Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another Trial victory and a great example of what not to do at trial

I just received a jury verdict on behalf of my client, after a two day trial, for the entire amount demanded, $160,000.

This was for a breech of contract case where defendants were seriously hosing my client, not only buying his business for very favorable terms but doing the deal in such a convoluted way that he stood to risk not getting anything at but the initial payment for the business.

The lesson my client has learned from this is that its better to have a lawyer review the deal up front rather than have to go to court later - no ehtical lawyer in the world would have let him go forward with this deal. The defendants drafted the contract (and had assistance from a lawyer or at least a legal secretary who um, was somewhat shady to say the least), which specified the sale was to be for $210,00 with 100k up front and 110 to be paid under a promissory note (without interest!) to be paid monthly as the revenue from the business permitted. My client was only paid 50k at the closing and told he'd get the other 50 in a week.

Oh, did I mention my client does not read english and only speaks it somewhat, and that he was relying on the other side to be truthful? Thankfully defendants messed up and had an integration clause to the contract, which precluded them from claiming all sorts of riddiculous allegations and side agremeents that they claimed occured but did not make any sense.

At the trial Defendants made two mutually exclusive arguments - The first was that they had paid my client 50k in cash at the closing in addition to the 50k they paid by check, and that they had paid the remaining 110k already. The second argument was that they claimed the revenue of the business did not permit the payments so they didn't have to pay under the promissory note and therfore did not owe him the 110K.

Anyone see the obvious contradiction between those arguments?

After I took the direct exam of their accountant and explained to the jury that the business in the two relevant years had the following amounts in cash: In 2003 it had 68,000 in cash at the end of the year and the business had bought a $80,000 Dodge Viper. Interestingly the business claimed on the tax forms that the Viper was solely and 100% for business use - but on the stand Defendant 1 first said it was just for the business but then admitted that he had exported it to Lebanon for a personal trip and had reimported it back. Hopefully the IRS will catch on to this guy's shennanigans (He's already in serious criminal trouble with some other federal agencies so the IRS may as well join in).

In 2004, the business ended the year with a cash entry of over $244,000 - certainly enough to at least make monthly payments under the proimissory note and even to pay it off fully.

Then the icing on the cake. Defendant 1's attorney for his closing argument says (slightly paraphrased):

'This is a case about credibility and figuring out what makes sense and who is telling the truth. Now I can't tell if my client is telling the truth or if plaintiff is telling the truth but you need to decide on what makes sense.'

Note to the aspiring lawyer out there - never tell a jury you can't tell if your client is being truthful, even if, as I suspect the defendant's lawyer knew in this case, that you know your client is lying. This other lawyer by the way was much more experienced than I was and really should have known better than to make this kind of a closing argument.

All in all, an excellent victory. It was again nice to be working on behalf of a client that I knew was the one being victimized and taken advantage of, and yes, my client was telling the truth and the jury clearly saw that.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Exercise update

Ah the joys of Exercise

As I mentioned back in November, I've gotten back into exercising. Not as often as I'd like, with two kids and a busy work schedule its hard to fit the gym sessions in, but I try to fit them in when I can.

Progress has been made.

Since November, in these last 6 months I've:
- lost 10 pounds and kept it off;
- dropped over 3 minutes from my 1.5 mile run time; and
- the sit ups and push ups are also getting better, with a small sidetrack on the push ups due to a shoulder injury that has since been fixed and I'm slowly restrengthening my upper body now that I'm allowed to do the exercises again.

I'm still not at my goals listed in November, but I will continue on my way to meet and beat them.

Dive Report for Tuesday

On Tuesday, right after work I headed off to Union Lake to dive with my two teammates. We were planning on getting two dives in, but it was not to be.

Right after we suited up, dark clouds rolled in. We had just enough time to get the gear stowed and then jump into the car as a massive rainstorm, complete with thunder and lots of lightning struck, and lasted for over an hour, with tantalizing pauses.

Finally it eased up enough so we could proceed with a dive.

