Monday, October 15, 2018

The Tale of Two Brothers

Cain really didn't like Able
The thing with the holiday season is that it starts tugging at the heartstrings.  People start longing to be with family, people start looking to go home, and kids look to be with mom and dad.  Well, some kids, anyway.  

Some kids you kind of don't want to see again as all they want is more of everything (ungrateful little buggers).  Anyway, today's blog is a story about two diametrically opposed brothers who were in my law library a while back.

Brother #1 was a nice enough guy.  Affable, dressed like Bing Crosby and spoke well of his mother.  Brother #2 was a jerk. He dressed like he lived on the Jersey Shore and spoke with a Harvard accent (even though he was from California).  Two brothers, two perspectives.  I know all about Brothers #1 and #2 because they came in on consecutive weeks seeking information about how to "best" deal with Mom's money.  

See, Mom was about 88 years young and, apparently, was exhibiting early symptoms of Dementia. Brother #1 had been working for the last few years to gain conservatorship of his Mom (who had an estate worth millions).  

Brother #1 had his own job, wife and kids and wanted to take care of Mom and let her live her golden years in peace and comfort.  It was her money, after all.  Actually, Brother #1 shocked me what with most people who are out to stiff their folks and take over their parent's estate instead of having to work (like their folks did).

Enter Brother #2.  Brother #2 didn't have a job and came seeking to take control of Mom's fortune. Apparently, Brother #2 had an idea for a number of business ventures and needed Mom to pay for it all.  Problem was Brother #1 kept getting in the way of his plans (to control Mom).

So, when Brother #1 came in asking for information about conservatorships, I was surprised that he knew what he wanted and suggested he take a look at:
A week later, Brother #2 came in looking for information on guardianships.  Clearly Brother #2 had not been keeping up on things nor bothered to do any research on the difference between guardianships and conservatorships.  

For the record, a Guardian cares for children and a Conservator cares for incapacitated adults.  But because I can't give legal advice and I was not wanting to upset Brother #2's false sense of self-importance, I Ied him over to:
and off and running Brother #2 went on his wild goose chase.

Maybe it was because I don't like seeing old people get taken advantage of or maybe it was because Brother #2 repeatedly called me a "stupid Librarian" that I failed to note the difference between guardianships and conservatorships.  

C'est la vie.  Maybe if Brother #2 done a little homework and/or not gone and bagged on his local county law librarian, he might have had better luck finding what he really wanted.

I'm just sayin.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Let It Go

I'm fine
The other day I was talking with an friend of mine who told me that they'd just finished s session with their psychiatrist.  Person tells me about how, when they first started going to the shrink, they were unable to reveal anything and were able to release all their pent-up anxiety and let it all out.  I'm guessing the telling me was part of their treatment.

Anyway, as this person was telling me their story about their release, I tuned out and started thinking about a person who had come into our law library a while back.  Seems they had been sued for a LARGE sum of money.  Over the course of several years of litigation, they were finally able to begin negotiations on settling the case.  What they needed to know was if we had anything that dealt with settlements or releases or settlement releases.

As it turns out, California Civil Code 1541 deals with all things releases.  According to Section 1541:
An obligation is extinguished by a release therefrom given to the debtor by the creditor, upon a new consideration, or in writing, with or without new consideration.
Knowing my collection as I do, I was able to use the Table of Statutes referencing Civil Code 1541 and locate a number of resources that were helpful, namely:
Yep, you never know when you're going to need things of a legal nature.  Good thing you have a local county law Librarian who is always thinking about you and knows what they have when you come looking for help.  Just, please, leave your baggage at the door. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Word of the Month for October 2018: Evesdropping

THIS is not a fixer-upper
Once upon a time, I was in the market to buy a house.  The wife and I searched everywhere.  Some houses were big, some small, some white, and one was this funky-psychedelic-freak-your-eyes-out-color.  Heck, there was this one that was so beat-up we called it the Lebanon house (because it was the worse fixer-upper we'd ever seen).

One thing that I was looking for was what kind of neighborhood might we live in.  Some of the houses were in quiet neighborhoods.  Some were on (or near) a main drag with lots of car traffic.  The thing I would do is ask around and find out if people were good neighbors; were they loud, have bratty kids, have any kids (for our kids to play with), and whether they were nosey neighbors.  

You know the kind - people who have to stick their nose in everything; have to know what all is going on around them.  Their house may fall apart but they've got to know what everyone else is doing.  It took us a long time but we finally found a house we could both agree on (and there were/are no nosey neighbors).

Of course, this brings me to our word of the month:  EVESDROPPING.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, EVESDROPPING is:
The act of secretly listening to the private conversation of others without their consent; a clandestine attempt to overhear or intercept others private communication.
The reason I even bring this up is because the other day I witnessed something akin to the nosey neighbor syndrome.  We often have attorneys who consult with clients at our library.  Well, on this one day there was this attorney who was consulting with their client just before a deposition.  About 20 feet away, opposing counsel was nonchalantly standing reading something.  

As attorney and client were engaged, I noticed opposing counsel inching closer and closer to the conversation until he stopped and started furiously writing something.  I guessed (correctly) that opposing was taking copious notes on the conversation in hopes of getting a leg up on the competition and to know how best to proceed in the deposition.  

