Legal Eagles

I read with relief and joy the Friday decision of the Supreme  Court to dismiss the Texas suit to invalidate Biden’s win.  I know the suit was doomed from its inception,  but a person worries about these things (or at least I do).

I don’t have any lawyers in my immediate family,  although my paternal grandfather had two uncles and a cousin who were lawyers and judges.  I have always enjoyed  court room dramas, and I sometimes enjoy doing expert witness testimony in real life. It is interesting to see the games and maneuvers that occur to settle things.

I suppose that Gregory  Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch is the most wonderful exemplar of a good attorney.  I have fortunately not needed much personal legal help aside from wills and such.

What are your favorite court room dramas?  What are your experiences  in court and with lawyers? 

86 thoughts on “Legal Eagles”

  1. Thankfully, my experience in court has been limited to two cases in small claims court, both of which I won but never collected a dime on, and one case in traffic court which succeeded in getting my fine reduced by half. Due to my six years as a legal administrator, I have lots of experience with lawyers, fine lawyers, some of whom remain good friends.

    In fact, one of them, Bill Pentelovitch, a retired senior partner of the firm where I worked, last night posted this reflection on yesterday’s Supreme Court decisionto his Facebook page:

    “As you know I took a several year hiatus from FB and only returned in September in order to encourage everyone to get to work to help Joe Biden beat Trump and to help the Democrats take the Senate. Biden won; Democrats likely won’t have a majority. I’ve been largely silent since the election.
    Tonight I want to say a few brief words about the legal profession and the courts. Being a lawyer is an honor and a privilege granted to a very small percentage of the population. I have been proud to have been a practicing lawyer for the past 46 years. Though I have often disagreed with the results in cases in which I have been counsel, I have never felt that my clients were not afforded due process and a fair trial.
    It is the ethical and moral duty of lawyers to represent their clients vigorously within the bounds of the law, and to only give their clients advice as to how to comply with the law, not to advise them how to break the law.
    Over the past five weeks I have watched with disgust as many lawyers throughout the nation have twisted themselves into pretzels to make arguments about the outcome of the presidential election that had no basis in fact or in law. Under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the analog state Rules, the conduct of these lawyers should have been sanctioned because they were bringing frivolous claims which had no basis in fact. To my knowledge, no lawyer has been disciplined for such conduct, which is a shame. I am ashamed that these people are members of the profession I love.
    But much more to the point, I am proud — very proud — of our judicial system. It has withstood vicious Twitter attacks not just from Trump, but from his feckless allies in the Republican party. Those attacks have not dissuaded the courts from doing their job, and in approximately fifty cases across the country so far they have uniformly rejected the attacks on democracy that these baseless lawsuits were making.
    I do not love the composition of the current U.S. Supreme Court. I know that in the coming months and years that this court, with three Trump-appointed Justices, will make rulings which I despise and which would make such great Justices as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Earl Warren, Harry Blackmun, and Louis Brandeis roll over in their graves.
    But tonight I am proud of the U.S. Supreme Court. In a brief but cogent order it shut down the most vicious attack so far on democracy by Trump’s minions, led by the despicable Attorney General of Texas. For those of you who are not law junkies, I’ll explain what the Court did: Seven of the nine justices concluded that Texas and other states could not challenge how other states ran their elections. They described this as “lack of standing,” a very technical legal term about which lawyers (including myself) have often written 20,000 word briefs (and briefs are usually anything but). With those few words, the Supreme Court not only upheld the principles of federalism, but also the right of States (as spelled out in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution) to have complete control over the affairs within their borders so long as their actions did not conflict with federal law. This is powerful stuff, trust me. Really powerful.
    The remaining two justices, Alito and Thomas, would have found that Texas and the other states had “standing.” They did not take this position out of a desire to appease Trump, but did so instead because they have each publicly expressed in the past that the Supreme Court should grant “standing” to states to sue other states; their position was entirely consistent and predictable. What is significant, however, is that while Alito and Thomas would have granted Texas standing, they would nonetheless have denied Texas the relief it was seeking — presumably because they felt the position was lacking in merit, though they did not offer a reason for their decision.
    So, in fact, all nine Justices shut Texas (and Trump) down. And that is a victory for democracy which we should all be willing to celebrate. For now we can wait to be mad at the Court until it makes its next ruling that we hate.”

