Friday, May 30, 2014

Slaying of son in killing rampage catapults lawyer to forefront of gun-control debate

Slaying of son in killing rampage catapults lawyer to forefront of gun-control debate.  He's right about the "craven politicians" and the NRA.  What about his son's right to live?  Why isn't that the focus?  Something needs to be done about all of these shootings.  The right to carry a gun doesn't trump peoples' right to live. 

Massive ABA-backed volunteer effort will help with Obama clemency proposal

Massive ABA-backed volunteer effort will help with Obama clemency proposal.  This is great news.  I'm reading an excellent book, The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander.  The book chronicles how mass incarceration arose as a way of reversing the tide of the Civil Rights Movement.  In other words, imprison the people asking for civil rights.  Certain lawmakers wanted to create arbitrary laws to imprison people of color.  There is a lot of truth in this.  I'm glad to see the ABA and the Obama Administration take on this issue.

Trust accounts hike law practice costs, blogger says | Are law firm homepage views really declining?

Trust accounts hike law practice costs, blogger says | Are law firm homepage views really declining?  Homepages are declining.  What a shock.  They've been declining.  Almost every law firm has a website, so having one doesn't make you special.  Blogs and other forms of social media can break you out from the pack, so to speak.  Many lawyers don't get this.  It takes some work, but bringing in business is always difficult.  Blogs and other forms of social media can make it easier if you put the work in.  You always have to put the work in no matter what medium you use to market.  The necessity of hard work is NEVER going away. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Former police officer on trial for robbing, kidnapping man - Winston-Salem Journal: Crime

Former police officer on trial for robbing, kidnapping man - Winston-Salem Journal: Crime.  This guy is a real prince.  Definitely not one of the finer examples of behavior.  It will be interesting to see how this one plays out in the coming days.

Sexton: Castle Doctrine not just for law-abiding citizens - Winston-Salem Journal: Scott Sexton

Sexton: Castle Doctrine not just for law-abiding citizens - Winston-Salem Journal: Scott Sexton.  The law stinks here.  I don't blame Mike Grace for using this defense as he is an excellent defense lawyer.  Ultimately the lawyer's role is to advocate for his client within the bounds of ethics and the law.  Judge Banks-Payne made the correct ruling.  She's an excellent judge.  The fault lies in the law, which allows killing such as this if you are "defending your home" with a gun--whatever that means.  How many shootings will it take before the gun laws are reformed?  How many more Columbines, Auroras, Newtowns, Virginia Techs and UCSDs will it take?

Comedian's Harvard Law speech recognizes grads Barack Obama and Elle Woods (see video)

Comedian's Harvard Law speech recognizes grads Barack Obama and Elle Woods (see video).  This is great.  I especially like the fracking comment about the well being polluted prior to the fracking.  So true.  It takes comedians sometimes to point out the absurdity of life.  Bravo to Harvard for inviting such an entertaining speaker.

From a satisfied client


Is this trademark infringement?

I couldn't get it in the picture, but the guy had Bronco symbols painted on this doors.  Mile High may be trademarked, and it is copyrighted.  I doubt the NFL will do anything to this guy though. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

LSAC to pay $7.73M, change LSAT policies in settlement of ADA suit

LSAC to pay $7.73M, change LSAT policies in settlement of ADA suit.  Great job DOJ.  This was the right move.  LSAT scores should not be flagged for individuals who took the test with extra time.  Doing so results in a discriminatory impact.  DOJ was correct to push this and obtain the settlement.  The settlement will make the law more fair.

