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 - Church: A place in which gentlemen who have never been to Heaven brag about it to people who will never get there. - H.L. Mencken
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A Collection Of A Different Kind, Thank God

Yep, my Dad was a minister in the Congregational Church, which makes me a PK (Preacher's Kid), or as some of the more erudite of you would say, a TO (Theologian's Offspring).  And yes, I walked up and down the aisle with a collection plate.

But not everyone is so tactful about it.

In this article, two guys walked into a church and shouted, "This is a robbery," proceeding to take an entirely different style of collection.  Flashing a handgun, they took women's purses.

Not willing to put up with the interlopers, the parishioners tackled the robbers, and they ended up capturing both crooks.

Even though I passed around the plate, I never got tackled in church.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, January 29, 2007 at 01:06. Comments Closed (0) |

Hazing Lands Two Frat Brothers In Jail For The Next Two Years; Victim With Surgery

Two Florida Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers who hazed a student rushing their fraternity will spend the next two years in prison.  Both were within weeks of graduating Florida's A&M University, one with a degree in engineering and the other in pharmacology.  

Neither will likely be able to obtain licenses to practice those professions, however, now that they've got a felony on their record.  Likewise, they will not be able to vote or legally possess a firearm for the rest of their lives.  After the judge read the verdict, they were led from the courtroom in handcuffs. 

One of the frat brothers beat the student, and he consequently suffered a broken eardrum had to have surgery for bruising.  They hit him with a cane so hard he passed out, and the other frat brother then revived him with water so the student could undergo more punishment, and the second frat brother yelled at the student to buck up and take the punishment.  Despite arguments that the victim was a willing participant, that evidence was disallowed, consistent with the provisions of Florida's anti-hazing law.

Hazing used to be something quite different, but it's not at all like I remember.  This verdict was one of the first under Florida's new law, enacted because a student died from hazing.  Check out Stophazing.org for more information.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 13:49. Comments Closed (0) |

No Wonder His Fees Were So Low

When you pay someone $100 to fight an eviction or 10 bucks to fight a traffic ticket, you may want to ask the person doing the work to see his bar license.  He probably doesn't have one.  The low fee may be your first clue. 

But when George Robotis appeared in an Illinois criminal court, Judge John Kirby noticed that the "lawyer" hadn't included his bar number on the pleading he filed to represent a criminal defendant.  That was the second clue.  The Judge asked him for his bar number, and according to Eric Herman of The Chicago Sun-Times, who had a source in the courtroom, Mr. Robotis responded, "Oh, I'm not an attorney."

The Judge promptly hooked up Mr. Robotis, who's now in jail under $75,000 of bail.  He's charged with one misdemeanor count, and it's likely more will follow.  He's been "representing" people for over a year, according to this article in the Sun-Times, not only in Illinois, but also in Indiana. 

Anyone else who "hired" Mr. Roberts should call 773-869-6403 and ask for Sheriff Tom Darts.  The Sheriff says Mr. Robotis has an extensive criminal record, stretching to some 30 convictions, which include 23 for larceny, robbery, narcotics and weapons charges. 

Just the kind of "lawyer" I want to hire.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 02:26. Comments Closed (1) |

California Supreme Court Slices Through Privacy Rights, Opens Corporate Records To Class-action Counsel

As MIPTC reported to you last April, Pioneer Electronics filed a challenge to a class-action plaintiff's request for the contact information for everyone who's written complaining to Pioneer about their DVD players.  Pioneer was trying to keep the size of the class down, while the plaintiff was trying to increase the size of the class.  In other words, it all turned on money:  whether it was going to stay either in Pioneer's pocket or in the pockets of the class-action attorneys and the class.

The flag that both sides waved before the courts, however, was privacy.  Yours, if you've ever written in to Pioneer Electronics asking to have your defective DVD repaired or replaced under the terms of the warranty.

The trial court required the parties to submit what's known as a "Colonial Life" letter because it thought your privacy rights were paramount.  That letter was to be sent by Pioneer to you asking your consent to provide your name to the class-action plaintiff.  The net effect of such a letter cuts class actions down to practically nothing because virtually no one responds to junk mail.  The trial court modified the letter, though and said if you don't reply, then your information will be provided to class-action counsel.

As you can imagine, Pioneer appealed.  The court of appeal, on the other hand, vacated the trial court's order, and restored the "Colonial Life" letter requirements.  Again, as you can imagine this time, the class-action plaintiff appealed to the California Supreme Court

The Supremes reversed the court of appeal and essentially ordered the parties back to the trial court's version of the notification to potential class-action members.  Now, Pioneer will send the letter and then if you fail to respond, give up your private information to class-action attorneys.  The California Supreme Court reasoned in part that if you wrote to Pioneer asking for warranty coverage, you probably wouldn't have much of an objection to someone invading your privacy rights and learning about this class action.

The case is a two-sided sword, with one blade slicing through your privacy rights while the other blade slices through Pioneer's checkbook. 

Who won?



