Wednesday, June 29, 2005
A prosecutor was sitting around shooting the shit with his buddies one lazy Friday afternoon when the Sherriff's office called him to come over. When he arived at the sherriff's office, there was a young man in the witness room. He was kind of sniffling and the sherriffs didn't know what to do with him. He had a videotape he wanted them to watch and wouldn't say anything more. The prosecutor begins questioning him gently and this is the story he told: he was about to go to college. He was packing his bags and he wanted to gather up all his videos. He went into his parents room and looked through their videos to make sure he hadn't missed any.
He saw a video he didn't recognize but it had his dog's name on it, so he threw it in the video machine.
At this point the boy begins sobbing and refuses to say anything more. By this time everyone is real curious about what is on this tape and so they put it in the machine.
Have you guessed yet what they saw? Yeah, you got it!
His Mom is holding the camera. His dad has covered his willy with peanut butter... the dog, like most dogs, likes peanut butter.... and the sherriffs are trying not to laugh.... The boy was sobbing and terribly upset-- which is completely understandable.
Here's the educational part: 1. The dog was not forced or hurt in any way, Could they make a charge of Animal Cruelty stick? Is that animal abuse? I think they finally came up with some sort of charge...I really don't remember.... but worse than any charge is this poor boy and his dog. I wonder if I could ever speak to my parents again....
Yeah, it is kind of a passive aggressive way of telling him how I feel about his behavior isn't it?
I guess its because I am not satisfied with the option I choose as the right one in this situation-- say nothing because its none of my damn business.
I just have no idea what to do in that situation...Should one track down the spouse? I don't think so-
What do you readers think: If you know a random person is cheating on their spouse do you 1. Call them on it but don't go the spouse? 2. Call them on it, and demand they tell the spouse or you will... 3.Find the spouse and tell him/her? Or 4. Ignore it.
Does your answer change if its your friend who is cheating or your friend who is being cheated on?I would totally tell my friend if it was my friend being cheated on, and I would tell my friend if s/he was cheating that I couldn't condone such behavior, but when its a random person, I stay out.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Frankly, aside from the investors who lost money, I'm pretty satisfied that he had to 1. go through the hell of a major trial and 2. pay for all those attorneys. A trial like that, whether innocent or guilty, is horribly horribly stressful and certainly punishment enough for a normal white collar criminal. I'll give you 50-1 odds he will certainly not play fast and loose with his accounting methods in the future.
I wonder what's going to happen with HealthSouth stock now?
Ahhh, I've been waiting for it and it happened yesterday for the first time in 5 years. I was at the store, loading up on some death-in-a-box, and a man said hi to me and I KNEW he was a person I had dealt with in legal life, but I couldn't for the life of me remember whether I prosecuted him, defended him or what!
I gave him the, "Hey man! Good-to-see-you" and a big cheerful smile and kept walking. It reminded me of one of my sorority sisters whom we called Pal. See, Pal could never remember anyone's name but if she recognized you, she called you Pal. So, we all called her Pal and she tried really hard to remember people's names. I always say I will never be a politician.
Of course, at the same time, I have safety issues so I need to notice and mentally log people I see. One of the people I prosecute who really really doesn't like me was released yesterday and for the first time in a while I decided to check all the guns at home and carry the my new little Walther I bought myself for Christmas. Mostly, because the clerk noticed and said something to me about the way he was looking at me...Kind of that really creepy mix. Add that with the recent violence associated with Courts, and the fact that one of my colleagues was threatened and I choose to be armed. Just in case.
So here's a funny story about the last time I had to carry a gun. I had a protection from abuse with a truly mentally ill individual and he had followed me from the office one night so I began carrying the .38. I used to sublet an office from another attorney. There were several attorneys who sublet, but I was usually there more than the others. One night, I was up at work late-- I had left to get some dinner and returned to finish something up. When I got back, I heard very strange noises coming from the conference room. I was worried the crack head we used to take out the trash and do other little odd jobs had propped the back door and come up there, so I got out my .38 and checked out the front of the building- I didn't see anyone's car that I recognized but my own. I pulled out my cell phone, but I didn't want to over react... We had found a bird in the office about a month before... So I went towards the conference room, and eased the gun around the corner, followed by my head-- and saw one of the other attorneys in flagrante dilecto with a woman who was not his wife. I very quietly pulled the gun back, walked back to my office and left. To this day, I'm pretty certain he has no idea I saw them.
