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Monday, April 13, 2015

I'm on fire

information god
An information god am I.  I stake this claim because if information is power, then by virtue of my position of a master of information (i.e. a Librarian), I must be a god, right?  Can I get an amen?!?  Anyway, the point to all this is that today I was able to help score one for the little guy using my god-like research prowess.

See, there are a number of retirement homes around where I live.  Apparently, a number of these places have rules against residents having animals of any kind.  I suspect for an animal lover, this must be like living in hell.  

Anyway, today I had a young-ish woman (in her lower 80s) come into the library seeking assistance.  Seems she was living in a place that prohibited animals.  Problem was that she was very lonely and was prone to depression.  Her doctor suggested she get a dog or some other animal to help ease her loneliness/depression.  Turns out, caring for the dog did help her....until she got a notice from the residence that the dog had to go.

In dire straits she was desperate to keep little "skootchy." So, I'm looking around for information about support animals.  Problem was, young-ish lady didn't have a support animal - she had an "emotional support" animal (apparently, a big difference).

After a while of digging, I find reference to Title 29 of the United States Code Section 701 (called the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).  More digging dredges up a case, Janush v. Charities Housing Development Corp., 169 F.Supp. 2d 1133 (N.D. Cal. 2000).  The thing with federal authority is that states really HATE being told what to do by the feds.  Living in the State of California, I needed to find California Authority to help this lady.

So, I use a technique called ShepardizingShepardizing is a way to determine whether a case is "good law" meaning finding what other court cases may have cited to my case or how have other courts treated my case (overturned, followed, distinguished).  As it turned out, I found one case right on point called Auburn Woods v. FEHA, 121 Cal.App. 4th 1578 (2004) which was right what young-ish lady was needing and off she went happy as a lark in spring.  Another customer reeling in nirvana-ish satisfation, I re-center myself and go out looking for someone else on which to impart my goodness and mercy.

Do you need help?  Do you need the services of an information god?  If so, waste not a moment and head on over to your local county law library and pay homage to your local information gods (or goddesses, as the case may be) and let them help you achieve your zen state of mind.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Consequences

There will be consequences
I'm in law.  That's the field I chose to ply my skills and as a public services Librarian, I see "things."  From all things civil to all things criminal, I've seen and heard most all of it.  It should come as no surprise to me, then, when I read articles that might shock the conscious of "normal" men.  That's normal as in people who don't see the evil wo/men do (or can do) every day.

Today, I read an story that bothered me.  Seems a young girl was at a party.  Underage (i.e. a minor) and drinking, she became drunk and passed out.  Subsequently, three predatory boys pounced and sexually assaulted her AND took pictures of themselves doing so.  Subsequently, the boys circulated the photos online.  Subsequently the young girl, now mortified at what had happened to her whilst being passed out drunk, believed that gossip swirled around her at exponential rates.  As a consequence, she committed suicide by hanging herself.  Because the kids received mere days (maybe a couple weeks) in jail, a wrongful death action was brought by the parents.

What is particularly annoying about this story is the line where one of the attorneys says, "Depending on what the jury decides, the kids will look at this and see there may be consequences..."  MAY be consequences?!?  Three males RAPE a female and there MAY be consequences?!???  Where is the outrage by women's groups?  Where is Gloria Allred?  I mean, if someone did this to my baby girls, I'd go all Rambo on these freaks!  Maybe I'm a prude but I've gotta wonder why the parents of these male kids were not also penalized for the acts of their kids.  I mean, these parents must be freakin royalty (or be related to Obama) to keep their names out of newsprint and/or themselves out of prison.

It is truly a sad commentary on society when adults think, even after the violation of a person that there is still a question that these kids might not experience any consequence for their actions.  Sadder still are the adults who condone this sort of actions and seek to avoid any adverse consequences.  I guess that's what Karma is for - it smacks everyone upside their head, eventually.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Word of the Month for April 2015: Immunity

Public servant is another word for legalized crook
Few things bother me more than someone beating up on the little guy. This sentiment is no more felt than when someone has been wronged by a government entity.  I don't care if it's the IRS, the POTUS, the SCOTUS, or your local city and counties, it is a travesty of justice when any public employee employed at the local, state or Federal level can run roughshod over the rights of everyday citizens.

Of course, this all brings us to this month's word:  IMMUNITY.  According to Black's Law Dictionary, IMMUNITY is defined as any exemption from a duty, liability, or service of process, such as exemption granted to a public official or governmental unit.  

The idea for this blog came about when a guy came into our library.  Seems guy had a place in an unincorporated area.  On his land was his house and another single-story building.  Guy was looking to raze the single-story building and put in a new two story building.  When guy bought the property, the title said all buildings on the land were permitted (built to specs).  

First time county employee came to inspect the building of the new building, everything was fine.  By the third time out to inspect the property, county employee informs guy that the house was not permitted and that guy would have to tear down his house before he could continue construction on the now 3/4 complete new building.  Wait, what?!  Guy thinks something is funky (given that when he bought the property, the title said everything was permitted), hires attorney who starts to search for county permits and other similar documentation.

Meanwhile, county employee is giving guy a hard time and guy is looking at THOUSANDS of dollars in court costs, fees, and threats of imminent domain.  $50,000+ later in fines and fees, guy's lawyer finds documentation showing that the buildings were permitted and that county employee was just being a jerk.  When confronted by the evidence of the permits, county employee laughs and says, "So what?  You can't touch me - I'm IMMUNE (public employee, and all)!"