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, January 26, 2007 at 02:01. Comments Closed (0) |

SoCal's Marketing Partner Forum Podcast Of Seminar On Blogs, Podcasting and Webinars

MIPTC was part of a stellar panel of law bloggers at today's Marketing Partner Forum in Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, and below is an hour-and-a-half podcast of the seminar, From Blogs to Podcasts to Webinars to Wireless Content: What's Fact and Fiction?

I'm off to a faculty reception and dinner, so I'll add more to this post later.  On the panel with me were Larry Bodine, Marketing Consultant and host of the LawMarketing listserv, David Bowerman, Preston Gates & Ellis LLP, J. Daniel Hull, Hull McGuire PC, Patrick J. Lamb, Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd LLP, and Vicki Spang, Director of Marketing, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

Well, here's the later:  this podcast includes some of the brightest lights in blogging - yes, certainly there are others who could have been there but weren't - but the thoughts of those who were offer some of the best observations on these new technologies.  You'll learn a lot if you're about to get into blogging, podcasting or webinars.  Give a listen!



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 18:39. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Deposes General Counsel

Yes- We Have A New Name: Coast to Coast Is Now 'Lawyer 2 Lawyer'

Bombarded by technology and issues of backdating stock options and fraud, how can General Counsel be an expert in everything?  In this show, we discuss the popularity of hiring part-time GCs and the new role of the GC as the ‘superhero' of the company.

Join me and my fellow co-host and Law.com blogger Bob Ambrogi as we turn to the experts, John J. Isaza, Esq. the principal of Isaza Consulting. LLC in Newport Coast, California and Stuart Blake, co-founder of The General Counsel, LLC also based in Newport Beach, to discuss this topic.  Don't miss it!

P.S.  Yes, we changed our name.  Really!  We're now "Lawyer 2 Lawyer."  New logo graphics to follow shortly, along with the other accouterments of our name change.



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 17:34. Comments Closed (0) |

The Dance Between Selling Property And The Subdivision Map Act

Can you sell real property that would otherwise require a parcel map before that parcel map is recorded?  No - under the Subdivision Map Act - according to California courts in the case of Black Hills Investments v. Albertson's

Here's how it all got started:  Apparently, Albertsons sold two parcels to Black Hills, which then decided that it didn't want to buy, and sought its deposits back.  It also started looking for a way out of the Purchase and Sale Agreements to buy the properties.  Under the terms of the contracts, Albertson's was required to record a parcel map on the larger parcel so it could sell the two smaller parcels to Black Hills.

Unfortunately for Albertson's, there was a contract provision that allowed it to unilaterally waive its obligation to record the parcel map if it was unable to gain goverment approval to subdivide the larger parcel prior to the closing date.

Tsk, tsk, tsk, said the court.  The Subdivision Map Act requires parcel maps to be recorded before smaller properties can be sold out of a larger parcel, and there's no exception to the exception.  You can, however, enter into an agreement to sell undivided property, but you have to record the parcel map prior to the closing date.

Albertson's didn't, and consequently lost the sale of the two parcels. 



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 13:25. Comments Closed (0) |

Forget $600 Hammers - How About A $500 Damage Limit To Cover A $1.8 Millon Loader?

How does a $1.8 million Air Force truck that can hold 60,000 pounds qualify as a "package" subject to a $500 limit for damage during shipment from the US to a foreign country on the open seas? 

When the government says it does. 

Apparently the Air Force wanted to move seven of its Halverson Aircraft Loaders (a.k.a. "K-Loaders") from the United States to Oman, and hired Maersk, a shipping company, to put the trucks in the cargo hold of a ship and send them to Oman.  The Air Force even provided the contract to Maersk that would govern the terms of the shipment.

One of the K-Loaders sustained over $30,000 in damage during the long voyage, and when the Army made a claim for the damage, Maersk responded that its liability was limited to $500, per the terms of the contract.

That's right.  The Air Force's own contract, known as a Universal Services Contract, which is consistent with COGSA - the Carriage of Goods at Sea Act.

The issue turned on whether the K-Loader was a "package" under the terms of the contract.  Here's how the analysis goes that defines the  term package:  "a class of cargo, irrespective of size, shape or weight to which some packaging preparation for transportation has been made with facilitates handling, but which does not necessarily conceal or completely enclose the goods.  Next, a court should examine the parties' contract for carriage to determine whether the parties intended the goods to constitute a package."

Other courts look at things the same way:    here's the key language:  "In this circuit, a carrier may take advantage of COGSA's $500 liability limit if the shipper is given a fair opportunity to opt out of that limitation by declaring a higher value and paying a correspondingly higher freight rate. See Mori Seiki USA, Inc. v. M.V. Alligator Triumph, 990 F.2d 444, 448 (9th Cir. 1993)."

In a 26-page opinion in this situation, the court likewise held that the K-Loader qualified as a "package," and that Maersk's liability to the Air Force was limited to $500, despite the more than $30,000 damage to the K-Loader.

Thank god the thing didn't fall overboard or all seven of them sink with the ship.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, January 22, 2007 at 14:09. Comments Closed (0) |



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