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Monday, May 18, 2015

Impeaching the POTUS

Clinton has as much contempt for the political process as does Obama
Do you even know what resources are available at your local county law library?  Do you?!  Most people think law libraries have a bunch of old, thick, dusty books filled with cases and codes about old, dusty people.  Fact is, 98.6% of the stuff we have on our shelves is not (all that) dusty and many of our books are not that old (OK, some of it is pretty ancient - but they're all useful) and many of them, while legally related, are actually an interesting read.  Today, as I was grazing through our collection, I found several resources tucked in the constitutional area that not only piqued my interest but were timely, as well. 

The first one called Presidential Power and the Constitution (Cornell University Press) caught my attention if only for the fact that recently, President Obama has, seemingly, overstepped the boundary's of his position as POTUS resulting in many calling for his impeachment.  The question is, has he overstepped?  Are the carnie barkers right or is Obama right in doing what he is doing?  While the book only covers incidents from Woodrow Wilson through Harry Turman, it does give insight into how POTUS's have dealt with congress over the years and, I suspect, have survived calls for impeachment.

This, of course, leads to the next book I found called Impeachment: A Handbook (Yale University Press).  Truly a handbook on the "how to do it," this resource walks the rookie electorate through the steps of impeaching a POTUS.  The most telling section of the book, I think, is the section under Chapter 3: The Impeachable Offense: Use of Tax System to Harass Opponents.  THIS IS BIG, folks!  I mean, does any remember a couple years back when the Tea Partiers claimed that the Obama administration sicced the IRS after them?  I sure do.  The question is if this is a basis for impeachment, why did no one go after Obama?  Of course, it could be argued that Obama was not personally responsible for what a few "rogue" IRS agents do - but where does the buck stop?  If not the POTUS, then who?!

The last resource I found is called Presidential Impeachment (Yale University Press) and is, basically, an examination of the Nixon impeachment process.  The two chapters that I found interesting were Chapters 3: Ground for Impeachment: The Nixon Inquiry, which dealt with all things Nixon and how congress worked to bolster the claim that they had, in fact, found a reason to impeach Nixon, and Chapter 5: The Sole Power of Impeachment which dealt with who has the power to push an impeachment through the system.  In particular, I was drawn to the subsection, "The Standard of Proof" that was used to impeach Nixon.  Long story short, there is no one standard that fits everyone - which is as it should be given that each impeachment is going to have a different set of facts and some cases have more damning evidence than others.  So, kudos to whomever figured out this one.

Bottom line, law libraries are not merely repositories for dusty books that no one has any interest in.  Fact is, law libraries are as vibrant any typical public library and they have resources which are critical to the understanding of the political process.  Anyone looking to expand their horizons and pull their noses away from their electronic devices are encouraged to check out their local county law library and see what all we have to offer.

Monday, May 11, 2015

It's all new to me

Tell me a lie
The other day I was talking with a friend of mine who was in a book club.  Seems she was on the prowl for a new book for her book club to dissect.  She was looking for something with BITE.  She wanted an intriguing murder mystery with a funny romantic espionage twist.  Well, I told her, I don't know about, the romantic twist, but I've had just the ticket to help her club reach new heights with a resource I was updating just the other day called Criminal Defense Techniques (Lexis).

I could tell by her expression she was not all that wowed with my suggestion - so I began to elucidate on this treasure trove of all thing crimes and criminal.  In Chapter 4, instance, it talks about one of my favorite constitutional topics - Search and Seizure.  I mean, you gotta love the 4th amendment.  Heck, anyone who ever watched Jack Bauer and the 24 series knows all about how Jack violated the 4th amendment to get information he "needed" - which all lead to Chapter 4B and the Suppression of Illegally Obtained Evidence.  See, every time Jack Bauer did something, invariably he did with without taking into account ANYONE's 4th amendment rights because, well....because he's Jack Bauer!

The more I told my friend about Criminal Defense Techniques, the more she became interested - not so much about how it applied to her book club but how she could use the tools, tricks, and tips discussed therein.  In particular, she was most interested in Chapter 3 which talked about the art of Interrogation and Confession and Chapter 29 dealing with Alibi Evidence.  Seems she had a teenager daughter and was looking to extract some information about what her party hardy little girl had done a couple weeks past (seems also that she was not believing her daughter's girlfriend who vehemently corroborated daughter's story that she had been at her house for an "all girl" slumber party the entire weekend).

Anyway, maybe you're looking for a good read or even just need something to help put your to sleep on those cold winter nights.  If so, head on over to your local county law library and see what intriguing reads you can find.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Word for the Month of May 2015: Entrapment

Crime is on the riseAre you so situated in business that you notice trends?  Rally on commodities, stocks, bonds, T-bills - they all have trends.  Like economic markets, there are trends in and law and the legal research business, too.  For instance, from November to December there is a lull in general civil cases (but a jump in family law cases).  Around August, there seems to be a glut of criminal cases.  Around February, the civil litigation market kicks into gear and every 6 months, or so, we get a number of 288 and Solicitation cases.

What's a 288 case? If you don't know, you really don't want to know.  As it happens, the police around where I live conduct sweeps of areas frequented by people who tend to prey on children.  Personally, I don't know where those places are but apparently, there are a lot of them.  Every 6 months, like clockwork, we'll get a bunch of people (men and women) who come seeking information on ENTRAPMENT.  