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  2. The Supreme Court ruling in favor of Trump would open the way for states to sue each other about a wide range of situations. One example: North Dakota and Minnesota could sue Texas to stop them from using capital punishment. Would the Republican-led legislative bodies welcome that?
    Divorce court/lawyer experience.
    Perry Mason
    Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer (Phil Hartman SNL)

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    1. For that matter, states like Minnesota could challenge other states’ election laws which have the effect of suppressing votes. Maybe we don’t think they should be able to send electors to the Electoral College.

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      1. Or here’s another perspective, from a web site I read regularly (electoral-vote.com) which discussed the positions of Alito and Thomas, who felt the case should be taken, under original jurisdiction. “We wonder how Alito and Thomas would react if Illinois adopted a very strict lockdown to try to beat down the coronavirus and it sued Indiana for not doing so, claiming that people in Illinois along the Indiana border are dying because Indiana has its head stuck in the sand. In a case like that, Illinois could definitely show it had been harmed by Indiana’s actions.”

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        1. Absolutely, and I think that’s key to “standing,” being able to prove “injury” caused by the other state’s actions or laws.

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  3. What’s disturbing is that certain states violated their own election laws. For example, observers were removed from counting facilities and the counting continued without them; the failure to match signatures on mail-in ballots and the destruction of mail-in ballot envelopes that must contain signatures; “verification” of ballots cast by people who no longer met residency requirements (over 20,000 in Georgia). Affidavits exist documenting all of these infractions as well as others. I believe we need to be concerned about the integrity of our electoral process.

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    1. What’s disturbing to me is very different. I’m disturbed that people unhappy with the outcome of a vote will work so hard and use such lousy “evidence” to prove their candidate really ought to have won. I agree we should be concerned about the integrity of elections, but I doubt you agree that the worst threat to good elections is the recent conduct of politicians who were ready to trash and reverse what was obviously a fair election.

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    2. Don’t you wonder why DT lost 55 of the 56 court cases he brought to challenge the outcome of the election for lack of evidence? If there was so much wrongdoing, it seems odd that there was literally no evidence of it presented to the courts. I think I’ll trust the courts on this one over some of “alternative facts” touted by right-wing media.

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      1. I don’t think that DT ever used the legal system to actually win a legal point or to protect his actual legal rights. He has a history of only using the system to intimidate and delay while he pursues criminal activity. The rights of those he sues gets lost in the legal costs, which he can afford. He is now burdened with the need to produce valid evidence, which is new for him. He must be in shock that “intimidate and delay” strategies are not working for him for the first time in the absence of facts.

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    3. I’ve been an election judge for twenty years, and I’m not overly concerned about the residency requirements. There are many, many reasons that people have trouble proving residency, but it generally doesn’t mean they are ineligible to vote. Usually it is more related to having been evicted or foreclosed on, or having an unstable living situation due to divorce or domestic violence or poverty. But by far the most common thing is for people who have moved to try to just go back and vote at their former polling place because it’s simpler than getting registered at their new address.

      Some of these people can be said to have voted illegally, but it doesn’t mean intentional fraud was committed.

      Signature matching is problematic. It’s a judgment call, and there isn’t really any way to standardize the process. What looks like a match to one person won’t always look like a match to someone else. I do agree the envelopes should be kept for a time.

      As far as observers being allowed or not allowed – there are always people of both major parties and many minor ones working in counting facilities. That in itself insures integrity. When I’ve worked as an election judge and we’ve had poll watchers, I don’t think they really understand the process anyway, so I’m not sure why they’re there. If they are worried about election integrity, why don’t they just sign up to be judges?

