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Quote of the Day - You're only as good as your last haircut. - Fran Liebowitz
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More HTGS: That's More Expensive Than John Edwards' Haircut

In the annals of dumb laws, there are some pretty good ones out there.  Some are apocryphal, and some are real, like this one:  in Alabama, you can't play dominoes in a billiard room unless you live in a county with a population not less than 56,500 nor more than 59,000 according to the 1970 census, which probably means the state law applies in just one county, I'm guessing. 

I don't know; I'm not licensed to practice law in Alabama.  Maybe somebody who is can help.  Some laws, however, get changed when people realize that they're outdated, and some don't.

Let's look at one other example down South.  But first, and as an aside here, I don't mean to pick on the South.  I used to live in Virginia, and the South is a lovely place to live.  Feel better now?

I'd point out that we have some whacko laws in California, the land of fruits, nuts, twigs and berries, but you probably already knew we were crazy out here.  Just to make sure I give equal time to our lovely state, you won't be surprised to learn that you can't bowl on the sidewalk in Chico.  Yep.  It's prohibited by Chico Municipal Code section 9.26.010.

The law doesn't stop you from setting up a rack of ten pins on the sidewalk, you just can't roll a ball at them and knock them down.

Makes perfect sense.   

Now back to my original point.  In Houma, Louisiana, somewhere south of Baton Rouge and west of New Orleans, just slightly above the bayou, you can't cut hair on Sundays or Mondays at a barbershop.  In fact, if you do, you're likely facing a $500 ticket.  Even John Edwards would blush at that price. 

The owner of such a barbershop, Clyde Scott, thought he was doing some local high school boys a favor by giving them a shave and a trim just before their Monday night graduation earlier this week.  Instead, he got a ticket under the old law.  Apparently someone called the police to alert them to loiterers outside the shop, and they came to investigate.

According to the UPI, "Houma Police spokesman Lt. Todd Duplantis said officer Michael Toups was instructed to write the ticket ..... He said the aging ordinance was discovered by Sgt. Daniel Belanger. ... Parish Council Clerk Paul Labat said the law, which also bars barbershops from opening on Sundays and several holidays, is believed to predate the merger of the parish and city governments in 1981. ‘It was probably on the books before 1979,' Labat said. ‘It's still an active law.' "

The barber will be calling his lawyer.

____________

You can read more stories like this one in my How to Get Sued book from Kaplan Publishing to be released June 3rd.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, May 23, 2008 at 20:27. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer2Lawyer Internet Radio Explores the Debate on Gay Marriage

On May 15, 2008, in a 4-3 decision, California's Supreme Court ruled in favor of plaintiffs-comprised of gay rights group Equality California, almost two dozen gay couples and the city of San Francisco, who argued that the 2000 law banning same-sex marriage in the state was discriminatory.

Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Bob Ambrogi as we welcome Tara Borelli, Staff Attorney in the Western Regional Office of Lambda Legal and Brian S. Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage to discuss this ruling. In this show, we will get specifics on the ruling, reaction from opponents, legal issues behind same-sex marriage and explore this controversial debate on gay marriage.



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 14:36. Comments Closed (1) |

May It Please The Court Listed As Finalist For Two LA Press Club Award Categories

With a tip of the hat to our very own Swiss Army Knife, Leigh Dierck, MIPTC was named as a finalist for this year's Los Angeles Press Club awards for website design and best individual weblog. 

We're up against some pretty stiff competition:  The Los Angeles Times blog, Top of the Ticket, The Enterprise Report, and the LAList Online.  For the website design category, we're up against Reason Online.

So, the awards ceremony is coming up on June 21st at the Biltmore hotel in LA, and it's the 50th anniversary of the Press Club.  Bob Woodruff will be receiving the Daniel Pearl Award.  Stay tuned - we'll let you know how the awards turn out.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at 17:45. Comments Closed (0) |

More HTGS: Robbers Storm Australian Nightclub With Machetes; G'Day Mate

It's a great thing to have undivided focus on the task at hand.  Most managers would give their employees a positive write-up at evaluation time.  I can see it now:  "__________ (insert your name here) stays on task at all times and focuses on the job until it's done.  S/he's an asset to the company."

