Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quote for the Week

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.


George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Confession

Okay.  Time to come clean, whether I like it or not, and no matter how embarassing this is for me.

First, thanks to AD for the motivation.

As some of you know, I started a campaign to lose weight about two and a half years ago.  When I started, I weighed 252 ponds, and was roughly the shape of ball with arms and legs.  Through hard work and exercise, I managed to get down to 212 pounds, with a more reasonable shape.

Fast forward about 30 months and a million excuses later, I've regained 33 of the 40 pounds.  Not an accomplishment to be proud of, for sure.

Some days ago, I heard of a website called My Fitness Pal.  I haven't really tried much of anything else on the site, but their food diary has already forced me to make changes.  You see, I committed to writing down everything I eat, no exceptions.  After all, if I can't be honest with my own diary, why bother.  This isn't for show, I'm doing it for me.  Now, every time I plug in what I eat, it lets me know how much of my calorie budget I have used up.  Believe me, now, when I reach for a snack or a drink, I immediately wonder whether it's the best decision for me, knowing I have to log it.

So, here we go again.

"I don't like to pay for the same real estate twice."  Patton, the movie.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ugh!

I have to drive 40 minutes out of my way and spend an hour in court, just so I can tell the judge I've had no contact with my client.  What a waste of time, and not a penny extra for my work.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Who Needs an Attorney?

It’s the rocket docket. It's the lowest level court in this jurisdiction, so all first time cases are heard here. Today is misdemeanor day, so the courtroom is full.


Two young men are called to the front and take their place at the podium. They are not represented by an attorney.  A police officer stands beside them. The charge? Racing. Here, racing on public streets is heavily punished, depending on the specifics. Therefore, when the charge was read, I listened intently. Someone was about to get fed to the sharks.

Remember that, as with any accused, the state has the burden of proving the case. Therefore, the officers (on behalf of the state) had to prove the following:

1. The defendants were driving,

2. Within city limits, and

3. Racing each other

4. BONUS: Proof that the race was a planned event.

In order to get a conviction, the officers have to prove all of the first three. If successful, the penalty is a year in jail, over $1,000 in fines and license immediately suspended for up to two years. If the officers prove #4, both vehicles are immediately forfeited to the state.

The officers (there were two of them) easily testified to numbers 1 and 2, based on their own observations. However, neither was able to prove with any certainty that the two drivers were racing each other, and not just merely going fast. Remember, the state (acting through the officers) has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Let's pause for a second. Remember that old advice about the right to be silent? You know, "Anything you say will be used against you." Remember? Apparently, these two defendants did not.

The judge turned to the defendants and asked if there was anything they wanted to say. He reminded them that they had a right to remain silent and did not actually need to speak. At this point, every attorney waiting in the courtroom is telepathically telling the two young men to be silent.

You see, since the state has not proven all the elements of the case, there is reasonable doubt that these men were racing. Therefore, the charges should be dismissed.

Well, telepathy does not work.

Both men spoke over each other in an attempt to show the court how sorry they were. They said that they had just met at a gas station and were admiring each other's souped up car. They told the judge that they then agreed to meet a little bit down the road and race to see whose car was the fastest.

Did you catch that? Three elements were necessary to prove the case. The fourth element was icing on the cake. The officers, for whatever reason, had only proven the first two elements. Their testimony proved only that those two defendants were doing what millions of us do every day: drive our cars in the city.

Our two helpful defendants had conveniently provided the judge with proof of the remaining two elements. Through their testimony, they gave sufficient evidence to convict themselves.

They lost their licenses, spent some time in jail, received hefty fines, and lost their cars to the state.

They sure saved some money by representing themselves!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quote for the Week

Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: ‘We the people.’ ‘We the people’ tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us. ‘We the people’ are the driver, the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which ‘We the people’ tell the government what it is allowed to do. ‘We the people’ are free.


Ronald Reagan

Friday, February 18, 2011

Not All Here

She's giggling.

Now, as I have mentioned before, I don't practice happy law.  So, having a potential client come in giggling is not normal.  Then again, I'm not normal either, so I'm willing to overlook this.

She sits in the conference room and laughs at the furniture.  Now, we don't have high end furniture, but it's certainly not old or outdated.  I happen to like it, just not enough to be offended.  She can't quite say why the furniture strikes her as funny.

Soooo ... um ... let's get this started.  We go over her legal matter.  It's like trying to pin down a room full of ferrets.  Just when I think I have her attention, we're off in another direction.  I explain what we can do for her and how we can help.  Then, we get to the fees.  Here's my fees, and here's how much I need to get started.

She asks, "What am I putting the money down for?"

"Well, to retain us," I said.

"Retain you for what?"