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  4. Whoo! That comment upset my plan to trot out a bunch of lawyer jokes.

    I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had little direct experience with the legal systems of this country. The experiences I have had saddened me and helped me understand why there are so many nasty lawyer jokes. I used to wonder why there were hundreds of lawyer jokes and no jokes about people who install floors or write about trout fishing. Then I met a few lawyers and it didn’t seem so strange.

    A lawyer is a friend you can buy. They’re something like cigars: the more you can pay, the better they tend to be. Alas, some of the most cynical lawyer jokes I’ve heard were told by lawyers.

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    1. Well, we all know there are plenty of sleazeball lawyers out there. But just as I don’t believe that blonde women, especially buxom ones, are any less intelligent than women of other hair colors, or that female drivers are any less capable behind the wheel than men, I’m pretty careful about reaching a conclusion like that from the number of jokes they’re featured in.

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        1. No I didn’t. I’m just pointing out that based on your limited experience with lawyers, it’s hardly a valid conclusion to draw that lawyers, as a group, have slippery ethics, numerous jokes notwithstanding.

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        2. My father thought lawyer jokes were hysterical. My mother however, defending my father‘s choice of profession, does not think they are funny at all.

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  5. Rise and Sue Wildly and Without Focus, Baboons,

    Legal Dramas: “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Absence of Malice.” Paul Newman’s flawed and alcoholic character in Absence of Malice was so spot on. Unfortunately, lawyers who are flawed and scarcely competent, is my experience. My five years in Child Protective Services taught me about the legal system. Later today I may find the juice to tell some of the stories, but I am not there yet this morning. It was not an experience that inspired confidence in attorneys or the system.

    I just finished listening to “A Time for Mercy,” John Grisham’s latest legal novel. It was great and it was well narrated. It was perfect pandemic entertainment. I may go back and pick up several other books written by him. I missed some since his early offerings.

    Yesterday (day 15 of COVID)I felt pretty good. Today I also awoke feeling healthier. Now I am puffing on my spirometer (that is the Respitory Therapy instrument you use to prevent pneumonia when you have surgery. I still have the one I got from my knee surgery) in an attempt to prevent pneumonia. It appears I am past the viral influence of COVID, though.

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    1. Hope you continue to heal and feel better. Have you been tested for anti-bodies as well, Jacque? Guess I’m wondering to what extent you feel confident that you now have some immunity toward the virus?

      I’m wondering the same thing with regard to Renee’s DIL, though she tested negative for the virus. Steve’s daughter, I believe, falls in that category as well. There seems to be a confusing array of contradictory information about this out there. Steve, Renee, what do their doctors say, any idea?

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      1. Speculation is that COVID-19 antibody response from a vaccine is more robust than the antibody response from having had the disease. People still should be vaccinated, at least eventually.

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        1. How I wish I had more confidence that the information that is made public about both the virus and the vaccine is accurate and science based, not merely politically expedient.

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        2. The history of rushing drugs onto the market is not positive. I don’t know if such is true about vaccines. People and drug companies, those warm-hearted souls, complain about all the testing, but history proves the need. I remember the Salk vaccine was not rushed, if I remember right.

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        3. This was shared on FB by a friend I have great respect for. I found it very encouraging, but it’s a long read:

