Friday, January 15, 2016

2 porch guests today

Tax avoidance?  I just saved myself a huge tax bill by not winning power ball.  Contact me, I have other similar strategies. 

You can quit kissing up to me. I only won $4 in the power ball lottery.

Students pay taxes on purchase of textbooks in Texas.  TAXES. Not only should they be free (at least online)  but it's insulting that they are taxable.  We have had so many so called "Education" politicians!  Hell, when they first allowed the lottery in Texas they told us it would solve our educational problems.  We are failing.

Good News!  I'm available during the long weekend for you to take a selfie with me while I get a haircut. Minimum $5.00.  Exact change required and this offer only available until I've made enough to pay for haircut.  Time and location to be announced.

Court. Been playing the "old man card" a lot lately with good results.  UNLESS the Judge is older than me and then as punishment for even asking he sends me to the back of the line.

Just back from 3 weeks of kayaking in Iceland.  Oh wait. That wasn't me.




How we can reform the civil justice system by changing the culture of the courts

Jan 14, 2016, 8:00 am CST


Lawyer sanctioned for telling opposing counsel it's 'not becoming of a woman' to raise her voice

Jan 14, 2016, 7:45 am CST


Before STEWART, Chief Judge, KING, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.
AFFIRMED. (December 23, 2015).
Defendant, a former deputy sheriff employed by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in Louisiana, was sentenced by the District Court to a term of 92 years of imprisonment after pleading guilty to a series of counts involving bank fraud.  Defendant responded, in his official capacity, to a one-car accident involving Albert Bloch in Metairie, Louisiana.  Emergency personnel  responded to the accident and gave defendant, the lead law enforcement investigator at the scene, Bloch's wallet and its contents to file as evidence according to standard police protocol.  Bloch was admitted to a hospital following the accident.  But defendant, rather than filing Bloch's items as evidence, began using Bloch's information, checks, and debit card to make a series of purchases and withdrawals in Bloch's name.  Bloch reported the fraudulent activity to his bank, and later went missing.  The District Court imposed the 92-year sentence following a detailed four-day hearing where it found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that defendant had committed second degree murder in connection with the bank fraud counts.  Appealing his sentence, defendant argued that the District Court committed the following errors: it erred in finding second degree murder on the evidence before it; it improperly increased his sentence by applying a cross-reference; it violated his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights by making a finding of second degree murder at sentencing; and it rendered a sentence that is unconstitutionally excessive under the Eighth Amendment.  The Court, in an exhaustive opinion, affirms defendant's sentence after concluding that his evidentiary, statutory, and constitutional challenges are all without merit.   
On Appeals from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (Jane T. Milazzo).
Attorney for Appellant - Ada Phleger, New Orleans, LA
Attorney for Appellee - Vijay Shanker, Washington, DC



Debt-collection law firm to pay $3.4M to settle class action

A debt-collection law firm in Texas will pay $3.4 million to settle accusations it practiced law in California without having any lawyers there, according to a settlement approved by a federal judge on Jan. 8.
The Austin-based law firm Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson agreed to pay $2 million to class members and $1.4 million for attorney fees, expenses and a possible cy pres award, Texas Lawyer reports. The law firm collects debts on behalf of governmental entities.
The class action was filed by a company that paid $90 to the city of San Francisco after receiving two demand letters from the law firm. According to the amended complaint, Linebarger Goggan had no lawyers in California until September 2013, and that lawyer wasn’t properly supervised.


Man gets 18 months for threatening divorce judge in email

A Connecticut man described by supporters as a hardworking, loving father and dedicated community volunteer was sentenced Tuesday to serve 18 months for sending an email that threatened the judge who oversaw his contentious divorce case.
After more than a year of home confinement as he awaited the verdict, Edward “Ted” Taupier, 50, got a five-year prison term, suspended after 18 months, and five years of probation, the Hartford Courant reports. He was convicted in October, after an April bench trial, of threatening, disorderly conduct and breach of peace.
His lawyer, Rachel Baird, had argued that Taupier wasn’t clearly connected to an email concerning Hartford Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Bozzuto. According to evidence presented in court, it discussed the “245 yrds between her master bedroom and a cemetery that provides cover and concealment” and later said “they can steal my kids from my cold dead bleeding cordite filled fists … as my 60 round mag falls to the floor and im dying as I change out to the next 30 rd.”
If, in fact, Taupier did send such an email, he was venting his frustration with the family court system rather than making a threat, Baird argued.
However, Judge David Gold found that Taupier should have known the email “would be seen as threatening and create a risk of terror,” even though he sent it individuals unhappy with the court system rather than to Bozzuto directly.
One of the recipients sent a portion of the email to a lawyer, who notified authorities, resulting in Taupier’s arrest, the Courant article explains.
Bozzuto said prior to Taupier’s sentencing that she still is awaiting a day when she doesn’t have to worry that Taupier isn’t lying in wait to shoot her at her home. She asked for a no-contact order for the maximum possible amount of time.
“As judges, we do not waive our right to be protected by the law,” she said. “It is one thing for groups or individuals to pursue reform or change through the democratic or legislative process … It is quite another thing to attempt to hold justice hostage and extort change by way of intimidation, threats and violence.”
Taupier reportedly plans to appeal his conviction.


