Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This week in my life....

So I sit and wait yesterday with my client for a Deposition that never happened. When the Court reporter still wasn't there 10 minutes after the scheduled beginning time I called- and it turned out that the other lawyer had to fire his scheduler (You know, I just can't imagine working in an office when you have someone who does nothing but schedule your trial stuff.) so he didn't even know that he didn't know there was a deposition.

I laughed about it, but damn, now dude has a "big trial" with Jere Beasley (a hotshot lawyer in Alabama) in January, so I'm shuffled off to end of January- when we could have gotten an offer before Christmas. Sigh. I guess I'll just have to be patient.

Last week, I received a snippy letter from an older, very respected member of the bar. It pissed me off so I wrote him back, using the word umbrage, and the sentence, "While my client did punch your client in the face, she did so because your client brought his girlfriend into the marital residence and proceeded to speak disrespectfully to her, his wife." It was a good letter, a good, don't mess with me I'm no pushover, but I respect you very much letter.

So I saw the lawyer today and followed up with my offer that if he would prepare the papers I would allow my client to sign them. He laughed, and said, "Well, I sent you a copy of the letter I sent to my client today. I'm tired of fooling with him so I sent his money back. He's entirely too much trouble."

Which is not at all what I wanted. I wanted him to just tell his stupid client to sign the no contest divorce papers I prepared and be done with it. I would even have lived with him preparing the "cruelty" divorce papers and allowing my client to sign. Ack. I guess I did too good a job.

Ewwww, and tomorrow I have the awful trial with the, "Why can't I sit in my car with the keys in the ignition so I could turn the music on, drinking a six pack? I wasn't going to drive anywhere. So I am totally innocent and my boyfriend says he's a better lawyer than you are because everyone knows you have to be driving to get a DUI. " girl.

At the crack ass of dawn, no less.

So let this be a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you're drinking, you should not have the keys to the automobile under your control. If you're drunk and want to pass out in your car, throw the keys in a bush near your car and crawl in the back seat- you could get a DUI, but you'll probably win. If the keys are in the ignition, you are sunk. If the keys are in your pocket and you're in the back seat, the law is real clear- you can be given a DUI.

And to you, the client I had today, the one who started yelling at the cop and then put her 11 year old in the car with her and got behind the wheel "Just to see if the car would start for me tomorrow, I wasn't going to drive anywhere. I was going to have the officer give me a ride to my sister's house," Just because I tell you that there is a 90% chance we're going to loose, doesn't mean I'm against you. I'm being honest- based on the facts. Its like I said to you, "even if everything you have told me is true, and the Judge believes everything your say, he can still find you guilty because you got behind the wheel and turned the car on and you had been drinking and taking sleeping pills." (And you didn't take a test. And plus, calling the cop a dirty pig and telling him you hoped someone killed him, was just really, really stupid.)

Oh and let this be another PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: The fact that you have children will have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not you are given jail time for a crime. Bringing your children to Court and holding them in your arms while arguing with the prosecutor and Judge will NOT decrease the chances of your going to jail. "I can't go to jail, I have children." is just not how it works. Repeating "I have children. I can't go to jail." until your attorney wants to call DHR and sic them on you, will not change that fact.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Brief post

I promise, as requested, my views on OJ, but first I saw this:

and thought, Great! Sue the wench. She is awful. If the law firm worked anywhere near me, I would volunteer to help them- whatever they needed.

I hope Nancy Grace feels like puking with guilt when she thinks about the things she says and how she treats people. Because I, unfortunately, saw part of that interview and felt so bad for the woman I had to change the channel- Nancy takes bare factless allegations and speculation and grills the woman with it. For crying out loud- every child who disappears is not a victim of his/her parents. Ok: suppose Nancy was right and the woman had something to do with the disappearance- did she really think that the woman was going to break down and tell her on live TV? Did she ever stop to think this is an exhausted, emotionally frazzled woman who came on my show to try to get some leads in her child's disappearance?

I'm all for good journalism where one asks the tough questions. Absolutely. But see, if she really wanted to aid the prosecution- she would ask similar questions to the one they have been asking all day long and see if she can get a slightly different answer to use to impeach her and/or further the investigation. She would make the person feel confident and comfortable and build upon their story- that's when liars really lie- they throw in a fact too many, or forget a fact.

