Monday, June 20, 2016

Funny Stuff

My name's not Susan!
Rare is the day that I read the newspaper and not get a chuckle.  Today's chuckle came from the Daily Journal. Seems a law school grad filed a lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law.  Seems (plaintiff alleged) that the law school inflated 1st year employment rates to suggest that 80.1% of students who graduate (and pass the bar) are hired in their 1st year.  Plaintiff claims that since she didn't get hired in her first year that the law school lied.

Now, I could go on and on about the possibility that plaintiff is just not hire-able or she just does not come off as someone someone would like to work with (not everyone is able to do great interviews).  I'm not going to do that because the point to THIS blog post is a quote by defense counsel which was uttered during their opening statement to the jury:
...the evidence will show she attended Thomas Jefferson at the end of the day because it was the only [law school] she was admitted to...
Uh, huh.  I sat there thinking about this line for a while until I realized what I think defense counsel was trying to say was: the end of the day, the evidence will show she attended Thomas Jefferson because it was the only [law school] she applied to...
That makes a bit more sense.  I mean, why would a person attend two or more schools at the same time?!  Also, if you're going to use a cliche phrase like "at the end of the day," pay attention to how you use it so that you don't sound like a tool. I mean, do you even think defense counsel knew what he was saying?  I'm hoping not and blamed the newspaper for getting his quote wrong.

Maybe you're staring down the barrel of a lawsuit and you're looking to make a strong impression with the jury.  If this is the case, then might I suggest you head over to your local county law library and bone up on the "how to" of opening statements with great stuff like:

Opening Statements (Thomson Reuters)
Trial Communication Skills (Thomson Reuters)
Trying Cases to Win (Stern.)
Successful Trial Techniques of Expert Practitioners (Thomson Reuters)

So, whether you are a seasoned litigant or a pro per in small claims, know that your local county law library has what you need to help you bone up on what to say (or what not to say) in court.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Hardest Word

It's all a lie
You ever noticed that when people get caught doing something they shouldn't be doing they always say they're sorry?  Always.  Remember Jimmy Swaggert?  One day he's sitting on top of the evangelical world.  Next day he's doing the tube steak mambo with some hottie (I mean, his wife was hot but Rosemary Garcia was smokin for a prostitute), lied about it, then, when the evidence became overwhelming, he begs forgiveness (no doubt to save his evangelical empire).  Yeah, didn't work out so well for him.

Then there was Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Remember those cigars? Apparently, a cigar (at least one) was inserted in Monica's nether regions shortly before she performed services on Bill's nether regions.  After an embarrassing impeachment hearing, Bill finally fessed up and apologized for boinking a woman other than his wife in the oral, uh, I mean oval office (no doubt to save what was left of his political career).  Yeah, it was pretty much down hill, after that, for poor ol' Bill.

Other politicians who said they're sorry AFTER the fact include:
The entire IRS
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Gov. Mark Sanford
Anthony Weiner
former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry
Jessie Jackson

The list goes on and on and on and ONLY after they get caught.  This thing about saying "sorry" was brought to my mind when, the other day, a young woman came into our library.  Seems young lady had a "friend" who, had a thing for extramarital affairs.  37, to be exact.

While she said she was sorry and that she really loved her husband and kids, I caught a hint of disingenuinity in her voice.  The thing is, I'm not a priest and nothing you say to me is privileged. That said, who am I to judge?  I'm not here to judge.  I'm here to help people find legal resources and in young lady's case, she was looking for the how to get a divorce (as a preemptive strike in the event husband ever found her out).  So, with that in mind, I lead young lady over to:
Yep, as sorry a state of affairs as family law is, most people get more sorry over time and are really sorry when they get caught. So don't get caught with your pants down (around your ankles, or otherwise) and head on over to your local county law library and get help, or you'll be sorry.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Word of the Month for June 2016: Usury

It's all about usury
One of the reasons I went to law school was I was tired of seeing little people get beat-up.  OK, OK, I'm not completely all altruistic - I also saw it as a way to make a ton of money.  While it didn't work out that way, I'm still an advocate for the little guy.

For example, the other day, a young-ish lady came into the library.  Seems she had taken a loan for $5,000 for 80 months at the rate of 150%.  You heard right - one hundred and fifty percent interest on a $5,000 unsecured loan for 80 months.  Paid out over the entire 80 months, lady will have paid (on the initial loan of $5,000) about $630,000.  YIKES!

Of course, this all brings us to our word of the month: USURY.  Blacks Law Dictionary notes that:
historically, usury was the lending of money with interest. Today, it is the charging of an illegal rate of interest as a condition to lending money; an illegally high rate of interest
In lady's case, lady is looking at a couple of things.  First is this a "usurious" amount of interest?  It depends on the State you live in.  In California, for example, the maximum interest that can be charged is 10% -'re dealing with California Financial Code section 22250 which exempts certain personal property loans of $5,000 or more from the 10% maximum rate. 

