May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window.
Phishing Alert: Suspicious Emails Targeting California Licensed AttorneysThe State Bar of California has learned of a phishing scam targeting attorneys licensed in California and issued warnings ti attorneys to beware of suspicious emails. The recent phishing attempt claims to be from the California Bar Association, which is a fictitious organization. The emails claim that attorneys need to pay a license renewal fee or face suspension and contains links to suspicious websites. This is not an official email from the State Bar and attorneys are advised not to click on the links. The State Bar encourages attorneys to only respond to official emails from State Bar email addresses (emails ending in @calbar.ca.gov) and that link to State Bar websites (calbar.ca.gov). When in doubt, attorneys can go to the State Bar of California website directly, www.calbar.ca.gov. Attorneys can also email AttorneyRegulation@calbar.ca.gov or call 888-800-3400.
Understand the First Amendment from Hate Speech to Violence to President Trump's Twitter Account
For the last twelve years, I've recorded a podcast, Lawyer2Lawyer, with Robert Ambrogi, former editor of the National Law Journal. We believe we have the longest running continuous podcast on the Internet and we're celebrating our 12th anniversary for our next show. But for me, it was this week's show that topped them all.
We hosted UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh and Robert Bertsche who spoke about the First Amendment and hate speech, together with the interplay of government censorship, private company actions and even individual-to-individual censorship.
The show should be posted for listening by this Friday, but I encourage you to go now to the website and sign up for a notice about upcoming podcasts.
It's the most precise description of free speech I've ever heard. Once and for all, you will understand why the First Amendment protects hate speech and racist speech, all the way up to, but short of advocating for violence.
Have you wondered whether President Trump's Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, can block other Twitter users or whether it's a Constitutional violation of First Amendment protections? Get your answer Friday.....
The Sled, our Christmas Book Written for our Grandchildren, Available for Pre-order Now
As many of you know, my wife, Christine, and I wrote a Christmas book where our grandchildren are the main characters. It's available on Amazon for pre-order, Buy yours now, just in time for Christmas.
It's the story of Naomi, our heroine, who must save Christmas from being frozen by the Frost King, who is intent on freezing everything Christmas, and he's on his way to the North Pole to freeze Santa, his elves and his reindeer. Naomi is joined by her animal friends, Duchess the Sled Dog, Bella the Snow Lepoard and Kingston the Bighorn sheep.
Will Naomi reach Santa in time to save Christmas? Will she get the shiny new red sled in the hardware store window? Order now to find out.
Different Rx Needed for Third Leading Cause of Death: Medical Errors
That's right: unless you're having a heart attack or suffering from cancer, you may be better off not seeking medical care. According to the Washington Post, the medical industry itself is the third leading cause of death. In fact, you're less likely to die if you get respiratory disease, accidents, stroke or Alzheimer's, which are respectively the fourth to seventh leading causes of death.
Or perhaps its more accurate to look at other causes. There's the cost-cutting pressure put on the medical industry by the insurance industry. Doctors have convinced legislatures across the country to cap and cut back on medical malpractice awards. Medical Boards have rubber-stamped admissions from overseas medical universities without ensuring compliance with standards set for US medical schools. There's a host of factors to consider.
Maybe we need a House-style diagnostic to identify the real problem.
Whatever it is, perhaps lawyers aren't the unhappiest profession after all.
Will the Federal Consumer Protection Bureau and the State Bar Ensure Recovered Funds Go to Defrauded Homeowners?
Doesn't Look Like It
The California State Bar has warned attorneys for a long time: don't handle homeowner mortgage foreclosures. In fact, those warnings started in 1978 after our state Legislature. The warnings started in earnest in 2008-2009 when, the State Bar issued an ethics ruling alerting lawyers to the ethical problems with loan foreclosures. We listened; we've never handled a homeowner loan foreclosure.
Apparently, though, the message didn't reach everybody, and perhaps most notoriously, now suspended Chance Edward Gordon. Go ahead. Click on that last link and see the State Bar's warning to consumers. In fact, every time you hire an attorney, you should check with the State Bar to ensure the lawyer is licensed. Mine's here for comparison purposes.
Well, it turns out that Mr. Gordon handled forclosures from 2010 to 2012, and collected a lot of money from homeowners facing foreclosure. More than $11 million dollars. That's right. $11 million from people who had no money left to pay their mortgages.
Now, the Federal Consumer Protection Bureau has fined Mr. Gordon $11.4 million dollars, seeking to disgorge the fees he collected. He fought and just lost before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and he's likely reached he end of the appeal road, and will have to start forking over money.
I have a few questions. First, why didn't the State Bar collect this fine? Apparently, the State Bar found out about Mr. Gordon after he was sued by the FCBP, and decided to pile on, but left the collection of money up to the Feds. And what is the State Bar of California Anti-corruption League that's referenced on Mr. Godon's State Bar profile?
Second, will the $11.4 million go back to the very same people he took the money from, or will the money go to the coffers of the FCPB? Becuase the FCBP's webpage about Mr. Gordon makes no mention of the money going back to the homeowners.
Sure, Mr. Gordon defrauded homeowners, but it looks like their losses aren't going to end there.
Must California Businesses Provide Seats For Employees?
Cubicle workers can't imagine standing all day long at their job, but many bank tellers, shelf stockers, assembly line workers and a host of other employees do. Apparently, howver, some of those employees are tired of standing. Workers from CVS and JP Morgan Chase Bank sued their employers in federal court over a California law that requires employers to provide seats. Here are the parts of the law that are at issue:
Wage Order No. 7-2001, §§ 14(A) and (B) .
The federal courts didn't know how the California Supreme Court would rule, so they asked. California rejected the federal court's attempt to treat the issue holistically, and instead ruled that the inquiry turns on the tasks the employee is performing. Here's what the Court said:
In other words, if an employee can sit, then sit. The employer must provide the seat. The lesson for employers is simple: get some chairs and avoid a class-action lawsuit.
Wells Fargo Pays Attorney General and District Attorneys to Settle Case; Nothing Paid to Victims
Well, that's one way to settle a case: pay the attorneys who sued you, not the victims whose telephone calls Wells Fargo recorded.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "none of that money will go to consumers whose privacy was allegedly violated."
Instead, Attorney General Kamala Harris and five district attorneys will split $8,500,000.00.
You decide who wins.
Justice Department Asset Forfeitures Outstrip Burglary Thefts
Feds Become the new Criminals?
The Justice Department restarted what it amorphously calls the "Equitable Sharing Program" that allows federal, state, county and local cops to seize assets of burglars - up to 80% of what they seize, and then funnel that money to their own budgets.