The thing is, when I see this guy I think about his kids and his wife and I want to throttle him! Even worse, about a week later, he comes into my office and my mom was there so I introduce them. (I was so traumatized by the sight, partially because at that time was going through a divorce, that she knew all about my seeing him!) When he reaches his hand out to shake hers, I notice the flap of his jacket pocket is tucked in and there is a big old box of Trojans in the pocket. I'm fixated on them in that can't-turn-away-from-the-car-wreck sort of way and mom's eyes follow mine and now she can't turn away. Awkward, very very awkward. He didn't seem to notice our staring and we both did that Southern laughing thing.... Like Kitty in That 70s Show.
And sometimes I think its boring being a lawyer !
Friday, June 24, 2005
Dear Lord, I was a little perv. How funny! I have absolutely no recollection of this.
I also found an amusing paper on Truth. There were quite a few grammatical errors.... But I still liked it. Again, I have no recollection of writing this paper....
"Truth," that simple, one syllable word carries so much philosophical meaning that it could be pondered for an indefinite period of time. According to the Miriam Webster dictionary truth is "a real state of things,...An accepted statement, or an agreement with fact or reality." To a thinker, however, truth is more than this meaning implies. Truth is, in its most accepted connotation, a fact and all its related implications.
Several hundred years ago, truth carried more depth than its seems to in today's society. People were put to death for not being true to their country. Telling the truth meant telling the whole truth, not just a part of it. Truth,then, was more than just a fact, it was a whole story.
Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story" as heard on national radio, is a good lesson on truth. It tells the whole truth. Important parts of stories that were left out to create the impression that something happened that didn't. (I lost points for that fragment....)
Truth, that little word, has made and broken men and countries. It has changed lives and societies. For example, the old saying "The history of the vanquished is written by the conquerors." (minus 10 there again for that fragment...) While the conquerors will state facts (usually) those facts are slanted to make the vanquished look bad. These facts are not truth.
In conclusion, truth means a lot more than its denotation lets on. Truth is more than a fact; it is a complete idea and all of its implications. Think of these ideas the next time a person says they are telling the truth. (minus 10 again!)
Have a great weekend!
Friday, June 17, 2005
...The parents have displayed inconsistent effort in adjusting their circumstances to meet the needs of the children as set out in the parenting plan created with the Social Services worker. The parents are married to each other but living with paramours. The mother is wholly dependent for maintence upon her male companion who has been arrested many times for "promotion of prostitution." The father is again employed after a lengthy stay in prison but barely earns enough to maintain himself and the mother of his youngest child. Neither parent has paid child support for the children in over three years.
So she got herself a pimp and he found some other woman willing to have a child with a felon whose other children have been taken from him..... I think "inconsistent effort" is the understatement of the year. GOOOOOOOO MOMS!
Thursday, June 16, 2005
This is kind of sad and kind of funny, so I'll change the facts to bring out the amusing aspects.... But really, its more depressing than funny.
I am establishing child support from both parents for some children. Children are living with a relative because when Social Services responded to a complaint at the home they found the children tied to chairs in the back yard with their own urine soaked sheets. Apparently, mumsie got tired of washing the sheets and decided to help them understand her frustration by tying children to the chairs--- it was supposed to teach them to remember to go to the bathroom before bed.
So, I get to Court to calculate the Child Support. Mumsie and Daddy are each remarried...I have no problems out of Daddy. Mumsie, Mumsie is an angry woman. She is angry at the System for taking away her kids "cause they just don't like poor people having children" and this was "all (her relative's) fault for calling Social Services for no reason. We have to discipline the children."
Oh, and did I mention that even with relative placement, the kids were in daily counseling to the tune of over 1800 per month?
So the child support was calculated and it came up to somewhere around 350 bucks a month. Mumsie wasn't working but I imputed more than min wage to her because she had a degree in accounting.