With that kind of evaluation, you'd be sure of a promotion.  You're going places. 

But not like these two folks.  They decided to rob a bar in Sydney, Australia.  Here's what the Associated Press had to say:  "The man and an accomplice, wearing ski masks and waving machetes, stormed into a club in a western Sydney suburb shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday and yelled at patrons to lie down as they tried to rob the cash register, police said Thursday."

Remember that part about focus?

On the way into the club, the two, would-be robbers missed the 50 or so motorcycles parked in a line outside.  The Southern Cross Cruiser Club was having a meeting right when the two stepped into the bar.  Instead of laying down on the floor, the biker gang "crash tackled" the man, but the woman escaped out a service entrance.

Club members hog-tied the man and waited for police, who escorted the alleged robber to the hospital for minor cuts and bruises.  The biker gang's leader, Jester, said the two probably didn't see the bikes because of their ski masks. 

Single-mindedness is not always a virtue.

____________

You can read more stories like this one in my How to Get Sued book from Kaplan Publishing to be released June 3rd.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 17:47. Comments Closed (0) |

More HTGS: Off-duty Police Officer Wins Workers Compensation Benefits For Injury

You're on vacation, out running and you fall and break your ankle.  You're out of work as a consequence of the injury.

Would you think of applying for Worker's Compensation Benefits?  David Tomlin did, and won.  Let me explain.

Officer David Tomlin works for the City of Beverly Hills Police Department on the SWAT team.  Yes, I know what you're thinking, but I don't believe they had the SWAT team handle the arrests of either Bai Ling or Winona Ryder for shoplifting on Rodeo Drive

He is, however, required to stay in shape.  In fact, he has to take an annual physical exam in January, which apparently included a physical fitness test (think obstacle course here) and he's expected to meet certain physical standards and requirements.  Before he went on vacation, the Department told him that his annual physical was set some time after his return.  He started training for the test before he went on vacation and while on vacation in December, continued his training.

At the end of a three-mile run in Jackson, Wyoming, he slipped off a curb and broke his ankle.  He was out of work for a period of time, and missed the physical.  He later took and passed the subsequent physical test.

He applied for worker's compensation coverage, and both the City of Beverly Hills and the Workers Compensation Appeal Board denied his request.  He appealed to the Court, which reversed those rulings.  The Court argued that it the City had a "reasonable expectation" that Officer Tomlin would train for the physical fitness test while on vacation, and it should have covered his claim. 

He was not told to train during his vacation, nor did he tell the City that he would train while on vacation.  Justice Sandy R. Kriegler dissented from the majority opinion, stating, "The City of Beverly Hills will undoubtedly be stunned to discover that it is responsible under the workers' compensation law for an injury suffered by an off-duty police officer engaging in his routine recreational activity of running during a personal vacation in the dead of winter in the State of Wyoming, one thousand miles from the officer's place of employment."

Hmm.  Does he have a point?

____________

You can read more stories like this one in my How to Get Sued book from Kaplan Publishing to be released June 3rd.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, May 19, 2008 at 14:48. Comments Closed (0) |

More HTGS: Trying To Find The Right Jury, With No Help From This Juror

When the time comes to pick a jury, it's the lawyer's job to determine the ideal juror to decide your case.  Let me give a couple of examples.  When you've got a case that involves technical issues, you tend to seek engineers and other similarly employed people to ensure the jurors understand the points you're about to make in a complicated trial.  On the other hand, when you've got a personal injury case (and depending whether you're a plaintiff or defendant), you may be looking for a juror with a more liberal or conservative (respectively) viewpoint.

Let's look at one other example.  You're a criminal lawyer.  To be more specific, you're a criminal defense lawyer.  OK, to be entirely specific, you're representing a criminal defendant charged with possession of marijuana. 