          Please read this which will answer FAQs and debunk myths (no, mRNA will not alter your DNA)
          The FDA is likely going to approve the Pfizer Covid vaccine when they meet on December 10th. The Moderna vaccine will probably be approved shortly thereafter. This is an incredible feat of modern medicine, and our best chance to hopefully get our lives back to near normal relatively soon. However, it is new and it was done quickly, so understandably, people may be hesitant to get it; even people who vaccinate against all other diseases.
          Will I be getting the vaccine? ABSOLUTELY.
          But, it is a new vaccine technology and done in record time, so aren’t I worried about its safety? Nope, not any more so than any other vaccine or other medical intervention.
          Why? Let’s start with how this vaccine works. This is an mRNA vaccine. Past vaccines typically use a live but weakened “attenuated” virus, or dead viral material “inactivated” virus, or a piece of the virus’s protein or even a toxin produced by the virus. The Covid vaccine is very different. It contains mRNA (messenger genetic material) that encodes for the Covid spike protein. This causes your cells to then produce the Covid spike protein. In contrast, when you are sick with Covid, the virus hijacks your cell to produce many copies of the entire virus. Then it destroys the cell, busting it open to release its newly formed viral particles. When your cells release just the spike protein, it will stimulate your immune system to form antibodies to the Covid spike protein without you getting sick. There is no possibility of getting Covid from the vaccine. When your body is subsequently exposed to Covid, it will quickly recognize the spike protein and destroy it before it can make you sick. This was 90-95% effective in preventing Covid, which is an even better percentage than most other vaccines. However, you must take both doses (about 3-4 weeks apart).
          Am I concerned about it being new? And previously untested? No, I’m not. This type of technology is not entirely new. It has been studied and used in cancer research. They have been making mRNA vaccines and studying them to specifically target proteins on tumor cells and train your immune system to then destroy the tumor. In this case, it is not a vaccine in the preventive sense, as it is targeted to a tumor that you already have. It is not currently widespread because it has to be custom made for each tumor. But, it has been “around the block” for a while now. The technology was also being studied for other Coronaviruses. It never came to fruition, because the diseases never reached pandemic proportions, and then the funding dried up. The mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell, and it does not affect your DNA, and therefore has no lasting impact on your cell.
          Am I concerned about the speed with which it was developed? Weren’t significant corners cut in order to get this out so quickly? No and no. What was cut out of the equation was mostly red tape, and what was added was technology and funding. We were given the genetic code by scientists in China to start vaccine production in January; before Covid was even documented to have reached our shores. From there, the vaccine was developed from the technology we had from the prior Coronavirus and cancer research, and was completed in March. Normally, there would be months of waiting for the FDA to even look at the work done prior to approving Phase 1 trials. Because of the urgent nature of this, it was essentially put on the top of the wait pile, which cut out months of waiting, but did not cut any corners. Between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines (both mRNA, with a slightly different delivery system), they were tested in 37,000 people in Phase 3 (and an additional 37,000 received a placebo). That is on par with, if not better than the vaccines currently available.
          Aren’t I concerned that the FDA is about to approve it, and there may be side effects that haven’t been seen yet? Nope on this one too. We know from decades of vaccine research, since you typically just get 1, 2 or 3 doses and then you are done with it, that nearly all side effects from vaccines occur in the first 6 weeks. Like other vaccines, minor side effects may occur(soreness at injection site, muscle aches, fever). Severe adverse reactions are extremely rare, and again, occur quickly if they are going to occur at all. As a healthy 30-something year old woman, my risk of dying from COVID is not zero! And even if I don’t die from it, I could have long term lung damage and other issues that affect my quality of life. Because vaccines are given to healthy people (unlike medications for treating a disease that is already present) they are held to a much higher standard for approval. My risk of having a significant adverse reaction from the Covid vaccine is minuscule in comparison to my risk with Covid. In fact, there have been no severe reactions to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to date.
          For the rest of the population (outside of healthcare workers or those in nursing homes), who will likely be able to get the vaccine in February or March, there will be even more time passed and more people who have received the vaccine to be the “guinea pigs” here.
          Anyone who is pregnant – it has not yet been tested in your group (although I do know that many pregnant front line health care workers are planning to take it). For those under 18 years old – it is also not yet tested. Moderna is starting a trial. Hopefully it will be approved by summer. But for everyone else, I highly recommend getting it as soon as you can; for you, for your loved ones, for those who cannot (perhaps because they are immunocompromised), for the many businesses that are on the verge of permanent shut down, and for kids to safely return to schools. I will be rolling up my sleeve for it as soon as it is offered.
          If you’d like, please do feel free to cut and paste on your own social media sites. Sharing of information is so important to combating this pandemic. We have now surpassed 15 million documented Covid cases in our country (5 million of which were in the last 30 days) and over 2,000 people are dying per day.
          I would like to credit the original MD who wrote this so eloquently but she does not want to be stalked by militant anti-vaxxers.