2 attorneys, partners in law and life, seek 1 judicial seat in opposing primaries

Two Texas attorneys have come up with an unusual strategy apparently intended to enhance their chances of unseating the judge currently on the bench in Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 1.
F. Richard Leach is running in the Democratic primary for the job currently held by Judge Clyde Leuchtag, a Republican, the Houston Press reports.
And his wife and law partner, Gloria Cantu Minnick, is seeking the same seat as a Republican. She previously ran as a Democrat for a seat on County Court at Law No. 3 in 2014, the article notes. but—as is commonly the case in elections for Harris County civil court seats—the Republican candidate won.
What happens if both Leach and Minnick should win their respective primaries and face off against each other in the general election? “Whoever wins wins,” Leach told the Press, explaining: “She’s running because she’s qualified to be judge for that court, and I’m running because I’m qualified for the position.”
Leuchtag, Minnick’s opponent in the Republican primary, characterizes the motivation behind the “high drama” approach a bit differently: “It makes it look like they just want a bench, no matter who’s on it,” he said Tuesday.
The Press article doesn’t include any comment from Leach’s opponent in the Democratic primary. He is George Barnstone.


“Screwing banks since 1992″: Indiana Lawyer Suspended Over Unprofessional Advertisements

by jonathanturley
I have previously written about how some attorneys continue to ignore bar standards encouraging firms to show basic professionalism and decorum in advertising from usingsex dolls to raving like madmen. Now, an Indiana bankruptcy lawyer Brent Welke of Indianapolis has been suspended for 30 days in a rare sanction for improper advertising. Welke ran ads that said he has been “screwing banks since 1992.”



Taking selfie with Lady Justice atop courthouse put man behind bars, sheriff says

Sheriff’s deputies searched a Texas courthouse Tuesday night after a man was spotted by witnesses climbing up an exterior fire escape and then sliding back down.
However, it appears that a 19-year-old Baylor University freshman now facing a criminal trespass charge never went inside, Instead, Jack Minrod Decker III is accused of climbing up to the McLennan County courthouse dome so he could take a selfie with a statute of Themis, the Greek goddess of justice, that stands atop the building.
“He said he wanted to take a picture with Lady Justice,” Sheriff Parnell McNamara told the Waco Tribune. “Looks like he did get a little dose of justice himself.”
A search of Decker’s cellphone revealed a selfie of the two, the sheriff said. The statue atop the Waco courthouse is particularly recognizable because it has not been repaired since a 2014 storm ripped off an arm and blew the scales of justice into a magnolia tree, the newspaper notes.
Decker spent the night in jail but was expected to be released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond Wednesday,
KWTX also has a story.



Lawyer sanctioned for telling opposing counsel it's 'not becoming of a woman' to raise her voice