See, what we, the common folk, don't realize is that them the politicians have conveniently created a series of laws that exempt government ("public") employees from any civil liability when "public" employees engages in nefarious actions or have some other personal vendetta to grind. Specifically, California Government Code 822.2 reads:  
A public employee acting in the scope of his employment is not liable for an injury caused by his misrepresentation, whether or not such misrepresentation be negligent or intentional, unless he is guilty of actual fraud, corruption or actual malice.
The problem here is that word "guilty?"  I take it to mean that before anyone can take any civil action against a public employee, the public employee must first be charged criminally by the District Attorney and be found "guilty" of a misrepresentation.  Bottom line, screwed by a local government employee?  You're pretty much SOL.

Such was/is the situation guy found himself in.  Public employee laughing in his face (run, run, run as fast as you can, you can't touch me - I'm a government man!).  Now, guy is pretty much stuck declaring bankrutpcy due in no small part to the money that the county "acquired" from him in penalties and fees that it will now not reimburse sans a lawsuit against county.  It's a Catch 22 hell.

Think you're in a similar situation with your local government?  Might I suggest you take a look at Lundeen Coatings, Corp. v. Department of Water & Power, 232 Cal.App.3d 816, 283 Cal. Rptr. 551 (1991).  It'll take your breath away at how far politicians have gone to block we the people's right to recourse against unscrupulous government employees. 

Might be time to SCREAM at your "representatives" at the state and Federal levels of government to change the law.  If that doesn't work, then maybe it's time to vote the bums out of office.  

Yeah, just maybe.

Monday, March 30, 2015

It's the little things that will get you

PULL UP, MAN!
So, I'm reading about that German plane crash in the French Alps and I see an article that suggests that it was the co-pilot that caused the plane to take a nose dive right into the mountain killing all 150 passengers.  Apparently, officials reviewing the cockpit audio found that at some point, the pilot left the cockpit and upon return, the co-pilot refused to open the door to let him back in.

What is interesting is that right at the start of this horrible event, before any solid investigation, "officials" insisted that this was not a terrorist act.  Now, I'm thinking maybe they're not so sure.  Yeah, yeah, co-pilot was unstable but if I were a terrorist organization bent on killing people, who better to have as the trigger man than someone who is looking to end it all anyway?  Saves on C-4 expenses, at least.

Anyway, the/a problem with all of the official statements is that if you draw conclusions before you do some background research, you're bound to get burned somewhere down the line - which all reminds me of this guy that came into the library the other day.  Seems guy had been sued by a bank for failing to pay on a credit card (for money had and received).  Seems guy had filed his answer to the complaint (for $435).  Shortly thereafter, guy gets to thinking and discovers that he didn't even have that credit card.  Not only that, but his wife and son didn't have the credit card.  A conundrum, to be sure.

Anyway, guy goes about his business and shortly before trial, guy goes to the Settlement Conference.  Guy addresses the fact that no one in his family has that credit card and, lo and behold, it is discovered that the bank sued the wrong guy (and the lawsuit is subsequently dropped).

Guy was shocked!  Other attorney is shocked!  Heck, I'm shocked at how guy could have let something like this go on without checking.  Guys says to me, "Well, how could I have known?"  Turns out there is a very good way to find stuff out called Discovery.  In this case, guy could have used the Breach of Contract Form Interrogatories and gotten some basic information about the other parties case.

Other Discovery resources that come in handy might include:

Bottom line, you never know what's going on until you do a little digging.  Best to do you homework before you go off half-cocked because you don't want to do something that you don't have to do, do you?  Don't know how to proceed?  Start with your local county law Librarian.  We're here to help you because that's what we do. Yeah, we are that good!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mirror, mirror

everyone is a little wacky
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Do you see yourself as you see yourself; do you see yourself as everyone else sees you; or do you see yourself as you want everyone to see you?  

Such was the thoughts that were going through my mind as I was talking with a young-ish couple standing in front of my reference desk a while back. 

Seems guy and gal had been out one night drinking like fish. Seems guy decided that, despite the fact that he had had a number of shots of something not 30 minutes prior, he was a capable driver.  Seems 20 minutes into their drive home, guy ran a red light, T-boned an SUV, and killed one of the passengers.

They tell me that shortly before the police showed up on the scene, guy smoothed talked gal to get in the driver's seat because guy's license had been suspended.  With gal in driver's seat and his version of events firmly implanted in gal's mind, the police charged her with vehicular manslaughter. On retrospect gal is now not so happy with her decision and wants to set things right (tell the truth of what happened). Guy is not so much in a forthcoming state of mind and right in front of me they are softly arguing what to do.

For the record, I am not an attorney and as such I was unable to give guy and gal the legal absolution he were so desperately seeking.  I'm also a neutral bystander in all this and sit quietly as they go back and forth.  When I could, I suggested they contact their local bar association and seek an attorney referral for a criminal attorney.

I also suggested they take a look at Martindale.com to look for an attorney specializing in criminal law.  A peer-reviewed website (meaning only the best of the best attorneys are listed (or are allowed to be listed)), Martindale.com lets users search for lawyers using personal names, firm names, or just search for practice areas (such as, as in this case, criminal law) in their state of residence. So, off they go in pursuit of representation to help guy convince gal that his way is better (with her taking the rap).

If you are ever in peril and have need of a soft shoulder on which to cry or just need some killer reference assistance, know that your local county Librarian often has both and is at your local county law library waiting to help you get you where you need to be.