Is Sherlock ‘complete’? 7th Circuit will consider when literary characters are free from copyright

Is Sherlock ‘complete’? 7th Circuit will consider when literary characters are free from copyright.  This is fascinating.  Many of the stories in the Sherlock cannon, 50 in fact, are no longer under copyright protection.  The issue is whether the characters themselves are free from copyright protection?  If they are, then the authors who are using the characters must pay licensing fees.  As an avid Star Wars fan, I know the characters are copyrighted and trademarked (the likenesses are).  Most of the money was made in the merchandising which includes my favorite--the books.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Scorecard: The VA scandal - Winston-Salem Journal: Editorials

Scorecard: The VA scandal - Winston-Salem Journal: Editorials.  There are mixed opinions in this article.  The problem is Congress doesn't adequately fund the VA.  It NEVER has.  The very people who send these men and women off to war fail to provide for them when they get back.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created far more cases than before, and it doesn't help when Congress repeatedly votes down increased funding for the VA.  Those who are criticizing the secretary and the VA are the ones who voted down the funding.  Hypocrisy at its best, but that's Washington for you.

Lawyer charged with felony intimidation over Facebook message to client's ex-husband

Lawyer charged with felony intimidation over Facebook message to client's ex-husband.  Wow.  This is quite a post.  I can't believe this lawyer would use such graphic language and make these kinds of threats at all let alone in writing.  Social media posts never go away even if they are deleted.

Who owns the law? Technology reignites the war over just how public documents should be

Who owns the law? Technology reignites the war over just how public documents should be.  Should statutes be protected by copyright law?  I don't think so.  The law belongs to the citizens, and citizens should have access to it--so should anyone who lives in the United States, regardless of immigration status. Ultimately it is about equality and access to justice.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bendeni, Lambert and Locke redux?

Fictonal Bendini, Lambert and Locke law firm has been resurrected in the Shane Kuhn book, the Intern's Handbook.  The main character poses as an attorney intern hitman.  I'm listening to the audio book.  Good so far.  Thanks John Grishsm for giving us the firm in the book, the Firm.  Thanks to Shane Kuhn for resurrecting it. We shall see if Bendini makes it out alive.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

At a Center Point board meeting

Contrary to what the public commenters claim, the proposed triage center in East Winston is a good thing.  There needs to be a center in this area. It will relieve the hospitals in the area, allowing them to operate in the black, therefore saving jobs.  Helping people, jobs and financial solvency are all good things.

VA disability cases on the rise in North Carolina

VA disability cases are on the rise in North Carolina.  We are seeing a lot more cases at our firm.  These veterans desperately need help, and the government throws up lots of roadblocks, namely lack of funding.  There is less and less money to go around because Congress refuses to adequately fund the Veterans Administration.  That's a shame considering they fund the banks and give tax breaks to the rich. 

An informal writing competition? Judges write with flourish in striking down gay-marriage bans

An informal writing competition? Judges write with flourish in striking down gay-marriage bans. But are these flourishes good writing?  If there is a time that calls for writing flourishes, I suppose it is now.  These are momentous decisions, and they are almost forcing SCOTUS to follow suit.  If SCOTUS leaves it up to the states, then states will fall like dominos--as they are already doing--or they could just declare marriage equality everywhere.  Why not?  What's stopping them?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Partisan split on Supreme Court is extraordinary by historical standards, study says

Partisan split on Supreme Court is extraordinary by historical standards, study says.  This isn't surprising.  We have the most polarized Court in history.  Right now it is a conservative activist Court.  It is eviscerating civil rights legislation, ruling money means more than people and calling corporations people. 

Truth...


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kagan dissent is corrected after magazine points out historical error

Kagan dissent is corrected after magazine points out historical error.  I assume the "first" community of Jews is in dispute as the first of anything often is.  Historical facts are somewhat slippery as there is often considerable debate as to what things actually happened, how they happened and when.  Arguing historical inaccuracy is a bit of a fool's errand sometimes.

LegalZoom hits a legal hurdle in North Carolina

LegalZoom hits a legal hurdle in North Carolina.  Good news for lawyers--at least for now.  Ultimately I think the Supreme Court is going to rule LegalZoom can operate in North Carolina; this ruling will obviate the pending new case under the Supremacy Clause.  The Court is trending right and in favor of unfettered capitalism.  This cuts against regulating the practice of law by non-attorneys.  Easy to do when you have job security as a justice of SCOTUS.