Who's your ideal juror?  If you said Cornelia Mayo, you'd be right. 

Huh?

Well, let's be truthful here.  As the lawyer picking this jury, you'd be looking for someone open-minded about drug use.  In fact, if you could find someone who's at least hinting that they've smoked pot before (but didn't inhale, of course), then that person might be an ideal juror.  A scofflaw, to be exact.

That's OK.  It's called a jury of your peers.  Well, it doesn't mean, however, that you get a jury of others who also smoke pot.  What the Constitution really means is that it's not the King that's trying the case, it's being heard fellow citizens.  You have to think back to the times when the framers wrote the Constitution.  They were not happy with King George's penchant of just throwing his enemies in jail without a trial, and especially without a jury.  But I'm getting sidetracked.

As a criminal defense lawyer, if you can get one or two pot smokers on your jury, then you have a higher (no pun intended) chance of winning your trial.

Who's Cornelia Mayo

Oh right.  I forgot.  She was a potential juror for a pot-smoking trial in Houston, Texas.  As a dutiful citizen, she showed up for the jury pool and was directed to Judge Sherman Ross's courtroom to see whether she'd be impaneled to sit for this jury.  After she and the other potential jurors arrived, the judge gave instructions, and he and the prosecutor and defense lawyer asked the jury pool a few questions.  After a grueling morning, Judge Ross gave the jurors a 45-minute break.

Cornelia Mayo didn't come back from the break.  As he was getting ready to issue a bench warrant for her arrest (judge's don't take kindly to jurors who skip out on their civic duty, especially in Texas), Judge Ross's bailiff got a call from police.

They had arrested Ms. Mayo on the front steps of the courthouse and she was going to spend at least overnight in jail, with $500 in bail.  Understandable that she didn't come back from the break.

Too bad for the criminal defense lawyer and his client, however.  She was arrested for allegedly smoking pot on the courthouse steps. 

____________

You can read more stories like this one in my How to Get Sued book from Kaplan Publishing to be released June 3rd.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 10:35. Comments Closed (1) |

Coming To You: More How To Get Sued

Regular readers will know that my new book, How to Get Sued, will be released by Kaplan Publishing on June 3 and right before then, the book will be available at Book Expo America where I'll be singing books at 11:30 a.m. at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  Right now, it's available for preorder from multiple bookstores

Between now and its release date right here on MIPTC, I'll regularly feature more How to Get Sued that's not in the book, if you simply can't wait.  In the event you do find yourself on one side or the other of the "versus" label in an actual court case, however, then I've got a remedy for you.  Head on over to Kaplan Publishing's site, where they've got the How to Get Sued Bonus Materials, a primer on what to do when you get sued.

Stay tuned.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 16:17. Comments Closed (0) |

First Music Download Trial Verdict May Get Overturned

Late last year, Jammie Thomas was found guilty by a Minnesota jury of pirating music and violating the record companies' copyrights in that music, and ordered to pay $220,000.  Next month, she may get a new trial.

Ruling from the bench right before the October 2007 trial, U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. Davis agreed with the record industry lawyers and issued a jury instruction that said making sound recordings available without the record companies' permission violates their copyrights "regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown."

Thomas' lawyers argued that only the record company downloaded the music allegedly copied by Thomas, and that no actual distribution occurred.  In reconsidering his ruling, Judge Davis indicated that a case relied on by the record companies was recently vacated.  Hearings are set for next month on the issue.

Meanwhile, there's no clear guidance on this point.  District Courts across the country are issuing contrary rulings, which may require an appellate opinion to resolve the disputes.

Typically, a copyright violation requires republication, a sale or some other type of use.  Music download advocates argue that copying for personal use is not a copyright violation, while some record companies take the opposite position. 

Meanwhile, stay tuned, and don't click on that copy button. 



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, May 16, 2008 at 00:01. Comments Closed (1) |



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