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        4. Thanks, OC, that’s helpful. I suppose the prudent thing to do is consult with our own doctor who know our individual risk factors.

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  6. I was once cross examined by a local attorney who grew up just out side of Winnipeg. He knew I went to grad school in Winnipeg and also knew I grew up in the States. He also knew that I knew he was from Canada. He tried to discredit me by implying I was a Canadian who didn’t understand US culture.

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  7. Never been in court. Been deposed twice re car accidents in which I was sort in the middle, one was in the middle of a three car accident. Lawyer for car behind me who hit me was making false claims about the driver in front of me and about his injuries. Car in front stopped for stop sign about 50 feet back. Car behind me hit me and drove me into car in front. Damage on both ends of my car was not too bad, could drive away, and none of the four of us were injured. Since it was fault of man behind me, he claimed car in front was backing up. He was uninsured. I pointed out in deposition that probably could not see what the car in front of me was doing. And he claimed he was injured so bad that he had trouble getting out of the car when he fact he dashed right out of his car to attack me it looked like until he saw the car in front, at which point he raced up to her door screaming obscenities at her. I moved him back from her car. She was elderly and surrendered her license to the cop without being asked to do so. A wise decision. After my deposition the lawyer claimed I was drunk, which police report made clear I was not. Claim was dismissed. But man did pay for my damage, which seemed odd when under the laws of the time it fell into my insurance. I wonder if some lawyer friend or relative put him up to it. I got calls from the lawyer who deposed me to update me on events. After it was done he said he could tell me that lawyer had a bad reputation.
    Second deposition was similar. A car stopped on Hwy 62 at Gooseberry to find a parking spot. I pulled over and next car rammed the car which had been in front of me.
    Not a fan of courtroom dramas. 12 angry man is outstanding, except a human study far more than courtroom drama.

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  8. The ND AG’s office assigns an attorney to each of the regulatory boards. Our’s is a real good guy who guides us through tricky enquiries and helps me word letters and statements. He crafts the statements and I get to put my name on them and I sound really smart.

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  9. I think that one of the reasons that a lot of people have negative opinions about lawyers is that their only experience with them are in unhappy circumstances. Divorce cases are notoriously bad, especially if there’s
    money and/or child custody involved.

    We forget that lawsuits have only a couple of possible outcomes, and if the outcome isn’t one that we’re happy with, we tend to think that justice wasn’t done. We blame the unsatisfactory outcome on either our own poor legal counsel or the sleazeball tactics of our opponent’s.

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  10. My father started his legal profession working for the state on cases where the state was coming through and taking property, mostly for highways. When he went into business for himself he got on the other side of that fence and was a great success. He and I loved to watch Perry Mason together, although he was infuriated about the court room scenes and he would often sputter and shout at the TV. But it never kept him from turning in the next week.

    He called me in the middle of the night once, literally 2 AM, to tell me what a great movie Absence of Malice was and that I needed to watch it right away. He had just seen it on television, and volunteered to buy me a video of it. Since it wasn’t brand new, I had already seen it. He mentioned it repeatedly over the years.

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  11. One of the best courtroom books that I’ve ever read is The Lincoln Lawyer. I read it a couple of years back. The legal stuff is excellent, giving you way more than you normally get in a courtroom drama but not so much that your eyes start to glaze over. The movie didn’t show much of the legal stuff at all just the thriller part and of course the love scenes. But the book was excellent.

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  12. I am not much into courtroom drama, when I was young I used to believe courts were fair but in my old age I seen that justice no longer means anything, it’s just a game used by the powerful to intimidate the rest of us! It used to be you were accused of a crime, were given a trial, fair trial, and IF found guilty punished. Today we are all, except the E , being punished ( lockdown and masks) without a trial or without even having committed a crime. Courts have deserted the people they were ment to protect!

