So, yeah, I'm back. I went off the grid way back in the middle of summer and it felt so good that I didn't want to come back. I even unplugged from the news. Well, for a while at least. And, when I did come back, I was too angry about the news to be nice. So, I wrote a good many drafts and I deleted a good many drafts. I wanted to get back to writing about caselaw but I was too numb to do so. Whenever I would sit down to write about the latest and greatest case, my mind would wander and I would keep coming back to the two things that have happened this summer that I find so deeply disturbing that I simply cannot move on without addressing them, however lightly. So ... I will address them here: criminals with badges and janitors with guns.
PRIOR RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE A SIMILAR OUTCOME
Sorry for the lack of blog posts of late. Professional obligations and an illness kept me from posting much in June. Hopefully, with the holiday weekend soon upon us, I can get back into the swing of things.
Some months, there seem to be a handful of musicians that leave us. This month, it's mostly actors.
145. Ann B. Davis, 88, May 5, 1926 - June 1, 2014:
Actress; American television actress; subdural hematoma after a fall
Alice has died! No, not that Alice. The Alice from "The Brady Bunch". And if you have to ask what "The Brady Bunch" is, then there's simply no help for you. If you grew up in the 60s and 70s, then you grew up watching this show religiously. She obviously appeared in other shows, but she ultimately got typecast as Alice. Here's something about her that I did not know: she was born right here in Schenectady (though her family later moved to Erie, Pennsylvania).
I realize that most of my "heroes" were men. But that doesn't mean that none of them were women. However, for the time being, as James Brown might say, it's a man's world, like it or not. And, if you haven't already noticed, as a kid I probably watched way too much television and listened to thousands of hours of music. That's right: my heroes tend to be of the celluloid or jukebox persuasion.
140. Jessica Cleaves, 65, December 10, 1948 - May 2, 2014:
Musician; American vocalist and songwriter; unknown
She was the one of the vocalists of the group The Friends of Distinction, most famous for their hit, "Grazing In The Grass", from 1969. Once the group disbanded, in 1975, Cleaves joined Earth, Wind and Fire, just as the band was hitting its peak with songs like "Shining Star". From there, she moved on to perform with the amazing and outrageous Parliament-Funkadelic.
And now, we come to the third document that my potential clients read - the retainer agreement. This is the newly-streamlined version and it only runs six pages. One can easily read it within five minutes. Over time, I've found that potential clients were much more concerned about the various costs of legal representation than anything else. Makes sense.
And, over time, I've come to realize that the best way to give my clients the biggest bang for their collective bucks is to do something that might, on its face, seem counter-intuitive: I've decided to cap most of my legal fees. Not all, but most.
Think about it: how tough can it be to represent someone in Family Court? I've been an attorney for almost 22 years and I've been a family law practitioner for over 12 years. I think I now have enough experience that I can achieve a settlement for my clients, on reasonable terms, for a guaranteed maximum fee. And, in the event that the legal matter is incapable of settling on terms that my client thinks are reasonable, then I will charge a specific amount for each and every day, or part thereof, of trial.
My billing rate is extremely reasonable - and now my retainers are as well. Take a look ...
The next thing any potential client reads, upon entering my office, is a simple three page document called the "Statement of Client's Rights and Responsibilities". It is so important that it is provided to the potential client prior to any discussions regarding the retainer agreement.
As you might guess, this document is also prescribed by the Rules of Court, namely in Part 1400, specifically section 1400.2.
This document is, like the Statement of Client's Rights, quite commonsensical and self-evident. Still, I always find it helpful to reacquaint myself with this document from time to time, to keep it fresh in my mind.
The first thing any potential client reads, upon entering my office, is a simple one page, ten clause document called the "Statement of Client's Rights". It is so important that it is both framed and posted on my law office's wall and it is placed on coffee tables throughout the office as well. I also make a point of handing it out to each and every person who enters my office.