I'm amazed at how bad lawyers are at social media

Lawyers generally stink at social media.  Perhaps you think the author isn't very good at it either.  Although I haven't heard about it in awhile, LinkedIn and the irrational fears that surround it have resurfaced.  Lawyers are told they may get in trouble if someone endorses them because of the dreaded word "specialist," which can only be used in North Carolina if you are designated a specialist by the NC State Bar.  Newsflash: an endorsement is NOT calling someone a specialist.

Lawyers need to be active in social media.  It is the best way to reach people.  If you are operating out of a position of fear, you will fall behind.  Use social media, tempered with good sense of course.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A few hours on LinkedIn brought me $12,000 worth of referrals in weeks, lawyer tells columnist

A few hours on LinkedIn brought me $12,000 worth of referrals in weeks, lawyer tells columnist.  This is true.  I've had clients come to me because of social media.  Other than word of mouth, it is the best possible way to get your name out there.  Increasingly people are looking to LinkedIn and other forms of social media to find lawyers.  Clearly it worked here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Do you secretly believe your job isn't necessary? Academic sees corporate law as one of the BS jobs

Do you secretly believe your job isn't necessary? Academic sees corporate law as one of the BS jobs.  This is ironic.  The academic acknowledges the irony of his statement given that many people view academia as meaningless.  Sadly many jobs in the corporate world are meaningless.  Organizations employ too many people, people who often don't serve a useful purpose.  Machines can often do a better job than people and cost a lot less.  Sadly most people aren't special when it comes to work.

Dad was wrong; you can't do anything with a law degree, job-seeking lawyer says

Dad was wrong; you can't do anything with a law degree, job-seeking lawyer says.  That's a startling revelation, but I think it is total crap.  Law grads can do a tremendous amount.  They can think and reason, which most people cannot do.  What you know doesn't really matter; the ability to think and reason are vital.  Quite frankly, most people go to business school because they can't get into law school.  Most people go to grad school in the humanities or sciences to escape reality and delay adulthood.

At a Financial Pathways board meeting

Hearing more about all the good things being done.  This is a great non-profit, and it does so much for people who are struggling financially.  We need more organizations like this.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Settlement expected in defamation suit - News-Record.com: News

Settlement expected in defamation suit - News-Record.com: News.  This is an odd story.  I thought people like this only existed in fiction--better yet, satirical stories.  If it is true, then it is disgusting.  Likewise, suing someone for blog entries that are satirical in nature when your dirty laundry is toxic is stupid.  I don't know who the plaintiff's lawyer was on this case, but I would have asked my clients if they were comfortable with the negative press and possible counterclaims.  This case definitely backfired on the plaintiffs because they have lost credibility in the eyes of the public (this assumes they ever had it to begin with).  I would never have taken the case, but I would have defended it.  A former pastor, strip club, owners of strip clubs and a past sex offender aren't usually the hallmarks of a sound political group.  But maybe the Tea Party is shaking it up.  Perhaps the Tea Party are really RINOS.  If they are, I have one word for what the GOP needs: rhinoplasty.

FBI calls attorney defendant who failed to appear for court hearing 'armed and dangerous'

FBI calls attorney defendant who failed to appear for court hearing 'armed and dangerous'.  Why would a white-collar alleged criminal be considered "armed and dangerous"?  I suppose the assumption is the guy is on the run, and people on the run will often do desperate things such as arm themselves.  Most people probably shouldn't be armed to begin with as they are incapable of properly handling guns and don't likely have the judgment necessary.  This is especially true when someone is "on the run".

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Godzilla may breathe fire, but he still needs a lawyer

Godzilla may breathe fire, but he still needs a lawyer.  I want to be a Godzilla lawyer, but I would also love to be Godzilla's lawyer.  I could be both.  Godzilla is misunderstood.  He's alone and the only one of his kind in the world.  Glad to know someone is fighting for his brand.  I wouldn't want to be on Godzilla's bad side.  I am excited about the new movie coming out this weekend with Bryan Cranston in it though. 