The dive went reasonably well and reminded me that much practice is still needed on my buoyancy, frog and back kicks, ok, lots of practice. Did i mention lots, 'cause I surely need it.

Sunday's open water drysuit dives went close to perfect, with reasonably well controlled ascents (not perfect but 1000% better than anything that came before) which of course guaranteed I'd look like a total cluster on Tuesday. So here's hoping that Saturday will be more like Sunday than yesterday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Detroit City Council to Police: Ignore Illegal Immigrants

Detroit has now joined the list of cities that have instructed their police forces to not do anything about illegal immigrants they may apprehend or come across.

From the Free Press:
City Council approves ordinance to prohibit the profiling of immigrants

An ordinance that bans profiling was approved Wednesday by the Detroit City Council. It prohibits police and city employees from asking about the immigration status of residents.

The council voted unanimously for the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, dress, physical appearance and immigration status. Under the new law, police cannot ask people for their immigration papers unless it was related to a crime.
Newsflash: Being in the United States after entering illegally or overstaying a visa is a -- wait for it -- crime. Apparently immigration violations no longer exist in Detroit.
In Detroit, some immigrants complain that, after being pulled over by police, they have been asked for residency papers. Others say they are afraid to apply for city help or programs such as home-repair assistance because of their immigration status.

"It's not something a city employee should be asking," said City Council President Kenneth Cockrel Jr., who introduced the bill. "It's not within their purview."
No kidding illegals should not be receiving city help or home repair assistance if they're illegal - why are law-abiding city taxpayers to pay for criminals while they are committing a crime? If they need home-repair asistance perhaps they should go home and apply from there.
The ordinance was introduced after talks with Latino, Arab and Muslim groups. The Detroit-based group Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength played a lead role in pushing for the law.
Nice to know the interested parties. 3 of the 19 9/11 Hijackers were on expired visas, 6 others had violated immigration laws but remained in the country - all of them would have had these infractions ignored in Detroit under this policy and thus preventing a means to prevent future incidents.

On Tuesday, Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings said she wants to make sure everyone feels comfortable contacting police when crimes are committed. In some cases, immigrants say they are reluctant to call police because they fear the police will turn them over to federal agents who could deport them.
Because that would be enforcing the law, and apparently that might make people uncomfortable.

Bully-Cummings also said the department is against profiling and that police should not generally enforce federal immigration laws.
Anyone ever hear of the Supremacy clause? Does this new approach now guarrantee Detorit police will not enforce any Federal law such as environmental, Firearms, Alcohol etc?

Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said he is pleased with the council's vote. "The city of Detroit should be seen as a place that is not hostile to immigrants."
Enforcement of immigration laws agaisnt illegals should not cause an issue, nor any hostility for legal immigrants, so who is Walid backing here, and why?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Samsung DVD Burner no longer pining for the fjords

Its dead. Its gone to meet its maker, literally as it is being returned and will likely end up back with Samsung. It will burneth no more, except perhaps if they melt it down to recycle it.

I purchased the drive, a Samsung SH-S182M from in October 2006. It worked well for awhile, burning efficiently at 16x, reading discs with aplomb and otherwise acting as a good DVD should. Unfortunately it recently seemed to have decided to have an early midlife crisis, and it began burning at only .7x-1x, a far slower speed than it is rated. Burning a CD of baby photos should not take almost an hour.

The drive also began to have trouble reading my cds and dvds, giving I/O errors and making playing games from the CD or DVD Rom impossible (thus confirming my dislike of games that require the original cd or DVD to be in the drive in order to play them, but that's another story).

Luckily for me, has a 1 year return policy for defective hardware and they have courteously and promptly issued me an RMA. The Drive is on its way back to them, and I hope their exchange process goes smoothly and I have better luck with the replacement drive.

Update: Newegg replaced the dead drive with a comparable Lite-On Drive quickly and efficiently and in a very customer-service focussed and friendly way. No fuss, no muss and great customer service. If you're looking for a great online computer hardware vendor that sells great stuff and backs what they sell check them out.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dive Report - Drysuit Training Class

Well it is finally starting to come together. Yesterday I had a drysuit trainign class in the pool. Drysuits are darn nice. Wish I had one when the water was 41 degrees in those previous dives i blogged about.

