Monday, August 29, 2016

Mirror, mirror

Selfies are the new age mirrors
What is with people who take selfies?  Don't these people have a mirror to look in?!  In order of stupidity, here are some of the dumbest selfies I've read, to date:

  • Justin Bahler:  A bank robber who took a selfie (and got arrested for the bank robbery).
  • Adam Howe:  Robbed a church (a church, really?!?) and took a selfie to document the event (and got arrested for robbery).
  • Jess Ewald: Stole a smartphone and took a selfie with it (and got arrested for grand theft).
  • Ashley Keast:  Took a selfie whilst robbing a house (and got arrested for robbery).
  • La Vorne Lee ("Lee") Bennett:  Took a selfie after robbing a guy (and got arrested for robbery).
  • Kayleigh Hill: Took a selfie after running on the field at the College World Series (and got arrested for trespassing and fined $1,500).
  • Tyquan Solomon and Terrance Sistrunk: Mugged a guy and stole his $205 cell phone (and were arrested for robbery).

And then there is #8) Christal McGee: Using Snapchat, recorded herself traveling 107 mph, lost control of her car, and crashed into another vehicle. Too bad perspective was lost on her as she continued to take selfies after the accident. In fact, she also took a selfie when she was in the ambulance with the caption: Lucky to be alive.

Can't say the same thing for the victim of the other vehicle (that she struck) as he's now dealing with traumatic brain injuries - but at least she got her 15 minutes of fame, right?  I mean, that's the whole point to taking and posting selfies, isn't it; to point attention to a person who is, otherwise, dull and boring that no one will ever notice?

Facing charges related to reckless driving, Ms. McGee is (or should be) looking at some serious prison time as well as being financially destitute (or at least her folks are what with Ms. McGee being a teenager, and all).

Now that Ms. McGee (and her folks) are looking at some hard decisions, might I suggest they (or you, as the case may be) head on over to your/their local county law library and take a look at some resources that can help them/you in their/your time of need:
Yep, sure are a number of self-absorbed people out there (not counting politicians).  Good thing your local county law library is well stocked with materials to help you when you get struck with an ill-advised need to take a selfie.

Monday, August 22, 2016

It Just Perpetuates Crime

Denied unless the potus likes you
How many times have you read cases where people pay premiums for years and then, when they look to collect on a policy, the insurance companies pull a fast one and deny the claim?  I see it all the time.

Funny, then, when I'm reading the paper about that couple who, back in December 2, 2015 attacked and murdered 14 people and injured 22 in San Bernardino resulting in in the single largest massacre on the west coast.  I'd like to say the entire United States but that freak who shot up the Florida nightclub a while back was apparently going for a record.

Anyway, as shocking as all this is, what is even more shocking is the fact that I read in today's paper that last week that a federal court is considering to allow insurance payments to the murder's family to the tune of $280,000. 

Seems Rafia Farook, the shooter, had taken out a couple of life insurance policies before going on his murderous rampage and his surviving family is looking to collect.  Because there is no express law against such payments and, in California anyway, insurance companies can be compelled to pay on policies that do not explicitly exclude payment because of criminal acts

Really?!  What this sounds like is a bunch of politicians who are really pushing an agenda and who really, REALLY want to ignore decisions handed down by the SCOTUS. Decisions like Burt v. Union Cent. Life Ins. Co,,187 U.S. 362, 47 L.Ed. 216 (9102) and Northwestern Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. McCue, 223 U.S. 234, 562 L.Ed. 149 (1912).  (see also Molloy v. John Handcock Life Ins. Co., 237 Mass. 181, 97 N.E. 2d 422 (1951).  

In Burt, the Court ruled that:
Public policy precluded recovery of benefits under a life insurance policy when the insured was executed as punishment for a crime...Public policy forbids the insertion in a contract of a condition which would tend to induce crime
Of course, the concept of "public policy" is not a new concept.  In fact, it's been around for at least a century or two.  The English Court of Chancery in Amicable Soc'y v. Bolland, 4 Bligh, N.S. 194 (1830) denied a similarly situated life insurance policy. noting that:
Suppose that in the policy itself...the party insuring had agreed to pay a sum of money year by year, upon condition that, in the event of his committing a felony,...his assignees shall receive a certain sum of money - is it possible that such a contract should be sustained?  it is not void upon the plainest principles of public policy?  Would not such a contract take away one of those restraints operating on the minds of men against commission of crimes? namely the interest we have in the welfare and prosperity of our conexions.
What is even more bothersome is that I keep running into people who think that just because the cases I cited are old, they have no validity.  HELLO, PEOPLE - old or not, they are the basis of the law on public policy and, as such, help to dial in on the issue at hand - which is, is paying on a life insurance policy where the person committed a felony against public policy?  Short answer, of course! 

Long answer, Who knows?  I mean, when people can't tell you who won the civil war but they can tell you who Brad Pitt has been married to, I suspect it depends on what public you're looking at.  In my public, it would be violative of public policy to award monies to a person's family after they had committed a felony (or any crime, for that matter, in which they had been killed or otherwise executed).  But that's my opinion and I'm entitled to it.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Take it to the Bank

Money to Burn
In today's news is a story about a homeless couple who received a $20,000 wedding all donated by their community. Despite research showing the more you pay on a wedding, the better chance your union will end in divorce, this community chose to burn TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS for a one afternoon event for a couple that lives in a tent in a homeless campground.  Does no one see the problem with this?!?