I am really getting tired of people getting grilled because their reaction isn't what one expects it to be in the face of a tragic situation. We MUST realize that people behave differently under extreme situations. Prime example: Yesterday there was a terrible accident near me where a school bus careened over an overpass and landed (right side up) on the ground- some 15 feet below the ramp. One of the news channels interviewed a parent whose child had died and my husband was surprised at the mother's apparent good mood, smiles and laughter in the few seconds of video they show while doing the voice over. She was somber when on camera- but smiled when recalling how cheerful her daughter was. If she had been in any way possibly linked with the child's death- some might have found her behavior flippant or guilty- because she seemed happy in the hours after her child's death. Yet I understood where she was comming from: she had several other children at home, had to maintain for them and seemed to be a generally happy person- and possibly the true reality of the situation had not hit her.

Oy, OJ KOed, Ok?

OJ Simpson has to be one of the savvyest consumers of our legal system I have ever seen. Don't get me wrong, I think he is lower than the slime on the bottom of the river. However, sliminess and successful navigation of our Court system are in no way related; although there might be a correlation, I don't think its in any way causative. Whomever he has chosen to advise him- he should pay the person double what he's paying him/her- because s/he is worth every penny.

First, there was the trial. Big egos wonderfully manipulated by the best legal defense team money could buy. My Hubby and I were talking about this the other night- people like OJ have the money to run blind trials on differing types of potential jurors. You may not have known that. Then, the legal team takes the shrink's views and opinions and learns who would be a good juror- and what arguments work well on those people. YOU ONLY HAVE TO GET ONE. That's it folks- 1 out of 11 (or whatever the number in your state)-- less than 10% and you've got a mistrial.

But then- that's what is sooooo amazing about the OJ verdict- they didn't come back split- they gave him a not guilty verdict. ( At the time my opinion was that the Prosecuton screwed up more than the Defense team was successful- but a win is a win, even if you won because the other team forfited.)

Because that's the thing- a mistrial and it can be tried again- but not NOT GUILTY. He could literally stand up on the steps of the White House and proclaim he had, in fact, done what they said he did- and he could not be tried again for their murder.

And then I heard the Statute of Limitations on Perjury expired a few weeks ago- so I'm guessing all the other ancillary crimes have also expired. (Obstructing an investigation, maybe?) Smart- this man is pretty darn smart.

But I want to focus on this book. Now, from what I understand, he isn't saying, "I did it and ..." He's saying, "If I did it, I would have done it SOOOO much better than whomever did it, did it; And this is how I would have done it."

Because, you know, he's innocent and stuff, and clearly, if he had a done it, which he didn't, it would have been done right and he wouldn't have had to go through that trial, which he only had to go through because someone else did it and the police were so inept in their investigation that they couldn't even find the right killer. So there.

It is, in short, the kind of publication that your lawyers sit and beg you not to write, your financial advisors shudder to contemplate how they will manipulate the income so as not to be income, and makes your children's psychiatrist suggest perhaps two days a week really would be better and s/he has an opening on Thursday at 5, and oh, probably for the next few years thank-you-very-much. And then your lawyer bills you for reading the manuscript, your financial advisors for the trusts and off shore accounts, and the shrink for your children's peace of mind.

Honestly, I don't know what to think. On the one hand, if he made the profits from the book go to Ron and Nichole's family, or even his kids I would probably say, go for it, there is no accounting for the taste of the American Public. On the other hand, He's gotta know there is a special place in Hell for him. I know that if a child of mine ever dated a sports star I would want to throw up. I have never cannonized people who are successful at sports- and I don't really understand why Americans do.

But, you probably wanted to me to help you understand this legally- and that I can do.

Look, we have a system. Its NOT perfect, and we don't want it to be perfect. Its ok that sometimes a guilty person gets off and an innocent person is punished- because we are human beings and we cannot design and impliment a perfect system. (Garbage in- garbage out.) We design a good system that works as well as possible with the limitation we give it ("It is better that a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent man be punished.") and with that we, The People, rolls the dice and takes our chances.

Or rather, the design and implimentation of a perfect system is really not what we want because a perfect system would render us not free. (See: any one of a number of future-perfect-world- that-is-really-awful films, 1984, etc...)

So, that's my opinion. Such as it is. I will not be buying the book, nor reading it. I will vote against him with my wallet- really the only vote that matters in our world.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What do you want more of?

