Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Mullett Toss is comming....

I have to get the pics ready and my writing somewhat organized...but I promise: Spam, G-string, cool new people and funny events.

Today I had three cases and intimidated two of the Deadbeat Dads so much that they left before we even got in front of the Judge- and I actually didn't say a word to either one. Wow. I feel all cool and stuff. Grrrr- run before me you puny men. Ha ha ha.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Justification of a business expense

I bought myself a new phone for my birthday a few weeks ago. Its very pretty-- a flip phone with one of those cameras. I like it because I can use it- my other one I was forever pushing the wrong button. I also felt bad because the old one still worked fine. Naturally, I did give it to HopePlace for battered women to use, but still, I didn't NEED it. Did you grow up with the saying: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without"? I did.

So, I was in Court Monday and my client and the baby daddy were arguing. She kept saying he was spending money on things like rims. He felt that attacking his rims was like attacking his Momma-- across the line.

In preparation for the bench trial I went out and snapped a photo of the rims in question, and my they were fancy. They spun around independently of the wheels and all that jazz. The car, on the other hand, was a 1985 Monte Carlo. Just because the man spent 2 grand on some rims doesn't mean his car is worth all that. I point this out to her but she is just fixated on those rims.

It did however make for some great testimony when he lied about the rims and I pulled the phone out of my pocket and showed it to the man and said, "so those aren't your sharp rims?" We didn't even have to get to the whole "how do you admit a picture on a phone into evidence" thing because he admitted he was lying. Hehehehe.

Today he sold the rims or did whatever he had to to come up with 1 grand.

I now feel fully justified in procuring the new phone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

How anal is too anal?

I couldn't leave today until I figured out how to do the pictures right. OK, it only took me around 12 minutes, but still, you gotta ask yourself sometimes: How anal do I really want to be? I guess its a good trait that I don't like to leave things until I understand them, and I am pretty good about being moderate about it, but still I wonder... especially when its something like I can't do my work until my desk is perfectly organized, and I can't leave on Fridays until the office is cleaned.

Looking for something to do this weekend?


I figure the Mullett Toss is like Mardi Gras: Everyone should do it once, only a fool would do it twice. (MadDog made that up...)

So, I plan to toss a Mullett for the last Mullett toss before they fancy the place up. (Oh, Gack, FloraBama with a bar that you didn't wonder what the weight load was when the drunk girl got on the table to dance around...and you felt the floor shake, just a little, and wondered how it could since she didn't weigh THAT much, what will it be ?) Then, I plan to get drunk and toss other things, but that's probably more than you wanted to know.

I also just heard Britney Spears (Yeah, quick lesson: DO NOT type Britney SpeErs into the computer. Just...Don't.) has a house on Ono Island. I hope not. Eeeewwwww. Neuvo white trash pop starlettes are not welcome.

Memes for the week

In Philosophy a meme is a discrete phrase. Another word for a meme is a thought virus.

I love the theory of memes.

Two new ones: from Playing Doctor ( www.showyoumine.blogspot.com ): Truth is the new black. Bwahahhaha. This is great. Truth is the new black. That is so, hip. As though Truth is the kind of thing that goes in and out of style...Well, I'll go there later...

Second from a client, an extremely lucky client (as in they LOST his 7th DUI, I mean, WTF!): "I have the Fog on me." Finger of God.

Loved that!

Ode to CF Penn's

C.F. Penn Hamburgers is an institution in North Alabama. Not as widely lauded as Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Que, the national champion Bar-B-Que winners several times, but none the less, a solid institution.

Today, I just had to have a Penn's burger. Brown, off the stack, all the way is how I like mine.

The Penn burger is mostly meat. The Penn burger is deep fried. "All the Way" includes onion and mustard. At the Counter in the Penn's establishment, you could be sitting beside one of the most successful attorneys in town, or the crazy guy who rides his three wheeled bike around town with the umbrella and pinwheels.

One fine day my father and I walked over to have a Penn Burger. We sat next to a Coca Cola delivery woman, who was also feeling the call of the Penn Burger. I don't remember how it got started, but somehow we started talking to her.

About 5 years ago, it developed, she won a trip for 2 to Europe from CocaCola. Now, if you had passed this woman on the street, you probably would not have sussed her up as a jet setter/world traveler. She looked like any other redneck from Alabama: satin cocacola jacket, acid washed jeans, most of her teeth.