Why is this document posted on the wall of my law office? Simple: I am required by the Rules of Court to do so. Specifically, Part 1210 of the Rules of Court spells this out in detail:
"Every attorney with an office located in the State of New York shall insure that there is posted in that office, in a manner visible to clients of the attorney, a statement of client's rights in the form set forth below. Attorneys in offices that provide legal services without fee may delete from the statement those provisions dealing with fees. The statement shall contain the following ..."
I don't know what it is lately with all these short decisions. Overall, the Third Department seems to be trending towards writing shorter decisions (like the Fourth Department). In the case at hand, the shortness of the decision is due entirely to the mootness of the appeal.
While sex offender cases are very often affirmed on appeal, every now and again they get reversed on appeal, as this one was. However, this is not so much a win for the defendant as it is an administrative adjustment to the underlying judicial determination.
We've got a handful of people who left us in April. For me, the biggest surprise was Bob Hoskins, who seems to have died too young. In 2014, 71 is not very old in the overall scheme of things. Aside from Mickey Rooney and Bob Hoskins, the other three personalities are probably not well-known to most. But they made their own marks nonetheless.
135. Mickey Rooney, 93, September 23, 1920 - April 6, 2014:
Actor; American actor; natural causes
Here's yet another person who, had I not known better, I would have sworn was already dead. Allegedly, this man was the very last of the vaudevillians, having started his career at the age of six in 1926. Having peaked early in life, in 1939, he was nonetheless a Hollywood survivor. He was also a man who was a star's star, beloved and admired by many of his fellow actors. I first came to notice and love him, as a kid, from watching many an old movie on rainy weekends. I also loved him as Dingy Bell in that craziest of movies, "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", from 1963.
I thought I had wrapped this series up, having explored most of the music I'd been listening to back in 1972 and 1973. But I forgot to leave you with the highlights from 1973, as I had done with 1972.
In those now faraway days, a lifetime ago really, Christmas vacation and January would become this wonderful time of reviewing the music for the year and then ranking it in the order of our respective tastes. And while the rankings were purely subjective (there were certain artists we loved, and certain artists we hated), I really am amazed at how the lists have held up over the years. It blows me away that forty years later, I find that my musical tastes have pretty much remained the same. How weird is that?
Yet, then again, maybe it's not so weird after all. I mean, I listened to all this great music in my formative years, thereby locking it forever into place in my memory. And it's not just the fact that the music is so wonderful, it's the fact that the memories associated with that music are probably even more wonderful. Memories of a world that no longer exists.
Another thing: you might think some of these songs hail from 1972 or 1974 - and you would be right. However, they're included here because they peaked in 1973. In other words, these songs are here, in 1973, because they reached their highest position on the Top 100 chart in 1973.
Also, just remember, this list was put together by a couple of knuckleheads who fell in love with music at a young age. Just imagine your 10-year old self creating this list. We'd listen to maybe 300 new Top 100 songs in a given year and winnow them down to the absolute best songs, according to a complicated formula. Looking back, I think we mostly got it right. What do you think?
And listen to those first three songs. Chills, baby. Chills. We knew what we loved.
My favorite song? Impossible. However, for pure weirdness, there is one song here that stands head and shoulders above the rest. I'd tell you but ... I'm so scared your little head would come off in my hands!!! PLAY. IT. AT. ELEVEN!!!
Know my songs, know me. Check out The Soundtrack Of My Life From 1973.
Seems there is a surfeit of short criminal law cases to cover. Not to worry: longer cases will be coming from the looks of the decisions from May 30, 2013.
I analyze DWI decisions if only because they tend to be the most colorful and humorous. Very often, the fact pattern found in such cases makes you laugh out loud at the asininity of the defendant. Here, though, the Third Department completely gutted the fact pattern from its decision.
Another short one. I know it's a bit of a disappointment to analyze short decisions, but it's much more common to come across long decisions. Every now and again, I'll come across interesting but short decisions.
And here we have yet another Anders brief. Always a roll of the dice, as you well know. In this instance, the Third Department agrees with appellate counsel and relieves her of her obligations.
And here is another case that is effectively "Part 2" of the case I previously analyzed in blog post #603. This case is a perfect example of the need for sophisticated encryption an ALL electronic devices. Otherwise, get ready to learn the hard way.