The slow wheels of progress...


Forced catheterization alleged; suit says cops wanted quicker urine sample after traffic stop

Forced catheterization alleged; suit says cops wanted quicker urine sample after traffic stop.  I don't know how the police ever thought this was okay.  Clearly it wasn't.  Why didn't they just let the guy pee?  Turn on a faucet.  Give him water, but don't shove a catheter up his manhood.  That's wrong.

Is the Donald Sterling "apology" (rant) to Magic Johnson legally actionable?

Maybe; the "apology" could be considered slander.  It depends on the truth of Sterling's statements.  Magic Johnson doesn't have AIDS.  He has HIV, so Sterling's statement isn't true.  The issue is whether it will cause Magic financial damage.  I think Magic only comes out looking better and making more money.  Likewise, it will only increase the possibility of him purchasing the Clippers.  Magic is quite the mogul now, owning a significant portion of the LA Dodgers too.  Magic is a "public figure," and this makes it harder for him to sue Sterling because public figures are more open to criticism under the law--the price of fame?  So, in the end, it may be just an unfortunate statement.

Monday, May 12, 2014

What do retailers do if someone is thought to be stealing?

I was sitting at a local restaurant today reading an apocalyptic novel when I heard a female sandwich maker shout, "Mam, you have to pay for those drinks.  I've heard you have been taking drinks without paying.  You can't do that."  The lady 'taking' the drinks was an African-American postal worker  I assume she has been allowed to take free drinks in the past as she promptly paid for the drinks.  It raises the question: is there liability for wrongly accusing someone of stealing? 

Yes there is.  It could be considered slander as you are accusing someone of being a thief.  It would have been better to ask the woman if she wanted to pay with cash or credit card.  Even if she had been stealing the amount of money wouldn't be worth the lawsuit or the bad publicity.

Misguided editorial argues in favor of voter suppression

Voter suppression could weed out the ignorant - News-Record.com: Columnists.  Charles Davenport Jr. certainly has an odd way of looking at things.  He clearly doesn't understand the Constitution because he argues there should be 1) voter ID and 2) history tests.  Both are a throwback to "Jim Crow" laws.  It is appalling someone would argue for more restrictions on voting and to do so in such an elitist way.

Davenport argues knowledge of American history should be a requirement to voting.  How does he define knowledge?  I guarantee you my knowledge of American history is far more extensive than his as I was a history major at UVA, went to law school and I read voraciously on the topic.  Does that mean I have any more right to vote than he does?  Of course not.  Subjectivity isn't a factor nor should it be.

Regarding voter ID, it is inherently discriminatory.  It targets elderly people, women, young people and minorities.  The Supreme Court has a test for this.  It is called the disparate impact test.  Here there is clearly a disparate impact because this law will disproportionately affect minorities and elderly people.  There is no countervailing government interest to necessitate the passage of such laws as there has never been a confirmed case of voter fraud.  Even if there were many cases, the Constitution is supposed to cut in favor of the right to vote.  Likewise, since it is the right to vote, guaranteed under the equal protection clause, the law must be given strict scrutiny.  This law doesn't pass that test, especially considering absentee ballots don't require ID, and the law isn't narrowly tailored to achieve any legitimate government interest.  It doesn't even pass a rational basis test.

I'm not surprised about what Davenport thinks as (sadly) many people probably think this way.  What surprises me is he would say these things in such a public way and with such sarcasm.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Should lawyers spend (waste?) their time on social media?

It depends on the kind of practice you have.  If you are in house, probably not.  If you practice in any other area, you should spend some time on social media, but you must do so in an intelligent, targeted way.  I've brought in many clients and increased my notoriety through social media.  The more you say the more you are considered a "thought leader" because you are in front of people.  If you say reasonably intelligent things, people will view you as a resource person.  Now social media isn't a panacea, but it can prove quite useful if done in conjunction with other efforts such as good legal work, being out in the community and speaking.

