Saturday, November 24, 2012

Three Free (legal) Websites

free legal websites
For the most part, many of the websites that claim to be free, aren't.  Many of the websites that claim to be free and helpful, aren't.  Many websites that claim to be free, helpful, and useful to conduct legal research online, aren't.  It's for this reason that I (in my capacity as a law librarian) scour the web with a fine tuned comb looking for websites that are free, helpful, and useful to conduct legal research.  Following are three such websites.

Website #1:  I know what you need.  You're looking for state and federal primary law (i.e. codes, regulatory authority). has it in spades.  If that wasn't enough, it also breaks down all that information by topic and region (so that you're not having to look through every state just to get to your favorite state.

Website #2:  While has a lot of great information as a reference tool just to search for experts in various practices of law, what is really great about this site are the “Featured Videos” section set over on the bottom right side of the screen.  These videos are produced by practicing lawyers from all over the country and they talk about all things practical legal like personal injury and medical malpractice cases in California, truck accident cases in Missouri, divorce and family law in New Jersey, and immigration in Florida.

Website #3:  Need an asset purchase agreement, a lease
Forms legal free
agreement, or a sample non-disclosure agreement. has it all.  What really distinguishes this site from many others is that has forms that have been used in actual practice around the world by many well-known companies.

So, there you have it - three great websites that are free for you to use and enjoy from your local county law Librarian.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

But...It's an EMERGENCY!

perspective emergencyI don’t know if you’re aware but it seems every time there’s an "emergency," people freak-out a bit more than usual.  Take for instance the winter storms that swept across the mid-west this last winter (and the one that hit the eastern seaboard this year). Stores were sold out of everything in minutes. Anything not nailed down was out the door. I’m sorry, but what in blazes are you going to do with a case of mothballs in a blizzard? Seems incredulous to be sure but when people are in a frenzy, they do crazy things.

While hind-sight is generally 20/20, the best course of action would be to be prepared before the emergency so you’re not running around all frantic at the last minute.  For instance, say while frantically looking for a case of mothballs at your local supermarket, you were walking down an aisle, slipped on a banana peel and fell breaking your coccyx. Ouch!  Consequently, you gingerly walk over to your local county law library and look at California Forms of Pleading and Practice (Matthew/Bender), volume 33, chapter 380 (Negligence).  You might also want to look at Causes of Action (West) and/or Personal Injury: Actions Defenses, Damages (Lexis). 
Of course, as is sometimes the case, you’ll wait until the day after the day you should have
hindsight perspective shoulda coulda
filed your complaint to go to your local county law library.  In such a case, you’ll want to look at American Jurisprudence (West) and and look in the General Index under "Personal Injury" or "limitation of actions" and start looking for a shoulder on which to cry.

The moral to all this is that while you should be vigilant about matters concerning you and yours, if you should choose to squander your time searching for that elusive last case of mothballs and fail to file or do something critical, know that your local county law library will always be here to help you discover what you should have done after you should have done it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Some People's Kids

elder abuse sad excuse
Typically when people think about Elder Abuse, they see pictures of old people with bruises and scars.  Fact of the matter is that many of those abused done have bruises you can't see.  I mean, I see people every day who are beaten down mentally.  More and more people are getting taken advantage of, children are soaking their parents, brother and sister are at each others necks for the last farthing of inheritance.  It's becoming a sad state of affairs.

Then there was the one situation that came up recently.  Seems there was this older woman who had been diagnosed with Dementia. Turns out, this woman's daughter (after the woman had been diagnosed): 
  1. moved into her mother's house without permission;
  2. "compelled" the woman to change her trust and will naming daughter as the executor and sole beneficiary;
  3. prevented the woman's other children from visiting her;
  4. repeatedly missed the woman's doctor's appointments;
  5. and invited a dozen of her closest friends to live in mother's house.
Mind you - all of this is after mother was diagnosed with Dementia.  Great kid, that one.
Maybe you know of a situation similar to what this daughter is doing to this woman.  Maybe you've thought you should read up on what is (and how to prevent) Elder Abuse.  If you
Elder Abuse neglect financie exploitation
think you know of a situation where an elderly person is being abuse or just want to read up on the subject of Elder Abuse, head on over to your local county law library and take a look at AmJur Proof of Facts (118 POF3d 297), or American Law Reports (113 ALR5th 431) or even AmJur Pleading and Practice Forms (Assault and Battery).

Yep, there sure are are a whole lot of creepy people out there and it seems the world is going to pot.  Regardless of the craziness around you, what you need to remember is that your local county law library will always stand as your beacon of last resort helping you feel safe and secure in an otherwise insane world.  Yeah, we are that good!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Word of the Month for November 2012: Adverse Possession

define definition words law
When I was a kid, my dad would call everything a "gizzy" when he couldn't remember what it was called.  Actually, it was a pretty good method of communicating when everyone is on the same page.  So, a tree could be a gizzy.  The car door, a bush, the cat, an airplane, car keys, a drinking fountain.  The fact of the matter is what's the point of being specific if everyone in the room knows to what you are referring?  I mean, it's all semantics anyway, right?  Well, not so much.  Let me elucidate.
Say, for instance say you bought a piece of property and while you're still making payments on the property, "someone" moves onto the property without telling you.  Let's say this "someone" builds a house, lays down some sod, a fence - the works.  The only problem is that this "someone" doesn't actually own the property, you do.  What we got here is failure to communicate.  "Someone" thinks he owns it, you think you own it - it's all semantics, right?  

In law we call this situation Adverse Possession.  Adverse Possession is a process where a person who doesn't own a piece of property can own it over time by squatting on it.  In California, a person can claim ownership through Adverse Possession (under California Code of Civil Procedure section 749) if their occupation of the property is:
  • Hostile (kick other people off the property),
  • Actual (they live there),
  • Open (people see them living there)
  • Continuous (in California, they live there for 5 years)
  • and they pay the property taxes (as in cold, hard cash)
The problem with adverse possession is if the owner comes back before the prescribed period, the adverse possessor can be kicked off the land and he doesn't
half full empty semantics
get the money back on improvements he made to the property.  An issue of semantics, you think?  Think the adverse possessor got a raw deal?!  Well, to read up on how Adverse Possession works, I suggest you head over to you local county law library and take a look at Powell on Real Property (Lexis).

Let's try another one.  Say you've been sued for not paying a credit card debt.  The problem (you say) is that you've been sued under the common count of money had and received on your "bankcard."  Bankcard?  What's a bankcard?!?  You've got a "credit card."  Since the bank called it a "bankcard" and not a "credit card," you try to file a motion to strike the pleadings because the bank used one term and you used another.  While the court might say it's a case of semantics, you might want to take a look at California Forms of Pleading and Practice (Matthew/Bender) or Shipley's Handbook on Common Law Pleading (West) for more information on all things common law pleading.

The bottom line is that even if you think everyone knows what you're thinking, odds are they don't and won't know what you mean when you say what you think.  Your only recourse is to go to your local county law library because we as Librarians have the inane ability to decipher what you think everyone else should be thinking when you thought they thought what you said you meant when you thought you thought you said it.  Yeah, we are that good!