Sunday, January 24, 2021

On the Edge

It's a new year and like most new years, I generally take stock in how I did the previous year.  

In the last couple of years, the family and I have taken some serious blows what with moving from the west coast to the east coast, taking on a new job, buying a new (or different house) and dealing with other "stuff."  

Its been a rough ride.

This year's review I got to thinking about how I've grown (or whether I have) and my mind got to wandering (as it often does) and settled on the topic of pride.  What is pride?  One of the seven deadly sins, pride is defined as: 

a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired

Ever hear that line pride cometh before the fall?  I gotta wonder whether a person can ever be proud of their accomplishments but not prideful to the point that they think they are the best.  I've never heard a librarian say they're the best (pretty good, maybe) but I'll bet there are a few who have thought it.

Anyway, I've been teaching legal research and writing (on and off) for little over 12 years at various institutions and to/for a variety of persons.  As I was reflecting on what I've been doing and how I've been doing it, I got to thinking whether I'm as good as I think I am or, more to the point, whether I'm good at what I do or whether I just think I'm good at what I do. 

Of course all of this came to my mind when I read a case the other day about an attorney who tried to barter sex for legal services.  I'm guessing attorney thought he was the cock of the walk when he tried that move.  Dang but he must have thought he was coated with Teflon - that he could get away with anything.

See, back in 2013, Mr. McGinnis E. Hatfield visited the Cherry Bomb Gentleman's Club and met a young woman who was working the establishment.  Seems instead of charging the young woman his customary fee of $1,500, Mr. Hatfield offered to represent the young woman, in an upcoming divorce action, in exchange for sex.  

While reading this, I had a flashback to a television show back in the 80's called L.A. Law which revolved around the lives of a law firm and the employees at said firm.  One character, Arnie, was the divorce expert and was very handsy with his female clients. 

Anyway, young lady didn't appreciate Mr. Hatfield's proposal and filed a complaint against Mr. Hatfield.  Subsequently, Mr. Hatfield had his law licensed annulled.  Note: not just revoked - but annulled (like it never happened).  They didn't just want to get this guy off the books, they wanted him to disappear like he never existed!  A bit much but I guess you reap what you sow.

You know, I've known a number of attorneys who, over the years, were suspended or out and out lost their licenses for things like mismanagement of client funds, not filing documents, holding on to a client's files until they paid a past due bill, and other crazy stuff.  

I suspect there are a lot of attorneys out in attorney land who get away with this.  Me?  I'd be too terrified to pull something crazy like this....which is probably why I'm a law librarian and don't have to worry about such things Of course, I've got other things to worry about - but not that!  So, maybe one in my corner?

Yeah, best not to tempt the fates.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Context puts things in perspective

I didn't realize it by I'm a mover and a shaker.

Well, a shaker anyway.

Turns out an article I wrote a while back (actually, I wrote it 4 years ago - but I had scheduled it to come out July 2020) has been causing quite the stir.  Well, not the article, per se.  Actually, it was the picture that accompanied the article (and the first couple paragraphs that talked about the underboob bathing suit).  

Anyway, it's really popular now - at least, you'd think so based on the number of nasty comments from angry people out in Internet land.  Dang but I even got one from a former stalker (who happens to be a law librarian with nothing better to do than to rant and rave on me; your employer must be so proud).  

Forget that the article was about the 1st amendment (speech and "fashion" and all that).  Nope - none of the comments addressed that.  Most all the comments focused on the fact that how dare I (a guy) every try to address a female-type issue (like women's "fashion") and that they wished I'd die an "ignominious" death (yeah, one person said just that).

Anyway, the point of THIS blog post is "context."  What is context?  Context helps to put things into perspective (kinda like how secondary authorities work with primary authorities).  

I remember a movie called "Immortal Beloved."  It's about Beethoven.  I recall one scene where he is describing the "context" behind one of his symphony's.  Note: he was describing the "context" behind the symphony.  

Apparently, (according to the movie) the symphony is about a guy who is trying to get to his girlfriend before midnight - but he runs into a rainstorm and then the wheel falls off his carriage and he is just freaking out because he realizes he'll never make it.  I mean, you can just see the angst in his face as he is trying everything he can to get to his lover and EVERYTHING is getting in his way.  

Of course, he doesn't make his rendezvous and he is just crushed - and you can hear that all in the music - but without the story (i.e. the "context"), the music is all just notes on a page.

The point to all this is that while I started the blog with a discussion with an underboob bathing suit, the article had little to do with women's fashion.  In fact, the crux of the article was about the 1st amendment - which all the angry people just missed because they couldn't get past the 2nd paragraph.

I mean, this is a legal-related blog.  Do you think I'm going to talk about random things without having everything not tie back into something legal?!?