The takeaway: keep yourself in front of people.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lawyer who sued Apple last year over porn addiction now wants to marry his computer

Lawyer who sued Apple last year over porn addiction now wants to marry his computer.  This guy sounds like a quality individual.  Why would he ever make such an argument?  I guess if you blame an Apple computer for your porn addiction, then you will do anything. They should hit this guy with Rule 11 sanctions.

After blogger outcry, legal publisher changes policy on required return of hard-copy casebooks

After blogger outcry, legal publisher changes policy on required return of hard-copy casebooks.  This is because no one wants to buy their books.  I can't believe they would require students to return their property books--how ironic.  Who would want a property book?  I would, however, keep the book because some idiot publisher asked me to return it.  Perhaps students could send a feoffment (clump of dirt) to the publisher instead.  It wouldn't be a feoffment with livery of seisin though.

NC Board of Elections software glitches send the "Old North State" south

The North Carolina Board of Election glitches are embarrassing.  They are yet another example of a  year of one disaster after the other in North Carolina ( coal ash spill, failure to take Medicaid funding, food stamp fiasco, inadvertent disclosure of medical information, suppressing the right to vote, repeal of the Racial Justice Act and many others).  I love North Carolina, but it has become a laughingstock due to incompetence and a concerted effort to oppress people in what Mitt Romney referred to as the 47%.  You don't get pilloried every other week in the New York Times if you are doing a good job.

I want North Carolina to go back to where it was before 2010.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A 'cringeworthy blunder' by Scalia? New corrected opinion is issued after profs notice mistake

A 'cringeworthy blunder' by Scalia? New corrected opinion is issued after profs notice mistake.  Maybe Scalia is getting old.  He is white and male, but he made a clear mistake here--a drafting mistake.  He makes other kinds of mistakes with antiquated, provincial views all the time.  I've never seen a legal blunder such as this, however.  Very surprising.

Lawyer must pay witness $1K for shocking him with trick pen, says judge

Lawyer must pay witness $1K for shocking him with trick pen, says judge.  Why was there a fine?  The lawyer didn't press the button.  The dumb witness did.  I don't see how it is a battery if the lawyer didn't make an overt act.

Pro se plaintiff wins court victory in bid for 'COPSLIE' license plates

Pro se plaintiff wins court victory in bid for 'COPSLIE' license plates.  Too funny.  Perhaps he could put in NOS4ATU (homage to the writer Joe Hill) too.  COPSLIE and NOS4ATU.  Such a good combination.  So closely aligned.  No offense to German vampires.

What are the worst Supreme Court decisions ever?

What are the worst Supreme Court decisions ever?.  I vote Dred Scott, Plessy, McCutcheon, Citizens United and the eugenics case (I don't recall the name).  Funny how two of the cases came out of the current Court.  I think of the current Court as Lochner on steroids with even more insensitivity.

Bankruptcy can happen to anyone

Bankruptcy is usually something that happens to people.  It isn't something they actively choose.  Most people have too much debt in this country.  In many ways, debt is the American way unfortunately.  Over almost 10 years of practicing law I've seen people from all walks of life--lawyers, doctors, bankers, teachers and construction workers--file bankruptcy.

The primary reasons for bankruptcy are as follows: loss of a job, medical debt, divorce, hours getting cut back or some other unintended financial crisis.  Usually it is a combination of all of these.  It is rarely caused by a frivolous, libertine lifestyle.

If you feel you may need to file, don't feel bad.  It may be the best decision you ever make.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Judge sentences rapist to community service at rape crisis center; says victim, 14, wasn't a virgin

Judge sentences rapist to community service at rape crisis center; says victim, 14, wasn't a virgin.  Blame the innocent victim.  That's a wonderful strategy.  I guess past sexual history means you don't get justice when someone rapes you.  What is this world coming to?

