Quote of the Day - Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief.
If You're Looking For A Gift For Your Favorite Lawyer, Visit Illegal Briefs
Some of the items on this gift website called Illegal Briefs may appeal to your naughty side, but it's unlikely you'll find a lump of coal. The t-shirts and other gifts include briefs and underwear, and some you'll probably blush at. If you're looking for a May It Please the Court gift, click on this link.
News Flash: Florida First Grader Robs Classmate Of $1.00 At Knifepoint
Lawyer Claims The Kids Were 'Just Playing'
Think about those headlines for a minute. There are so many incongruities there I don't know where to start. Just so you have all of the facts, you can check out this Orlando Sentinel story first. Let me remind you of just two other facts beyond those in the headline: (1) kitchen knife; and, (2) school bathroom.
There you have it.
Well, let me mention one more fact ratted out by a third kid who just happened to be nearby in what might qualify as blackmail uttered by the perp: "If you tell anyone, I'm going to bring my Dad's gun and shoot you."
Now that you've sat down and digested what seems impossible, let's look at what's going on here. There are three troubling aspects in this story: first, perhaps, there's the fact that a first-grader (that's a seven-year old, who may have been "held back" a year or just has a very early birthday), with a kitchen knife at school. When I was seven, I'm not even sure I knew what a knife was. Sure, my mother had them on the countertop when she cooked, but we hadn't even started whittling in Cub Scouts yet. Even when we did start, we got the "Dad talk" of never pointing it at someone else.
Let alone robbing another kid's milk money. In the school bathroom. And don't get fooled by the $1.00. That's just the start. As he gets older, he'll figure out how to add zeros. Just think Madoff and you can do the math.
Then there's the lawyer. Try to wrap your head around that attorney-client conversation. "Billy [not his real name], tell me what you did with the knife. Now, where did you spend the money?" Yes, certainly everyone's entitled to representation, but come on, a first-grader?
Not a high-priced, high-falutin' Philadelphia lawyer, as my grandfather would say.
That's a conversation between Mom, Dad, the kid and the principal, with an apology to the victim. And yes, the kid/robber (what else do you call him) gets expelled from school with a trip to the woodshed. Instead, the lawyer says the kid was just playing and shouldn't be expelled.
Where has our common sense gone?
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Discusses the Controversy Over Gardasil
You may have heard about the Gardasil vaccine for teenage girls, but you may not have heard about the serious side effects, allegedly affecting those young women. Merck, the company that manufactures the vaccine, the CDC and the FDA all say Gardasil is safe, effective, and important.
Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Bob Ambrogi, as we discuss this controversy and the litigation swirling around Gardasil with experts, Attorney Tom Girardi, nationally known plaintiff lawyer from the California firm, Girardi & Keese and Erin Brockovich, (yes the real Erin Brockovich from the movie by the same name), President of Brockovich Research & Consulting.
Wel take a look at the side effects in some cases, Gardasil litigation and focus in on the efforts to educate young women about this controversial vaccine. Click on the link below and give a listen.
Can You Avoid The Tripwire, Please?
It's getting to be that time of the year that we start to see the skiing and snowboarding lawsuits - especially with the dump of snow in our local California mountains these past couple of days. It's actually one of the things I love about California - especially after living in the Midwest and East coast.
Not the lawsuits (well, alright, I do enjoy the litigation) - I was referring to the location of the snow. California's got it all figured out. We manage to keep our snow where it belongs - in the mountains, not in the valleys where most of us live. We can choose to travel up into the mountains to enjoy the snow and then leave it there. On the East coast and in the Midwest, there's precious little you can do to avoid the snow when it falls other than to stay inside.
And yes, I am one of those people who call my family back East when the weather's balmy out here and they're stuck in a blizzard. It's the price I pay.
But back to the assumption of risk, which was where I was going before the Weather (or more accurately California's general lack of Weather [notice the capitalization]) got me sidetracked. Typically we get court decisions in the wintertime that regularly reinforce to skiers and snowboarders that they assume the risk of injury when they get on the slopes - as long as the ski resort didn't do anything to increase the chance they would get hurt.
Now that we've traveled all over the countryside, let's get to today's case, Luna v. Vela, which involved a front-yard volleyball court and a 13-year old kid who joined in the game. Fabian Luna joined the game about 15 minutes late, and when the ball bounced out of bounds, he ran after it, only to trip over the cord holding up the pole that held up the volleyball net. Fabian fractured his elbow, and sued Edilberto Vela, the homeowner and erector of the said volleyball net, pole and cord holding up the apparatus.
Does that last part sound lawyerly enough?
In any event, the appellate court overruled the trial court and held Vela responsible to pay for Luna's injuries, determining that Vela increased the risk of injury to the game's participants by installing the cord to hold up the pole that held up the net.
Call me silly, but without the cord holding up the pole, it's a little difficult to play the game. Without the cord, the net and pole would be on the ground. Certainly Vela could have poured concrete around the base of the pole to hold it up, but everytime I've seen a volleyball court up at a family outing, the cords and stakes hold up the two poles. Luna claimed the cord was "invisible" and that he didn't see it. The appellate court said the cord should have been marked with flags to make it more visible.
What's your ruling?
My First Deposition
Well, not mine - I've been practicing long enough that I actually don't remember my first deposition. In one of my cases, however, today was the first deposition for a young associate in opposing counsel's firm. Today's depos were not going to make or break the case, and they were each only about an hour to an hour-and-a-half long.
The lead opposing counsel called me prior to the start of the depos to ask me to "play fair" and not take advantage of a neophyte. It was a cordial call, with my agreement to do so as long as it didn't prejudice my client.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The young associate did a fine job, and afterward had the foresight to ask for my evaluation of her performance. I've taken a few depos in my time, so I'm somewhat qualified to offer an opinion. There were two major missteps in the way she asked questions.
