Cheeky Quotes

Monday, October 20, 2014

Stop passing the buck

stupid lawsuits
If there is one thing I have learned in the legal business it's that if people took more control over what they did (or didn't do), there would not be so many lawsuits.  I know it's an outdated notion but think about it.  If people acknowledged that it's their own fault for stubbing their own toe and not fault of the shoe or furniture manufacturer, how much less litigation would there be?

Take, for instance the false advertising lawsuit against makers of the Red Bull energy drink.  Personally the stuff makes me gack but, apparently, a number of people were upset that they didn't actually grow wings when they drank Red Bull.  Really?!? People out there thought they would be flying through the skies after drinking a caffeinated drink?  Sad, so very sad.

While you might this that's a pretty sad reason for a lawsuit, it wasn't the saddest.  For instance:
  • A Nebraska man filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart alleging that his wife died by defective grocery bag.  Apparently, the bag tore open on the way to her car and dropped a can on her foot.  The can cut her foot, her foot became infected, her infection spread throughout her body eventually killing her.  Nebraska man is seeking $696,000 in damages.  What I want to know is why didn't she take some responsibility, clean the festering wound and put a bandage on the cut?!  No, let's just let it fester until we have a lawsuit.
  • Scott Simon, 17, went to a party in New Jersey in 2011, where he was offered Xanax stolen from a local pharmacy. He overdosed, slipped into a coma and suffered permanent nerve damage. The party host, his out-of-town parents, the other partygoers, Xanax manufacturer Pfizer and the looted pharmacy were all responsible, naturally.  A settlement of $4.1 million paid by the pharmacy and the host’s parents.  What I want to know is - why was this kid allowed to be out by himself?  What part of personal responsibility don't people get?!  If you do drugs, you're going to do something stupid.  Suck it up and move on (unless you're in a coma - in which case, serve as notice to everyone else what not to do).
  • A prison inmate sued himself for getting arrested. Two years earlier, Robert Lee Brock got drunk, broke into some storage compartments in Virginia and got pinched. He then sought $5 million in damages from himself, (payable by the state) since he couldn't work.  Of course, he couldn't just resist the urge to rob from other people.  That would require personal responsibility.
  • When a student at Sterling Regional High School in Somerdale, NJ, was kicked off the track team because of his unexcused absences, his dad filed a $40 million lawsuit, claiming the dismissal will cost his son college scholarships.  Of course, we can't tell the son to get to class and stop screwing around.  Again with the personal responsibility thing.
  • A group of Idaho inmates are suing 8 brewers for not warning them of the dangers of alcohol.  One inmate wrote. “At no time in my life, prior to me becoming an alcoholic, was I ever informed that alcohol was habit forming and addictive.”  Uh, yeah.  I got nothing here.
Reading these lawsuit, you can see a running theme - a refusal to accept responsibility for one's actions.  Sad that some people think the world "owes" them.  Sadder still is that the courts won't stop these types of lawsuits and allow them to continue to "social menace" status.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Scary Stories

Scary Stories
By raise of hands, how many out there in blogland have heard of the attorney-client privilege?  How about the doctor-patient privilege? How about the law Librarian-patron privilege?  Haven't heard of that one?  Not surprising because it doesn't exist.  Problem, though, is that there are LOTS of people who seem to think that it's real and everything they say to a Librarian is privileged (i.e. can't be compelled to tell anyone).  I mean, Librarians are really good at keeping secrets and, well, no one really talks to Librarians anyway so you're secret is safe with us, right?

The reason I even mention this is that many moons ago I was working late at a library and a scrawny looking guy comes up to me.  Looking around to make sure no one was around, Guy nervously whispers to me, "I think I just killed someone.  What should I do with the gun?"  Without skipping a beat, I walked him over to California Criminal Defense Practice (Lexis) and California Criminal Law Practice and Procedure (CEB).  I also gave him the name of a criminal defense attorney and wished him well.  Maybe I should have called the police.  I suspect had I done so, I would not now be sitting here writing this blog post.

Fact is, I have had lots of people who have told me their crimes, infidelities, indiscretions, their whatevers over the years and I've kept all of their secrets locked tight down deep in my subconscious.  While it seems to make them feel better, my gut tells me to keep a weathered eye open because when people realize their confession is not all that privileged, it will be time for me to find a new zip code.

Bottom line, when next you feel the need to assuage your guilt, get a mirror and spill your guts to your reflection.  That way neither of us will have that sickly sweet suspicion that someone is out to get me/you/us.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fighting for the underdog

behind the 8-ballDo any of  you out in blogland remember the cartoon Underdog?  I loved that cartoon - Shoeshine Boy, Polly Purebred (because she was pure bred, get it?!) - great characters.  As things happen, I got older and found myself fighting for the underdog.  In fact, that was one of the reasons I went to law school in the first place - to fight for the little guy. It pains me, then, when people come into the library with barely a slim prayer of in the world of success in their respective cases.