I guess it's a matter of perspective.  From my perspective, maybe someone could have enrolled husband or wife in school to teach them skills that could help them get out of their homeless state? Maybe someone could have spent part of that $20,000 and put them in an apartment?  Maybe they could have spent some of that money and paid for a year of groceries or invested it for their golden years!?

This, of course, reminded me of an instance a while back. Seems a lady lived with her mother in mothers house.  Lady took care of mom.  When mom died, lady stayed in the house.  Sister came along demanding her share of the estate (and the sale of the home).  A fight ensues lasting little over 18 years where lady and sister are at each others throat spending every dime they have until they had no more money, the estate goes through probate and in the end there was maybe $100 for each.  At least sister didn't get the house, right?!

Moral of the story, just because you are right doesn't mean you're right and just because you can, doesn't mean you should - and you can take THAT to the bank.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Let's GO!

You DON'T have to catch them all
The newest fad that has taken the online world by storm seems to be Pokemon Go.  Turns out, while playing the game (or while the game is being played), a number of people are also committing (or being victims of) some serious crimes.  With this being a blog about all things law and legal things, I figured who better to detail the goings on of the criminal minded then with my blog?  Who indeed?!

As it turns out, as recently as July 25, 2016, Elvis Campos tried to rob Pokemon Go players in Las Vegas before a shootout left him and a player injured. He now faces charges of conspiracy, robbery, battery and assault with a deadly weapon.  Oooh, I don't think he planned that one very well.

In Australia, a 22-year-old woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver while playing the game. Nicholas Davison, 21, allegedly ran away from the scene but was later charged for the hit and run.  Might I suggest, if you're going to play an online game, that you pay attention to where you are walking?!  I mean, really - it's bad enough that people have their heads buried in their electronic devices while driving - now they're doing it whilst playing games walking on the sidewalk.

Next up is a teen who might want to avoid chewing bubble gum whilst playing online games. Seems Pittsburgh-area teen Autumn Deiseroth says she did everything right while playing the game near her home recently, including looking both ways before crossing streets. But, she says, she was hit by a car anyway, after the game lured her across a busy highway.  

Wait - you knew the  highway was busy and you crossed, anyway?!?  Here's a suggestion: turn off your device, put it down and walk away.  If you know the cars are there and you can get killed if you walk in front of one and you still choose to walk into a busy intersection, then maybe the problem isn't the cars - it's you.

Finally, we have Ohio players Sharon Bartholomew and Adrian Crawford who were arrested after allegedly breaking into a zoo -- after hours -- to hunt for Pokemon. "'I've got a crazy idea, let's hop the fence'," was how Bartholomew explained her mentality to news reporters after the arrest. They've reportedly plead not guilty to charges of criminal trespassing.

So, inside of three stories, we have six (6) crimes resulting from someone playing an online game.  This doesn't count the many other crimes committed by or against players of this game.  What I'm wondering is when is someone going to sue the creators of Pokemon GO for "making" their kid or husband or wife walk into a street or off a cliff or into some other dangerous area (like downtown Lebanon).

What with California being the lawsuit capital of the world, it's only a matter of time.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Word of the Month for August 2016: Separation of Powers

SCOTUS are just puppets
What is (or are) Separation of Powers as it/they relate to government?  According to Black's Law Dictionary, it is: 
the division of governmental authority into three branches of government - legislative, executive, and judicial - each with specified duties on which neither of the other branches can encroach.  The doctrine that such a division of governmental authority is the most desirable form of government because it establishes checks and balances designed to protect the people against tyranny.  The doctrine of separation of powers was adopted by the convention of 1787 not to promote efficiency, but to preclude the exercise of arbitrary power.

Tyranny, huh?  The other day, I was reading about the 2nd case in as many weeks that as come down as a 4-4 tie by the SCOTUS.  Seems without the balance of Scalia, the court is unable to come to a decision on anything.  That seems odd, though, doesn't it?  I mean, shouldn't the highest court in the land be immune to political divisions and vote based on the facts of the case and the law?  

Yeah, not when you have two justices who had virtually NO judicial experience before being appointed to the bench and not when you have a sitting POTUS who can bend the ear of the chief justice to get what he wants.  So, what did you expect?  Clearly, the SCOTUS is unable to come to a decision when everyone ignores the law/facts and bases their opinions solely on their politically affiliation (or who appointed them to the bench).  

So, so much for separation of powers.  Sadder is that we have all these great biographies by stellar (former) Chief Justices like:

and we're now, relegated to appointing judges who will make decisions that favor a particular political party. Imagine the new starting sentence, "I was appointed by a Republican (or democrat) and that is how I based all my future decisions."  

OK, OK, I'm not blind - it's been this case for years.  Problem is that it's now sad when you consider that, in addition to the cry to wipe the slate clean when it comes to politicians in the house and senate, you also hear the cry to make appointment to the SCOTUS no longer the discretion of the executive branch but a referendum by we the people.  Shows you how much (or little) we the people think of the politicizing of government.