So, I'm sitting here struggling with topics...

Do you like hearing about the dumb things people do and say to me?

What I've learned in Court?

Or do you want to know my take on crazy news stories?

Like I think Nancy Grace is one of the most awful human beings in the world and if I met her on the street I would have to go to my happy place in an effort to avoid doing her bodily harm... and even then I would just really, really want to shake her until she "got it."

Do you like my weird mix of things?

Tell me what you want, what you really really want.... (Which reminds me: Was "If you want to be with me, you've got to get with my friends." One of the most bizarre lines you have ever heard in a pop song? I mean, my friends and I like to share, but that's just downright icky. )

Thanks, oh dear and loyal readers : )

Monday, November 06, 2006

Courtroom attire....

There was a lawyer in Court today and this is what she was wearing:

Cute black leather, knee high, high heeled boots. (If only she had stopped there and paired those with a nice normal suit.)

Black hose, but the ones you can see leg through, not the opaque ones.

A tight, as in I could see a panty line, black leather knee length skirt.

A gray and white shirt with ruffles.

A cropped black leather bolero jacket.

A Barbie Pink, mock crock attache case.

And finally, the piece de resistance: a gray felt hat with one side of the brim jauntilly pinned up and held in place by a Turkey feather pinned to it. I AM NOT KIDDING.

I think if that was my attorney, I would have had SERIOUS doubts about my choice. I also don't care that she was from Birmingham. Birmingham isn't New York, and I don't think people there are wearing each of the fashion trends for the season together in one seminal outfit.

I, for example, was wearing my new "menswear" suit (Charcoal gray with subtle deep red and blue pin stripes) with my "jewel toned" (wine red) shirt- very new, very in and Very Freaking Appropriate.

Truth, Justice and Unclean Hands

In law school, you learn about something called Equity. Equity is one of those doctrines where you go when you have nothing... Basically, its the "its not fair" argument. You know how often "but its not fair...." Works in real life? Yeah, not very often.... And its the same in Court; Equity is rarely invoked, and even more rarely applied. (Referring back to my "Pound the law, pound the facts, pound the table" entry from a few weeks ago- you're usually going into Equity country when you're pounding the table....)

So, I was reading my new case law today, and I came across a fun, albeit inequitable, use of Equity.

HealthSouth, Alabama's infamous, big "we don't have to follow the rules everyone else does" scandal ridden corporate greed exemplar tried to take it to the next level. Balls? Oh yeah, they have big brass ones.

It seems that during 2000- 2003 HealthSouth decided to make its bottom line assets appear more substantial than they were, so they created a list of personal property "owned" by the corporation. Only the list was a purely fictional work. HealthSouth didn't actually own any of the items listed. (Frankly, it amuses me to imagine the list. If I lived in Jefferson Co, I might go to the Courthouse and copy the list for you just for amusement purposes. Works of art? Non-existent chairs? Fully furnished conference rooms that never were? How does one populate such a list?)

But I digress.

Now, in addition to bolstering the company's bottom line, ownership of property by corporations also creates tax liability. Specifically, Ad Valorum tax liabilities.

Naturally, after the scandal broke, HealthSouth suddenly needed to cut expenses- so its inflated bottom line needed to be reconciled with reality. Now, the County allowed them to restate 2003 property, since at the time this began 2003 taxes had not been paid, but they refused the company's request to restate the 2000-2002 property lists.

After the County refused, HealthSouth began its legal quest to restate those lists. The Probate Court read the statute and looked up the meaning of "mistake" and "error," which are the two times when a list can be revised, and decided that the "plain meaning" of neither of these terms applied to a fact situation where a company "purposefully" and "intentionally" overstated its possessions. (I picture the Judge, calling to his chief clerk, "Judy, will you bring me my dictionary? I have to look up whether an intentional act can be a mistake." She rolls her eyes at him. Naturally, the Probate Judge says No. The paid taxes stay paid.

HealthSouth appealed. (Surprise!)

On appeal, one of the issues they argued was that because the tax office allowed them to restate 2003, they couldn't treat the earlier years any differently. It was only fair, they argued. The Supreme Court denied their appeal and stated succinctly: "A party seeking Equitable relief must have acted with equity and must come into Court with clean hands."

And folks, from what I've read in the papers, the only person at HealthSouth who definitely has clean hands is the janitor.