Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Depositions can tell you a lot

Depositions are very useful, and they can tell you a lot about your opponent's case and your case.  You can gauge a variety of things from a deposition such as demeanor and credibility.  These are  helpful things for you to know and for your opponent to know.  It helps to determine the settlement value of a case.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Does North Carolina make the loser in a lawsuit pay?

Like the answer to so many questions in the law, it depends.  In a personal injury case, if an "offer of judgment" is made, and the plaintiff loses or fails to beat the number offered, attorneys' fees may be available.  Recent legislation appears to make it possible to recover attorneys' fees in some contract disputes.  Recovery of attorneys fees is limited in North Carolina, however.  For an interesting discussion of this issue check out

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gilbert Arenas is another example of how harmful social media can be

I've posted several times about the harmful affects of social media and ill-fated posts, Tweets, etc. Last week a judge kicked out Gilbert Arenas' case because of his Tweets. Sadly there will be more of this kind of thing, and that is why it will remain a common theme of this blog. Stupidity is great fodder for lawyers and for bloggers.

FEMA does a good job

FEMA does a good job. I used to think it did not, but I have had the chanced to work with FEMA on two previous occasions through my involvement providing diaster legal services in conjunction with the American Bar Association (ABA)

I feel confident FEMA will do a good job with the disaster legal services needed after Hurricane Irene.

Social Security Disability cases are about credibility

Social Security Disability cases are about the credibility of claimants. Most cases are because every case has a story. Judges are human too, and, in order for a case to be persuasive, it must be a compelling story. The best Social Security cases are ones where the claimant has a strong work record but can no longer work for a reason or a variety of reasons.

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC

I got a lot of work done in preparation for an up coming trial. Regardless of the kind of trial, trials are hard.

Preparing for a personal injury trial

There's a lot that goes into preparing for a trial. I am working on a case where a staircase collapsed and my clients were injured, one of whom was pregnant. Seems like a clear case of landlord liability.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Gilbert Arenas destroyed his own case with his Tweets

Gilbert Arenas destroyed his case with his stupid Tweets.  He's not the first, and he won't be the last.  Arenas filed a law suit seeking to enjoin a former lover from going on the TV show "Basketball Wives" and talking about him.  The judge dismissed the case primarily based on Arenas' own Tweets, which she claimed  made unclear his theories of trademark infringement and misappropriation of likeness.  His Tweets made it difficult for Arenas to argue his life was private and that he had a tenable trademark infringement case.

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC

A few days ago an opposing attorney walked out of a meeting because he didn't like it when I called him on his juvenile behavior.  What a wuss.  Of course, I won't name him because then he might act like even more of a child (that's probably not possible).

Normally I get along well with other attorneys.  I like lawyers.  Heck I'm in a family full of them.  What I do not like, however, is when lawyers make things personal.  This goof made things personal; I called him on it; and he didn't like it.  So he ran off like a child.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC

As the saying goes, another day another dollar.  Not sure why I like that so much.  Perhaps that is because the practice of law is reduced to time, which means money.  Lawyers assign monetary value to time and legal advice.  This is often hard for the public to understand because hourly fees are often hundreds of dollars.  I wish I took that money home, but I don't.  There is a lot that goes into a billable hour.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC

I am back from the beach.  Tough to come back.  This is my first written entry in a few days.  I was glad to take a break.

It is always hard to come back, especially since I have been gone a lot lately.  I've enjoyed being away, but I wish I could space it out more.

Tomorrow promises to be a busy day with court in the morning and afternoon.  Good thing I enjoy court.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XXXI

Strange, short day.  It is always stressful getting out of town.  Likewise, there is almost always something looming on the horizon when you get back.  Trips rarely occur without consequences when you come home.  I hate that.

A word of advice regarding the new Verizon iPhone 4: check your plan to make sure you aren't paying tons of money for services that should be unlimited for a modest fee.  Apparently I've incurred a few hundred dollars in text, video and picture charges.  Go figure.  Crooks.

At least I am going to the beach today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XXX

This has been a stressful week so far, and it should be an easy week because it is a short week.  Short weeks tend to be the hardest weeks, however.

The good thing about this blog is it doesn't have to be structured.  If I want to ramble, I can.  If I want to indirectly trash something, I can.  Sometimes I directly trash things.  Most blogs are rants, but mine is a controlled and subtle (sometimes not so much) rant.

Regulators to visit adult-care homes

Regulators to visit adult-care homes: "At least eight adult-care homes in the Triad and Northwest N.C. are getting a visit from state regulators to determine how many of their residents have mental-health or substance-abuse problems."

Monday, August 15, 2011

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XXVII

Stress, stress, stress.  It is the glue that holds together the practice of law.  So much to do; why am I blogging about it?  Why not?  People seem to find the banal details of my pressure packed life interesting.  In the United States, we find odd things interesting such as hoarders and polygamists.  Why not lawyers?