Oh yes, college ed-u-cated.
Mumsie looked me dead in the eye and said, "I cannot possibly pay that because my new husband has decided to become a professional golfer and I have to do all the books for him and I can't get another job because we have to travel a lot and besides, we have to invest all the money we do make into his career. The State wanted them, they can have them. I ain't gonna pay."
I just sat there and looked at her for a while and finally said, "Ma'am, you're going to pay this money or we're going to put you in jail. If you won't agree, then we'll just let the Judge decide. What I wanted to say was, "Good God Woman, this is the 21st century and if you didn't want children, you shouldn't have had them."
So we go in front of the Judge and she actually repeated her assertion to him. He was understandability shocked at her attitude and blasted her for about 20 minutes with a lecture that would have made anyone else weep in shame. She just stood there with this irritated look on her face that said, "who the fuck are you to tell me what to do." She finally told him she was happy they were going to terminate her rights and could she leave now because they had important things to do.
It was one of those times you have to figh the urge to grab the person and shake some sense into them.
So, that's a picture of a "Deadbeat Mom." Not as funny as some of the men about whom I write.
I don't find stereotypes particularly useful as a way to discuss people and behavior. You meet individuals and by stereotyping you tend to miss huge segments of their personalities. Women are like this... Men are like that....bah humbug.
But then again, its the individuals who display the characteristics that become stereotypes in society who are funny.
Junior Leaguers avoiding group sex because of all those pesky thank yous-- funny.
Random person avoiding group sex because of disease-- not so funny.
Non- Custodial Father spewing legal type language that makes no sense-- funny.
Non- Custodial Father dad who can't say the right things to the Court so looses some of his rights-- not so funny.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that on this site I strive to make the things I do day in and day out amusing, and if in so doing I rely occasionally on the pictures certain stereotypes bring to your mind, then so be it- but please don't think I am insensitive to the danger of stereotypes.
Thank you, we now return to your regularly scheduled programming.... With Deadbeat Moms-- the unexplored stereotype.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Now that you have, I am sure, mastered the primer, I think you are ready for the advanced lesson.
The primary requirement for being in three Courtrooms for both morning and afternoon sessions (a total of 12 cases in 6 sessions of Court) at the same time is a time machine. Just send $750,000 in certified U.S. funds and I'll send you the plans that I used to build mine.
No, No, its actually Good Will- from the Judges and the Bar. Backed up by a healthy amount of Having your Shit Together and a large pinch of Pure Luck. Finally, you have to have fuel. Eating keeps your blood sugar perfect and your mind sharp- otherwise about 3 O'clock when a case that should have settled goes to trial you aren't going to be as sharp as your client deserves.
The cases are out and notes are made so MadDog can cover the docket call in District Court, the files are ready and reviewed for City Court and I called the Trustee and made sure there are no SNAFUs on the horizon for Federal Court. The Judges and Trustee will all work with me because they know I will do my best. None of the other lawyers will complain, because I help them, so, unlike five years ago, when this would have had me on the floor crying, I am ready to do battle and not the least worried about it.
Now, I'm just irritated because when I get this efficient, I actually make less money-- because I can't double bill my time. If these cases were set on different days, they would take longer total hours to try, but out of necessity, I'm going to get it done in less time, so even though it will be harder on me mentally -- I will make less money.
I find it most amusing that I will be both Prosecuting and Defending people in different Courts at the same time. I will also be doing Federal Bankruptcy cases (Hurry up and file before you can't...) Most lawyers don't have the opportunity to do such a wide variety of types of cases-- and I LOVE it. I never get bored.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Ok, so its finally time to take the prisoners to the bench. The Judge gives each of the prisoners a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequem-- meaning a hearing to determine if their release amount should be lowered due to their inability to pay-- the cornerstone of civil contempt which is what we use to jail non-paying parents. The saying goes that someone in civil contempt has the keys to the jail because they should theoretically be able to do what is required for their release.
Plain and simple, every time we have a child support docket all the men in jail are dragged out and have a hearing to see if the Court should reduce the purge amount.
