Monday, December 5, 2016

Word of the Month for December 2016: Confidentiality Agreement

Gossip is dirty business
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and in the middle they say, "Don't tell anyone but...." and they proceed to tell you something that they probably shouldn't have told you (or anyone, for that matter)?  I get that all the time.  "Don't tell anyone but...." is the relief valve installed to help people who can't keep a secret.  I suspect the person they heard it from told them the same thing.  Things I've been told as a librarian (but was told not to tell anyone include stories beginning with:


Great stories all but maybe not something people you want floating out in la la land for anyone you hear.

Really, if I'm not supposed to tell anyone, why are you telling me?!  Of course, this all brings us to our word of the month: CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, a CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT is:
a promise not to disclose trade secrets or other proprietary information learned in the course of the parties' relationship.  Confidentiality agreements are often required as a condition of employment. Also termed nondisclosure agreement.
So, let's see how this works.  Say you (the plaintiff) just won a settlement.  The other side (the defendant) doesn't want everyone to know 1) that they lost or 2) how much they are having to pay you.  Of course, this reminds me of the Snay case where dad told daughter about his settlement and daughter bragged on Facebook - resulting in dad having to give all the money back because dad breached the agreement (i.e. he told someone about the settlement).  Settlement agreements can be simple, like:
The Parties agree to keep the terms of this agreement confidential. For the purpose of this agreement, “confidential” means that the facts and issues of the underlying complaint and the existence and terms of this agreement shall not be disseminated, discussed, or commented upon to anyone not having a need to know in order to implement the terms of the agreement.
 Or agreements can be complex involving pages and pages of legalese.

Maybe you're in need of nondisclosure agreement?  If so, head over to your local county law library and take a look at:


Yep, there's a whole lot going on that no one needs to know about.  So, if when next you have a secret that you really don't want to get out, you can either not tell anyone (heaven forbid) or get everyone you tell to sign a contract that they really won't tell anyone, but...

Monday, November 28, 2016

Just When You Thought You Were Safe

Marijuana will be your undoing
When I went to high school, our school had an FFA program where students could raise cows, goats, sheep and grow crops.  Some of my friends chose to cultivate a number of cannabis plants behind the taller rows of corn.  For months, these enterprising youth carefully hid their endeavors from prying eyes of administrators as they grew their product (and subsequent business).  Who knew they were years ahead of their time.

Fast forward a few decades when Californian's passed Proposition 64.  While the stated position of Prop 64 was to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use, the real reason is to provide mountains of tax revenue to state coffers.  I mean, come on, did you really think California politicians cared about the people?  Yeah, right...grow up smell the poppies.  Politicians don't care if it's addictive or if it can kill you.  Politicians only care about money.  Lots and lots of it (and preferably if it's in their pockets).

Fact is, even though recreational use of marijuana is legal, you can still be fired from your job if you use it and your employer runs a drug test.  That's right folks, freedom has its restrictions.  

So, picture it, you spend the weekend enjoying the fruit of the weed, come into work on Monday and your boss declares that s/he is conducting a "random" drug test and that YOU are the random person of the day.  Urine in a cup and three days later you get a pink slip - and it's all legal.  Gotta love those catch 22's

Thing is, there are a number of states that say marijuana use is legal but there are no laws on the books that say employers can't fire you.  So, let's say you decide to quit working and grow your own weed. Yeah, that's the ticket - be your own cannabis dealer (because if you grow more than 5 plants and you aren't an authorized dealer of weed, you are looking at some stiff penalties).

If you want to start a business selling weed, you'll probably have to register as a business owner (ca-CHING!).  Then there are those nasty regulations that will govern growing marijuana plants (CA-CHING!) and and where you can grow (ca-CHING!) and for how long (CA-CHING!).  Can't you just hear the cash register's ringing?  I'm sure the politicians can which is why they wrote Prop 64 to favor the state - not the people.  

If all that doesn't take the cake, the funny part is that no one really knows where all the money for pot sales is going to go. Certainly not for schools or social projects.  Heck, Prop 64 even says a pot czar will be "appointed" (that's appointed as in not elected) who will decide what to do with all the proceeds. So, where do you think the Pot Czar will decide to send all the BILLIONS of dollars collected from pot sales?? Well, I suspect wherever the person who appointed the Czar (i.e. Gov. Moonbeam) tells them to, that's where.

