May It Please The Court: Weblog of legal news and observations, including a quote of the day and daily updates

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Quote of the Day - What a nice mob you press fellows are - wholesale scavengers! - Gilbert Parker
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Soprano-Style Mob Story About To Play Out In Chicago Court

For The First Time: The G-men's Calabrese Santiago Proffer

The Sopranos have many fans on TV, but we're about to step into the real-life Sopranos in an upcoming Chicago trial on June 1 against Nicholas Calabrese.  Prosecutors filed a 63-page description of four decades of mob hits.  Although heavily redacted to protect witnesses, the document makes very good reading.

And good scripts.

One of the mobsters identified in the document in the case  has already inspired a character played by Joe Pesci in the 1995 movie, Casino.

Here's the document, called the Calabrese Santiago Proffer (so named for the appellate case where the government was first required to set out the facts of its case), if you're an aspiring screenwriter, or otherwise just curious about The Mob (skip to page four of the Proffer for the facts).  It was previously sealed by the court, but thanks to the Chicago Tribune, it's now a matter of public record. 

Plus, none of the news sites I've searched so far have made it available to the general public, so here it is for your viewing, straight from the case, United States v. Nicholas Calabrese, US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Case No. 02 CR 1050, the Honorable James B. Zagel presiding.  Zagel has already sentenced Frank Calabrese.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 15:52. Comments Closed (0) |

Property Manager And HOA Named As Employer Where Unlicensed And Uninsured Contractor's Employee Injured

What happens when you hire an unlicensed contractor whose employee gets hurt on the job?  You get to pay for injuries to the contractor's employees.  Essentially, you become the insurance company.

Take the case of Freddy Aguilera, who was hired at $65.00 per day to install rain gutters.  Unfortunately, one of the gutters held by Mr. Aguilera came in contact with a high voltage line while he was on a ladder.  Not surprising, Mr. Aguilera fell from the ladder to the ground and was injured.

Here's where it gets a bit tricky.

Mr. Aguilera was employed by Mark Hruby doing business as Rube's Rain Gutter Service.  Rube's was in turn hired by Pegasus Properties, a condominium manager for Montana Villas Homeowners Association.  The HOA elected to install the much-needed rain gutters recommended by Pegasus, and instructed Pegasus to get the job done.

Unfortunately for Pegasus and the HOA, Rube's did not carry worker's compensation insurance, and was not licensed by the California State Contractor's License Board.  So, when Mr. Aguilera sued Rube's for his injuries, he also sued Pegasus and the HOA.

In this court opinion, the court reasoned that Mr. Aguilera was employed not only by Rube's, but for the purposes of the lacking worker's compensation insurance, also by Pegasus and the Montana Villas Homeowners Association because Rube's (the employer) was illegally uninsured.

Although the case doesn't identify the cost of Mr. Aguilera's injuries, it does note that the rain gutter contract was a mere $1050.00.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at 14:15. Comments Closed (0) |

Disconnecting From The Electronic Tether

Crackberry users got a bit of cold turkey last week, sending a shiver down the spines of many of us whose electronic umbilical cord is connected to the office.  As regular MIPTC readers know, I spent a bit of time in Australia recently, and discovered that Down Under has yet to enjoy the benefits of coast-to-coast broadband access. 

One of the high-end hotels we stayed at was proud to offer dial-up connectivity in an ante-room off the hotel office, but you had to use your own provider. 

Whoa, there cowboy.   Don't go into shock yet.

Being disconnected worked marvelously.  In fact, I highly recommend it.  I don't use a Blackberry, but I'm just as bad:  I use a global Samsung cell phone that gets my office email, telephone calls, spreadsheets and documents all in the palm of my hand, and my head is frequently buried in it when I'm away from the office.

In Australia, however, I had no choice:  while my cell phone worked there and occasionally got email, not everywhere in Austrialia is covered by the type of service I need to stay connected.  The first few hours of disconnectedness were awful.  One day into it, I was going through delirium tremens and feeling the shock of no email.

Withdrawal, in a word.

On the third day I was thinking about pyschological help, but by the end of the week, I discovered the freedom I had before cell phones with email were invented.  I think they call it relaxation.  It was great. 

You oughta try it, too.  Just don't take a week to get there.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, April 23, 2007 at 14:46. Comments Closed (0) |

DNA Proves Husband Is Not Dad, But He Has To Pay Child Support Anyway

Imagine you're married and have a three-year old child, but you can't get along with your wife.  You get a divorce and are ordered to pay $1,200 a month in child support.  You may not like it, but you understand because you want to support your child.

But after your divorce, DNA proves otherwise.

Mom may be Mom, but her child is not yours.  After learning the devastating news, you go to court for an order to stop paying child support.  Let the real father kick in for the child support, you reason.  The courts rule against you, so you appeal all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.  Somewhere along the line, someone has to make sense of this problem.

The Florida justices ruled 7-0 against Richard Parker. The Court ruled Parker must continue to pay $1,200 a month in child support.  Parker's child support payments will total more than $200,000 over 15 years to support another man's child.  Unfortunately, however, Florida has a one-year statute of limitations to prove fraud after a divorce, and Parker didn't file in time.

"We find that the balance of policy considerations favors protecting the best interests of the child over protecting the interests of one parent defrauded by the other parent in the midst of a divorce proceeding," Justice Kenneth Bell wrote for the Florida Supreme Court.  "We recognize that the former husband in this case may feel victimized," wrote Justice Bell.  He quoted another writer to explain the ruling: "While some individuals are innocent victims of deceptive partners, adults are aware of the high incidence of infidelity and only they, not the children, are able to act to ensure that the biological ties they may deem essential are present."