Image from Shutterstock.
A California lawyer has been ordered to pay deposition costs and to donate $250 to a women’s bar group after telling opposing counsel it wasn’t “becoming of a woman or an attorney” to raise her voice during a deposition.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal sanctioned lawyer Peter Bertling of Santa Barbara in a Jan. 12 order (PDF), the Recorder (sub. req.) reports. Grewal cited that comment to opposing counsel Lori Rifkin, Bertling’s other bad behavior in depositions, and his foot dragging in discovery.
“Bertling has stooped to an indefensible attack on opposing counsel,” Grewal said. The lawyer’s “sexist remark” was a professional discourtesy, Grewal said, and such remarks “reflect and reinforce the male-dominated attitude of our profession.”
Grewal ordered Bertling to donate $250 to the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles Foundation. The judge also ordered Bertling to pay fees and costs for that deposition and two others.
Deposition excerpts show Bertling “making extremely long speaking objections, coaching witnesses, cutting off witnesses and even answering for them,” Grewal said.
Bertling also handed Rifkin an unusable disc containing documents relied on by a medical expert on the day of the expert’s deposition. Despite a promise to send the documents digitally that same day, Grewal didn’t produce them for six more weeks, a day after opposing counsel’s brief opposing summary judgment was due, Grewal said.
“Attorneys are people, and people make mistakes, Grewal wrote. “But where, as here, an attorney repeatedly and unapologetically flouts guideline after guideline [for professional conduct], it is a big deal—and the court has little choice but to do something about it.”
Bertling wrote in his response to the sanctions motion that his remark was made in the context of Rifkin “literally yelling at my client and creating a hostile environment” during the deposition.
“In retrospect, the proper term for me to have used in this context would have been ‘attorney.’ I apologize to Ms. Rifkin if I offended her by referring to her as a ‘woman’ instead of as an ‘attorney,’ ” he wrote. Grewal labeled that a “halfhearted politician’s apology.”
Rifkin is an Oakland solo who previously worked in the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division. She told the Recorder that many women don’t make an issue of comments such as Bertling’s because they don’t want to be labeled “whiners.” Yet “this is something that almost every woman attorney has experienced again and again over their careers,” she said.
“This is reflective of the usual course of business which needs to change,” Rifkin said.

Not sure how I feel about this.  He could have just been trying to ward off a perceived victim of the atrocious  Nancy Grace syndrome.


Photography Exhibit opening of Kent Shaffer  in Houston and then a great dinner


Turkey Arrests Dozens of Academics Who Signed Peace Petition As Enemies of the State

by jonathanturley
220px-Recep_Tayyip_ErdoganTurkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's increasingly authoritarian rule is again evident this week with the rounding up of dozens of professors for simply signing a petition denouncing military operations against Kurds in the south-east of the country. The signatories of the petition included famous linguist Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Erdoğan responded angrily to the letter, which was denounced as “terror propaganda” and he called on the judiciary to act against their alleged treachery. Supporters of Erdoğan and nationalist students have been intimidating academics by marking their doors and threatening professors who signed the petition calling for peace.


Unfriending Decision: Germany’s Highest Court Rules “Friend Finder” To Be An Unlawful Marketing Practice

by jonathanturley
200px-Facebook.svggavel2There is an interesting ruling out of Germany where the country's highest court declared Facebook's "friend finder" feature to be unlawful as a deceptive marketing practice. The case was filed by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV).



Pakistani Lawmakers and Clerics Block Law Imposing Sanctions For Forced Child Marriages As “UnIslamic” and “Blasphemous”

by jonathanturley
150px-muslim_woman_in_yemenIn another disturbing example of the abuses that occur in the absence of church (or mosque) and state separation, Pakistani lawmakers have yielded to the demand of Islamic clerics and killed a law that would have imposed real penalties for those who arrange forced child marriages, including raising the legal age of marriages. Clerics denounced the law as "blasphemous" and against Islam.

Evolution is an ongoing process.


Goldman Sachs OKs $5B settlement of civil claims over toxic mortgage bonds

Jan 14, 2016, 5:00 pm CST


Tagging Facebook profile violates no-contact order, judge rules

Jan 14, 2016, 3:40 pm CST


What did this lawyer say to draw the judge’s ire?


Before JONES, SMITH, and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges.
REVERSED and REMANDED. (January 4, 2016).
Plaintiff fell and sustained injuries while exiting a trailer or mobile home owned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Plaintiff alleged that he was directed by a FEMA employee to use a stepladder supplied by FEMA when exiting the trailer.  He fell from the stepladder as he attempted to step down, but he did not know what caused his fall.  He and his wife sued FEMA under the Federal Tort Claims Act, seeking over $9.5 million.  The District Court granted FEMA's motion for summary judgment on the basis that the claims are barred by the FTCA's discretionary function exception.  Holding that FEMA's decision about how customers would enter and exit the trailers was not the type of judgment the discretionary function exception was designed to protect, the Fifth Circuit reverses and remands.
On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana (Shelly Deckert Dick).
Attorney for Appellant - Michael Carter Palmintier, Baton Rouge, LA
Attorney for Appellee - Catherine M. Maraist, Baton Rouge, LA


The New Yorker
The news reshuffled.

Debate Watchers Disappointed That Trump and Cruz Did Not Actually Punch Each Other’s Faces

Harland Dorrinson, a viewer from Tempe, Arizona, said that he was “dismayed” by Cruz’s failure to physically injure Trump.



Don't feel too sorry for old men that just sit on their porch in nice weather.  We get by.


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