Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Tuesday, June 2, 2020
I always like to take a few days before I comment on something. Often, the initial story is incorrect or misleading and new facts come to light. Other times I might be inclined to let emotion- or lack thereof- interfere.
So it was with the murder of George Floyd. And Ahmaud Arbery. And Trayvon Martin. And so many more.
I grew up in a time when the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. were the goal of society. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I earnestly tried to live these words. To me, color was unimportant- because I was more interested in the person. The color blind world was something noble to be achieved. We are no closer to achieving that goal now than we were when those words were first spoken.
My realization is that I am complicit in the failure. I my fault lies in trying to be color blind before I had earned that right. I never understood the “Black Lives Matter” movement- until recently. The fact that Black Lives Matter was so obvious to me, that I missed the point. The point is, that in many circles Black Lives DON’T Matter. If you question this, you haven’t been paying attention to prison population, poverty statistics, and the deaths of so many black men.
So where do we- where do I- start to combat the problem?
I don’t believe I have the right to decide how to combat the problem. I am not the one affected. There have been too many people who condescend with the best and worst of intentions. I can’t understand the history. I can have ideas- I can have suggestions, but I have no skin in the game. I have never been a black man, so I can never know what it is like to be a black man.
How does a white man stand for his brothers and sisters of other colors and beliefs? I must admit, I don’t know. I believe that ultimately there must come a meaningful conversation that transcends differences- while acknowledging differences exist. We cannot rely on government to direct us. None of our groups are monolithic. I am open to suggestions.
Monday, May 4, 2020
You may ask, "Are there any other reasons?" Funny you should ask because there are other reasons.
1. Attorneys make money because you let them. They will ask for a retainer of several thousands of dollars. Many attorneys will not even consider a case unless you can pony up $5,000.00 or more of retainer. Twenty-five hours at $200.00 an hour. They will earn every penny of that. They will give you status updates when there is nothing has changed. They will send emails and make phone calls and draft letters and review your file. And they will dutifully mark the time on their billing software. Question them and the excuse is that "the other attorney is ___________ (fill in the blank)." You see, opposing counsel is responsible for the fees you are being charged.
B. More conflict = More fees. You have gone to see an attorney because there is conflict that you have been unable to settle. If you have one issue, the attorney will make "X" amount of money. If the attorney can convince you that there are other issues, the attorney will make multiples of "X" amount of money. So, in an attempt to get you "what you deserve," the attorney "creates" conflict where none necessarily need exist. Furthermore, "what you deserve" is always something that the other person has- so it is their fault for not giving it to you in the first place. Opposing counsel is the reason you have to pay more.
Let me give you a real-life example from the case files of Christopher B. Enck. I was handling a divorce that could have been very simple. The parties were living apart and most of the marital estate had already been divided. There were a few minor issues that needed to be resolved and I presented the unrepresented spouse with a settlement proposal that was, in my eyes, very reasonable. That spouse decided to hire an attorney- which was their right. The simple litigation was prolonged for more than a year, cost the spouse several thousand dollars and my client several hundred. In the end, we reached an agreement that cost the spouse more than if he had accepted the proposal that I presented earlier.
It is true that my "loyalty" was to my client. It was also true that we discussed the settlement and I told my client that the opportunity existed to possibly receive a better settlement. My inclination is generally to be reasonable in an offer and to reasonably negotiate. It saves time and money if both parties are realistic and meet in the middle, rather than negotiate from extremes and meet in the middle anyway. My client respected that approach and approved of the position.
To be fair, there are times when conflict may need to be created and sizable retainers make sense. If you are planning a divorce and you have young children, working on custody might prevent future trouble. If you are faced with criminal charges, a big retainer to an attorney might keep you out of prison. There is also the fact that, unlike a mechanic who can keep your vehicle if you don't pay your bill, an attorney's work product is their knowledge and creativity. Once litigation is over, a client does not have an incentive to pay a bill- and I have had to file suit against numerous clients to recover my fees.
In the end you pay for what you get; you don't necessarily get what you pay for.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
This is the world in which we find ourselves. In my state of Pennsylvania, we have had
Before you accuse me of insensitivity or thought-crime, I understand the seriousness with which the government and the media imbue this crisis.
Governor Wolf (according to his website www.governor.pa.gov) "strongly urged non-essential businesses across the state to close for at least 14 days to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19." Strongly urged? That sounds ominous. He also, "ordered all restaurants and bars close their dine-in facilities." Ordered? That is ominous. Finally, Governor Wolf is "relying on businesses to act before the Governor or the Secretary of Health finds it necessary to compel closure." And there we have it- compel closure. All this over tens of cases.
To be fair to Dear Leader Wolf, he is only following the lead of Emperor Trump. And really, when we run out of toilet paper we can just use our copies of the Constitution of the United States of America. We have a right to assembly pursuant to the First Amendment- but for some reason we have decided that we can do without that.
35 Pa Code §§7301 et seq places responsibility for dealing with crises in the Governor. Specifically the governor "may issue executive orders, proclamations and regulations which shall have the force and effect of law." (Emphasis added). Among the specific powers awarded the governor is the ability to "suspend or limit the sale, dispensing or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives and combustibles." Anyone see a problem with this? Bueller?\
There is another solution- one so painfully obvious there should be no need to pose it. But I will.
Let the people decide!! If a business owner believes it is wise to close the business, let it close. Likewise, a business owner may decide to keep the business open and, as the owner sees fit, implement whatever strategies are desirable. And We the People can decide which businesses we want to patronize. Are we really that feeble-minded that we can't decide these things for ourselves? Yes, some people will get set. Yes, some people will die.
Or let Der Kommissar decide. "He's got the power and you're so weak."