I call up Mr. X first. All three of his babymommas are there and they have united in their anger towards Mr. X. They stand in a simicircle behind me, hands on hips with all the attitude of their combined disgust. I begin my recitation of his sins... Mr. X has not paid in three years, which, incidentally was the last time he was in jail. The last time he paid voluntarily was 6 years ago. We issued a writ for Mr. X after he failed to cooperate with the employment program...That was over 6 months ago... He is behind in child support to three women, a total of (somewhere in the low six figures).
At this point an audible gasp can be heard in the courtroom, and Mr. X interrupts me with a jailhouse version of legal language. "I objects to the characterization of my person as someone who is a deadbeat. I am physically..." I turn to him and ask him not to interrupt me, and I continue with my opening salvo...Which he immediately interrupts by saying, "I objects yo honor. She is grievously affecting my rights."
The judge overrules his objection and tells him he will have a chance to speak.
I finish my part with a general plea to not reduce his purge due to his deliberate attempts to take advantage of the system and his failure to comply with the employment programs. The women chorus my speech with uh huh.
Remember that post a while back with the advice from defense attorneys part of which read, "You have the right to remain silent so shut the Fuck up?"
Well, he should have.
He began by telling the Judge what he said in the last order.
At this point the Judge stood up and peered over his glasses off the side of the bench with his arms crossed over his chest. It always means either he knows you're about to lie to him big time, or you've just raised an issue he really likes. In this case, I don't think Mr. X has raised an interesting point of law. "Now what did I say in my order?"
Mr. X tells the Judge he relieved his duty to pay child support until he had his operation.
I knew this was coming, as it always does with Mr. X- he always tries to misconstrue orders. "Your honor, if you would refer to the order of (date) you will see that you relieved his obligation to report to jail at that time."
(Legal point: the Judge would not have the power to relieve him of his duty to pay child support even if he wanted to. He could refuse to hold him in contempt, but he would still owe the money.)
Mr. X breaks in "But I reported to the jail."
(Remember it took six months to execute on the warrant, therefore this is factually impossible) At this point I couldn't help myself. I laughed. The women make disgusted noises.
The Judge breaks in with "You've been reporting to the jail every weekend?" His eyebrows are raised.
Mr. X realizes how bad this sounds. He begins to backtrack. "Umb ubm You sees I reported till you told me not to. yah."
I go over the order with the Judge who hands the file to Mr. X so he can read the order.
Having no appreciation of the law, Mr. X continues to dig a himself a hole, "Judge I've been working and I have finally saved up the 3000 for the operation and I been thinking I could give it to you to purge me out of here and my doctor said he would do it for 500 and so if I could keep the 500 and give you the 2500 then I could do that."
I am looking at him with my head cocked, mouth open and the women are looking disgusted and making little sounds of disbelief.
The Judge says, "Now let me get this straight, and repeats it all back to him."
The Judge is just shaking his head at the fact that he just confessed to having been working, making money and not paying child support.
Mr. X is distraught with the unfairness of it all-- "but yo honor you said would wouldn't put me in jail no mo."
The Judge says, no, no I didn't. He point swith his gavel--Just Go-- sit back down. Your purge is unchanged.
After that, all the women were strutting out of there all yeah we showed him-- and I didn't have a bit of trouble out of any of the other non-payers...they all happily spoke with the program workers or gave me a plan for them to get out and pay.
7 am court has pros and cons.
Pro: you're out and back to the office by 9.
Con: 7 AM! Did I mention 7 AM?
Yeah, so my client doesn't show up. sigh. I got up to be there at 7 am and she's not there. I go to call her and leave her a message-- this is your attorney, you were supposed to be in Court at 7 am if you don't get here in the next 15 minutes they're going to issue a writ for your arrest.
So, I look down at my phone (set to light only naturally- it had better not ring in the Courtroom!) and see...a text message. Oh laws, I roll my eyes.
who dis? u call me?
So, I call back and leave her another message-- this time in the side room with the cops, this is your attorney I don't do text messages, get to Court now or they're going to issue a writ for your arrest! The cops are laughing.
and I get another text, why U callin me?
at this point I decide to text her back... your lawyer.... she calls like 2 seconds later. Waaahhhh! I forgot... I tell her get up and come now to Court...
