May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - Artificial intelligence is a wonderful thing. I told my computer that today is my birthday, and it said that I needed an upgrade.
JCW Turns 50 and Looks At Life Now
These Are The Good Old Days
I'm not in the office today, and won't be in this weekend, a bit rare for me lately given how busy things have been lately (in the last four years since WLF | The Williams Law Firm, PC started). It's not because a case settled (although that's true - one resolved just before the end of the business day).
This time, it's a once-in-a-lifetime weekend. April 28 is my 50th birthday.
Perhaps this post is a bit self-indulgent - not your typical "here's the case of the day." But it's perhaps more of a time for reflection than writing about the latest decision from one of the courts that find their way into this blog on an almost-daily basis. It's about writing and the realization that I'm actually 50. At the end of this summer, MIPTC will have turned four. A bit young compared to me, but don't worry - you get all that experience.
At least that's my story. And I'm sticking to it.
One of my dear friends, Jeff Lewis, who writes SoCalLaw Blog, sent an email to me today to report that after much reflection he's elected to stop posting. Closing that blog will leave a huge hole in the blogosphere, and I have to report my disappointment.
For me, posting has become a great way to stay informed. It requires me to read, and read a lot about what's going on - not only blogs (which tend to be my first source) but also legal news and sometimes even regular news. Jeff's decision to stop writing caused me to question whether I should keep writing given how busy things have been lately.
I thought about it for about three seconds and then said, "Nah, I'm not going to stop, I love to write." It's an expression of what's going on in the world and another way to look at it. My reports to you of cases try to look at both sides of the matter or the event I'm highlighting, and very subtly give you the way I see it without coming right out and saying it. According to what you tell me, it's working so far, and I appreciate your votes of confidence.
I'm not really sure I'm fifty, despite what my birth certificate says. I am pleased to report that I couldn't find an expiration date on it, so I'm expecting at least another 50. Even so, I still feel like I'm about 23 or so, and I'm still skiing and scuba diving like I did then. It's my mindset. Another dear friend of mine, David Moore of Reid & Hellyer in Riverside (who was admitted to practice law in 1965 and has one of the lowest bar numbers I know of) reports that all in his life is well because he is "upright and air is moving in and out of my lungs."
It's a bit more than that for me. All of my body parts are working as far as I can tell, although after one of my sport outings it's obvious from the pain and torture I go through that they've fallen out of warranty. Despite that pain, there are still several goals I have yet to meet. Hang gliding, parachuting, kitesurfing and several others come to mind.
Getting out of bed and standing up is certainly a good start, but it far from ends there. The intellectual challenges of work coupled with some traveling, enjoying family, trying out new sports and contributing to the community all are part of it. Most unusual, however, is how much more comfortable I am with myself and how little it matters what others think.
Perhaps that freedom comes from independence - financial, work and personal, and perhaps a few other sources. Most of all, though, I think it comes from within and believing in yourself.
Maybe it takes 50 years to get there. Maybe it's more important to just be here now. I think I'll go with the latter.
Soprano-Style Mob Story About To Play Out In Chicago Court
For The First Time: The G-men's Calabrese Santiago Proffer
The Sopranos have many fans on TV, but we're about to step into the real-life Sopranos in an upcoming Chicago trial on June 1 against Nicholas Calabrese. Prosecutors filed a 63-page description of four decades of mob hits. Although heavily redacted to protect witnesses, the document makes very good reading.
And good scripts.
One of the mobsters identified in the document in the case has already inspired a character played by Joe Pesci in the 1995 movie, Casino.
Here's the document, called the Calabrese Santiago Proffer (so named for the appellate case where the government was first required to set out the facts of its case), if you're an aspiring screenwriter, or otherwise just curious about The Mob (skip to page four of the Proffer for the facts). It was previously sealed by the court, but thanks to the Chicago Tribune, it's now a matter of public record.
Plus, none of the news sites I've searched so far have made it available to the general public, so here it is for your viewing, straight from the case, United States v. Nicholas Calabrese, US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Case No. 02 CR 1050, the Honorable James B. Zagel presiding. Zagel has already sentenced Frank Calabrese.
Property Manager And HOA Named As Employer Where Unlicensed And Uninsured Contractor's Employee Injured
What happens when you hire an unlicensed contractor whose employee gets hurt on the job? You get to pay for injuries to the contractor's employees. Essentially, you become the insurance company.
Take the case of Freddy Aguilera, who was hired at $65.00 per day to install rain gutters. Unfortunately, one of the gutters held by Mr. Aguilera came in contact with a high voltage line while he was on a ladder. Not surprising, Mr. Aguilera fell from the ladder to the ground and was injured.
Here's where it gets a bit tricky.
Mr. Aguilera was employed by Mark Hruby doing business as Rube's Rain Gutter Service. Rube's was in turn hired by Pegasus Properties, a condominium manager for Montana Villas Homeowners Association. The HOA elected to install the much-needed rain gutters recommended by Pegasus, and instructed Pegasus to get the job done.
Unfortunately for Pegasus and the HOA, Rube's did not carry worker's compensation insurance, and was not licensed by the California State Contractor's License Board. So, when Mr. Aguilera sued Rube's for his injuries, he also sued Pegasus and the HOA.