Death certificate posted on door does not deter police from raids seeking dead man, suit says

Death certificate posted on door does not deter police from raids seeking dead man, suit says.  This reminds me a little bit of a story I heard on NPR today.  I've heard of not speaking ill of the dead.  I suppose you shouldn't try and arrest a dead man either.  This is a prime example of why IQ tests are needed for police officers.  How dumb could these cops possibly be? 

In certain parts of Forsyth County polling places are inconvenient because of the Board of Elections

As I trekked on my five mile drive today to vote in Lewisville I listened to Paris: the Novel by Edward Rutherford and pondered the Parisi tribe.  I considered how regressive it is that I have to drive several miles to a polling place at a church that looks like it could have been in the battle of Shiloh instead of bearing its name.

Early voting went from April 24-May 3.  During the week it went from 8-5, not exactly convenient if you work a real job or take public transportation.  Early voting locations were Kernersville Senior Center, Lewisville Library and Rural Hall Library.  Not to be outdone was the Forsyth County Government Center, which offered early voting from 8-5.  How nice, how generous.  I almost forgot; they were nice enough to let people vote on Saturday, May 3rd from 10-1.  So much time.  God they are nice.

Isn't our Board of Elections grand?

Robber sent to prison 13 years late due to clerical error is released

Robber sent to prison 13 years late due to clerical error is released.  God these people are stupid.  This clerk should have lost his or her job.  Incompetence shouldn't lead to prison for an innocent person, but it did here.  Where is the outcry?  It is difficult for there to be an outcry, however, when those oppressed don't have a voice.

Monday, May 5, 2014

SCOTUS upholds 'chaplain of the month' prayers before town meetings

SCOTUS upholds 'chaplain of the month' prayers before town meetings.  I agree with Kagan, who authored the dissent.  The issue isn't the prayer.  The issue is the sectarian nature of the prayer.  I don't think a prayer is needed, but, if there must be one, then it should be non-sectarian.  I'm a religious person, and I hold to my religious convictions at all times.  However, I don't believe my views should be thrust upon other people.  Mentioning Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed would do this.  

If you don't believe in a path to citizenship, you have NO RIGHT to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

If you don't believe in a path to citizenship for undocumented workers, then you have NO RIGHT to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  I venture to say most of the people celebrating Cinco de Mayo are white people with nothing else better to do.  They probably get drunk several days a week and complain.  Likewise, I doubt they want Hispanics and Latinos, who are undocumented, to be lawful permanent residents or citizens.  If they were, then they would take jobs away from the white people who celebrate Cinco de Mayo and get drunk on a Monday-- the real winners in our society.

So my advice is simple: if you celebrate Cinco de Mayo tonight, you better be in favor of a path to citizenship.  Otherwise you are un-American and probably deserve to lose your job to a Hispanic or Latino.  Don't try and claim you work harder because you are drinking (or considering it) on a Monday night.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I'm giving the blessing at the Law Day celebration in Raleigh tomorrow

As Chair-elect of the North Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyers Division I will be giving the blessing at the luncheon at Cardinal Country Club in Raleigh on Friday.  Blessings are always difficult.  It will be even harder in front of lawyers.  Nevertheless, I am honored for the opportunity.

I helped create this initiative

Glad people seem to be abiding by it.

Daryl Dixon bobble head guards my office

Here he is.  Imagine a lawyer like this.  Zombies wouldn't kill him.  Zombies do pop up a lot in court opinions though.  So any good lawyer needs a Daryl.

May Day calendar entry reminds me of past "War on Drugs" policy

This calendar entry reminds me of the drug policy propounded in the 80s.  Until recently this policy criminalized crack 20 times more than cocaine.  White people tend to get a pass for using cocaine.  "Wolves of Wall Street" get off until they commit securities fraud.  Clearly the laws have been arbitrary and racist.