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      1. I’m skeptical that we will hear from jeannejam40 on this, but felt like chiming in, because I’m also puzzled when measures intended to curb disease are viewed as punishment. I thought about this when I watched a discussion on TPT’s Almanac where someone, might have been Amy Koch, compared the Minnesota governor’s original stay-at-home order to “house arrest”. I thought calling it a stay-at-home order was actually a bit of a misnomer, because the exceptions to staying at home were pretty generous. In the spring I went for many walks around my neighborhood; I visited lovely green cemeteries where my relatives are buried; I launched a one-person garlic mustard eradication project in Lilydale Regional Park; I shopped for groceries and other necessities in various locations; I cruised past some construction sites to monitor what was happening on the projects while enjoying a coffee from a drive-through; I picked up takeout food from favorite restaurants….all without violating the stay-at-home order. I don’t see anything resembling house arrest in that. I do understand that business owners who are unable to open their business suffer. Perhaps jeannejam40 could be speaking from that perspective. Still, there’s no retribution intended in the restrictions. I see the restrictions as the best option among bad choices. The department of health has a responsibility to deliver good health care to the state’s population, and can’t do that while simultaneously allowing disease to spread unchecked.

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        1. I agree, Linda, and I wasn’t really expecting a response from jeannejam40, but thought I’d give the opportunity to present her perspective.

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      1. I was wondering the same thing. If I were to hazard a guess, maybe it’s a way of referring the “the Elites”, since that’s a popular refrain in populist parlance these days.

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  13. Courtroom for:
    1 divorce
    1 (subsequent) marriage.
    1 name change
    1 contested (successfully) parking ticket

    I have mentioned This is Wonderland – a Canadian dramedy circa 2004 about a Toronto lawyer’s first year in practice… quirky characters. I see there are two more seasons, may have to check it out.

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  14. When married to Wasband, I had (correctly) canceled some subscription I had, and continued to receive invoices, then got phone calls. Wasband enlisted his Cousin-the-Lawyer, who wrote a terse on his firm’s letterhead paper, suggesting that they stop harrassing his client. I didn’t hear another peep from them.

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      1. I did something similar. I was having a disagreement with a neighbor who didn’t quite have all of her marbles in the game any longer. I wrote a nice letter and down at the bottom I copied my father, attorney at law. She sent me a letter after that apologizing and saying that if she ever needed to paint the fence (that didn’t exist) we’d work it out then.

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  15. A lawyer story, true one. A local plumber was hired to root out a clogged drain. His fee included $700 to fix the router which was broken, so he said, doing the job. So happened that right then the plumber hired the lawyer for some job. Plumber was not aware the customer with $700 extra fee was lawyers mother-in-law. Lawyer added $665 fee for replacement of typewriter broken when his secretary was typing up the paperwork plus $35 fee for repair of her nails broken when the typewriter broke.

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      1. I can name the people involved. Saw a copy of the letter the lawyer sent, of which he was proud. Plumber was famous for his devious practices. He ended up moving his business out of town because he could not get local business anymore. They agreed to forgive each other the $700

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  16. Evening.
    I know a judge. Real nice guy. He may have recently retired; I’m not sure.
    Beyond that and the usual wills, property documents, and such I haven’t had much to do with any judges. I think years and years ago I did have to go to court for a ticket of some sort; I think I pleaded guilty with explanation. I can’t even remember what it was about… guess it wasn’t too important. When daughter turned 18 and we had to do her legal guardianship we were supposed to go to court. But there was a mix up in the timing and we arrived at 1:00 for an 11:00 appointment. Oops. Thankfully the court Clerk we’d been working with knew us and put in a good word with the judge. Wouldn’t that have been funny; denied guardianship of our own kid.