In this court opinion, the court reasoned that Mr. Aguilera was employed not only by Rube's, but for the purposes of the lacking worker's compensation insurance, also by Pegasus and the Montana Villas Homeowners Association because Rube's (the employer) was illegally uninsured.
Although the case doesn't identify the cost of Mr. Aguilera's injuries, it does note that the rain gutter contract was a mere $1050.00.
Disconnecting From The Electronic Tether
Crackberry users got a bit of cold turkey last week, sending a shiver down the spines of many of us whose electronic umbilical cord is connected to the office. As regular MIPTC readers know, I spent a bit of time in Australia recently, and discovered that Down Under has yet to enjoy the benefits of coast-to-coast broadband access.
One of the high-end hotels we stayed at was proud to offer dial-up connectivity in an ante-room off the hotel office, but you had to use your own provider.
Whoa, there cowboy. Don't go into shock yet.
Being disconnected worked marvelously. In fact, I highly recommend it. I don't use a Blackberry, but I'm just as bad: I use a global Samsung cell phone that gets my office email, telephone calls, spreadsheets and documents all in the palm of my hand, and my head is frequently buried in it when I'm away from the office.
In Australia, however, I had no choice: while my cell phone worked there and occasionally got email, not everywhere in Austrialia is covered by the type of service I need to stay connected. The first few hours of disconnectedness were awful. One day into it, I was going through delirium tremens and feeling the shock of no email.
Withdrawal, in a word.
On the third day I was thinking about pyschological help, but by the end of the week, I discovered the freedom I had before cell phones with email were invented. I think they call it relaxation. It was great.
You oughta try it, too. Just don't take a week to get there.
DNA Proves Husband Is Not Dad, But He Has To Pay Child Support Anyway
Imagine you're married and have a three-year old child, but you can't get along with your wife. You get a divorce and are ordered to pay $1,200 a month in child support. You may not like it, but you understand because you want to support your child.
But after your divorce, DNA proves otherwise.
Mom may be Mom, but her child is not yours. After learning the devastating news, you go to court for an order to stop paying child support. Let the real father kick in for the child support, you reason. The courts rule against you, so you appeal all the way to the Florida Supreme Court. Somewhere along the line, someone has to make sense of this problem.
The Florida justices ruled 7-0 against Richard Parker. The Court ruled Parker must continue to pay $1,200 a month in child support. Parker's child support payments will total more than $200,000 over 15 years to support another man's child. Unfortunately, however, Florida has a one-year statute of limitations to prove fraud after a divorce, and Parker didn't file in time.
"We find that the balance of policy considerations favors protecting the best interests of the child over protecting the interests of one parent defrauded by the other parent in the midst of a divorce proceeding," Justice Kenneth Bell wrote for the Florida Supreme Court. "We recognize that the former husband in this case may feel victimized," wrote Justice Bell. He quoted another writer to explain the ruling: "While some individuals are innocent victims of deceptive partners, adults are aware of the high incidence of infidelity and only they, not the children, are able to act to ensure that the biological ties they may deem essential are present."
Is the Court saying, "don't trust your spouse?""
Is that the right result? Shouldn't the biological father pay the child support?
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Goes to the White House
More than half of the 43 US Presidents have been lawyers! On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we look back throughout history and reflect on the lawyers who used their legal background as a springboard to reach our Nation's highest office, and compare the backgrounds of the current list of lawyer candidates including Clinton, Edwards and Obama.
Join me as I turn to the experts, Dr. Barbara Perry, Carter Glass Professor of Government and Executive Director, at the Center for Civic Renewal at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, Professor Kinvin Wroth, Professor of Law at Vermont Law School and Professor David H. Bennett, Meredith Professor of History at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, to talk lawyer-presidents. Don't miss it!
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Investigates the Don Imus Controversy
On his April 4th show, Don Imus, controversial radio host, went on the air and made derogatory remarks about the Rutgers' women's basketball team that caused a groundswell of controversy. On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we will ask our experts what the legal issues are in this controversy. Are there legal issues or are there social issues that are being debated?
Law.com blogger and host Bob Ambrogi turn to our guests Eileen O'Connor, counsel at Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe in Washington, D.C. and 24-year veteran broadcast journalist, Attorney Norman A. Pattis, criminal defense attorney and writer for the blog, Crime & Federalism, and Attorney Sandra S.Baron, Esq., Executive Director for the Media Law Resource Center to discuss the Imus controversy. Don't miss this discussion, and feel free to add your comments below about whether rappers should be held to the same standard as Don Imus.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Saddles Up to the Bar, OnlineSome lawyers can be "set in their ways" or "old-fashioned" when it comes to technology. On Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we will take a look inside InternetBar.org and the InternetBar.org Institute and discuss how an online bar aims to shape the future of law worldwide. Law.com blogger and host Bob Ambrogi welcomes board members from InternetBar.org, Jeffrey M. Aresty, Esq., a Boston lawyer and President of InternetBar.org., Amelia "Mel" Rea Maguire, partner in the law firm of Amelia Rea Maguire, P.A and Kenneth J. Vacovec, the founding partner of the firm, Vacovec, Mayotte & Singer. Tune in!