Is the Court saying, "don't trust your spouse?""

Is that the right result?  Shouldn't the biological father pay the child support?

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, April 22, 2007 at 11:23. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Goes to the White House

More than half of the 43 US Presidents have been lawyers! On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we look back throughout history and reflect on the lawyers who used their legal background as a springboard to reach our Nation's highest office, and compare the backgrounds of the current list of lawyer candidates including Clinton, Edwards and Obama.

Join me as I turn to the experts, Dr. Barbara Perry, Carter Glass Professor of Government and Executive Director, at the Center for Civic Renewal at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, Professor Kinvin Wroth, Professor of Law at Vermont Law School and Professor David H. Bennett, Meredith Professor of History at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, to talk lawyer-presidents. Don't miss it!


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, April 18, 2007 at 16:50. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Investigates the Don Imus Controversy

On his April 4th show, Don Imus, controversial radio host, went on the air and made derogatory remarks about the Rutgers' women's basketball team that caused a groundswell of controversy.  On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we will ask our experts what the legal issues are in this controversy.  Are there legal issues or are there social issues that are being debated? blogger and host Bob Ambrogi turn to our guests Eileen O'Connor, counsel at Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe in Washington, D.C. and 24-year veteran broadcast journalist, Attorney Norman A. Pattis, criminal defense attorney and writer for the blog, Crime & Federalism, and Attorney Sandra S.Baron, Esq., Executive Director for the Media Law Resource Center to discuss the Imus controversy. Don't miss this discussion, and feel free to add your comments below about whether rappers should be held to the same standard as Don Imus.


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, April 13, 2007 at 18:00. Comments Closed (1) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Saddles Up to the Bar, Online

Some lawyers can be "set in their ways" or "old-fashioned" when it comes to technology. On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we will take a look inside and the Institute and discuss how an online bar aims to shape the future of law worldwide. blogger and host Bob Ambrogi welcomes board members from, Jeffrey M. Aresty, Esq., a Boston lawyer and President of, Amelia "Mel" Rea Maguire, partner in the law firm of Amelia Rea Maguire, P.A and Kenneth J. Vacovec, the founding partner of the firm, Vacovec, Mayotte & Singer. Tune in!


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at 10:13. Comments Closed (0) |

MIPTC's South Seas Journal: Wandering In The Red Sand Day Eleven

Souvenir stores near Ayer's Rock sell Australian bush (slouch) hats, complete with strings and wine corks dangling from the brims.  It admittedly looks odd, until you've been outside and understand the purpose.  Blow-flies (we call them horseflies) swarm around your face, landing wherever they can find moisture.

The strings and wine corks are meant as a distraction, and apparently work fairly well.

But not as well as mosquito netting, which I found as an amenity in my hotel room and promptly took with me, having been outside long enough to get off the plane and to the hotel.  The purpose of the green netting was immediately apparent, even though the odd-looking bush hat was not.

The flies are a distraction at most, but for someone who's lived in Southern California for long enough to appreciate the lack of virtually all bugs, it's very noticeable.  Beyond silly-looking hats, there's another way to avoid bugs:  wind. 

When it's hot, there's not much wind available where the land is flat, as it mostly is around Ayer's Rock.  Thankfully, however, there are some nearby mountains that offer some respite.  For sunrise, our guide takes us on the Walpa Gorge Walk, a stunning walk into the Olgas, also known as Kata Tjuta in the aboriginal language. 

The mountain range is actually some 36 domed rocks; mystical heads to the aborigines.  There are many Pitjantjatjara Dreamtime aborigine legends associated with this range, including one about a great snake named Wanambi, who lives on the summit of Mount Olga and only comes down during the dry season.  Thankfully, it was still wet when I was there.

The gorge is mostly flat, and a thin, mostly stone path leads toward the crevasse point along the two-kilometer path at the base of the gorge, looking up to sandy red sedimentary mountains towering overhead and in between the two tallest domes in the formation.  Quite different than Ayer's Rock where the layers are at 90 degrees to the ground, the sedimentary layers at the Olgas are parallel.  Interestingly, the two mountains are less than half an hour drive apart. 

Only a geologist knows why they're so different.

The Olgas are not as bright red as Ayer's Rock, but they're certainly stunning.  The gorge walk features running water across the rock path, steep cliffs that rise straight out of the ground and deep, circular pock-marked walls overhead.  It's a bit unnerving to realize that the pock marks are actually car- and bus-size boulders that have eroded out of the conglomerate sediment, and ended up on and near the path where you're walking.  When you have a moment to look down, it's immediately obvious where the round boulders came from, and that you're in the way.

Another feature of the gorge is the differential in the temperature, which provides relief from the flies.  The gorge is shaded in the early morning and stays that way well into mid-morning, so it's much cooler than the surrounding area.  As a consequence, the wind blows, and blows hard.  So hard, in fact, that the flies can't.  The relief is almost instantly obvious, and allows you to enjoy the scenery without the distracting of buzzing around your ears or near your eyes. 

As the morning progresses from sunrise, long, diagonal shadows crawl centimeter by centimeter toward the ground and back toward the crevasse point.  Now we can see lizards and goannas sunning themselves, waiting to feast on an errant fly.  By the end of the walk, the sun highlights the red rock, and the warmth greets us as we walk back to the starting point at the edge of the gorge. 

If it's not windy in the gorge when you arrive, you can always try the other (and much longer seven kilometer walk) in the Olgas, the Valley of the Winds.  There are no flies there, for the most part.  Otherwise, your best alternative is the Great Barrier Reef.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, April 07, 2007 at 09:32. Comments Closed (0) |

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