Attorney and client were clueless at first and then attorney glanced up, saw what was going on, flipped out, demanded opposing's notes, cancelled the deposition, threatened sanctions, threatened motions, threatened to tattle to the Bar, and stormed out of the library with client in close pursuit.

Yep, never a dull day at the law library.  I don't know if attorney can get anything from opposing but I'm betting the judge will be none too happy with an attorney who can't play fair and keep their nose away from where it doesn't belong.  

Oh, well. I guess the moral to this story is, if you think you shouldn't do it, don't.  If you're gut is saying no, listen to your gut and don't.  If you might get sanctioned if you do it, then don't do it.  

Bottom line, keep your nose clean and away from problems and you'll do just fine.

Monday, September 24, 2018

All in a Day's Work

The tow truck guy is gonna get you
Do you know what Librarians do all day?  Heck, do most Librarians know what they're going to do day by day?  

Like most days, I plan to do a whole bunch of things and then actually only get to a couple things.  

Like today.  I was going to write a few letters, call a few people, finish up a report, get ready for a presentation - and then the tow truck guy showed up.

See, our Library owns the lot next to our law library and it is a private lot for which we sell monthly and daily parking passes.  Each parking spot can be rented for $60 per month (or $8 per day).  

That sounds like a lot but in downtown Riverside (where we are located), but that's pretty competitive.  

Anyway, if you happen to park in our lot and you don't have a permit hanging on your rear-view mirror (or a daily parking pass on your dash), you can, and will, be towed and I'm probably the guy that's going to have to effectuate that tow.  I really don't like doing it but you do what you have to do, right?!

I remember this one lawyer we towed.  He was peeved off so much that he said, "You will rue the day that you towed a lawyer."  I was thinking, who do you think you are channeling Shakespeare?  

Rue the day?!  Really, who talks like that?  Fact is, we've towed everyone from police cars to FBI and DOJ agents; from little old ladies to little old men; from a tiny "Smart" car to a huge Ford F-450 truck.

The thing is that we've been towing vehicles out of our lot for almost a year now and people still freak out claiming we are breaking the law.  Really?  

You don't think an army of law Librarians are going to research the heck out of this before we do anything?!?  For those who are skeptical of my law Librarians research skills, I point your attention to the California Vehicle Code which covers the issue of tow trucks in fine detail.

Now, maybe you don't live in California but want to know how your state deals with tow trucks? Then might I point your attention to AWDirect and its listing of laws relating to Tow Truck regulations in the USA. 

Yep, law Librarians are full of surprises (and days full of stuff to do).  Thing is, we're not too busy to stop and help you.  So, when next you need help of the legal research kind, why not stop by your local county law library and let us help you get unsnagged from your next snag.

Monday, September 17, 2018

If the shoe fits

Blistered heels from new boots
Once upon a time I was in the market for some hiking boots. At the time, I didn't have a clue about what to buy (or not buy), what boots were made of, or that there are different boots for different occasions.  So, to a hiking boutique I went.  I picked this particular boutique because it held itself out as having particular knowledge on the subject of hiking apparel.

After trying on a few pairs, the salesguy suggested I try/buy one particular pair.  They were all leather (in that they were all one piece of leather - no stitching at all).  Just one huge piece of leather molded around a bottom sole and each boot was little over 2.5 pounds each.  The salesguy (who was much more knowledgeable about hiking boot than I was) said these would last forever.  All I had to to was "break them in."

Do you know what it takes to "break-in" a pair of new hiking boots?  It takes a lot of hiking.  LOTS and lots of it.  Well, on my very first hike up Mount Baldy, I got four (4) big, nasty blisters on each of my feet.  Broke-in?  Heck, those boots were laughing at me.  In a million miles those boots would never break.

I took them back and got another pair that I didn't have to "break-in."  Ten years later and I still have them.  They are the most comfortable boots I have ever worn.  I love them.  

How does this all relate to legal research?  Well, the other day I had a guy come into my library. Seems Guy has a problem with his eyes in that his left eye moves around involuntarily.  It's called nystagmus and if you've been reading my blog over the years, you'll know I really dig that word and have talked about it in reference to DUI cases. 

Well, Guy actually has this condition and the other day he got pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of a controlled substance.  Whether he was or wasn't, the cop flashed his flashlight in Guy's eyes, saw his eye bouncing around, and arrested him for a DUI.

Now, being a government employee (I do work in a county law library), I could have just suggested Guy head over to the criminal law section and walked away leaving him to fend for himself.  The problem with that is that Guy went to his local county law library (where I happen to work).  

He was there because he knew that we had knowledge of a particular nature about all things legal research and he was hoping we could put something in his hands that he could use to help him get out of his situation and not just brush him off.  How could I deny him satisfaction?  It's not in my DNA to do so.

Being the consummate law Librarian, instead of handing Guy just any book, I suggested Guy pay particular attention to:
and off Guy went to develop his defense.

Dang but sometimes you can't catch a break.  Good thing there are county law libraries around that can help you get back up when you get smacked down.