Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Smells Fishy

Fishy smell is bad news
Did you know that fresh fish is not supposed to smell like fish?  Counter intuitive, I know. It should come to no surprise, then, that if fish smells fishy, it's not fresh. More to the point, if anything smells "fishy," odds are something is not right.

Take, for example the Aaron Hernandez hanging.  That's right, hanging.  In case you didn't know, Mr. Hernandez hanged himself last night.  That's "last night," as in the evening after being acquitted of a double homicide.  I don't know about most people but if I had been acquitted of a double homicide, I'd be REALLY happy about it - not contemplating how to kill myself.

Thing is, if Mr. Hernandez was even close to being suicidal, it would have been back in 2013 when he had been handed a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd.  Four years after that fact and he hangs himself after being acquitted for a double homicide?!  Yeah, something smells fishy, to me.

What I suspect happened is someone figured that, with this double homicide acquittal, Mr. Hernandez was one step away from freedom.  Thing is, the murder of a loved one does things to a person's head.  You're looking for answers and revenge.  Even people who say they forgive....it's hard to believe it.  Murder, like money (or the lack of it), really messes with people's heads.  

Hypothetically, if I were a family member of a person murdered by someone who had just been acquitted of something and I'm still in mourning, I might do something rash and foolish - if I had money to do something rash and foolish.  In this case, something did happen (Hernandez is dead) and it in no way went down without the help of not a few "people."

Anyway you look at it, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.  I'm guessing this "suicide" will be brushed under the proverbial rug asap to avoid any fishy entanglements.

Monday, April 17, 2017

SPOILER ALERT

Information God, I am
I have a confession.  I have not always been an information god.  Yes, yes, shock as that may be to some of my fans but I have not always been the dashing hunk of a Librarian you now "see" before you.  It was a long and arduous process that led me to this plateau. You see, there was time when I, too, got lost in libraries. Heck, I got lost on the freeways all the time.  I remember this one date I went on.  I was just getting used to driving on the freeways and I asked my brother how to get to Dodger Stadium.  Then I asked him how to get back home and he replied, "Just reverse the directions."  Famous last words. We left the Stadium at 9:30PM and I didn't get her home until long after 2AM.  OUCH!

I learned a valuable lesson from this experience: If you're going to ask someone for directions, make sure they know the lay of the land.  For example, say you're going to do a "simple" research project on what constitutes a legal search and seizure.  If you were to go to just any library, you might get lost in a sea of information.  If you were to come to MY law library, I could show you such wonders as:


...and off and running you would be looking for exactly what (and where) you need to be.  

What you would not be told is "just reverse the directions" or "it's over there behind the brown shelf."  See, your local county law Librarian is a professional (a King/Queen amongst a world full of kings and queens) and we're here to serve you and help you look good in court.

In fact, I challenge anyone to go to a law library and see if we won't help you be the best you can be. That's right, I'm throwing down the proverbial gauntlet.  I challenge all challengers to come/go and ask any legal research questions and see if your local county law Librarian can't send you along your merry with a warm and fuzzy feeling (and a list of stuff at which to look).


Bottom line, you've got questions, we've got answers.  Heck, we've got so many answers that you might just not want to ever leave the library.  So, you've been warned.  You may want to leave a last known address so loved ones will know where you've disappeared to.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Gotta Watch Where You're Going

Stupid lawsuits
I was surfing around the web the other day and I came across a website extolling the virtues of the latest craze: Virtual Reality (VR) Headsets.  At least with the Pokemon game that has swept the world, users could at least say they were unobstructed as they walked into traffic or off cliffs or into trees.

With these VR headseats, users wearing sets that cover their eyes and ears, can transport themselves into virtual universes, battling dragons, ogres, or evil corporate giants.  Of course, the biggest drawback is the fact that while you are battling said dragons and giants, your eyes and ears are covered by a bulky VR headset allowing pick-pockets and other thieves to rob you of everything whilst you clamor around the countryside.

But clunky walking aside, imagine a scenario where a person is walking up a virtual reality path and suddenly a truck takes them out because what they thought was a path was actually the street that they had just walked into (and, subsequently, the path of that truck that had your name on it).  The result, of course, will be a mountain of lawsuits - because people don't kill people - VR headsets do.  

I can just hear it now from a personal injury attorney, "The manufacturers of these VR headsets negligently put these evil machines on the market for the poor, unsuspecting public (who can't think for themselves).  The public needs to be protected from the greedy corporate giants (that my client(s) were fighting in their virtual reality world just before being killed by a truck when said client(s) stepped in front of it as it barreled down the road)."  Oh, the humanity!

Then, of course, there will be politicians who can't wait to get their 15 minutes by drafting some inane legislation outlawing VR headsets because people must, after all, be coddled like sheep (and who better to coddle (and fleece) the sheep than politicians?).  Then there will be the protests against VR machines and calls to ban the use by people under the age of 21.  Then there will be "non-profit" groups creating outreach programs (funded by your tax dollars) to help those addicted to VR headsets.

The sad thing is, this is all possible due to the ever increasing hunger for litigation by people who have nothing to do but file lawsuits.  No, I'm not talking about attorneys.  I'm talking about the general public who abuse the legal system by hiring personal injury attorneys or file in pro per just to make a buck.  There is no liability, just legal extortion and sad that the judiciary can't see that. Instead, judges perpetuate litigation until things snowball so much out of hand that it becomes its own industry!