First, she read her questions from her outline - virtually never strayed from the written questions. Second, she failed to ask the cross-examination questions. Let me explain.
For those who have both taken a number of depositions and gone to trial, you'll understand the second point. For those who never get to trial, it may seem difficult to get past the first point.
After the written discovery in a case is exchanged between the parties (as was the case here), the lawyers usually set the depositions of the other party to explore the case further. In a deposition, it's a rare event that the questions and the answers remain "on script" according to the asking attorney's outline. Typically more information comes up, which requires the attorney to stray from the outline and follow up on the newly-offered information. To remain on-task and on-outline misses the opportunity to learn more about your opponent's case.
More important, however, is to understand your case well enough to ask the same questions in the depo that you intend to ask in the trial. That way, you get the opposing party committed to a line of answers. When time for the trial rolls around, you can expect those same answers and at the same time be prepared to impeach that witness if those earlier answers change at trial. It's an effective technique to destroy a witness's credibility before a jury with changed answers from an earlier deposition - as long as the questions and answers go to one of the pivotal issues in the case.
Too many times lawyers miss the opportunity in a deposition to ask the cross-examination questions. It becomes apparent only after you've done several trials and recognized the missed opportunities in depositions.
But there's one young lawyer who learned that lesson early on - at least for her next trial.
Court Rules Party Cannot Record Lis Pendens In California To Notice Action In Another State
We record a lis pendens (Latin for "action pending") in the county where a lawsuit is filed to put the world on notice that there's a lawsuit pending over the ownership of real property - or at least some dispute over the land. Say, for example, Bob owns a house in Orange County, California, and you entered into an agreement to buy the house from Bob, and put down a 25% deposit in escrow. Bob gets cold feet and backs out, but refuses to return your escrow deposit claiming it was an option to purchase, and you were the one that backed out.
Beyond the fact that we have a real mess on our hands, you file a lawsuit in Orange County, California and then elect to record a lis pendens in Orange County to let anyone else know about the dispute, especially Suzy, who is thinking about buying Bob's house. You sue to force Bob to sell his house to you (an action for specific performance) or, alternatively, the return of your 25% deposit. So far so good. You have a dispute over real property, and under California Code of Civil Procedure section 405.20, you're entitled to record the lis pendens.
Now let's add one little twist to the story. [This 'little twist" is just like the Socratic method taught in law school]. Let's say that instead you entered into the contract to buy Bob's California house while you were on vacation with Bob in Florida, and you live in Florida. So instead of filing your lawsuit in California, you file it in Florida.
To follow the requirements of the lis pendens statute, however, you record the lis pendens in Orange County, California, letting everyone in the world (including Suzy) that you've got a lawsuit pending in Florida.
Still sounds good?
Not so fast there, bucko. Although Bob's property is in California, your lawsuit is in Florida. So, Bob filed a motion to expunge your lis pendens, and the court granted it. You then appealed, saying, "wait a minute, the statute doesn't say anything about out-of-state actions." Until a few days ago, no one knew whether you had the right to record your lis pendens in California. But if you remember the foreshadowing in the headline, you now know you can't. That's right - you have to file your lawsuit in the same county where you intend to record the lis pendens, not in another state.
Although the Superior Court granted Bob's motion to expunge your lis pendens, however, the Court should not have. It should have simply struck the Notice of Lis Pendens about the action in Florida.
One more loophole plugged up.
Now Wait, Where Did I Put That Cell Phone?
Honey, Why Does This Internet Site Have Those Photos You Took Of Me?
Lots of people lose cell phones, and lots of those cell phones have cameras. Some of those cell phones with cameras even have photos saved on them, surprisingly enough. When those cell phones get lost, some end up in the hands of employees, say employees at a restaurant.
Let's say, for example, that one of those lost cell phones had some photographs of your wife. Nude photos, in fact. And the last place you can remember where you had your phone was right after that Big Mac and fries.
The next thing you know, your wife is a bit upset.
Over the fact that those nude photos you had on your cell phone are now on an Internet website, supposedly frequented by "perverts and pedophiles," according to this Complaint.
Let's get to the newspaper questions: When Phillip Sherman of Arkansas lost his cell phone at a McDonald's on his way home, the manager of the fast-food restaurant called his wife Tina to let her know that he had found the phone, would turn it off and set it aside for safekeeping. Tina promised her husband would drop by the next day and pick it up.
Then, mysteriously, Tina received a cryptic text message with the address of a website and perhaps some suggestive comments. She went to the website, and there she was in all her glory.
Neither she nor Phillip were none too pleased. (Do you think that's too many negatives in one sentence?) In any event, the next step - as you might have guessed - was to the lawyer's office, who promptly filed a $3 million lawsuit against McDonald's for negligent failure to "protect and secure" the cell phone, in what some have claimed to be the first such lawsuit over a cell phone.
What is your privacy worth?
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio DiversifiesPeople are making a difference in the legal community. The American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession recently announced their selection of judges, lawyers, a legislator and a law professor to receive the 2009 Spirit of Excellence Awards, honoring efforts to promote a more diverse legal profession. Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Bob Ambrogi as wewelcome Attorney Fred Alvarez, chair of the ABA Commission on Opportunities for Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession and award recipients Attorney Richard A. Soden, of counsel to the Boston office of the national law firm of Goodwin Procter LLP and Justice Dan Sosa Jr., retired Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, to talk about diversity in the legal profession. We will discuss the progress over the years, how they have overcome barriers and made opportunities available to others and how they encourage young people to pursue law as a career.