Monday, December 28, 2015

Judicial Misconduct

A judge in Florida was caught on video, doing the following while on the job --

 1.  Yelling at an attorney [I've seen this happen, but not to the extent described here] 

2.  Mild swearing at the attorney [“pissing me off”, I've seen this happen also] 

3.  Threatening the attorney with physical violence [“let's go out back and I'll beat your ass”]

4.  Heavy swearing at the attorney [“you want to f*ck with me?”] 

5.  Actual physical violence against the attorney [sounds of a scuffle on the audio, testimony later of pushing and hitting] 

6.  Resumed the bench and dealt with represented defendants as if they had no attorney [which is a major violation of a criminal defendant's rights] 

As noted in the judicial opinion wherein the Supreme Court of Florida took action, “There is no dispute that Judge Murphy threatened violence, had a physical confrontation with Mr. Weinstock, and subsequently resumed his docket with defendants whose attorneys were not present. 

Amazingly, the Florida Judicial Qualification Commission recommended:  

- Public reprimand
- 120 day suspension
- Fine of $50k plus costs
- Continuing mental health therapy
- Attend judicial education courses 

The Florida Supreme Court rejected that recommendation [thankfully] and removed Judge Murphy from office.

That seems about right.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas

My son has been enlisted in the Navy for three years. This is not his first Christmas away from home, but it is his first Christmas overseas on deployment.  Merry Christmas, and remember our troops.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Women lawyers are treated like crap

"Women lawyers aren’t taken seriously, and they certainly aren’t treated with respect by their fellow lawyers in this profession.”

So says a recent survey of lawyers, both men and women.  Read the article linked above.  Some of those examples are appalling.  Here are two:

-- I was told I was too pretty for the job. Once, an opposing male counsel asked me out while in the middle of a proceeding.

-- I am usually called sweetie, hunny, hun, dear, miss, etc., instead of attorney — this by clients, other attorneys, and judges.

I have personally been subjected to a few similar remarks.  For example --

-- A judge once berated me on the record [court reporter present and reporting] for wearing a suit with pants instead of a skirt.  [Maybe I should have been wearing this:]

-- After a particularly heated session of oral argument, judge asked me: "Are you done with your little tirade?"  No such similar comment was made about opposing counsel, who made a similarly-impassioned argument.  He was male.

-- An opposing counsel telephoned my firm one day, and ended up speaking with me.  He snorted disgust and asked if there was a male attorney in the office who would speak with him.

Fortunately, these incidents were more than five years ago, and I have found, at least in my area of practice, most interactions between counsel and judges have been much more professional that what I've experienced in the past.

Friday, December 11, 2015

MAN IN THE EMPTY SUIT - Sean Ferrell [Book recommendation]

Book obtained from: Library, audio book [2013]

Description: A time travel novel. The main character meets with “himselves” every year in an abandoned hotel in a futuristic dystopian NYC. The only people who come to the annual gathering are current, previous, and future versions of himself, except this year a woman shows up too. One of his future selves is murdered, and he must stop that from happening or everything will unravel.

Plot: This is a murder mystery but not really. Very difficult to explain. The MC has to prevent his own murder, while teaming up with some of his past and future selves and avoiding others. And find out who is the mysterious woman. This author has a seriously bizarre creative streak. The book is mind-bending. I like mysteries because I have to pay attention to try to figure them out, but this book required an extra measure of mental effort because of the time travel element. Very interesting.

Characterization: Most of the characters are the MC at various ages. He has nicknames for the various versions of himself, and each of the individual selves is reasonably well-developed and differentiated, which helps to keep them straight. The MC muses at times about how he has changed over his lifetime, which is an interesting bit of self-reflection. The third quarter of the book contained a POV change into the woman's POV for several chapters, which I didn't realize until quite a bit into it and it threw me for a while until the POV changed back to the MC.

Setting: April in New York City in a dystopian future. The descriptions were good, I was able to picture every scene without it being over-described.

Other: There are a few sex scenes, and all but one zipped by me and only after they were finished did I realize what they were. The book has chapters but they are not numbered. The narrator for this audio book has an interesting, somewhat monotone voice which actually helped with the characterization of the MC.

Overall: I enjoyed this book but it did require a bit of work. I would read more by this author, altho I need a break between books to let my brain relax.

Grade: B

Monday, December 7, 2015

Save your social media posts for AFTER the verdict

In a November 4, 2015 story, a New York judge declared a mistrial after the jury forewoman was so addicted to Facebook that, despite the standard admonition not to do so, she posted about the trial while the trial was still ongoing.

Juror dismissed for sharing trial details on Facebook

I've heard of social media addiction, but really?  You think your circle of friends is so enamored of you that you can't keep quiet about what you're doing during the day, for even the few days it takes for a short criminal trial to be concluded?
You can post all about the trial AFTER IT'S OVER.  Is that so hard?

What's also interesting to me, is that with this juror dismissed from the trial, only 11 jurors were left, and a criminal conviction requires 12 votes of guilty.  Why weren't there any alternate jurors?  In CA, we almost always have 1-2 alternates for every trial, both civil and criminal, so the trial can go forward even if a juror or two must be dismissed for illness or conduct or for whatever reason.

This juror was fined $1000.  Ouch.

I wonder what she wrote on her Facebook page the day she was fined..............

Friday, December 4, 2015

LIFE'S A BEACH, THEN YOU DIE - Falafel Jones [Book recommendation]

Book obtained from: Amazon, free Kindle book [2013]

Description: Max Fried and his wife retire to New Smyrna Beach, Florida [east of Orlando]. Max was a computer forensic examiner before he retired. He meets an attorney who asks him to help find the assets of a deceased client. Max searches the client's computer, but finds more than he bargained for when everyone who knows what Max has discovered, ends up dead, and now the killer is after him.

Plot: Max obtains the deceased client's computer and finds bank info, emails, etc. Quite a bit of description of how to break into someone's computer. In fact, lots of techno info in this story. Someone, presumably the killer, tosses Max's house, spies on him, and assaults him, looking for something. Near the end of the book, Max figures out what the killer is looking for, which leads him to figuring out who the killer is. A bit of humor, a light read.

Characterization: The characters are reasonably developed and had their own personalities. Most characters were described in a similar fashion, height, weight, hair color, etc. Would have been good for a little variety in descriptions.

Setting: Beach town of New Smyrna Beach, Florida. The descriptions were good, I was able to picture every scene without it being over-described.

Other: This appears to be a self-published book, and did need a better editor [a few typos and grammar issues, not too many but sometimes distracting]. But the quality of the story was equal to many traditionally published books, in my opinion.

Overall: A good, light mystery. Funny in places. I would read more by this author.

Grade: B+