May It Please The Court

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May It Please The Court
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There are 2034 Journal Items on 255 page(s) and you are on page number 196

So You Want To Be A News Anchor?

If you're anything like me and unlike a lot of others you're glad that the election is almost over.

I mean, can't we get on to more important things?

Like news anchors. This riveting piece was front page, New York Times. OK, admittedly, it was below the fold and in the Sunday edition.

But there it was anyway, fighting for attention among all that election news. With a picture of Peter Jennings. You know, the guy from ABC's World News Tonight. I say "news," even though many disagree that what Jennings gives us is actually news.

Why you ask, was Jennings featured news by the newspaper? Because Tom Brokaw is retiring December 1st, and that vacuum will likely rocket Jennings into the number one news anchor spot.

The NYT article cast Jennings in the electioneering light: he is out stumping for the vote. Yep, reconnecting with his voters, er, um, I mean viewers. I knew it started with a "V," it's just that I've been so preconditioned lately to cast everything in the context of the candidates.

Oh, I did it again?

So, apparently did the NYT. They can't get the election out of their head. There's even talk of impeachment in the media. CBS is considering axing Dan Rather, who (like Jennings) has been accused of some rather biased coverage, too.

What caught my attention about the article was its point that some 25 million TV viewers are going to start anchor shopping.

I agree, like many others, that news reporting is hopelessly biased. I don't plan on watching Jennings, my namesake - and Brokaw's touted replacement - Brian Williams (no relation that I know of) or Dan Rather. Actually, I like the Stanford-educated Daryn Kagan on CNN in the early morning.

Balanced news is hard to find. MIPTC tries to give you both sides of the story in its posts, and typically, if you read between the lines (most of the time you don't have to work that hard) what I think as a lawyer.

But I used to be in broadcast TV back in high school and college. Like Kagan, my undergraduate degree is in Communications Arts, except it's a BS (not what you're thinking - it stands for Bachelor of Science), with a minor in marine biology.

But I digress. If everyone's shopping for a news anchor, and Rather may get the ax, maybe the networks will be out shopping for a new anchor.

I'll toss my hat in that ring - how about you?

Either one of us could likely do a better job than the great majority of those doing it now.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, October 31, 2004 at 11:36 Comments (0) |

Shhh! Leads to Felony Assault

Shhh! Be quiet!

I'm trying to watch Academy Award-winning The Triplets of Belleville, a French-language movie.

A moviegoer arrived late for the movie, and got shushed by another moviegoer.

Then, the shusher got to enjoy some abuse during the movie. Seat-kicking, blowing into his hair and coughing. As you could have guessed, the shusher and the shushee ended up confronting each other after the movie.

The shusher got it bad, and ended up in the hospital for nine days with a punctured lung and broken ribs after an unscheduled appointment with a railing.

The shushee? He got convicted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. He now faces sentencing of up to ten years.

The movie?

It was a cartoon.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, October 30, 2004 at 13:25 Comments (2) |

Mechanic's Lien Invalid If No Work Done On Site

Be careful out there if you're a contractor providing design and planning services for a client but ultimately didn't end up building the project. You may think you can record a mechanic's lien.

Maybe you might have been able to before (how's that for hedging my bets?), but you can't anymore.

According to the California Second District Court of Appeal, it's a no-no.

D'Orsay hired Summit Builders to build a hotel in Long Beach.

Trouble is, it never got built.

Not even started. Not a shovel of dirt turned over. No building permit was ever issued.

But design work got done. Nearly $850,000 worth. Then, apparently, D'Orsay didn't pay because Summit Builders sued, and filed a mechanic's lien.

D'Orsay sought to get the mechanic's lien released because no improvement to the site was done. The Court ruled that because no work was done on the site itself, Summit couldn't file a mechanic's lien. Summit couldn't even force D'Orsay to post a bond (which would have been in excess of $1.2 million).

Ouch. Only design professionals can record those liens, not contractors.

Make sure you hold the right license.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, October 29, 2004 at 21:03 Comments (0) |

Business Owners May Be Personally Liable

Here's a case that MIPTC will be following. As a business owner as well as a lawyer.

The Ninth Circuit frequently gets overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It happened in this case, and now the 9th Circuit has sent it back to District Court for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.

Judge Procter Hug, Jr. issued the opinion of the Circuit Court.

In the case of Holley v. Meyer, previously styled as Meyer v. Holley in the Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit was reversed in its position that the Fair Housing Act imposed personal liability on business owners.

But the Supreme Court left a door open, and the 9th Circuit has walked right in. The Supremes said that the Circuit Court didn't consider whether the "right to control" exercised by an owner over his employees might trigger strict (or absolute) liability under the FHA.

So, they did. And, since they're a court superior to the District Court, they ordered the District Court to give it some thought, too. In this case, the Holleys, an interracial couple, wanted to buy a home listed through Triad Realty. The realtors allegedly used racial epithets in the process of denying the Holleys the right to buy a home. The Holleys sued, and this battle began.

Now, we wait to find out whether Triad Realty of Twentynine Palms' owner, David Meyer, can be held personally liable for the actions of his employee, Grove Crank.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, October 28, 2004 at 12:11 Comments (0) |

Dressing For Trial, More Than A Coat And Tie

Is there any more business casual? It's certainly different in college than in the business world. How about for lawyers?

