May It Please The Court

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Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Discusses Free Case Law

The legal publishing market is a nearly $5 billion business.  Apart from the main players, others have taken case law into the public domain, calling it free case law, which allows attorneys, legal scholars, and the general public to have access to decisions for state & federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Please join me and my fellow blogger, Bob Ambrogi, as we discuss this hot topic with the experts:  Professor Thomas F. Bruce, Director of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School, Carl Malamud, founder of and Andy Martens, Senior Vice President of New Product Development, from Thomson West.  Please join us as we explore the controvesry over who is entitled to access these public records and at what cost.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, May 01, 2008 at 16:59 Comments (0) |

Downstream Landowners Battle Upstream Landowners For Water Rights

Water is a precious resource in California, as it is in most western states.  We guard it fiercely, and range wars have started over it.  Where anarchy once existed, the Water Commission Act resolved - for the most part.  Water law in California is mostly settled, but there was one remaining question answered earlier this month that may likely see one more appeal to the California Supreme Court.

Can a downstream landowner obtain a prescriptive rights to water superior to the upstream owner?  Before I relate the answer to that question, it would be helpful to first understand the context of the question.  In eastern Fresno County, the Brewers bought land in 1979, which was serviced by a spring a mile away on other property owned by the Murphys.  Later in 2001, the State Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a permit allowing the Brewers to appropriate the water from the Murphy spring.

Those who follow water law quickly picked up on the year of purchase and the year the permit was granted.  Both are post-1913.  A pre-1914 water appropriation is usually the only way Californians can establish water rights. 

Until now.

Given this court opinion, Californians can obtain prescriptive water rights through adverse possession.  To establish this right, the person making the claim must show that that the use of the water is (1) actual, (2) open and notorious, (3) hostile and adverse to the original owner, (4) continuous and  uninterrupted, (5) under a claim of right, (6) for the statutory period of five years.  Here, the Brewers met all five requirements.  They established point number five by reason of the SWRCB permit. 

Note, however, that you cannot make a claim for adverse possession against the government.  This method of appropriating water without a pre-1914 existing water right applies only between private parties on both sides. 

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, April 29, 2008 at 12:32 Comments (0) |

Just Call Me Mr. November

There are calendars for firefighters and calendars for pin-ups.  And just in time for my birthday today, there are calendars for James Madison University, where they featured yours truly as Mr. November.  Don't worry, though, that last link is safe to open at work, and just about anywhere else. 

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, April 28, 2008 at 14:24 Comments (0) |

Remembering Marilyn Hampton

At my Mother's memorial service, my youngest brother Scott gave the following rememberance, which I thought was worth posting for those that know any member of our family:

First, on behalf of my family, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to each of you for your kindness, thoughts and prayers, and for being here today to remember and celebrate the life of our mother and grandmother, Marilyn Hampton.  We would also like to thank Father Angelica, Reverend Lederhouse, the organist, Bruce Lederhouse, Mr. Lewis Masson for playing the bagpipes, the women of the church for making possible the reception after the service today, as well as the entire Church of the Holy Spirit family.

On a personal note, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my wife JoAnn and my daughters, Sarah and Jennifer for their love, help and incredible support during this time.

For those of you who do not know me, I am Scott Williams, Marilyn's youngest son.  My two older brothers, Todd and Craig are also here with their families.  For those of you who knew my mother well, you already know who we are, where we live, what we do for a living, and most likely our favorite foods and colors!

I say that in jest, but that is really a reflection of a very, very important part of my mother's life... her family.  She was an extremely proud mother and grandmother whose love of family was second only to her very strong faith and unwavering belief in God and his son, Jesus Christ as our lord and savior. 

We have many, many fond memories of our mother growing up.  She always made sure that we had new clothes for school as well as for church and Sunday school.  What you may not know is that, although we sincerely appreciated that, the trip to the department store was a dreaded event as it meant that my mother might see someone that she knew there, and an hour of shopping could easily turn into 2 hours once she was done visiting.

Although we may not have realized or appreciated it when we were young, this was another very important and admirable quality of my mother - her many friendships and unending ability and the joy she took in making time to talk or correspond with family and friends over the years.  This is something that we could all learn from in this day of fast paced, hectic and busy lives with what can seem to be little time for what are often the most important things in life once you slow down to realize it.   

Another fond memory we have is the traditions that were so important to my mother, especially birthdays and holidays.  She loved to tastefully decorate our home for each holiday and to celebrate and recognize these occasions with many family traditions including, for example, allowing me to dress up in a cowboy outfit for my birthday party - I believe it was my 16th birthday, decorating the Christmas tree with special ornaments that we had made or were passed down in our family, going to see fireworks with my grandfather on the 4th of July, which was also his birthday, and receiving or giving special hand selected cards for any occasion.

As many of you may know, my mother did not drink, smoke, gamble, or surf the web although she did have a couple significant vices - talking and buying or cards and stationery.  She did not own a computer or a cell phone, so the greatest invention of the modern era for my mother was the introduction of unlimited long distance calling at one low price.  Although I believe the rising cost of stamps may have offset some of her savings.  She loved to send cards, notes on special stationary and write letters to friends and family just to let them know that she was thinking of them or to recognize their birthday, anniversary, or other special occasions.  Many of you I am sure have received such letters, cards or special notes like that from my mother.   

No matter what the holiday, though, my mother made sure that the true meaning of the holiday was clear, understood and appropriately celebrated.  By this I mean that we while would participate in an Easter egg hunt, or exchange presents and receive toys on Christmas morning, we were taught the true meaning and significance of Easter as the resurrection and ascension of our lord Jesus Christ, or Christmas as the birth of Jesus.