Thanks to a great instructor, who in addition to excellent teaching skills clearly has massive reserves of patience, a lot of my trim, body mechanics and breathing issues that make me look like a floppy fish rather than a Scuba Diver are being resolved and I now know what I'm doing wrong and can practice to cure the problems.

If you want to learn how to dive, and dive well, and you're in the Detroit, Michigan area, go to Sea The World Scuba Center and ask for James. You will not be sorry.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

King Herod's Tomb Discovered

The Tomb of King Herod has been discovered in Herodium, Israel.

From the Detroit Free Press:
An Israeli archaeologist on Tuesday said he has found the tomb of King Herod, the legendary builder of ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

Hebrew University archaeologist Ehud Netzer said the tomb was found at Herodium, a flattened hilltop in the Judean Desert where Herod built a palace compound. Netzer has been working at the site since the 1970s.

Netzer said the tomb was discovered when a team of researchers found pieces of a limestone sarcophagus believed to belong to the ancient king. Although there were no bones in the container, he said the sarcophagus’ location and ornate appearance indicated it is Herod’s.

“It’s a sarcophagus we don’t just see anywhere,” Netzer said at a news conference. “It is something very special.”

. . .

Herod became the ruler of the Holy Land under the Romans around 40 B.C. The wall he built around the Old City of Jerusalem during the time of the Jewish Second Temple is the one that can be seen today. He also undertook massive construction projects in Caesaria, Jericho, the hilltop fortress of Massada and other locations.

It has long been assumed that Herod was buried at Herodium, but decades of excavations failed to turn up the site until now. The First-Century historian Josephus Flavius described the tomb and Herod’s funeral procession.

A very impressive example of persistence, given that Netzer has been working on the site since the 1970s. Persistence and determination can ceetainly pay off in the long run.

This is a very important and exciting historical find indeed. Hopefully, more detailed reports of the find and related excavations will be published and made available. It will be interesting to learn what coins were found in situ with the tomb.

On Electoral Culture and Violence

An interesting comparison.

In enlightened, cosmopolitan, European and so multilateral France, after an election of a right-leaning (for the French anyway) President, we get
days of Rioting including burning cars, assaults on police etc.
Hundreds of cars have been torched in the riots.

Meanwhile in uncultured, cowboy, unenlightened, unilateral America, we've had a 2006
election of a right-leaning (for France, for American conservatives not so much)President without rioting or torching of cars, and only a few unfulfilled threats to move to France. In 2008, we had a congressional election that installed a Democrat, left-leaning (possibly centrist for France) Congress and Senate and there was no riots, no burning of cars and no assaults on police.

For some reason the unenlightened American culture seems to handle changes in government with far more aplomb than the chic and oh so culturally sophisticated French.

Cell Phones and Drivers

Traffic all messed up due to a massive bloom of
Michigan' s State Flower along the roads on the Lodge Freeway and Woodward, bringing traffic to an impressive halt.

Now to add to the fun, today I'm driving to work in all this mess and every driver -
to my front, rear, and both sides had cell phones growing out of their ears, and driving like their head is up their @**.

When you're in slow traffic I can understand - you're not going anywhere and you're presumably paying some attention to the car in front of you. However, during that brief shining moment in the commute where the road is clear and marked 45 mph and you're in front of me yaking on a cell phone and doing 35 on a one-lane road with no passing allowed, with occasional hitting of the brakes for no discernable reason, is an annoyance, and potentially dangerous.

I'm not against cell phone use in cars, provided the user pays attention and can handle the extra task loading without messing up for other drivers. I use a cell phone while driving, but with a hands-free device as I noticed there is a clear difference in situational awareness when you're holding the phone to your ear as compared to using theearbud. Too bad these other drivers seem so oblivious to their cluelessness while driving with a cell phone.