I have an idea.  Why not, when the first lawsuit(s) against VR headset manufacturers are filed, the judges tell counsel that their clients should have known better and dismiss the lawsuit?  Maybe insist that people take personal responsibility for their actions and not try to blame someone else for their buying a headset that shackles and blinds them.  You knew what you were doing when you bought the fool toy.  If you're going to buy a VR headset, for goodness sake play with it in your own backyard - away from trucks and cars and criminals (or politicians) who are just out to fleece you and stop with the litigation madness.  

I mean, really!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Word of the Month for April 2017: Fraud

Bankers and politicians both have their hands in your pockets
In today's news is the story of greed and stupidity.  That's greed (on the part of Wells Fargo and the banking system, in general) and stupidity because clearly the system thinks people are just too stupid to realize they've been hoodwinked.

This morning I was looking through our collection of resources related to banking law, namely:
because the other day I read a disturbing article in the Los Angeles Times about Wells Fargo's agreement to pay $110 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over fraudulently created accounts.  $110 million?! That's all? Seems a paltry amount considering that, as of December 31, 2016, Wells Fargo reported:
  • $1.9 trillion in assets,
  • Revenue of $21.6 billion (with net income of $5.3 billion)
  • Return on assets of 1.08 percent and return on equity of 10.94 percent (i.e. they're making money hand over fist)
$1.9 TRILLION in assets and the best they can come up with is $110 million?!?  Gotta wonder if the someone higher up is on the take given the ease with which this is all going down.

The thing is, if you go to Wells Fargo's website, the description of what they do is actually comical, to wit:
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.
As to that bit about "satisfy our customers' financial needs and help them succeed financially" I gotta wonder who they see as their customers and who are they helping to succeed? Themselves?!?  

See, a few months back, it was reported that Wells Fargo had opened up over 2 million fraudulent accounts on behalf of it's customers.  A consequence of this is that when new accounts are created, it indicates that people are investing more and that Wells Fargo is/was more profitable than it actually was/were. Seems this shady activity was occurring long before the initially reported 2011 date (even as far back as 2004).  

So, why were Wells Fargo employees opening these accounts with impunity?  Turns out, you need to dig no deeper than the complaint filed against Wells Fargo last year. According to the complaint
Wells Fargo has strict quotas regulating the number of daily "solutions" that its bankers must reach; these "solutions" include the opening of all new banking and credit card accounts. Managers constantly hound, berate, demean and threaten employees to meet these unreachable quotas. Managers often tell employees to do whatever it takes to reach their quotas.  Employees who do not reach their quotas are often required to work hours beyond their typical work schedule without being compensated for that extra work time, and/or are threatened with termination.  
The quotas imposed by Wells Fargo on its employees are often not attainable because there simply are not enough customers who enter a branch on a daily basis for employees to meet their quotas through traditional means.
In this case, "traditional means," I suspect, means "as people walk through the door." Thus, employees were encouraged by management to break the law by using non-tradional means (i.e making stuff up). 

The question(s) I have, then is why isn't anyone going to prison for FRAUD (a felony) and why is the settlement so low?!  According to Black's Law Dictionary, FRAUD is defined as:
Some deceitful practice or willful device, resorted to with intent to deprive another of his right, or in some manner to do him an injury. As distinguished from negligence, it is always positive, intentional.  Moore v. Crawford, 130 U. S. 122, 9 Sup. Ct. 447, 32 L. Ed. 878. Fraud, In the sense of a court of equity, properly includes all acts, omissions, and concealments which involve a breach of legal or equitable duty, trust, or confidence justly reposed, and are injurious to another, or by which an undue and unconscientious advantage is taken of another.
In the case at hand, Wells Fargo made out like bandits creating millions of accounts (and concealing that fact in violation of its duty to notify customers of said creation(s)) to its own pecuniary benefit.  I mean, where is the justice in a paying out a paltry $110 million when the company boasts of profits of $5.3 Billion (that's BILLION as in more money most anyone would ever spend in a BILLION lifetimes)?  

I mean, it makes no sense....unless, of course, someone got bought off.  Odds are, that's exactly what happened and we the people are being played for fools.  $110 million?  What a joke!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Be prepared

Be prepared for anything
You can never be too prepared.  This has never been more salient than today when I was reading an article about the San Andreas fault.  Seems, every 100 years, the tectonic plates typically release 16 feet of pent up energy and San Andreas hasn't been putting out (so to speak).  The result is that when the BIG quake hits (and it will), California is in for some major rocking and rolling.  It behooves people, then, to be prepared for a 7-10.0 quake as much as they can.  This means, storing water, food, personal medical supplies, first aid, and toiletries (i.e. sewage removal).

Not unlike an earthquake that can make it feel like your world has been turned upside down, even a small lawsuit can freak you out.  Small claims, civil limited, civil unlimited, drug court, any of which can financially and emotionally ruin even the most stalwart person.  Good thing, then, that your local county law library has resources to help everyone (from the greenest greenie to the eaglest of legal eagles).

For instance, say you know nothing about law and need a quick overview of how it all works.  Turns out we have a few really great titles to help you get going like:
For those who have been in the business for a few years and need more meat to your legal resources, might I suggest a looksee at:
Yep, if you need anything legal, we're the place to bone up and be prepared for what's coming down the pike.  Waste not a minute trying to hunt and peck on the Internet for what you think you need because your local county law Librarians know their stuff and know how to help you.