February 14, 2005

Favorite Legal Things


Evan at Notes from the Legal Underground asks: What do you like best about being a lawyer, or if you're not yet a lawyer, what do you expect to like best?

It's open to lawyers, law professors, and aspiring lawyers.  Here's my response:

I believe that if there isn't a solution, there isn't a problem.  The law provides a lot of solutions. 

Seeing people harassed by the powerful pisses me off.  The law generally allows you to sue someone hurting others.  And there is always someone being hurt.

It feels good keeping someone out of prison. 

It's contest living -- Winning feels good. 

Ability and effort matter -- Lawyers who work to improve generally see tangible results. For me, this matters most of all. I would hate knowing that in 20-years, I would be at the same level of competence as I am now. Lawyers who establish a routine remain routine lawyers. Lawyers who seek excellence achieve it.

Unlike boxers or other athletes (lawyers are athletes of the mind), lawyers get better with age (unless they get grouchy and crusty, but who's counting them?).  I'd hire a 50-year-old lawyer over a 35-year-old lawyer any day.  Better yet - I'd want both of them on my team because each would have a unique and valuable perspective.

There is a lot of independence -- Clients give directives and you must follow the court rules, but within those broad confines, you can roam freely. I could never work a job where someone was always looking over my shoulder.

There's none of that Marxist alienation crap -- The lawyer's product is his own.  It's not created on an assembly line.

Second to science, the law is the best way to put a productive mind to good use. A big lawsuit (even if the plaintiffs only win nominal damages) can end a lot of aggravation and cure much injustice.

You can leave a comment here or there.

February 14, 2005 in Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2005

Getting to Know Your Friends


Well,............. Let's see who actually sends this back! Welcome to the 2005 edition of getting to know your friends. What you are supposed to do is copy (not forward) this entire email and paste it onto a new email that you'll send. Change all of the answers so that they apply to you and then send this to a whole bunch of people including the person who sent it to you. The theory is that you will learn a lot of little things about your friends, if you did not know them already.

It is certainly much easier to just hit the delete key, but since you are supposed to send it back to me, I will know who you are and that you can't spare a few minutes time to have a little fun....

Okay, here goes:

1. What time do you get up? --  7:30 to 8:30 depending on circumstances
2. If you could eat lunch with one person, who would it be?    My dog
3. Gold or Silver?  Gold
4. What was the last film that you saw at the cinema?   A Series of Unfortunate Events
5. What is/are your favorite TV shows?  Family Guy, Malcom in the Middle, The Simpsons
6. What did you have for breakfast?  2 scoops whey protein, a large iced cofee, a Cohiba Pequeno
7. Who would you hate to be stuck in a room with?   Someone whose ego was disproportionate to his or her accomplishments
8. What / who inspires you?    People who continue to learn/People who have mastered their fields
9. What is your middle name?   Christian
10. Beach, City or Country?  City (NYC or SF)
11. Favorite ice cream?    Cold Stone's cake batter flavor
14. What kind of car do you drive?  Xterra
15. Favorite sandwich?  Chicken pesto
16. What characteristics do you despise?   Arrogance, laziness
17. Favorite flower?  Lilacs (most flowers that grow on vines)
18. If you could go anywhere in the world on Vacation where would you go?  I've been elsewhere, and I prefer staying in America
19. What color is your bathroom? Something funky from the 1950's
20. Where would you like to retire to?  Somewhere like Walden Pond
21. Favorite day of the week?   Saturday
22. What did you do for your last birthday?  Had the second best burger in Los Angeles (a Houston's burger)
24. Favorite sport to watch?   Olympic lifting, Boxing (before Don King ruined it)
25. Who do you least expect to send this back to you?  n/a
26. Person you expect to send it back first?   n/a
27. What fabric Detergent do you use?  Cheer
28. Coke or Pepsi?  Diet Cherry Coke

February 10, 2005 in Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 09, 2005

pleading, cookies, small claims

David Giacalone

Some commentors and pundits have wondered what cause of action Wanita Renea Young used when suing the Durango Cookie Duo in their local small claims court.  (prior post here)  My research suggests that Mrs. Young did not have to state a particular cause of action in Colorado's informal "people's court," where lawyers are not allowed.

