Sunday, December 30, 2012

Be A Good Neighbor

Make it stop!
The topic for today is dogs.  Thing is, I don't have a problem with dogs, per se.  I mean I always wanted a dog as a kid but all I could ever squeeze out of my dad was a cat - and they had to live outside.  What that meant was that my dad's allergies didn't act up, I got a pet, and the local communities were kept in check. (i.e. gopher, rat, mouse, pigeon, occasional crow...)

Anyway, we're talking about dogs because it seems that currently we are the only house on our block that doesn't have a dog and after last night's "concert" I felt this article was appropriate.  See, we have 2 dogs to our right, about 5 dogs behind the house, and depending on the time of day (and if she's watching her sister's dogs) another 6 dogs to our left.  That's about 13 dogs all around our place and the couple dozen, or so, cats, squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife absolutely love it.  LOVE IT!  Thing is, when we barking dogs can ruin one's sanity were in the process of buying our house we never heard any dogs barking.  Not a one.  I drove by the house during the day, at night, on weekends and one holiday - not a single barking dog.  The day after we closed on the house, every #!@^@@&!)(!@&)%$&_#*_* dog in the neighborhood started barking Handel's Hallelujah Chorus

Anyway, the point to all this is if you have a dog, please have some consideration for those that don't.  Put an anti-bark collar on it.  Get one of those high-frequency sirens that sound off when a dog barks.  Send your dog to obedience school.  Keep Rover indoors.  Go to your local county law library and take a gander at Every Dog's Legal Guide: A Must Have For Your Owner (Nolo Press).  I don't care what you have to do, but just please, please, PLEASE keep your dog quiet(er) for the sake of your neighbors who don't enjoy the nightly canine serenades.

Friday, December 28, 2012

It's All Relative

marriage doesn't always end in happily ever afterDo you remember when you were married and you looked into your then spouses' eyes and whispered sweet nothings to him/her?  Do you remember buying dozens and dozens of flowers for your sweetheart or tons of chocolate or even shopping for the perfect engagement/wedding ring.  I sure do.  It amazes me that notwithstanding all the effort it takes to get married, how much goes into getting divorced.  Picking the right lawyer, selecting the right venue, sending dead roses to the ex, identifying community property rights....

The list of how to end all things seems to go on and on but boy oh boy can community proprty rights really wipe a person outThing is, I've seen, lately, an inordinate amount of people come in asking how California community property laws are going to affect their marital assets.  In fact, I had one guy come in just the other day asking
keeping a marriage together takes a whole lot more than a village
about how California was going to categorize his separate property as well as his marital assets.  What I suggested is that he take a look at Bassett on California Community Property Law (West).  Basset is THE word on community property issues in California and it even covers how property is categorized when you're married in another country and then you move to California.  Another resource you might want to take a look at is Corpus Juris Secundum (West).  Funny name, great resource.

Anyway, you have questions, we have answers.  Come on by and check out your friendly neighborhood local county Law Librarian whenever next you're in a quandary.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Well, what DOES the word "is" mean?!

It depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.
I don't know if any of you remember but a few years back when Bill Clinton was still president of the USA, he was embroiled in a scandal and an impeachment hearing.  One of the funnier moments was when he answered a question with a question saying, "It depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is?  This was followed with some back and forth questions/answers about the definition of "is" and at the time it was pretty hilarious listening to the antics of Clinton et al.  I mean, I've never thought people who run for office had all that many brain cells to begin with and then to have an argument over what "is" means?!?  Yeah, pretty silly.

At least, I thought it was silly until up until the other day when someone came into the law
Sometimes it's best not to say something twice
library asking how I might define the word "but."  "Really?!  You want me to define "but??!"  The patron was dead serious and so, instead of sending him over to Black's Law Dictionary (which is the final word on the definition of all things legal), I sent him over to look at Words and Phrases (West).  

So that you understand where I'm coming from, Words and Phrases is a set of books which contains words and phrases as they were used in court cases all over the country - both in state and Federal hearings.  It's actually a pretty useful resource when you not only need the definition of a word but how it is used in the context of a legal setting.

So, maybe you need to know what the word "nystagmus" is and how the courts might have used it in a legal setting.  For those who don't know, "nystagmus" is the involuntary movement of the eye and it comes into play when the police are checking to see if you've been drinking and driving - and it's in volume 28B.

Other terms and phrases of note might be "Byway" or "commenced" or mental pain and anguish" or "Ryan Warranty."  I mean, what in blazes is a Ryan Warranty, anyway?!?  Do any of you know?!?!  Well, you would if had you looked at volume 37B.

In any event, next time you get a hankering for needing to know something that you didn't know before, head on over to your local county law library - we're full of great ideas!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Horse to Water

horse lead water please
Have you ever heard the phrase, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink?"  The point of this is that you can stand on your head for some people, but you can't force them to do what they should do if they don't want to do it.

This concept was driven home to me just the other day.  Seems we had a patron come into our law library.  Patron tells me that they're looking for information about landlord tenant issues (i.e. the person was being evicted).  In a flash, I led the patron over to California Practice Guide: Landlord Tenant (West), California Real Estate Law and Practice (Lexis), and Causes of Action (West).  Heck, I went so far as to pull the volume, chapter, and located the page
exasperated people stubborn the patron's answer was located on in California Forms of Pleading and Practice (Matthew/Bender) and can you guess what the patron asked when I literally showed this person the two sentence paragraph that contained the answer?!  Can you?!??! The patron asked, "What do I do now?" I said, "You need to read it." To which the patron replied, "Oh, that's too much work. Why can't you just tell me what to do?"

Such is the life of a Law Librarian.  You can only do so much for people and then you need to let them take it from there - or not.  Either way, we're here at your local county law library whether or not you need us.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Word of the Month for December 2012: Homestead

legal definition help
One of the reasons I got into the Law Librarian business is because I have a thing for the down trodden.  People who are at their wits end, who are being bullied, who are fighting against all odds, who have no where else to go so they turn to their local county law librarian to help them identify options.  It is these people I serve best because I know they know their county law librarian is their last line of defense.  It is to these people that I dedicate the word of this month.

homestead declaration exemptionSee, we had a woman come into our library a while back.  Seems she had recorded a homestead declaration on her home to protect herself against judgements and debts and such.  Seems life hit her upside the head a few times and she got a judgment lien filed against her house (i.e. she owed a debt, couldn't pay it, so the creditor filed a lien against her only significant asset - her house).  Seems the creditor didn't want to wait until this lady could/would pay so he pushed forward seeking a Sheriff's sale (also, she had kinda intimated to the creditor that it would be a cold day in hell before she ever paid the debt - which didn't go over well with the creditor).  In desperation, and at the end of her rope, the woman went to her local county law library to see what she could do to prevent the sale of her home.

According to Black's Law Dictionary, a HOMESTEAD is the place designated as a person's primary place of residence.  A HOMESTEAD DECLARATION is a document that when signed and notarized protects a homestead against creditors on a debt.  In California, the law on Homesteads can be found at California Code of Civil Procedure section 740.710 et seq.  Want to read up on homesteads and how you might protect your home against creditors?  Then you might want to head over to your local county law library and take a look at Homestead Your House (Nolo Press) or Miller & Starr California Real Estate (West) Vol. 5, Chp. 13, or even Powell on Real Property (Lexis). 

Yep, that ought to get you going in the right direction.