According to Black's Law Dictionary, ENTRAPMENT exists where a law-enforcement officer's or government agent's inducement of a person to commit a crime, by means of fraud or undue persuasion, in an attempt to cause a criminal prosecution against that person.  In order to establish ENTRAPMENT, the defendant must show that he or she would not have committed the crime but for the fraud or undue persuasion.

How does this play out in real life?  Say, a cop is on a street corner posing as a drug dealer.  Random guy comes to cop and asks to buy a dime.  Money changes hands; there is no ENTRAPMENT because guy came to cop.  If cop poses as a drug dealer and offers to sell drugs to a random passerby and passerby refuses but cop then tries to convince passerby and offers a discount and then the person agrees, that is ENTRAPMENT.  Providing the opportunity is not enough for it to be entrapment, the police have to actively persuade, convince, or pressure the person to commit a crime.

Another one? Guy is trolling the internet.  He sees a picture of a 12 year-old (i.e. a minor) with the message: for a good time call 555-123-4567.  Guy calls and speaks with "Carey" (who turns out to be an undercover cop).  Guy suggests that they meet up for some hanky panky.  "Carey" says she lives at 123 Edgewood Avenue.  Guy goes there and is subsequently arrested for, among other things, Solicitation of a minor.  Because cops catch guy doing something he was really looking to do (fiddle with a minor), guy is looking at some serious penalties and a lifetime of registration as a sex offender.  Hence guy's desire to defend against ENTRAPMENT. See how it works?

As it turns out, your local county law library has resources you need to help you put up a reasonable defense against anything you might be facing.  We can't give you legal advice, but I can guarantee you that our fees are reasonable (free) and our resources are second to none.  So, when next you find yourself in a bind, why not head over to your local county law library so that we can help set you on your path to a less stressful statement of mind.

Monday, April 27, 2015

This just torques my shorts

Caught in the act
So, for the last few days, I have been updating our copy of California Forms of Pleading and Practice (Lexis).  Notwithstanding my on/off dislike of Lexis, Pleading and Practice is the preeminent legal research resource when you draft a complaint or an answer or a motion or, well, have to do most anything relating to California civil procedure practice.

Anyway, I'm updating this monolithic resource (54+ volumes) and I come to volume 23, Chapter 269 (Fraud) and Chapter 270 (Fraudulent Conveyances) only to find out that some #%@#^)(@#!$)*&@!(*&!@(*^%)(*@!&)(&^!%()&@#+^!@)(&^!%_*!@)&^%^+)_(*^!@)(&^%()!*&@!)(^ SOB stole both chapters (including the tabbed pages between chapters).  

I mean, this kind of stuff really chaffs my hide.  Why?  Because we have people who come into our law library all the time needing to use these resources.  Yes, we charge 15 cents per page for copies, but what a bunch of #%@#^@#%!@%$P)^&*&#Q@%P(*&@#%(*& who think they have a higher right to these resources than the rest of the world.  Not only were Chapters 269 and 270 snagged but several other chapters had been gutted, as well.  What a real pisser!

Sad that there are people out there who are classic a-holes enough to steal from a public library.  Good thing, then, that there are laws on the books that make it a misdemeanor for stealing from public libraries.  You betcha, there are!  For instance, California Penal Code section 490.5 states
Upon a first conviction for petty theft involving...a book or other library materials taken from a library facility, a person shall be punished by a mandatory fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50) and not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each such violation; and may also be punished by imprisonment in the county jail, not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.
What this says is that if (and when) I catch the sniveling #%@#^@#%^#% SOB(s) who have been stealing library resources, they will be on the hook for up to $1,000 for each page they've stolen AND MAY ALSO be incarcerated for up to 6 months.  That's a sizable sword of Damocles hanging over your head simply because you don't want to pay 15 cents for a copy.  I mean, some people's kids!

In the meantime, I am waiting with baited breath for the fool(s) who have been snagging our stuff.   Heck, I may even shed a crocodile tear or two for whomever I/we catch.  Truly, I hope it isn't you, but if it is.... 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Anticipation

Don't take me for granted
I have discovered that I am not like most people.  No surprise to the wife.  Thing is, I plan for contingencies in that I don't wait until something happens to think about what legal research tools I might use to fix or defend against something.

For instance, do you know how to bring a derivative lawsuit? So, picture it, you're a shareholder in a corporation and you think the the CFO has mismanaged corporate funds and you want to sue the corporation.  How do you go about doing it?  Well, might I suggest you take a look at:
Another one?  Say you have a dream about how to build a better mousetrap.  You get all Christmas-morning, birthday-pony excited and jump out of bed and fly over to your drafting table and sketch out your idea.  Oh, it is a glorious thing to behold, isn't it?!  As you start to drift off into sleepy land, a final thought comes to you....how are you going to protect your ideas?  Well, might I suggest you take a look at:
One more?  Say you're a plumber. You're working at a guys house.  Guy has a yappy, little Chihuahua.  Guy tells you his dog doesn't bite just as the #%$@^#!%$ dog decides to use your Achilles tendon as it's new chew toy.  Crippled, you limp over to our local county law library seeking help.  Might I suggested you take a look at:

Yep, few people think about what they need before they need it.  Good thing, then, that there are county law Librarians all around the world who are on the ball looking for what you need LOOOOOOONG before you think you'll need it.  Yeah, we are that good.