Thus the Colorado small claims complaint form merely says:


The Defendant(s) owe(s) me $________________, which includes penalties, plus interest and costs allowed by law, and/or should be ordered to return property, perform a contract or set aside a contract or comply with a restrictive covenant for the following reasons. (If seeking return of property, please describe the property being requested).


[5 lines provided]

Note: The combined value of money, property, specific performance or cost to remedy a covenant violation cannot exceed $7,500.00.

And, the Small Claims Handbook states:

The fifth section asks for a description of the plaintiff’s claim; for example, the amount of money/property you want to recover. You need to explain the basic facts of your case. This does not have to be detailed. For example, “I left my shirt with Jones Company to be cleaned, but they ruined it. It was a brand-new shirt.”   You will have your chance to present more detail at your trial.

The California Complaint form in Small Claims court is similarly simple:

The Plaintiff claims the Defendant owes $______________ (Explain below)
a. Why does the Defendant owe the Plaintiff money? ______________________________
b. When did this happen?
c. How did you calculate the money owed to you?
   __  Check here if you need more space.

I have the New York State Small Claims form in front of me (actual hardcopy), and it says

Amount of Claim $ __________


___ [separate lines for each of the following types of claim: Rent Due, Return of Security Deposit, Auto Accident, Non-Payment for Good Delivered and/or Services Provided, Defective Goods Received or Services Rendered]

____ Other - (Include date of incident and BRIEF description  __________  _____________________________________________________ [3 lines given]

This informal method of pleading makes sense in a court that offers access to non-lawyers.  It becomes the judge's duty to decide whether the facts fit a known cause of action, and whether various types of damages are appropriate.  Therefore, Mrs. Young did not have to name a cause of action, nor be aware of the criteria for non-economic or punitive damages.  The judge would take evidence and decide whether she has proven her case with regard to the various amounts she claims that defendant "owes" to her.

  • By the way, Colorado's small claims court system received the third highest score in the nation in HALT's 2004 Small Claims Report Card.

February 9, 2005 in Guests, Life | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 05, 2005

check out the cookie curmudgeon

David Giacalone

For a take on the Colorado Cookie Kids that is not as half-baked as you'll find in the major media, and the blogiverse (e.g., Walter and Fedster; Denver Post story; ABCNews/GMA), see the cookie curmudgeon checks in (f/k/a, Feb. 5, 2005).  skepticalEsq presents a fuller version of the facts (Durango Herald, "Friendly gesture ends in court" (Feb. 5, 2005), offers some advice to the young women involved, and concludes:

Do those who mock this case and want to cuddle the baking duo have suggestions about what the justice system did wrong here?  Do they doubt that the cookie-delivery incident caused Young's anxiety attack and that her medical expenses were reasonable?   Do they think the girls acted with reasonable care?  That they are too young to understand that they did something good in an irresponsible manner?  Do they doubt that an in-person apology would have ended all this without a day in court?

  • Their parents and their lawyer should have insisted the girls head over to the Young home and apologize. 

Suggesting that this episode means no one should act kindly toward neighbors or strangers, or that doing so in a thought-full, thought-through manner raises unacceptable risks of being sued, is simply asinine.  Almost any case can be made to sound like a miscarriage of justice, or a symbol of what's wrong with our society or legal system, if you leave out enough facts.   I have little hope for the main-stream media, but I wish my weblawg colleagues would try a little harder to present cases in a fair manner. 

February 5, 2005 in Life | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

February 04, 2005

No Good Deed


I try avoid to contact with strangers.  It's just not worth it.  Someone might claim my dog nipped him, or that I looked at him or her inappropriately.  Human contact is dangerous, and since I'm not  making rain for anyone, why bother?

Some people think I am very rude because I look the other way when they want to pet my very cute dog.  Some people think I'm paranoid.  Think again:

Two Durango teens thought they'd surprise neighbors with nighttime deliveries of home-baked treats. But one woman was so terrified, she sued and has won.

Full story here.

February 4, 2005 in Life | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 02, 2004

Pet Blogging


I'll be away all day, so please enjoy the photographs of my co-blogger, Amicus and Southie.








December 2, 2004 in Life | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack