Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quote for the Week

Ten persons who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What a Week

So far, one of the attorneys in our practice has been hospitalized; a former co-worker from a previous job has been convicted of murder; an attorney who volunteered for me at my last job has been arrested for battery on an LEO, abduction, and robbery; and a former law school classmate died suddenly from an infection.

Is it Friday yet?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quote for the Week

The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.

Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blogroll Update

Roanoke Cop has changed his blog to Ten-80.  I've updated the link.  If you are a commenter and/or link to my blog, let me know so I can add a link to my blogroll.  Thanks!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Let's Think This Through

I found this article in the Times Herald.  I've copied some excerpts and added my comments in red.
Vallejo police advise citizens against arming themselves
...

In the past 10 days in Vallejo there has been a widely publicized beating and robbery of a city worker, as well as two homicides, three shootings and several stabbings.
...

Powell acknowledged, "it's harder to get in touch with us these days, but we have the alternative ways to report non-emergencies to free officers up to respond to emergencies."

I think I understand the point he is making here (maybe), but saying that “it’s harder to get in touch” with the public safety officials is not exactly comforting. Perhaps that is why he can say that no one is calling them for “advice on how to stay safe.”

Residents should remember that a week or even two does not necessarily a crime wave make, the officials said.

But for those who have been affected by these violent crimes, a wave is not necessary. One simple encounter is life-altering.  One such event is sufficient, though for some, it has also been final.

Tenorio cited some general precautions people can take to help ensure their safety.
...
All ideas mentioned are great examples of situation awareness and target hardening. However, they are merely ways to decrease your chances of attack. When the attack happens, all these factors will do little to actually stop the attack. Sure, if you’re in a public area, others may call the police, but as I have mentioned here before, in my city, the average response time for police is seven minutes.  In the middle of a critical incident, that’s an eternity. And as for you having a cell phone—that’s an excellent idea, just remember that you will be distracted defending yourself and unable to use your phone until the event is over, (if you get to use it at all). Even, then, you will still need to wait for police to show up.
...

"I think we have to look at a longer period," he said. "One week could just be a bad week. If it's still going on in two weeks or a month, then we'll have a serious issue and have to look at what's happening."

Unfortunately, the next vicitm, whoever he or she is, cannot wait until the police decide whether this is “a serious issue” or “a bad week. “ We are each responsible for our own food, our own shelter, etc... By the same token, we are each responsible for our own defense. I tremendously appreciate the work police do, but until they are able to personally guarantee my safety, I’ll take whatever steps I need to to protect myself and my loved ones.

Quote for the Week

This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.

Will Rogers

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Morality and Self Defense

As usual, Carteach0 has an excellent post.  This one deals with the morality of self defense.  It's something I have often argued, but not as well as he does.

The Morality of Self Defense

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Quote for the Week

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among human creatures.

Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Can't Teach Common Sense

Wow...

A toy Lego gun leads to discipline and doodling on a desk leads to an arrest.

Have we really gotten that used to heavy handed authority?  Is it so bad that we have completely lost perspective and common sense?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Decisions

They sit across from me, looking nervous and a bit ashamed. I do my best to set them at ease while reviewing the papers they have handed me. They are both impeccably dressed—as usual. I have known them for years. He is a businessman, and she is a medical professional. Each has years of experience in their field and both work steady jobs. They own a gorgeous house on an enormous plot of land just outside of town, and drive relatively new vehicles.


I review their documents and slowly begin to peel away the facade. Like a polished waiter balancing a large plate, they have been the picture of grace and success. But under the charade, all is not well. The waiter is starting to slip, the plate beginning to tip.

Their mortgage payments are several months behind and their house is facing foreclosure. Their vehicles are financed at unbelievably high interest rates and are also in arrears. They owe on their furniture, their electronics, and even their funeral plans are on credit. They have dozens of credit cards, with over $100,000 in credit card debt alone.

There has been no sudden job loss, nor any unexpected medical issue. This has been the result of years of living beyond what they make. They worked hard, played hard, charged hard, and paid hard. But now, creditors have lowered their credit limit, doubled their minimum payment, and the entire operation—waiter, plate and all, is coming down. A few attempts at several get-rich-quick rip-offs have compounded the problem, and they now find themselves at my conference table asking for a lifeline.

My work begins…

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Surprise!!

The receptionist buzzes in and interrupts my work. “Mr. Lawyer, Ms. Loyal Girlfriend is on the phone, crying. It seems like her boyfriend, Mr. Frequent Flyer, is in jail.”

“Sigh …. Ok. I’ll take the call.”

First, let me tell you about Mr. Frequent Flyer. You pick the saying: One card short of a full deck, One fry short of a happy meal. Lights are on but nobody’s home, etc… You get the idea.  The man has great business ideas and is reasonably well off. He has several successful businesses running, and running well. As for his personal life? Well, that’s another story. He gets traffic tickets like some of us get junk mail. We represent him on those. He fails to pay the fine, so his license gets suspended.  We fix all that, as well.  He forgets to pay personal bills, so he pays us to work through the mess it causes. All in all, he’s paid us a lot of money over the years.  He’s definitely not a hard-core criminal, but he’s not a saint either.

So, as I'm on the phone with his girlfriend, in between the sobs, I gather that he’s in jail for failure to make good on a bounced check. He paid a bill out of a business account he forgot he closed.  His girlfriend says he has the money to pay the check, he just forgot (surprise, surprise). He’s requested a bond hearing so he can get out of jail and pay the check. As usual, he’s waited until the evening before the hearing to ask anyone for help.  We agree on a fee and the girlfriend pays.

The next morning, I meet the client in the courtroom lock-up.  Well, sort of.  Lock-up is a zoo, and sounds like it.  I'm outside the lock-up door, he's inside, wearing an orange jumpsuit, plastic sandals, and court-issued bracelets.  There's a double-pane window, about 6 inches square, with a small slot so we can yell at each other.  So I talk and he yells.

For bond hearings, the court wants to ensure that the defendant will still appear in court if released on bond.  So, of primary interest to the court is whether the defendant has ever failed to appear at a court hearing. I ask my client if he has ever failed to appear in court.  He mentions that a long time ago in college, he failed to appear and was arrested for it.  I get the details on that incident so I can prepare to address it at the hearing.  I repeatedly ask if there are any other failures to appear.  Nope, he says.  That's the only one.

My case is called, my client comes out, and I meet him at the podium.  I go into a recitation of facts and ask the judge to release my client on bond.  The judge asks "the" question:  "Has he ever failed to appear in court?"  I answer that he has one prior failure to appear, but that was a long time ago.  The judge nods and waits until I finish.  Then, with his usual frown, he asks, "What about these nine other failures to appear?"

Huh?!?!

My face turning red, I quickly compose myself, look toward my client, and say, "I'll let him explain those."  He trips and stumbles through the explanations, and I interrupt as necessary to ensure the doesn't totally toss this whole hearing down the drain.

In the end, after much argument, the judge releases him on a huge bond.  He calls me in the office later that day, to retain us to negotiate the check issue.

I have to ask: "Why didn't you tell me about the other failures to appear?!"

"I forgot."

Of course.

I hate surprises.