advises you of the opposing party's settlement offer. This would not be the time to inform the attorney that he is working for the other side, since all he is doing is communicating the offer to you. Yelling at the lawyer because he is following the rules while representing you is neither wise nor productive.

6) Its not that the lawyer does not believe you, rather its that he is unable to prove what you are saying. When it comes right down to it, there are times when other people horrible things in outlandish ways. However, in order for your attorney to do something about it, there has to be some way to prove what is happening. You may know that something is happening, but unless you and your attorney can prove it in some way, demanding that it be made part of the case will do nothing but weaken your case. Unsupported accusations are not helpful to winning friends, influencing mediatiors, or conving judes.

And that's my little rant on the week that was.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Only Two More Days

... till we find out what's been happening on New Caprica.

Now if only we got to see what happened next on the Serenity.

The Importance of Backup

I made a bad call by not being good about backing up my files. So in addition to alot of things that would have been nice to have, such as my friend's phone number in France, but also things like... the advertisements I run online.

As punishment, I now have to go and create new ads. And believe me, that is punishment.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fitting Considering Today

So today in the Jewish tradition, is Yom Kippur. One of the lines in the liturgy, at least in the reform tradition, is to lift up the downfallen, help the sick and something else. Essentially, a reminder to be involved in more than just yourself.

But as I was reading this back with the rest of the congregation, I kept flashing to this image:

Always liked it. Just thought I would share.

Sometimes I live in a TV Sitcom

So this afternoon, as I was fasting and repenting, the following exchange happened when my fiancee came back from doing some errands with my mother:

Me: What's wrong?
Her: I had a hamburger.
Me: And the problem with that is...
Her: I wanted to be a good Jew.
Me: [pause]But you're Catholic.