Cheeky Quotes

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ready, Aim....

Looking at your soon-to-be short future
I've been in the legal business for about 25 years.  During that time I've seen the law go up and down and left and right, sideways, crossways, and every which way but loose.  In the last few years, though, I've noticed a number of judges who have tossed aside the law and based decisions on their own "feelings" or political affiliation(s), which is too bad because it is the responsibility of a judge to be impartial.  Imagine, then, my surprise when I see judges who make rulings or submit recommendations based on the rule of law.  I mean, imagine the implications!  Lawyers and pro pers can go into court and expect the ruling to be based on the law - and not how a judge feels on any particular day!

Of course, all this leads up to the point of this blog post - which is the comment Justice Alex Kozinski made on the issue of the death penalty.  More to the point, the "how" to execute people.  Seems Arizona was attempting to execute Joseph Wood on July 23 by lethal injection.  Seems Arizona botched the attempt because Mr. Wood was left on the table gasping and snorting before dying (probably much like his victims were doing when he killed his estranged girlfriend and her father in 1989).  It was in response to the way Mr. Wood met his fate that Justice Kozinski suggested that states should toss out the process of lethal injection in favor of more reliable ways to end a person's life such as by death by guillotine or firing squad.

The question in my mind now is why use lethal injection at all?  I suspect the reason States went with the lethal injection method was because anti-death penalty people wanted a more "humane" method of execution.  The problem with that is that drug injection is never going to be 100% effective (just ask any junkie).  In fact, the only way to guarantee cessation of life is to separate the brain from the body and there are only two ways to do that effectively - with a guillotine or a .50 caliber weapon.

Whatever your stance on the death penalty, it is important to note that it is not a "cut" and dried issue.  Legal ramifications on both sides of the debate are valid.  What is important is the fact that judges (in this case Justice Kozinski) are able to set aside their own personal affiliations (whether sarcastic or not) and sift out the hyperbole, cutting to the heart of the matter.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

They're gonna get you

There's nothing you can do to stop it
Whether or not you believe in a god does not distract from the fact that I suspect there is a higher power that is making fun of people on a daily basis.  I mean, how in blazes can anyone explain the duck-billed platypus and not think someone is having a field day.  Or how about Greek yogurt.  You know - the healthy stuff that's supposed to be good for you and the environment - oh, wait, actually the by product of Greek yogurt is toxic to the environment.  Yeah, in fact, every year thousands of fish are killed off when acid whey is released into streams and lakes.  Yep, someone is sure yucking it up.

Need another example? How about the lengths courts go to convict some people.  Don't get me wrong - I'm all about putting people up to no good in jail but, well, take, for instance, the case of People v. Elder.  Seems Mr. Elder had hidden in a van while husband and wife were shopping. When they returned to the van and started driving away, Elder comes forward and at gun point (later determined to be a BB gun) order the owners to drive.  While driving, Elder smacked husband with the butt of the gun a couple times and robbed them of their cash.  Fast forward, husband slams on his breaks throwing Elder off balance and Elder tries to run. Husband grabs at Elder and, subsequently, husband dislocated his finger when his hand gets tangled in Elder's hoodie.  

Here's the fun part.  At trial, Elder is convicted of two counts of robbery (one count for each person), one count for assault with a deadly weapon and the court added 3 years for "Great Bodily Injury."  What for?  Was it because Elder smacked husband a couple few times in the head with his BB gun?!  No - it's because husband dislocated his finger when he tried to prevent Elder's escape.  Husband is bleeding from the head and they nail Elder because of the finger.  Yep - someone is sure yucking it up.  I mean, husband's bleeding head would have been an easy slam dunk - but because the prosecution didn't bother to bring that up and the court was on a roll, they had to nail Elder somehow - and went with the finger.

Bottom line, if you're going to commit a crime and don't want any sentencing enhancements, make sure you are wearing clothes that don't snag or have holes that people can break a finger when they try to stop you.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Show me the money

Stop with the stupid litigation, already

In other news is a story about a woman who was hired as a live-in nanny who stopped working as a live-in nanny, claimed some cockamamie story about being disabled, got fired as a live-in nanny, won't leave the houseonly comes out of her room to eat and poop, filed a lawsuit against the family to oust them from their home, is filing another series of lawsuits based on elder abuse and wrongful termination.  Bottom line, didn't anyone do a background check on this crazy lady?!