She couldn't get anyone in her family to go with her on the trip, so the Coca-cola CEO (She told me his name, but I don't remember) and his wife went with her. I mean, can you believe that? I think that was so kind and good of them to go with this woman and take her everywhere she wanted to go. She couldn't stop talking about how nice they were to her. She told them she really wanted to see things she couldn't see in America-- small towns and ancient churches. They took her everywhere! She took over 80 rolls of film.

So now, every time I go to CF Penn's I remember that real class is taking someone you don't know, from a completely different socioeconmic class, and treating them the way you would want to be treated. And Penn Burgers Rock.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Mommy, Why did you name me E-Lexus?

Some insight into why people name their children what they name their children...


A little Levity for Friday

If you don't read Carolyn Hax Friday chats on Washington Post Online here:


You should for gems like this:

Her family is a bigger problem than she is, because if a tree whines in a forest and the family doesn't rush in to say, "Awww, there, there," and stroke its bark, then it's just a tree whining in a forest and those never ruin your parties.

Have a fun weekend.

Please, feel free to send me your questions about life...I have always wanted to be an advice columnist....

Philosophical meditation for Friday

To experience the highs in life, you must experience the lows. You must give yourself a talk when you're feeling low and remember, that as low as you feel, you'll feel that good someday. I'm trying to not beat myself up when I feel low, but rather to embrace it and do what I need to wallow a bit then get up and go about my life. If I want to take a morning or even a day every few weeks to wallow and watch movies and do nothing, I will not feel guilty. In today's society we are so driven and pushed to do more, better, faster, now.

I have resolved to set my own schedule. I do not want to feel so tired and hurried all the time. I have this internal calendar in my head that tells me I should have completed this or done that- and I have been working very hard to rewrite my internal script. I am going to try a list of chores each week so that my mind doesn't dwell on things I am supposed to be doing. A list of things I want to get done around the house will be completed slowly, and the weekly repetitive duties will no longer dominate my mind.

Rewrite your internal script, ride the wave of life and have a good weekend.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What my Insurance Provider told me...

My insurance provider is a friend of MadDog's. He came by last week with an important piece of information I will share with you.

He recently had a claim where it turned out the person who stole the car did so by writing down the vin number, calling the dealership and telling them that he had locked the keys in the car. The dealership used the vin number to make the proper key, and voila, thief makes off with a car without any problems.

So, take a business card, or one of those left over name tags they make you wear sometimes at conferences, and stick it over the vin number of your car which is in the front driver's side window. It is illegal to deface the vin, but not to cover it up.

Naturally, the dealership is supposed to run an ID check of the person requesting the key, but well, its easy, free and simple to protect yourself.

Quotes for inspiration

"Sometimes a majority simply means all the fools are on the same side."
-Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Is that right?

MadDog's secretary is a goddess. I have mentioned that haven't I?

I was reminded today of something very important she taught me, "Is that right?"

Do you remember that joke about the rich Southern girl and the poor Southern girl? The rich girl comes to visit the poor girl.

Rich girl says, "My Daddy sent me to the best college there is." The poor girl says, "Is that right? Rich girl says "My Daddy sent me to finishing school in Switzerland." Poor girl says, "Is that right?" Rich girl says, "My Daddy says I can catch any man around." Poor girl says, "Is that right?" Rich girl asks, "What did your Daddy teach you?" Poor girl says, "My Daddy taught me to say 'Is that right?' instead of Fuck you Bitch."

I used to think of this all the time when I had to deal with my former Father in Law. He liked to bait me and I would play a game to see how many times I could say, Is that right? without sounding sarcastic. Him: "Lawyers are all just drug addicts and alcoholics." Me: "Is that right?"

So, when we're having dinner with the couple visiting from Ireland and FIL's subject of conversation was "Rape as a means of subjugation of the Irish Peoples" (FIL was an Irish Catholic BTW) This is probably the most inappropriate dinner conversation topic one could possibly contrive. I finally, after 15 or 20 times, had to get up and go to the bathroom to escape from him and HE FOLLOWED ME.

Yes. He kept chasing me down the hall saying, "What's the matter? Don't like to hear the truth? Am I upsetting you?"

And he was. I wish I could have stuck to my "Is that right?" There is no reason to give validity to those who say things to get a rise out of people, but he was so freakin' irritating.

So, next time some passive aggressive asshole baits you or says something to which there really is no (socially appropriate) reply, just remember, "Is that right?"

Friday, April 08, 2005

What the Bleep do we know?