    As has been said, sometimes it just takes their letterhead to make an issue go away. There is a lawyer in our neighborhood who has worked on the zoning board with me. He’s good to have because he’s levelheaded and knows how to word things. I’ve learned from him not to use arbitrary language if what you’re doing is important. Don’t say they “may” if you mean they “Can”. And Less words is more. Boy, I use that one a lot.
    My friend Paul calls that “Nineteen to the dozen”.

    Just took my last test in Am Gov’t class; The Judicial System, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Got 50/50 on this test. One more essay to write (1000 words) and I’ll be done. Should get an ‘A’. Got an A going at the moment.

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    1. The lesson of using language carefully is one I learned at the law firm, almost to the point of not wanting to say anything.

      Contracts and laws sometimes fail because some clever lawyer finds a loophole in the way the contract or law is written. On one occasion, a senior partner of the firm, a former judge, fell down a flight of stairs and broke his neck. Because he was a partner, his compensation from the firm was not affected by his inability to work. The firm’s liability insurance, to my mind, was clearly intended to protect an insured from loss of income, so I didn’t think it was fair to submit a claim. Another partner, a litigator, took a look at the insurance contract, and argued successfully in court, that the contract was written in such a way that the injured partner was eligible for insurance payments even if the firm had decided to pay him twice his normal compensation (which, of course, it hadn’t). That incident really opened my eyes to how carefully such official documents need to be crafted.

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      1. Our second mortgage on our home the language of the mortgage was messed up by the bank loan officer, a new addition to the bank. He messed up the language and the lawyer did not catch it. 25 years later I had to pay $3500 to get it straightened it out. Who got the lawyer fees? the lawyer who did not catch it.

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  17. In my childhood there were not many lawyers in town and two had a huge advantage: county attorney and judge, who both ran businesses out of their courthouse offices. They were both in the high elite in town in the eyes of the judge and the CA’s wife. Reminds me of Mark Twain’s stories based on Hannibal of his childhood. CA needed to have a business in addition to his county business, which was slight in those years. But running it out of the courthouse had to be wrong. For the slight lawyerly need we had, we went to him. A gracious and helpful man. But his son started dating my sister, just for fun and to go to the prom together. The wife/mother was horrified that he was dating the daughter of a poor farmer. When I moved back to town the judge took care of the title reading and mortgage work, on a house we bought a business on which he had a monopoly. Who dared not go to him. And he required the home purchaser come to his office for an interview before he signed off. He informed me he considered me a big risk and he had recommended to the bank that they turn me town but he could not force them to. He just wanted me to know. I assume this was based on the fact I came from that poor farming family. Bank president was horrified and apologized profusely. Soon after that MN changed the law so judges could not practice law.

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  18. Other than a non-adversarial court appearance in relation to my mother’s estate, my principal experience with the courtroom comes from my time on jury duty. The case itself was about an insurance claim that stemmed from a car accident and the jury was there to determine the extent, in terms of a percentage, that the insurance company was liable. Not exactly high courtroom drama.
    What I learned, and what shocked me at the time, was how few people are capable, apparently, of objective, rational thought. I would estimate that no more than half of the jury members had the faculties to absorb and parse the issues as presented, and this was a relatively simple case. The worst representative of that was a teacher who had a nephew that had been in a car accident and hadn’t gotten a full insurance payment. That was justification in her mind for shorting the payment to this claimant. She was also militantly stubborn in her conclusion. The jury ended up reducing the reward slightly as a compromise just to arrive at a verdict.

    I don’t remember what I was asked when they were selecting a jury, other than whether I was prejudiced against insurance companies but I think if I were a lawyer choosing prospective jurors, I would ask,
    “What, in your opinion, is the job of a juror” and “What is the job of a lawyer?”