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XXVI

Another Monday.  This is a short week, and it seems like I have had a lot of those lately.  That's the way the summer is.  Next Monday will be a nasty return as I have a contested guardianship matter.  Those are always the best ones, especially when the other side attacks me personally!  That hasn't happened in awhile.  But I enjoy it.  Sometimes it is good to get into a little dust up.  Makes you feel alive.  What is it Thoreau says?  "Live deep and suck the marrow out of life."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Small banks say new mortgage regulations too onerous -

Small banks say new mortgage regulations too onerous -

FBI: Missing Calif. toddler, father found dead -

FBI: Missing Calif. toddler, father found dead -

Homeless man's death in encounter with cops brings protests -

Homeless man's death in encounter with cops brings protests -

Carolinas Seeing More Homeless, Female Veterans

Carolinas Seeing More Homeless, Female Veterans

Large Fire Damages Meadows of Dan Elementary School

Large Fire Damages Meadows of Dan Elementary School

NC Soldier Among Five Killed by Bomb in Afghanistan

NC Soldier Among Five Killed by Bomb in Afghanistan

Domino's Pizza Workers Robbed at Gunpoint in Greensboro

Domino's Pizza Workers Robbed at Gunpoint in Greensboro

Everett Witherspoon is dead wrong in supporting sectarian prayer

Everett Witherspoon proved he is a political novice when he went against his own party in voting to appeal the Fourth Circuit's recent ruling regarding sectarian prayer at the Forsyth County Commissioners' meetings.  Likewise, he proved he does not understand the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  That's the problem when non-lawyers attempt to interpret the law.

Witherspoon sees nothing wrong with a couple of minutes of prayer a few times a month.  He goes on to say American is essentially a Christian nation.  There's a lot wrong with prayer that mainly mentions Jesus prior to a governmental meeting.  It is unconstitutional because the law does not allow a governmental entity to endorse one religion over another.  Sectarian prayer is both an endorsement and the establishment of a particular religion.  That is constitutionally impermissible; if you don't like that, then you have missed the point of the Establishment Clause.

America is not a Christian nation.  Is not a Buddhist nation, an Islamic nation or any other kind of relgion.  It is a nation that practices religious tolerance.  If Witherspoon understood our history, he would recognize that the Founding Fathers were primarily Deists--not Christians.  This is why the Declaration of Independence says "Creator" NOT God or Jesus.

Witherspoon is young (33, my age), and he will learn.  He should have stayed with his party on this one because he made a political mistake, and he is completely wrong on his interpretation of the law.

Again, the Commissioners need to focus on the economy and jobs, not these inane social issues that have no bearing on the needs of their constituents.

Self-proclaimed 'liberal like Jesus" votes conservative on prayer

Self-proclaimed 'liberal like Jesus" votes conservative on prayer: "Now that the Saturday night cocktail parties are long over, let's dispense with the rules of "polite conversation" and talk religion and politics. I'll let the subject of today's column, Forsyth Commissioner Everette Witherspoon, kick it off."

Tornado warning issued for northern Forsyth County

Tornado warning issued for northern Forsyth County

North Carolina's mentally ill could face loss of homes | & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

North Carolina's mentally ill could face loss of homes | & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

Woman, 24, Critically Injured in Single-Car Wreck

Woman, 24, Critically Injured in Single-Car Wreck

Church plus handcuffs equals a bad ending

Barry Thompson caused trouble wherever he went.  He was just that kind of person, and he had always been that way.  No one wanted to be friends with Barry, but over the years he managed to attract people to his misguided causes.

Pastor John Martin was the youngest pastor in the history of Emmanuel Memorial Baptist Church.  He attended Morehouse for college and Southeastern Theological Seminary in Louisville.  The vast majority of the congregation was pleased with the selection of Pastor Martin, who was a gifted pastor.  But not everyone was happy.  And Barry was one of them.

Barry hated those more educated than he, which was pretty much everyone.  He dropped out of school in the 10th grade because it was too difficult academically and socially.  This led to a series of dead end jobs and a life of disappointment.  But Barry found solace at Emmanuel, until Pastor Martin started.

In nooks around the church, Barry could be heard whispering to church members "Pastor Martin is cocky.  He needs to be put in his place."  Some would nod their heads in agreement, others would shake their heads and walk away.

At a deacons meeting one Wednesday, Larry, who had been elected deacon the week before, demanded to see the books.  Pastor Martin showed them to him, but Larry wasn't satisfied.  "You make $100,000 per year!  That's too much money for a pastor.  That's what a lawyer makes."

Pastor Martin responded "that's less than 80% of the black churches in our area."

"That's still too much," Barry responded as he walked out the door.

The following week Barry started a petition from what he claimed was a group called the Concerned Members.  The petition called for the removal of Pastor Martin and an accounting.

In the following three months, five votes were held, and 80% of the church members voted to keep Pastor Martin each time.

"He needs to go!  He is bad for the church!" said Barry.

"You need to file a lawsuit," said Bill Buxton, the local, rabble rousing reporter.