Uh huh.  While lady's loan may not be usurious, it might still be classified as unconscionable.  Black's Law Dictionary defines UNCONSCIONABLE as:
Having no conscience; affronting the sense of justice, decency, or reasonableness.  Shockingly unjust or unfair.
Certainly 150% is a shocking amount of interest to be charged. The problem here is that any adult is free to contract for anything.  As long as lady is aware of the consequences and lender didn't try to slip something funny past lady when she signed the contract, lady may (there's that word, again) be stuck.

In any event, as the dutiful law librarian that I am, I suggested lady take a gander at:

Yep, there are never any easy answers when it comes to law and legal stuff.  Good thing your local county law library is right around the corner to help you find what all you're looking for.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Anyone can do it

Quit whining and do it
While dealing with law and legal stuff is problematic for most folks, I've learned that if you can get over your fear of law (because it's only as scary as you make it out to be), the world is your oyster.  Basically,  just go with your gut when it comes to law and legal things.

Funny thing is when I work with legal newbies, I tell everyone to go with their gut.  What does "go with your gut" mean?  It means to to do what you think you should do.  Heck, I've spent 50 years developing my gut and as my wife can attest, it is sizable enough to instill confidence in anyone!

In any event, I'm talking to this guy about how to write a motion and he's totally freaked out because he's never even been in a law library.  So, I start with the basics and share that there are five (5) documents associated with any motion (noticed or ex parte).
  1. Notice of Motion (says: "Hello everybody, I'm writing a motion)
  2. Motion (says: This is the motion I just told you about that I am writing)
  3. Declaration (says: This is what happened (i.e. the facts of the case))
  4. Points and Authorities (says: This is what happened as it relates to the law)
  5. Proposed Order (says: This is what I want the judge to do)
Typically, the first two (Notice of Motion and Motion) are combined into one document.  So, wanting to show guy examples of each of the above documents I walk over to our civil practice section of the library.  While I am normally a big fan of California Civil Practice: Procedure (Thomson Reuters), I start with California Forms of Pleading and Practice (Lexis).  Of course, he can't find what we needs so we saddle up to AmJur Pleading and Practice Forms Annotated (Thomson Reuters), find what he does need and simply modified it to our jurisdiction (which, in this case, is/was California).

The thing with law and legal research things is that it's easy enough to do.  Of course, it's easy for me to do - which brings us to the moral of this story.  If you're in a bind and need something law and legal, do NOT rely on the Internet or fiddle around on your own until you're about to pop.  Instead, head on over to your local county law library and let the professional Librarian(s) help direct you to where you need to go to get done what you need to get done.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Thus sayeth the Librarian

Listen to the prophet's voice
Have you ever read the Bible? Whether you have or have not, let me clue you into a pertinent fact. When the text says, "Thus sayeth [the prophet] or [the Lord]," that's the time you should pay attention.  Like the prophets of old, your modern law Librarians are as close to a prophet as most people are ever to come across.  Dang, but everything we say is scripture and should be taken down verbatim!

For example, the other day an oldish woman came in the library.  Seems she was looking to create an estate planning packet including a pour over will, a living trust and powers of attorney (financial and health care).  For the record, while most all law libraries have resources related to estate planning, not all resources are created the same and some are better than others.

Anyway, I started with California Wills & Trusts Forms (Lexis). She says it's too complex.  I then show her Drafting California Revocable Trusts (CEB), California Will Drafting (CEB) and California Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives (CEB).  

Still, too complex, says she.  Throwing a Hail Mary, I led her over to Am Jr Pleading and Practice Forms Annotated (Thomson Reuters).  Says she, "don't you have anything that is easier?!"  Yes, there is one or two titles that will get you to first base, says I, but I would not suggest using it as your only resource. Demanding that I show it to her, I hand her Living Wills & Powers of Attorney for California and Quick & Legal Will Book (both by Nolo Press).

Sadly, she was happy with that and declared that she had everything she needed and would supplement her trust with what she could find on the Internet.  With a heavy heart, I muttered, "Thus sayeth the Librarian, really, really don't want to do that"  but off she went happy with her second string resources.

Months later, children of the woman came in looking to see what they could do because (their words) the probate judge had just struck down the woman's trust and invalidated her "living" will sending her entire estate through probate.  Oops.  I don't like saying I told you so, but....

I guess the moral to this story is (if moral there be), if your local county law Librarian thinks it important to tell/show you something, you'd best heed their warning lest you become an example of what others should not be doing.  

Thus sayeth the Librarian.