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    1. Picking the “right” jurors is an extremely important step in any case. In the case of you describe, Bill, it seems like that should have been an easy bias to pick up on had the attorney been on his or her toes.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Whenever I or Husband are called for jury duty we are automatically disqualified because of our professions and because we probably know about the defendent from our work. I think, though, that an oil or mineral royalties dispute of which there are many out here, would be mind numbingly boring to hear

        Liked by 1 person

    2. First time I was selected for jury duty was about this time last year. Didn’t get called the first two weeks and then they released everyone for the last two weeks around Christmas.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Last summer (not this past summer) Nonny was able to realize a lifetime desire in that she got on a grand jury (She’s always wanted to be on a jury of any kind but because of my father being an attorney, she was never chosen the three times she was called up). I really didn’t know anything about grand juries up until that point but I do now. She served for four months and apparently it could get really gruesome. Twice they actually brought in therapy dogs for the grand jury members to interact with. She got paid for it but not much but she was so happy to do it it didn’t matter to her.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. Our town is predominantly Roman Catholic, but out of our four district judges, two are Lutheran, as are the Clerk of Court and the main court reporter. We also have several lawyers. It makes congregational meetings interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Winona had in the 70s-90s a progressive thinking judge, Dennis Chaleen, who helped spearhead the restorative justice movement for non-violent crimes. He was also quite a colorful character. Here’s an example from the article linked below:
    “A group of college kids were caught dining and dashing at the old Hot Fish Shop? Challeen would sentence them to 10 hours of work at the restaurant — picking up garbage, washing dishes, doing whatever else needed doing.

    This sort of restitution, widely criticized at its inception, is now commonplace in the U.S. justice system.”

    https://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/dennis-challeen-winonas-legal-reformer-and-courtroom-giant-dies-at-82/article_bd6c6bd6-1fa4-5b8f-ac45-de6da79d30b3.html

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That reminds me of Miles Lord. Remember him?

      When I was working for the law firm, our offices were in the Midwest Plaza Building and so were Lord’s after he retired from the bench. Of course everyone knew who Miles Lord was due to the various controversial verdicts he handed down. He was what many people called “and activist judge,” but survived a judicial review panel’s scrutiny of his professional and judicial conduct. At any rate, he was wonderfully friendly and gregarious character. Whenever he’d be in the elevator and others would enter he’d announce: “Going Up with the Lord.” Never failed. I’ve gone up with the Lord many times.

      Liked by 7 people

        1. Surely you’re not suggesting that a marriage’s longevity has anything to do with the person who presided over the ceremony?

          Like

  22. Just studied the judicial system in class. There’s a lot I didn’t know; from
    district appellate courts to judicial activism.
    The teacher said there are 9 Supreme Court justices, “the same as the number of days Ferris Bueller took off.” I’m not sure kids today know who Ferris Bueller is. But it worked for me.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. OT – Just read that John le Carré has just passed away at the age of 89. From pneumonia, according to his publisher, Penguin Random House.

    Like

    1. i enjoyed his stuff
      thanks pj
      89 is about all you get
      i visited a new doctor i liked who said that your body works pretty good through child bearing years then starts sliding and requires lots of effort to keep it going. natures way of keeping the species rolling. i’m afraid he’s right
      89 is not necessarily the end of the track but you can see it from there

      Liked by 2 people

  24. I had every intention of responding early enough to be able to have a conversation but my weekend has been busy I have strong feelings about lawyers I thought seriously about becoming a lawyer in my youth but decided that it is a cancer filled path and that I would be happier avoiding it I have been in numerous lawsuits through a divorce jury duty a couple
    times (12 angry men is pretty close) I have two lawyers in my card playing group that have been coming to my house monthly for about 20 years one is a technical legal lawyer that does a lot of work for Medtronic the other is a jack of all trades who likes to do quart room stuff he’s been a tremendous help to me even though he’s a libertarian with a tendency to argue Trump he in arguments when he is arguing for you he is laser focused
    I love Perry Mason 12 angry men anatomy of a murder Philadelphia Atticus finch the list goes on and on but I hate the legal crap that is what politics has become where if you get the lines re-drawn and figure out a way around the law you can. legally screw people it’s a shame and a sham and hopefully the experience we are going through today will teach us that this is not an acceptable way for the world to be set up

    .

    Liked by 2 people

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