Too funny.  Maybe, just maybe, next time a law comes out that looks too good to be true, you, the fools who voted for this poorly written bit of legislation, should take some time to research the law before you vote for it.  Just maybe.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Get that covered

Modesty is
The other day, a young woman came into the library.  Seems she was lost and needed a little direction.  What caught my attention was not her question so much as it was that she was busily using her hands to cover up what was left of dignity due to her low, low cut blouse.  Had she done a little more preparation in choosing modestly in the bedroom, she would not later be left wondering if everyone could see her nakedness.

This confrontation reminded me of a conversation I had with a newly minted lawyer.  He asked me how might a person know when he has finished researching so that he can confidently prepare legal documents that would not later cause him to wonder if his work was well covered.  If what you are looking for is only case law, then let me suggest you take a look at:


I suspect it depends on the type of document you are preparing and how much depth you are seeking. Some of the best motions have referenced just one case and one code. When I conducted my research, I found that when I started seeing the same laws and concepts I had found what I could and began to write.  Some resources you can use to provide depth and context include:


I suspect the moral to this story is that if you have done what you can do, took advantage of resources available to you, that you can go forward with the confidence of a well-rounded researcher.  If that isn't enough, try chocolate. 

It works for me.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Damned if you do

There is no privacy
Why is it that people are so concerned about privacy?  If you've ever won the California lottery or made a purchase at Target or availed yourself to the Yahoo.com email service, then you should know that you have no privacy at all - everyone knows who you are, where you live, your shoe size, hat size, birth date, birth weight, etc. This release of information has become so sickly abusive, you should be more scared if your personal information hasn't been hacked or otherwise displayed for the world to see.

The reason I bring any of this up is because the other day I was reading in the Daily Journal about a case that just got handed down.  Seems a request under the FOIA was submitted requesting names of students training at the U.S. Army Institute.  Seems the Northern District Court granted a Summary Judgment granting access to the names.  Seems, then, Judge Sandra S. Ikuta of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote the majority opinion stating that the possible harm to foreign soldiers training at a U.S. Army institute outweighs the public's right to know their identities.

Funny thing is that there have been a number of graduates from U.S. Army institutes who have gone on to commit war crimes throughout South and Central America.  So, a person of common intelligence would think it would be good practice to keep a weathered eye out for the potential Lord Voldemort's, as it were.  

I mean if someone had some prior knowledge that they were training a potential evil dictator, they could take steps to remove said potential evil dictator, right?  For instance, had someone taken out Lord Voldemort before he went all evil, Harry could have lived a life of rainbows and unicorns.  I suspect that would have been a better argument than saying give me the information because I want it.  Maybe?

Anyway, moral to the story, full disclosure is probably best. That way, at least you have a chance to duck when the nuclear bullet comes your way.

Monday, November 7, 2016

But she looked 18!

Happy ever after is a lie
A bedtime story.  Once upon a time, there lived a older man. Older man lived alone and was lonely.  So, one night, older man found himself on the Internet and through the course of his surfing found a website populated with lots of pretty, pretty girls.  From the way he described it, they were Sirens from Jason and the Argonauts.

Anyway, older man was taken in by one such pretty girl and got to chatting with her.  Over the course, of a few weeks, older man got into some pretty personal "discussions" until his curiosity got the better of him when pretty girl suggested that they hook up, he was already out the door.  When older man arrived at the appointed place at the appointed time, he found himself surrounded by a few dozen new friends by way of the local police department.

Seems older man had been "set-up" in a sex sting and was charged with (among other things):


The thing is, most people don't want to tell you what actually happened when they got arrested.  They only tell you what it takes to put them in the best light.  But who am I to judge?  I mean, I haven't been an omniscient law Librarian all my life.

Anyway, older man was quite upset, what with having to tell his tale of woe and was looking for help in the way of a criminal defense.  Knowing my collection as I do, I as able to suggest he take a look at:


...and with the last one, older man was less stressed and saw a way out of his mess.  

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees until you come to the law library. Sometimes you can't see a way away from your problems until 10 minutes after talking to your friendly neighborhood law Librarian who has a knack for helping you see a way through your problems.  

Yep, sometimes it happens just like that.