What the Bleep do we know?

Get it. Watch it at least 5 times.

You have to get this movie. Now. Right Now!

I mean it.

Philosophy meets Quantum Physics. Even for a philosophy major- it was like going back to that first philosophy course and all the questions you asked yourself.

Why are we here?

What is my purpose?

It reminded me that its fun to ask the Big Questions! I loved it so much I couldn't even write about it yesterday. I still can't articulate to you why you have to watch it.

Instead a funny story about watching it:

My Beau and I sat down to watch it. He asked, "What's it about?" I said, "I'm not really sure, Mom has been talking about it and she really wasn't able to tell me except that she thought I'd like it. You might not like it."

"Well, I'll watch it with you, I'll just get out my computer."

Put in DVD, press play. Opening credits start. Computer gets set down.

10 minutes into it, he turns to me and says, "Go Mom!"

20 minutes into it he asks, "Can I rewind that? I got distracted and missed something."

1 hour into it and we had decided this should be compulsory watching for all college students.

GO! Get it now!

Ok, have a wonderful weekend : )

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Judicial Activism

I rarely like to address politics. Politics usually makes me feel dirty and angry; not how I like to feel. But, I have to say something here.

Tom Delay (Republican, Speaker of the House) made some comments about "Activist Judges" only, this time, he wasn't talking about Judges reading something INTO the Constitution, or the old "separation" clause issues... He was angry at the U.S. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals for the failure to allow Congress to enact the T.S. law. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Congress for wasting its time dealing with this completely inappropriate issue rather than all the other things they usually stick their fingers into, because a Congress not sitting around looking for things to meddle with is a happy Congress. Please, keep up the fabulous work and quit messing with everything. To me, a perfect situation, politically, is when you have a Democratic House (to generate ideas and legislation), a Republican Senate (to curb spending and unnecessary legislation and intrusion into private life) and either side for a president-- because much less will get done, and believe me, Congress needs to do less and try to think about what they are doing a lot more.

But, back to the topic at hand....

This is how our Judicial system works (at its most basic levels): There is a law that provides a framework for the People to follow. The law is passed by Congress or the State Legislature. Once the law is written, it goes into effect. If it is well written, all goes smoothly and the law has the desired effect.

Now, lets say that someone is unhappy about a decision made under this new law. If that person is not the person directly effected by the decision, that person has no standing to challenge the decision. For example, in Georgia two men who sued under their "no sodomy" law had no right to sue because they weren't being prosecuted under the law, thus they lacked STANDING. Standing is the right to sue under a particular law.

So, that rules out everyone but the person directly effected by the implementation of the new law as people who have a right to sue. Much of the TS stuff turned on her parents lacking "standing" to sue, because she was married, and her husband automatically has the right to act as her "guardian and next friend" under the law.

Next, lets look at the grounds to object to the new law. When a trial Court renders a decision there are certain limiting factors to the trial Court's right to render that decision. I'm going to ignore the extraneous stuff out and focus on "Judicial Activism." The trial Court is hemmed in by the following minimum restraints: The U.S. Constitution, the State Constitution, Stare Decisis (Must rule in compliance with previous rulings of higher Courts), and the facial meaning of the statute. In the case of T.S., the trial Court had to apply a Florida law that said (paraphrasing) that the Judge should determine first whether or not she was in a persistent vegetative state and then if she was, what her wishes would be.

The trial Court is the only Court that hears days and days of live testimony. None of the appeals Courts hear anything beyond the lawyers, although they will review the "record" or all information given to the Court and the tape of the earlier proceedings.

The trial Court is where the application of the facts to the law is made. This is crucial. If it is a Jury decision, the Jury decides the facts and applies them to the law-- the Judge tells you the law and what it means. With no Jury, the Judge does both.

On appeal the standard of review concerning the application of facts to the law can vary but is usually called, "Abuse of discretion" or "Plainly and palpably wrong" when the judge is making decisions based on facts because the trial Court is the one who heard the testimony, listened to the people and waded through all the non verbal cues in the Courtroom. So, the appeals Court can send a case back if the Judge read the law and thought it meant X when it really meant Y, and his decision was affected by the difference, but not because Judge didn't believe Jane Doe when she testified and s/he should have.

Thus, the appellate Court is "not to substitute its judgment for the judgment of the trial Court." (I can't recall where this is from, but it was drilled into my head somewhere.)