"Ummm...to handle your legal matter."  Is she serious?

"Oh, ok.  So, what would you guys do?"

I start looking around for the cameras.  This has to be some kind of joke.  I once again explain what we will do for her.  It's actually not a complicated case.  She may be complicated, but her case is not.

"Oooohhhh. Ok!  What do I need to do to get started?"

Wow.  "Here's the amount of the retainer we will need.  Once you pay that we can get started."

[She pauses]  "Wait a minute, what's the money for?"

I'm done.  "You know, I think you should go home and think about this some more.  Thanks for coming by!  I'll let you gather your things together, ok!  The exit is down the hall to your right."

Let me outta here!

I would stay away from the conference room, folks.  She might still be in there wondering where I've run off to.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Little Slow

Worked out on credit last night.

You know, one hour on the elliptical last night, paying for it this morning.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quote for the Week

To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful.

Edward R. Murrow

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Therapy Session

This past week has been incredibly stressful.  For too much of the week I have been giving nothing but bad news to some of my clients.   Several have gotten mad at me because the law will not let them do what they want.  One client started sobbing loudly as we talked on the phone.  Though I try my best to stay detached, that's not always possible.

That's why, this morning, I headed out to the range.  I grabbed several hundred rounds of ammunition, and turned money into noise.

I had several boxes of some inexpensive Tula Ammo that I got at Wally World, and I wanted to see how they performed.  On a prior range visit, I had shot their .380ACP ammo and it kept jamming the Bersa.  This time, the 45ACP ammo did not give me any problems.  Well, no problems other than the fact that it is very dirty ammo.  It's actually dirtier than Winchester white box.  Accuracy?  I'm not sure I'll win any contests with it, but I'm not that good of a shooter to outperform it anyway.  Here's the target after 14 rounds at 7 yards.


Here's a second target, 21 rounds, still at 7 yards.  The pistol for both was a Rock Island Armory 1911 compact.


That's a lot cheaper than going to a therapist.  And a lot more fun!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Must Read

Days to Come.

I really think you ought to take the time and read this.  Brigid has a way of putting thoughts into words, forcing us to put those words into thoughts.  I wanted to pull out a quote or two to give a taste, but there's too many.  Yes, I know it's long.  Print it out and read during commercials.

Sometimes we'd rather not think about change.  It just makes us that more unprepared for it when it comes.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

But We're Safe, Right?

Ronald Reagan once said "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

British Border Agent Fired for Putting Wife on Terrorist Watch List



She ended up in Pakistan for three years, unable to get out.  That would NEVER happen here, right?  Right?

[Crickets]

And yet, we remain comfortable with giving more power to those who already try to lord it over us.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Quote for the Week

It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.  ~W. Edwards Deming

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Moments of Brilliance

I have one case today, a very simple one.  A short appearance.

I can't really concentrate on that right now, though.  Even though I'm standing, I can't stay awake.  I'm seriously falling asleep.  The cases are being called one by one and I can't wait for mine to get called so I don't fall flat on my face from sleep.

I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out why I'm so tired.  I'm a little sick, but that shouldn't be it.  I normally shake these things off fairly quickly.  I did not go to bed late (or should I say later than usual), and got up fine this morning.

I stop leaning against the wall and go walk around in the hall.  After this case, I have to drive to our second office, which is about 45 minutes away.  I'm not sure how I'm going to do that if I can't even be awake while standing.

I go back in and still, no case.  It can't be this dumb cold, because I took the orange DayQuil softgels and it really helped my symptoms.  In fact, I still have the empty blister pack in my pocket.  See, here it is.

Green

Nyquil

Crap!  I'm going to need some caffeine.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Who's for Lunch?

I'm sitting in a bankruptcy seminar. I am surrounded by creditor's attorneys and a trustee. I represent debtors. I feel like a lambchop at the city pound.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wasting Money

I am constantly amazed by the things some of my clients do.  After paying me for advice, they ignore it, and then seek (and follow) the advice of their boyfriend's boss's daughter's hairstylist, just because said hairstylist saw a commercial for Law and Order one night five years ago.  Or something like that.

I mean, really?!  You're paying for my advice.  I'm giving it to you.  And yet, you ignore it.

I'm looking at a file right now.  Client's mistake (by ignoring my advice and following what she thought "just felt right") just cost her $40,000.  Unnecessarily.

Yikes!

Well, let me call and let her know.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Writing Under the Influence

Influence of the Intertubes, that is.

Or not.

Here is a good post by Marko Kloos on avoiding distractions while writing.

the internets are the word count killer.

I do feel compelled to warn some of my more gentle readers--there may be a little extra pepper thrown in on the language side, but Marko's an excellent writer and these are some great tips.