Well, I got her a new Court date (cop had already gone home....) and realized I got my ass out of bed for NO REASON. Except, now its still only 9:30 and I've done amazing things at the office.
C'est la vie.
Don't text your lawyer...and wow! its pretty hard to forget criminal charges against you... maybe you need to consider the fact that your failure to consider them with the care they're due has something to do with why you have so many?
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Look, here in Alabama you are lucky. We don't have a backlog. If you ask for a Court date for a domestic issue you're going to be in in under 3 months for District and under 5 months for Circuit. Across the U.S. this is STELLAR. Sure your Felony criminal case may take 9 months to come up, but that's for evidence processing and motions and responses. Civil litigation takes the longest, but if you haven't tried the case within 2 years, the Judge is probably going to get anxious and want to get it off the trial docket.
Today I have an afternoon CS docket with 36 cases. Three lawyers, 1 judge and we'll be in Court until its done. lets see: 1:30-4:30-- that is 5 minutes with the Judge (assuming no docket call and no emergencies for which he has to step off the bench.) truly, I know you want this to be brief and painless, but if he cuts it any shorter, you're gonna be complaining that you hardly spoke to the Judge. Actually, what really happens is that the Judge gets called away on emergencies, then he gets interested in a case so it takes 20 minutes and we end up being in Court until 8. Most Judges wouldn't stay late like that, but not our Judges. Actually, I like it because I know it will all be done and I don't have to worry about coming back tomorrow!
Personally, I only have 5 of the cases, and three are with one man who made 5 kids with three different women- so that won't take much time. He drives me crazy because he thinks he's hot and he can flirt with me. Euuwwwwww.
I guess this is why I haven't written much about Court lately-- its been a lot of Same shit, different day. Maybe I'll have something fun happen today .....
For the other lawyers out threre: I got the best compliment yesterday from a man whose divorce I handled for the wife. He said, "Thank you. You have restored my faith in Lawyers."
Wow. You live for moments like that.
Monday, June 06, 2005
We get out to the minivan and I end up sitting bitch in the way back. I have a full view out of the windows. Bob puts down the two- count them TWO video screens and cranks up the music. He choose Outkast, because you know, 30 somethings dressed up and going to Mid-town are obviously Outkast kind of people. I actually only knew it was Outkast because the video screens show appropriate videos to go along with the singing and since the music was soooooo loud you couldn't talk so I caught part of the mini concert after not being able to see any scenery because it was flying by so fast.
As soon as we took off I immediately began feeling around for the seatbelt- because over some of those hills I felt like I was going to be launched out of there.
Did I mention it was too loud to speak? I'm telling you I looked behind the seat and there was one of those boxes you build around speakers. I'm not going to tell you how big they were, because it wouldn't be anything but a guess-- but you could put your hand on the roof of the car and FEEL the vibrations. It was so loud, when we drove past the police sub-station he turned the base waaay down because he Sooo would have gotten a noise violation. He also very quickly turned off the front video screen when he passed a cop...
And people turned to check out the minivan. It was hysterical. We're zooming around, up and down streets trying to avoid the serious traffic and we are that car... the one old people shake their fist at, the one the hiphop crowd turns to check out....Until they see us.
When they see us, they keep looking-- because it can't possibly be the minivan.
It was a blast!
There are some pretty cool cars in Atlanta. There were some cars that were so cool I don't think they even allow people in Alabama to own them, because Alabama is not cool enough to have cars like that.
So, I'm walking down the street with my friends and noticing that either 1. There are a lot of men in Atlanta who are insecure about something or 2. There are a lot of people to whom 70K+ just doesn't mean that much. I'm going with Both.
My first car was a 1969 Buick Estate Wagon. It was an enormous copper colored monster that got 9 miles to the gallon and had a short in the electric panel somewhere so that when you took a corner hard the windows went up and down randomly. At some point the tires were slashed in the school parking lot and so MadDog replaced them with giant knobbly truck tires one of his clients gave him a good deal on.