So before you go and write all those nasty comments (that I won't ever post) threatening my life or just screaming racist/sexist obscenities (and there were some really juicy ones), take a moment and read the entire article seeking to devine the purpose behind the blog.

Then, if you're still so inclined, send in your nasty racist/sexist comments.  That way, you'll be educated and feel vindicated at the same time.

Your welcome.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Burning Rubber

Funny thing how some things catch my eye (and give me ideas for a blog post).

Take, for instance, this morning as I was driving into work.  There was this car driving by smoking like there was no tomorrow.  Approaching, I noticed that his front right tire had worn away and that he was riding on his rims.  Basically, his tire had disintegrated which was the cause of all that smoke.

I got to wondering how long he had been driving like that.  I mean, by the time I saw him, rubber was flapping in the wind and sparks were popping up as his (now increasingly bent) rim was dragging on the asphalt.

Down to his last steel belt, he was.

I got to thinking how this guy was not unlike some law students I've work with.  They struggle.  They fight.  They do everything in their power to understand what I'm talking about in class - but sometimes it's not enough.  On their own, they just burn rubber all semester long.  Instead of reaching out for help and ask questions as they go, they come up with excuses and keep fighting on their own.  Nary an email.  Nary a visit.  

Thing is, law school isn't cheap.  I was talking with a guy that went to law school up north paying $1,000 per unit (that's $3,000 per class).  Can you imagine paying $3,000 for a class and then not do everything you can to get the best grade possible? Hells Bells, if I had to pay $3,000 for a class, I'd be ringing up the professor every time I had a question.  I'd be emailing whenever I ran into a roadblock.  I'd be asking them how to answer questions, how to study, how to do whatever it took to get the best grade possible.

But that's me.  When I get lost, I ask for directions.  Sometimes I wait until I'm up to my neck in hot water but more often then not, I ask for directions.  I ask because I don't know and don't like wandering the wasteland in a state of confusion.  Yep, when I realize that I don't know something, I ask.  Just ask my former boss.  I was in her office at least once a week. 

In fact, my former boss inspired me.  She had a very open door policy (which I adopted).  Basically, if the door is open, then I'm available to you.  Have a question about an assignment?  Walk through my open door (or drop me an email) and ask away.  Want to know what resources to use for a research paper (or a motion or a brief or whatever), walk through my open door (or drop me an email) and ask away.  Need help using any of the dozens of online databases we have in our collection?  Walk through my open door (or drop me an email) and ask away.

I guess the moral to all this is: don't wait until you are running on bent rims to ask for help.  Reach out and ask for help before you are up to your neck in hot water.

I'm just sayin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Use it the way it was intended!

The other day, yesterday in fact, I was standing on my driveway looking out and about and up walked a teenager.  What caught my eye was that he was holding a skateboard in one hand and a helmet in the other.

I thought, to myself, that's odd.  Shouldn't he be riding that skateboard and wearing the helmet?  I suspect he could have been going to a party and was going to give the skateboard/helmet to someone - but then wouldn't the skateboard/helmet be wrapped?  Heck but even I know presents are the best thing about birthdays.  I mean, cake and ice cream rank right up there but presents?!  Yeah, love opening presents, I do.

But I digress.  Teenager was not using the skateboard/helmet the way a person (in this case me) might ordinarily use (or think to use) a skateboard/helmet.

This, of course, reminds me of a situation I recently saw.  I was walking around a public library when I came across a study room.  While a study room in a library isn't all that odd, what was odd was that the door was being propped open by a law dictionary.  A Black's Law Dictionary, to be specific.

You know, before I became a omnipotent law librarian, I never much cared how books were treated.  Rip a page here, fold over a corner there, splash a drink on the pages - all's fair in love and war.  When I became an omnipotent law librarian, things changed.  I suddenly became aware of ripped pages in books; found myself telling people not to fold corners on pages; and DON'T be drinking or eating when reading a book else you might spill on that precious book!!!!

I became the a-typical librarian with a bun in her hair shushing everyone (except I don't have enough hair for a bun - but you get the idea).

Anyway, no one was around to shush or say not to use the dictionary as a doorstop.  Thankfully, it wasn't a library book (probably owned by the person who was using it as a doorstop).  Yes, I would have looked darned silly shushing someone in a library where I don't work - but it was the omnipotent librarian rising up in me.  Sometimes, I can't help it.

Had there been a person around, I would have, probably - most likely, have admonished them to use the Dictionary for its intended purpose - you know, like looking up definitions of legal words?  

I mean, have you ever HAD to have a definition of a legal word but couldn't find it because all the Black's Law Dictionaries were being used as doorstops?!  It would drive a person insane.  

Clearly, this person didn't know the power contained in a Black's Law Dictionary.  Clearly, this person was not aware that using this Black's Law Dictionary was damaging it.  Clearly, this person was missing out on critical definitions that could - quite possibly - change their life!

Definitions like:

Incidental Damages: 1. Losses reasonably associated with or related to actual damages (also refer to 1 James J. White & Robert S. Summers, Uniform Commercial Code § 10-3, at 561-62 (4th ed. 1995); C.J.S. Sales §§ 396, 400-401, 404-405).

Interdict (in-tǝr-dikt), n. Roman & civil law. 1. An injunction or other prohibitory, exhibitory, or restitutory decree (refer to C.J.S. Injunctions §§ 2-4, 12, 14, 22, 24, 166).

Neutral, n. 1. A person or country taking no side in a dispute; esp., a country that is at peace and is committed to aid neither of two or more belligerents.  Cf. Belligerent (see also Theodore D. Woolsey, Introduction to the Study of International Law § 163, at 276 (5th ed. 1878)).

Pro hac vice (proh hahk vee-chay or hak vi-see also hahk vees).  [Latin] For this occasion or particular purpose.  The phrase usu. refers to a lawyer who has not been admitted to practice in a particular jurisdiction but who is admitted there temporarily for the purpose of conducting a particular case (see also C.J.S. Attorney and Client §§ 26-28).

Rout (rowt), n. The offense that occurs when an unlawful assembly makes some move toward the accomplishment of its participants' common purpose.  Cf. Riot.  (see also C.J.S. Riot; Insurrection §§ 2-10).

Steganography (steg-ǝ-nog-rǝ-fee), n. A cryptographic method that digitally embeds or encodes one item of information within another.  Because a digitized audio or visual file usu. has unused data areas, indelible (and nearly undetectable) information can be added without altering the file's quality. Copyright or trademark tags can be hidden in every fragment of a digital work, making disassociation almost impossible (also termed digital fingerprinting; digital watermarking).

Viator (vi-ay-tǝr).  A terminally or chronically ill life-insurance policyholder who sells the policy to a third party in return for a lump-sum payment equal to a percentage of the policy's face value.

Zygocephalum (zi-gǝ-sef-ǝ-lǝm), n. [Greek fr. zygo- "yoke, pair" + kephalos "head"] Hist. A measure of land, esp. the amount that can be plowed in one day.

I mean, this is powerful stuff!  Did you know these words?  Heck, did you know the definitions of these words?!?  Probably not - because you (or someone) was using the dictionary as a doorstop.  

Oh, the humanity!

So next time, when you need to prop open a door or something, take a moment and think of what you're doing.  Next time, think about the power you hold in your hands before you go and use that book (or dictionary) as a doorstop.

Just, use whatever you're holding the way it was supposed to be used.  

That's all I'm asking.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

In a bind

Once upon a time, a few years back, the wife and I took a vacation to Europe.  While traveling about, I saw what Europeans consider everyday business fashion for men - a two-piece men's suits with uber-slim, leg-gripping pants.  I mean, these their pants were (just about) hermetically sealed to guys legs.  It really bugged me those pant legs were so narrow.

Thing is, I like my pants to be airy; I like space between my legs and the fabric.  When I sit down, I don't want to have to fight to sit down.  See chair, plant backside. That simple.  It's not so simple with those tight-fitting suit pants - you gotta coordinate what you're going to do before you do it.

So, what has all this to do with law and legal things (and yes, there is a connection)?

The other day I'm talking with a lawyer person.  Seems lawyer person is having a quandry.  Seems lawyer had filed a civil action.  Seems lawyer's client was of the sleezy type and lawyer really didn't want to file the civil action but client was persuasive (money and all) and lawyer shot off the complaint.

Pursuant to S.C. R.Civ. P. 12(a), a defendant has 30 days in which to respond to a complaint (basically the same time frame in all 50 states).  Turns out it is day 32 and defendant has not filed a response and Lawyer is feeling torn between his legal duty and his civic duty.  He tells me - do I file a request for default (under S.C. Rule 55) or wait (because sleazy client, and all) in hopes defendant gets their act together?

What would you do?  

I mean, people bag on attorneys all the time about their being a bunch of money-grubbing, ambulance-chasing s.o.b.s but, as it turns out, some (actually, many) of them have a conscious and want to do the right thing - even if their bar card hangs in the balance.

Anyway, lawyer is in a bind (not unlike those European men suits some guys wear) and is sitting in front of me (me, of all people) because, well, that's the life of a lawyer.  You go to law school for 3-ish years, pass the bar, know tons of stuff about law and legal things and sometimes (yes, sometimes) you have to seek the power of an omnipotent law librarian to help make sense of it all.

Yeah, sometimes it's just like that.