Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Watch Out for the Little People

walking uphill school
I don’t know about you or your family, but every time I complained about something when I was a kid, my dad would always have some snappy comeback.  You’re tired of riding your bike to school?  When I was a kid, I had to walk to school in the snow uphill both ways and I liked it!  You’re tired of mowing the lawn?  When I was a kid, I thinned beets every day for 40 years and I liked it!  You don’t like liver (or whatever it was on the menu)?  When I was a kid, I ate liver for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every night and I liked it!  You don’t like hand-me-downs?  When I was a kid all of my brothers and sisters had hand-me-downs and we all liked it!

I suspect it wasn’t so much that my dad was trying to do one better than me as he was trying to teach me something.  In so teaching me perhaps he was trying to strengthen me or protect me from some of the harsher realities of life.  That or he was just trying to drive me crazy with his little euphemisms.  

In any event, we here at the Riverside County Law Library have many resources keyed into helping and protecting kids.  Some of them are Legal Rights of Children (West), Representing Children in Child Protective Proceedings (LexisNexis), Lawyers for Children (ABA), Handling Child Custody, Abuse & Adoption Cases (McGraw-Hill), The Child’s Attorney (ABA), California Child Custody Litigation and Practice (CEB), A Judges Guide: Making Child Centered Decisions in Custody Cases (ABA), and Child Custody Made Simple (Single Parent Press).

So, next time your child (or inner child) gets whiney, send them over to your local Law Library for some lawyerly advice.  On second thought maybe not.  I mean what are you going to do if when the next time you tell your kid to eat their vegetables they say, “On advice of counsel, I respectfully decline”?!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


lawsuit litigation panic
In a word, DON’T PANIC! While it’s rarely fun being the defendant in a civil case (or criminal, for that matter), it’s not the end of the world.  Note that while the Summons says you have 30 days to respond, you really don’t want to wait until day 29 to start thinking about what to do.  Getting a jump on your case, learning your options, and forming a plan of action can go a long way in lowering your blood pressure.

If you live in California and you’re being sued in Small Claims Court, go to your local county Law Library and look at Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court in California (Nolo Press).  You can also try scheduling an appointment with the Small Claims Adviser at (800) 244-8898.  If you are in a civil limited or unlimited case (determined by how much money is involved), you might consider hiring an attorney.  Darn near every county has a Bar Association with an attorney referral service.  The referral service at the Riverside County Bar Association can be reached at (951) 682-7520.  

Another option is to educate and represent yourself in court (it’s not as scary as it sounds).  Some of the resources available at the Riverside County Law Library that may help the self-represented litigant include California Forms of Pleading and Practice (Matthew/Bender), California Practice Guide (Rutter) Civil Procedure Before Trial (West), the California Codes, California Rules of Court (and there’s a whole bunch of rules you need to know for civil litigation), and Represent Yourself in Court (Nolo Press).  If you don't happen to live in California, then some generic resources that may be helpful are, first, your state codes as they related to Small Claims Court.  When you're done with that, you might try looking at American Jurisprudence Pleading and Practice Forms (West).  You might also want to take a look at your local Superior Court Website (darn near every court in the union has something on the web - odds are your local superior court has not just basic information but what forms to fill out and basic court procedure, to boot!).

So, while there are no guarantees in life, don't panic if you are sued and don’t wait until the 11th hour to take action.  If you give yourself enough time to prepare and have the stomach to deal with the stresses of dealing with attorneys, courts, clerks, etc., then you'll have a good chance of returning triumphantly from the legal arena.  No guarantees, but a good chance.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Don't Fence Me In

immigration legal fence
Years ago when I started going out socially, I tended to be the center of attention.  No, it was not due to my clever repartee or my ability to dazzle the crowd with my snappy dressing.  Rather, it was due to the fact that I had not yet learned to avoid certain topics like the plague such as religion, politics, and (in Southern California, anyway) immigration.  Such topics tend to be best left to close friends or on the Letters to the Editor page.

While I have learned not to engage in such discussions, the issue of immigration is becoming a sticking point for many people – particularly for those living in the Inland Empire.  What is interesting though is that for over two millennia, mankind has used fences (or fence-like policies) to keep someone (or thing) out or in.  Some great fences in history include the Great Wall of China, the French Maginot Line, the Berlin Wall, and the isolationist policies promulgated by the United States until the early 1940’s.  OK, this last one wasn’t so much a fence in the classic sense but it proved to be an intellectual hindrance and had it been allowed to continue, it might have catapulted the Nazis to world power status.  What this suggests is that not all fences are a good idea.  In fact, while all of these fences were virtually impenetrable, their original purposes were ultimately defeated and became twisted against (or by) the very people the fence was designed to protect.

While it may still not be a popular topic at parties, all persons of conscience should learn about such important matters as immigration.  To this end then, persons wishing to conduct legal research at any public law library can take advantage of several titles that can help people understand these issues, including State Immigration Employment Compliance Handbook (West), Immigration Law & Procedure (Matthew/Bender), Becoming a U.S. Citizen (Nolo Press), Immigration Employment Compliance Handbook (West), Immigration Procedures Handbook (West), and Guide to Homeland Security (West).

Life of the party
So the next time you’re at a party and you hear a snappy dresser ramble on about the lack of a proper fence along the California/Mexico border, you can (now properly armed with your new found knowledge)  jump right in and be the life of the party.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It Happens to Everyone (eventually)

  • Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?
  • Have you ever been married?
  • Have you ever been divorced?
  • Have you ever slipped in a store and hurt yourself?
  • Have you ever rented property?
  • Have you ever been evicted?
  • Have you ever bought a car?
  • Have you ever sold a car?
  • Have you ever bought a house?
  • Have you ever tripped on a crack on a sidewalk?
  • Have you ever been denied insurance?
  • Have you ever been fired from a job?
  • Have you ever wanted to fire someone from a job?
  • Have you ever had a neighbor who bothered you to the point of insanity?
  • Have you ever had a neighbor with a dog that barked at all hours of the night?
  • Have you ever rented property to someone who up and decided not to pay rent?
  • Have you ever had your house foreclosed on?
  • Have you ever wanted to create a trust, a will, or a power of attorney?
  • Have you ever loaned money to a close friend or family member (and they decided to not pay you back)?
  • Have you ever wanted to (or needed to) claim a workers' compensation injury?
Odds are you (or someone you know) has had one of these happen to you.  Each one is a legal issue and someone had to conduct legal research to find the answers before they could file a law suit or seek satisfaction.  That's where this blog comes in.

Each post will identify common, every-day legal issues and then address some of the resources that can help you find answers to those legal issues.  Maybe it's a simple link to a webpage, maybe it's a book in a law library, or maybe it's a link to an attorneys website.  Maybe it's a rant and it gets your blood boiling the point you want to do something! Whatever the resource or reason, this blog will help address your most burning questions.

But maybe you have a question that I haven't answered and you are desperate to know where to go.  Go ahead and ask your question(s) because I'm betting there are legal resources you haven't even thought of looking at. The bottom line is that if you have questions, I'm betting I have most (if not all) the answers you're looking for.  I won't provide legal advice but I can point you in the right direction to start your legal research project.
legal research easy

So, step up and let's get researching.  Pretty soon, you'll be a bona fide legal researcher yourself and people will be banging on your door to do their work.  You know they will.  Heck, I know they will.