My friends called it the Dinosaur.
The first car I bought myself was a 10 year old navy blue Mercedes 190 E. It too developed an electrical short-- only this one made the car just turn off while you were driving down the road. I became quite adept at putting the car in neutral and restarting it before it slowed down too much-- but it was still dangerous as hell. I was ecstatic when it was stolen.
So then, I had money saved up and I had to buy a new car. I wanted something big and rugged. I also knew now the dangers and pitfalls of fancy cars-- Mercedes mechanics make more than lawyers and bill on the same system.
I wanted a SUV. I tried all kinds of SUVs-- but you couldn't take the seats out easily...And the gas mileage was killing me- 12 to 15 MPG? I asked my insurer about the cost and it turned out that insuring a new Pathfinder was more than my old Mercedes.
I was stuck. I didn't love any of the SUVs that much-- they looked tough but they weren't. I did love the Range Rover-- but at my price point I was going to have to go with one old enough that I would inevitable have the same electrical issues as the Mercedes...and the same mechanic's bills.
And then I saw it-- they had finally put a second passenger door on the Mini-van.
But a Minivan? I am not particularly child oriented, at the time I wasn't child oriented at all. Mini vans are.... Mommy mobiles. Ewwwww.
But then I said to myself, Self, Do you define yourself through your automobile? Is that who you are? How pathetic. And so I took the mini-van for a test drive. You could take the seats out and have a great flat bed for camping and hauling stuff. It got over 20 MPG-- even in town assuming you don't drive like a bat out of hell (I average 25). And my insurer told me it would cost only about 70% of what it was costing me to insure the old Benz. It had a V-6, and a tow package, tinted windows-- I could make this work.
So I became a minivan driver. And I learned that while I may not define myself through my automobile, a lot of other people do, and they didn't think much of me.
When I drove a Mercedes, people on the road were nice to me. Sure, it probably cost less than your brand new Honda-- but they thought of it as a Benz-- and let me over, and when I passed them, they were ok with that. When I did something stupid-- they assumed I was just being a self absorbed Mercedes owner and let it slide.
When you drive a minivan this is what happens: the dude in the SUV talking on the phone without the cruise control set who slows down to 60 so you go to pass him notices that a Minivan is passing him. A MINIVAN! So he speeds up immediately to 80 and as soon as he is sure he's not being passed, looses concentration and slows back down to 60 again.
The person who is trying to pass the truck speeds up when you signal to go around the truck too because s/he sure as hell wants to get around before the minivan. When you do something stupid people scream at you. No matter how fast you're going on the highway, no one ever wants to follow you- they all figure they have to go faster than the minivan. (actually, that one is OK with me-- people used to jump in line behind me a lot in the Mercedes, but as you'll recall from this post http://philosophicalawyer.blogspot.com/2005/05/if-i-lead-please-dont-follow.html
that was probably not a good idea for them.)
Of course, police and troopers also don't notice me, so there are benefits. The white minivan is the most common car on the road and the least likely to be ticketed.
I love my minivan. I'm now on my second one and I don't think I spent more than 3 minutes deciding to buy another one. Of course, one day when I have all the money in the world, I'll probably have a Range Rover County or a 1980s Toyota Land Cruiser-- but for now, I'll cruise undercover in the van. With the 4'x8' sheet of plywood in the back or whatever else I care to haul....
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Except he didn't. I am disillusioned. Deep Throat was a whiney bureaucrat who was upset over getting passed over and so said "Nah Nah Nah" to the Big Man. I always wanted Rehnquist to be Deep Throat. See, that would have been cool. Deep Throat didn't even tell Woodward and Bernstein he was going to reveal his secret- two people who have kept it all these years, and he cut them out at the last moment-- there's loyalty for you.
Philosophically, this bugs me-- I have always considered pure motives to be more important than pure results. In other words, I find it morally repugnant to do the right thing for the wrong reason- and Deep Throat did the right thing, but for entirely the wrong reasons. Here's a special ***THHPTTT**** for you Deep Throat- your Porn-tastic moniker is apropos for the subservient vision of you it calls to mind.