Not only were we in church on Easter Sunday or Christmas Eve, but my mother instilled in each of us a strong religious foundation as Christians and a belief in God.  She taught us the importance of worshipping in Church, and we participated in Sunday school, church choirs and youth groups. 

This was an aspect that I believe truly defined my mother as her faith, work as a Sunday school teacher, member and director of choirs, love of music and singing particularly in church choirs, solos or duets with her father, work in women's ministry and organizations, role as a church secretary and many other roles were an extremely important part of her life and gave her great joy.  This also served to strengthen her faith as a Christian and what ultimately allowed her to make her decisions in the end without any fear and with an undeniable belief that she would leave her earthly body, but have everlasting life in heaven and I have no doubt whatsoever that she is looking down on us today, signing along with the hymns, and once again healthy and reunited with family and friends who have gone before.

As I thought about what to say today and how I could adequately and appropriately reflect on our mother's and grandmother's life and how much we loved, admired, respected and appreciated her, it occurred to me that what better way than to send her one last special card to let here know how we feel, although there is nothing that I am going to say here today that I did not tell her when she was alive.

            When we were born, you were so proud to be our mother and grandmother,

            You took care of us, taught us right from wrong and saw to our every need.

            Could I have chosen the most wonderful mom, I could think of no other.

            Our values and morals are all reflections of the things in which you so strongly believed.

            You were a woman of strong faith who took time to appreciate the little things in  life.

            I want to thank you again for your guidance, support, encouragement, advice and love     

            You were a wonderful daughter, mother, grandmother, friend, and loving wife.

            And I know today that you are joyfully and peacefully looking down upon us from above.

            Today we are all gathered here to remember and celebrate your life with both joy and some tears

            You have fought a long and hard battle, but today victory is yours and the battle has been won

            One day I hope to be able to approach things they way you did, with such peace and without fear

            But I want you to know that I have always been and will always be proud to be called your son.

I love you with all my heart,

Your son,


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, April 26, 2008 at 16:56 Comments (0) |

Some Things Just Don't Go Together Anymore

There are two phrases that should not be in the same sentence:  donated blood and mass production.  Either phrase by itself is just fine; it's the combination that should have tipped officials off that there was a problem.  Let me explain.

Somewhere in Transylvania, there's an old family recipe for blood sausages. 

See what I mean? 

Now to put the rest of it in context, here we go.  Two airmen in Germany with this ancient family recipe decided they'd give it a go.  Their recipe for traditional Blotwurst sausage called for sausage meat, onions, bacon, spices and breadcrumbs, plus one unique ingredient:  human blood.  According to the UK Telegraph, the recipe cautioned, "Make sure the blood is fresh and the bacon cubes diced finely with a nice proportion of fat to lean. Do not use too many breadcrumbs but if the blood starts to curdle stir in a teaspoon of wine vinegar."

So for their first batch, they got all the normal ingredients and used their own blood.  Without telling others their "secret ingredient," the taste testers loved it.

Buoyed by their apparent success, the two airmen decided to mass produce their blood sausages, but had one problem with producing large quantities.  They were tired all the time.  Ever the brilliant entrepreneurs, they enlisted others -- their fellow servicemen. 

One of the servicemen in the German air force questioned more senior officials, "I have been asked to give blood for sausage-making and I want to know if this is against regulations."

The two airmen were immediately suspended and their interest in "cookery" put to the back burner, so to speak.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, April 25, 2008 at 22:41 Comments (0) |

Lawyer2Lawyer Internet Radio Explores Polygamy Sex Allegations

The raid of a polygamist compound in West Texas has raised some important issues of rights of children, women and family as well as religion. Host and blogger Bob Ambrogi turns to the experts, Attorney Betsy Branch, from the firm of McCurley, Orsinger, McCurley, Nelson & Downing, LLP and lawyer and social critic, Wendy Kaminer, blogger on civil liberties at, to discuss the aftermath of the raid of the FLDS compound.

Bob, Betsy and Wendy explore DNA testing, civil liberties, the question of child abuse vs. religion, a sect's legal rights and the fate of the children.  Click below to listen.


Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 22:01 Comments (0) |

How to Get Sued Hits An Amazon Best-seller List, And It's Not Even Out Yet

My new book, How to Get Sued, is available for preorder on Amazon, and it's up on Amazon's best-seller list for judicial system books.  Yes, I know it's not the Best-Seller-List-Of-The-New-York-Times, but I'm excited about it anyway.   We're number 5!  We're number 5!  Wieux hieux.

The most notable part of the list, however, is that How to Get Sued is the only book on the list that hasn't been published yet - it's not due out until June 3, 2008.  The other books, admittedly all four of which are ahead of HTGS, were published last month and back in January.

Buy it early and buy it often, thank you very much.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 15:43 Comments (1) |

A Texas-sized Table Of Consanguinity For FLDS Members

Despite a slow start, the Texas court charged with protecting the children of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints  sect under scrutiny for polygamous marriages and sex with underaged children moved forward with DNA testing.  Apparently, they're trying to construct a table of consanguinity since the children and the (real) parents haven't been forthcoming with their actual family relationships.

It's an exercise in genealogy.

The Court is wise to identify the children and mothers, but ultimately the fathers will have to be tested, too, if there's going to be any sense to the family trees the law enforcement officials are developing.  Some 437 children are being tested in this one event, and the Associated Press reports that as a state, Texas usually conducts no more than 1,000 tests in a single year. 

The consequences of the testing will reveal several things, primarily parentage.  It's the math, however, that may land some of the male adults in jail.  If, for example, a very young child, say five years old, is found to have a mother who is presently 18, then the father of that child, as revealed by DNA, will likely end up in jail as a matter of practically irrefutable proof. 

And with it, the new phrase of consanguinity is entered into the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.

Printer friendly page Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 19:48 Comments (0) |

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