Thus, your appeal is usually based on an assertion that the law was improperly interpreted and meant something else, or that the decision was not in light of the facts as accepted, or least frequently, that the "great weight of the evidence was against the facts as accepted."

In TS's case, this means that the trial Court made a decision, after hearing all the evidence, that TS was in a persistant vegitative state AND would have preferred to die rather than be hooked up to machines. These were Facts the Judge decided. Her parents could appeal on several grounds, but there is a high burden of proof to meet.

Now, lets get back to Activist Judges, the maligned group du jour. For as long as I can remember this has been the rallying cry of the Traditional Conservative, AKA State's Rights People. Those who thought the Court overstepped its bounds when it widened the interpretation of the "Commerce Clause" to force Civil Rights on those who would not give them freely, "Privacy" to include reproductive privacy (AKA Abortion), and so forth. These are the "State's Rights" people-- they feel that the most important clause in the Constitution is that "any law not specifically allowed to the Federal Government is reserved to the States." (That's paraphrased BTW)

Do you see where I'm going with this?

The appellate Courts and U.S. Supreme Court Declined, as they should have as NON ACTIVIST COURTS to substitute their Judgment for that of the trial Court. They did not find that the trial Court got the law wrong. Pretty much everyone agrees that the Florida law as written means what the trial Court thinks it means.

In this case- the Courts did not seek to expand their powers, nor to carve a new meaning or right out of the Constitution, nor interfere with a law as written by a State, nor to substitute their Judgment for that of the trial Court. They (each of the Courts) acted in a manner consistent with how the Traditional Conservatives have previously claimed to believe they should act when they denounce the "Activist Judges."

Leading me to conclude what I have long suspected: Conservatives are all for Activist Judges when it comes to their own interests, they're just upset because they don't like the decisions with which they do not agree.

Although, I am considering the possibility that the Traditional Conservatives have been hijacked by the Neo-Conservatives, for whom there has never been any question of activism on the Courts-- Roy Moore being their poster boy. They want activism-- their kind of activism.

Tom Delay needs to get his ideology straight and learn some constitutional law. Idiot.

Where is the party for people who believe we need a social net for those who cannot feed themselves, education for those who break the law as well as for all young people, no pandering to big corporations, less reliance on Social Security, and less government in general?

Well, when I'm Philosopher King....

Name of the week

I present this without comment:

E' Lexus.


I haven't really been living up to the title of my Blog; there has been too little philosophy.

Today I will address that with an ongoing feature I will add to the Name of the Week: Philosophical Question to Ponder this week.

So, Philosophical Question to Ponder this Week:

What constitutes morality to you? What is Moral? What is immoral? What is amoral?

If I have a client, whom I know is guilty, and, through no action of my own, I have that client's case dismissed, have I acted Morally?

What about if I actively exploit legal "loopholes" for that client, but do nothing to violate my attorney ethics? (eg: I have the indictment quashed for failure to properly cite the Code?)

This happened to me this week: My client told me he did it, but the prosecuting witness didn't show up, so the Judge threw the case out. Was I acting morally, immorally or amorally?

As an Attorney I have a duty to not make these Moral decisions for my clients. I am REQUIRED to exploit every legal loophole for my client- short of making misrepresentation to the Court or another lawyer. In other words, if the indictment is prepared wrong, I have to exploit that even if I know the underlying claim is valid, unless my client declines to pursue it and then I had better get that decision in writing in case s/he changes his or her mind.

In the Courtroom, it is the Judge's job to Judge, not mine and I must refrain from making Moral Judgments with regards to my clients...But sometimes this just feels wrong.

I draw the line pretty far in, because that's what makes me happy, but I also tell my clients this upfront and suggest they get another lawyer if they want to deceive, connive, be sneaky, or stick it to the other on principle. I do occasionally make exceptions for "principle" so long as I feel comfortable with the principle being pursued.

There is a country song with the lyric: "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything. You've got to be your own man, not a puppet on a string."

Whatever you decide about your moral decision making parameters is your decision but you need to spend some time thinking about it.

When the cashier gives you too much change will you return it or keep it?

Do you merely want to keep from harming others or do you want to actively do right by others?

Just because something is illegal is it necessarily immoral? (I had to make this sexy!) For example, all oral sexual contact, even between consenting married adults, is illegal in the State of Alabama. Its called Sodomy.

****He he heh he. She said Sodomy. (Bevis and Butthead music) 'breakin' the law, 'breakin' the law!!!******