Funny thing but this post isn't about the live-in nannys.  Nope, this diatribe is about a little known legal device called the fee waiver.  Did you know that if you can show that you don't make a lot of money that you can file law suit after stupid/baseless lawsuit for free simply by filing a fee waiver?  I suspect initially the concept of a fee waiver was a good thing - to help out poor people - but like all things born out of government largess, it has become a MAJOR headache for anyone facing a pro per litigant.  I mean, look at it - people file the fee waiver and then start to file an avalanche of litigation for free.  FOR FREE!  

You think this is funny?!  Imagine if you're on the receiving end of a lawsuit against someone who can file legal paper after legal paper for free and you are having to pay for litigation out of your pocket.  It's impossible to keep up.  You'd be bankrupt inside of a week and the other side can keep filing legal documents because they have a fee waiver.  It's freaking insane!

A while back, I was at a conference where a judge was speaking about the lack of funding of California courts.  I stood up and asked why, instead of having a 100% fee waiver, that people aren't required to at least pay something.  So, instead of a $450 filing fee, they pay $5 each time they want to file something.  Some money comes into the court coffers and people feel like they have some responsibility about not filing frivilous legal actions.  The judge shot me down without hesitation because, I suspect, the issue (in her mind) isn't about money - because the courts are flush with it - as it is about the redistribution of resources.

Sad, that people are allowed to get fee waivers at the drop of a hat and screw hard-working people out of their hard-fought monies.  Sadder is that the court system which was initially set up to help people is orchestrating the biggest screw over history has ever seen with the use of baseless litigation.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Come again?

Don't waste the brain cells reasoning this outIt is becoming increasing regular that I read appellate decisions from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that make no sense.  In fact, it is becoming so regular that few things surprise me.  Take, for instance, the case that just came down regarding a "permanent" visitor from south of the border.  In U.S. v. Aguilera-Rios, the court overturned an illegal reentry conviction because his prior conviction for possession of a firearm was not a deportable offense.

What bothers me is that this revered court chose to ignore the elephant in the room when it came to this decision.  Let me break it down for you.  So, this Rios guy illegally enters the United States, gets a gun, is prosecuted for having a gun and is deported.  Why was he deported?  Because he entered the United States illegally?  No - because he had a gun.  Then, he re-entered the United States (after being deported for having a gun - but not for entering illegally) and he is charged for re-entering the United States, illegally (for which he is officially charged with entering the country illegally which is how he came to be in possession of a gun in the United States in the first place but no one bothered to notice that he was not an American citizen with a gun in the United States and so was not deported for that fact, alone).

I guess what this all boils down to is that American domestic or foreign policy is worthless unless someone (i.e. the federal administration) is willing to allow local law enforcement to enforce the laws that are on the books and not wait until someone screws up on something unrelated to the offense they're being prosecuted for so they can cook up some cockamamie reason to arrest someone - even though the best reason for deporting a person is staring them right in the face (i.e. they're here illegally).

Oh well - I guess that's why I'm not a politician - I get the obvious.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Word of the Month for July 2014

The end of somethings is the beginning to others
There are a whole lot of desperate people in the world today.  I mean, on any given day, you can read in the newspapers about people losing their houses, people losing their jobs, people losing their life savings, people losing their minds - all for the sake of the almighty dollar.  

Then you have people like the lady who came up to the the other day.  Seems lady had the income of Mahatma Gandi but had the tastes of a rock star.  Seems she had run up thousands of dollars in credit card debt and creditors were screaming to be paid and some had even threatened to mess with her credit reports.  The nerve of some people!

Of course, all this relates to the word of this month:   DYVOUR.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, a DYVOUR is a person who is heavily in debt or bankrupt.  As a side note, I often think it odd that people tell me, a local county law librarian, things they wouldn't tell their hairdresser.  Lady shows me her latest series of credit card debt and it took my breath away.  She had literally charged tens of THOUSANDS of dollars on everything from little trinkets you can get at a 99 cent store to a his and her sarcophagus.  Forget about where you store it; what I want to know is where to do you buy something like that?!

Anyway,  lady tells me she is at the end of her rope and doesn't know what else to do with the constant threats to her credit and how she can't find anyone else to front her another credit card.  The word "shop-a-holic" comes to mind but I tell her that while we don't give legal (or credit) advice, she might be well served to take a look at
Sad how some people wait until the 11th hour to seek help for their problems (self-inflicted, or not).  Good thing, then, that your local county law library will always be there to help you when you're in a bind.  Just don't wait so long that the tax man starts banging on your door.