Take, for instance, the elderly gentleman who came into the library a while back.  Seems he was living in an area of town frequented by less than savory characters (i.e. criminals of all sorts).  Elderly Gentleman wanted to protect his home so he entered in to a long-ish contract with a security company.  Enter greasy salesman.  Salesman silver tongues elderly gentleman into a short-ish security contract (elderly gentleman plumb forgot about his long-ish security contract).  Fixed income, and all, elderly gentleman wants out of the second, short-ish contract.

Knowing elderly gentleman is in for a long haul lawsuit, I point him over to:
I also suggested he take a look at Elder Law Litigation (CEB) since he was getting long in the tooth and his story suggested that the salesman had taken advantage of an old man.  Yeah, really kills me when that happens.

Another one?  Lady contacts me via the Internet.  Seems she was in an accident in Delaware back in 2012 and she's wondering whether she still has an active lawsuit.  Wanting to help her, I head over to the Delaware Codes Annotated (title 10, section 8119) and shoot off the good news to her.

Interested in personal injury codes for other states?  You might want to take a look at:
The bottom line is that while not all legal matters end in a happily-ever-after scenario, some do.  The only way you're going to find out (other than by hiring an attorney) is to head over to your local county law library and ask your friendly neighborhood local county law librarian to help you find whatever it is you're looking to find.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Word of the Month for October 2014

Always someone else to blame
You ever been in a bind and your best option was to blame someone else? Politicians do it all the time. I've have yet to hear a politician or POTUS ever say, "I screwed up" or "It was my fault."  I mean, have these people never heard the phrase "the buck stops here?!?  I suspect that is the reason the POTUS surrounds himself with people who will take the fall.  Heck, why do you think the POTUS even has a cabinet of "advisors?"  It's so he can blame someone else when the water gets hot.

Of course, all of this boils down to our word of the month:  CULPABILITY.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, CULPABILITY is defined as: blameworthiness; the quality of being culpable.  Except in the case of absolute liability, criminal culpability requires a showing that the person acted purposefully, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently with respect to each material element of the offense.  Basically, it's use is to define whether someone is worthy of being a scapegoat.

Take, for instance Lois Lerner.  Ms. Lerner is what people might call a nobody and until rather recently, a very good nobody because no body cared who the heck she was.  That is, until she got a job with the IRS.  Seems Ms. Lerner played a key role in the IRS's practice of singling out conservative groups seeking non-profit status for extra scrutiny as head of the Exempt Organizations division.  As far as bad things to do, this doesn't really seem all that bad.  However, because Ms. Lerner won't play nice and give Congress what it wants, there are calls to charge Ms. Lerner with "misleading the Congress" under section 1001; Title 18 of the United States Code.  

Let's face it, no one really cares about Ms. Lerner - they just want a piece of Obama.  Fact is, no one cared about John Mitchell because they just wanted to take out POTUS Richard Nixon?  Remember Col. Oliver North?  Just a pawn to get at POTUS Ronald Reagan.  How about Monica Lewinsky's stained dress and her personally marinated cigars?  Yep, just another attempt to take down Bubba.  

While it is difficult to garner a conviction under 18 USC 1001, it is not impossible.  The fact that Ms. Lerner has put herself squarely between Obama et al. and Congress has made her a target.  Nobody or not, she's in someone's crosshairs, now.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Send in the clowns

All clowns want attention
The other day I saw this big, muscly guy with tattoos all over his body.  I suspect when he was a younger man, the lines were sharp and straight, the colors bright and vibrant, and the images were the picture of perfection but now - 30+ years later, not so much because I couldn't tell if the big tat on his back was his mother or a cat. Oh well, always something to drum up attention.

This, of course, all brings us to today's case.  Seems a 16 year-old male teen wanted to take his DMV picture wearing make-up.  Seems he made such a stink about things that the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund which is assisting pro bono (i.e. teenager isn't paying a dime) understood his "pain" and decided to defend this teens' right to look like a clown.

Two issues come to mind.  First, we're dealing with a 16 year-old kid, here.  How many 16 year-old kid know anything about anything at this point in life (especially about their identity)?  Basically, the TLDEF is footing the bill for this kid to have his 15 minutes of fame.  Hopefully, he'll go through the process and realize that he should have spent his time on a more worthwhile issue instead of airing out his dirty laundry for all the world to see.

The other issue is identification.  See, the purpose of a photo ID is to show everyone what you look like - not what you look like while wearing a mask.  How are the cops going to bust this kid for a DUI if his photo ID look like someone he's not (i.e. when he's not covered in mascara)?  Heck, have you ever seen a raw pic of Boy George or Marilyn Manson (aka Brian Warner)?  Even those guys (and yes, they're male) aren't wearing make-up while taking their official government  issued ID - so where does this 16 year-old kid get off thinking he can?

He thinks he can because someone else is footing the bill.  I mean, how hard is it to throw a tantrum when a whole group of people are paying for you to do so?  Sad that court systems allow these type of lawsuits to continue.  I mean, due process is one thing but to let a teenager to throw a tantrum makes the court system itself a three-ring circus - which, when you look at it all, is a perfect forum for this case. Who knew?