Dress for success, according to some means to wear a coat and tie.

Is that all there is to it?

There's a dearth of information out there on what to wear when going to Court, and especially at trial.

I've asked the question to an Orange County tailor, David Welch. Apparently, there's quite a science to it. (2:30 video).

Don't forget that pocket square.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 at 20:32 Comments (1) |

Unorthodox Uses For A Law Degree

Admittedly, I've got a skinny connection with the law here, but it is a connection. Sex and Stanford Law School, with tuition of just over $33K (scroll all the way down) a year.

That's a chunk of change. But, then again, Stanford graduates right out of law school average $125K a year (see the last link).

But if you can get admitted, you've accomplished something not many can do.

Which leads me to the front page of today's Daily Journal, that oftentimes stuffy legal newspaper that contains the Daily Appellate Report of cases decided by the Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit and various California Courts.

You get the idea. Lots of newspaper ink on the page, not a lot of photographs. Just like casebooks. Boring.

Not today, though.

We've got sex for sale, right there on the front page, above the fold. Complete with a reference to ..... you guessed it, Stanford Law School and a SLS grad, Christina Warthen, nee Cristina Leann Schultz, a.ka. "Brazil" (before she married internet tycoon David Warthen, founder of Ask Jeeves).

IRS federal agents allege she charged $625/hour right out of law school. Now that's not unheard of for lawyers, but it's admittedly high. The IRS, however, alleges that rate was for non-legal services (be careful with that last link - it may not be suitable to open at work, but it's the least X-rated link I could find on that site).

You know what the IRS is talking about. They're claiming she provided escort services (go right ahead - that link is safe). They also allege she suggested that $300,000 to $450,000 was the cost for a year of her services.

What did she do with all of that money? Paid off her law school loan (although probably not through that program).

What's the flap all about? The IRS seized some $61,000 of her money (not even two years of Stanford), without charging her with a crime. Her lawyer, Brian Getz, claims that the IRS is "picking on her because of their puritanical point of view," and adds, "that's not my idea of justice," according to the Daily Journal.

As for Brazil, she says on her site, "I came to the United States to complete my B.S. in Atmospheric Science (Harvard and later UCLA), and J.D. (Stanford University). During my education, I was continually taught to question paradigms and assumptions. I never understood however, why this questioning had to stop when it bumped up against accepted social and sexual norms."

Now aren't you glad you're not reading all that grey type in the newspaper? Here you can at least click on the links.

Don't burn out your mouse.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 at 21:58 Comments (0) |

Sleeping Trucker Gets Belted With Verdict

Disclaimers out of the way first: when I'm in a car, I wear seat belt.

Unfortunately, long-distance trucker Ramon Lara typically does not.

When he's sleeping, that is. In the sleeper berth of his eighteen-wheeler. Despite the fact that his sleeper berth has a restraint.

Ramon was asleep in the berth while his son, Victor, was driving. Trouble was, Robert Nevitt lost control of his car in front of the truck, and Victor slammed on his brakes. Which, as you would expect, slammed Ramon into the front of the sleeping berth, injuring him.

As with all torts of this type, Ramon sued.

Then, even though he won and received damages, the jury determined that he was 50% at fault, and cut his damages in half.

For not wearing his (seat belt) restraining device while sleeping.

Ramon appealed, claiming that there was no law that required him to wear a seat belt and no industry custom or practice to wear seat belts while sleeping. He argued that the Court should not have instructed the jury about seat belts, and the jury issued a quotient verdict. But, he lost.

I guess you could say he thought the judge and jury was asleep at the wheel.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, October 25, 2004 at 18:32 Comments (0) |

Consistency In The Rule Of Law

We the people. Well, we are still people, and we are still we. United.

Or are we? The Constitution requires the separation of church and state. We may not agree with it, and even disagree regarding its interpretation.

But, that's what it says.

Now I'm not a strict constructionist. And even though I'm the son of a preacher, I'm not a fundamentalist. But, I do believe in a consistent rule of law. Stare decisis and all that.

So you'll understand my frustration with so many recent decisions dealing with religious symbols on government property. Take for example, these two: First we have an attempt to remove the cross from the Seal of Los Angeles County. There it is, right there above the Hollywood Bowl. Actually, if you've been to the Bowl, you know there is a cross on a nearby hill, and stars in the sky. So, the depiction is realistic.

But the cross isn't on government property that I know of, so presumably it's OK.

Second, there's a similar dispute in nearby Riverside County, where the Anti-Defamation League wants to remove an inscription quoting Thomas Jefferson, "The true Christian is the true citizen" from the historic Riverside County Courthouse.

Both religious statements on government property. In LA, the suit to stop the County from removing the cross was dismissed to prevent suit by the ACLU.

The LA County Board of Supervisors voted to remove the cross. In Riverside, in stark contrast, the County voted to leave the inscription alone.

We've had more than 200 years of decisions on this point. There's no question anymore what the majority rule is. Keep church and state separate.

Why do we still have disputes over this issue?

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, October 24, 2004 at 16:37 Comments (0) |

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