"Not a bad idea."  So Barry filed a lawsuit.  He and the Concerned Members were listed as plaintiffs.  The lawsuit, which alleged no discernible cause of action, was dismissed with prejudice.

The following week the deacons voted to remove Barry as a deacon, and they kicked him out of the church.

Larry showed up the following two Sundays.  "This man is an impostor!  He is a cancer that is eating away at this church!  He must go."  He said the same thing each time.  Each time the police had to remove him.

Bill Buxton wrote several op-eds in the local paper, extolling the virtues of Barry.  He called him a modern day crusader.  Never one to let the facts get in the way, Buxton failed to get the other perspective, which is probably the reason Buxton never had a chance to advance beyond Moravia, the midsized Southern city.

Barry decided to take Billy Buxton to church one Sunday, hoping to generate an even more sensational story.

As Billy and Barry walked up the steps of the church, no one stopped them.  They charged forward.  BANG! BANG!  Billy and Barry both fell to the ground, their heads bleeding.  Someone had shot them to death.

Fifty yards away, Stumpy Wilson coolly disassembled his sniper rifle.  He had been camped out at an abandoned rent house.  Stumpy, the host of a popular radio show, "Stumpy the Stumbling Block," never liked Billy Buxton.  He thought he was full of it.  He didn't like Barry either.  And he knew the Moravia Police would never suspect him.  He had an airtight alibi because a body double, complete with Stumpy's ID and credit cards was photographed at the same time of the murders in Las Vegas playing cards at Caesar's .

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XXV

I cannot stand these guys on TV who sell get-rich-quick schemes.  The easy argument against these kinds of people is: if your system works, why would you sell it?  There are two responses to this.  First, selling the system is more lucrative than the system or, second, it is tiered marketing (Ponzi Scheme).  Sometimes it is both.  Either way you are being duped.  What keeps this from being fraud is intent cannot be proved because it is theoretically possible you could make money.

Schemes such as this are inherently flawed because the people they target have been failures at everything.  It makes no sense to think people who are uneducated, lazy or stupid are suddenly going to make money.  Of course, what makes these schemes sell is false hope and optimism.  The latter is what this country is built on.  The former is a dangerous thing, and it further demoralizes people; it is this pernicious force that makes people think gambling and pay-day-loans are good ideas.  Free will is great in theory; however, free will leads to poor choices.

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XXIV

I am at Barnes & Noble reading Carl Hiaasen thinking about the world and the human condition. Just kidding. Those kinds of thoughts are better left unthought. Not sure if unthought is a word, but I don't care. Anyway, I prefer Borders because it is less commercial, but I suppose all things are commercial. This means we have no choices. We only think we do.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XXIII

I am glad it is Friday. For whatever reason, it has been a long week.  Today has been particularly long because I had two Social Security disability hearings, although they went reasonably well.

As I type this post, I am listening to the Grateful Dead sing the Dylan classic, "When I Paint My Masterpiece," which is an incredible song-- most Dylan songs are.  The Grateful Dead versions are different, but equally good.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XXI

It is always hard to come back from out of town.  Invariably it means a busy day.

Unfortunately the DOW was down over 600 points today.  That is scary, but it has been much worse.  And things recovered just fine.  I have faith in our ability to rebound.  Quite frankly, I feel confident the S&P credit rating downgrade was because of the Tea Party.  And the drop in the market was because of the drop in the credit rating.  In other words, it was a self-inflicted wound.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XVIII

Toronto is just a big city. Nothing special about it. People are nice, but I prefer American cities.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Panel recommends paying sterilization victims, but doesn't say how much

Panel recommends paying sterilization victims, but doesn't say how much: "Victims of the state's forced sterilization program decades ago should get compensation, a task force investigating the issue said in a report Monday, though the panel was unsure exactly how much money to recommend."

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XVI

In August the nuts tend to show up.  I am not sure why, but that has been my experience.  It is probably a combination of the heat and some other unknown element.  It is the unknown element that worries me-- the need for disorder some people have--because some people make poor choices.  Generally, these poor choices create the disorder that plagues these people.

I can be more specific, but I enjoy thinking about the theoretical.  Lately I've been thinking about why we have certain laws and how systems of order grew out of disorder.  Perhaps the natural state of things is: disorder, order, disorder.  We are always on the verge of disorder, and law protects us from that.  As Goethe said "Law alone can give us freedom."

Monday, August 1, 2011

Railroad Claims Asbestos Law Firm Engaged in Racketeering - News - ABA Journal

Railroad Claims Asbestos Law Firm Engaged in Racketeering - News - ABA Journal

A day in the life of Southern Lawyer NC XVI

Will the debt ceiling deal pass?  I don't know.  If it doesn't there will be chaos.  Normally I am not given to extreme thinking, but it is shocking that this is such an issue.  It never has been, and the only way to explain it is the Tea Partiers, who are part of the lunatic fringe.  This lunatic fringe is a pernicious force in American politics because it is made up of fools with a cause--that's a dangerous combination.