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The Eyesight of Columbus?

Isn’t life about routine. It was real easy to go a couple of days without blogging. Almost a routine. But I know that I have to get back to my daily blogging.  And then, I realized it was so cold. So cold.

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Right?

Today’s blog comes from History.com because it humors me. It also makes me wonder about Christopher Columbus’ eyesight. Perhaps he did not want to return to Spain after his trips, and be sentenced to the pit of misery…so he felt pressure to find!

In 1493, while sailing near the Dominican Republic, Columbus notes a curious observation. Maybe we should consider his diary entry, in the context of the knowledge that he had been at sea for six months.

One final note about Columbus. There were no known portraits painted of Columbus while he was alive. So history relies on the memories of painters in their portraits of Columbus.

An angry painter could have really impacted history by painting a portrait of Columbus with a hamburger. Then we would have thought that he always traveled with a hamburger. And that’s how history can become history!

And for pic o’ day; nowadays, it’s difficult to know whether you are looking at a “real” picture. Here’s an example of a cow that was photo-shopped on to a car. Because otherwise, why wouldn’t a cow be relaxing on a car hood? I wonder what Columbus would see?

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Hammer Meets Nail!

How about a Christmas picture to get Our Blog week started?

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When I received that… I laughed!

Here’s what we know on a Monday. No one wants to hear how someone’s fantasy football team did over the weekend, and no one wants to hear about how much money someone made in bitcoin. Right?  (Yes, I know. That was just random)

We want useful!!! Something that effects us. Thus, I will be a bit random now to get to our ending point.

So let me mention my weight loss idea. On Friday I decided to punish myself for gaining a couple of pounds. I know it sounds crazy, but stick with me.

Recently, I ordered some custom shirts from a men’s shirt company that is located in India. I sent them my sizes. When the shirts arrived, they all felt tight. I was stuck. Send them back and spend almost as much in shipping as I spent on the shirts? Give them away? Or, torture myself. I went with the torture weight loss program of shirt tightness.

With a sport coat on, you probably wouldn’t notice. Me? I felt the tightness all day. One piece of lettuce felt like too much food. I knew I needed to lose at least 3 pounds! It’s the little things. Like not just digging into the Christmas cookies that show up at our office. Which brings me to some poetry for the blog to make us wicked smart!

One of my favorite poems is For The Want of a Nail.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

 I connect that thought to the court system. The 2017 statistics are not out yet but; in 2016, the Virginia Supreme Court issued opinions on 15 injury case appeals. This included death cases and malpractice verdicts.

In those 15 cases, the injured party only won twice. In the sports world, that is a 2-13 record. That is part of a continuing trend in Virginia. Over the last several years, the defense is winning at the appellate level of the Virginia Supreme Court by historic margins.

What do these statistics mean? Stay with me on my stream of consciousness.

Following Tuesday’s election, democrats were celebrating the victory of a an elected Democrat in Alabama. In Congress, it means that Republicans hold a slim 51-49 Senatorial advantage. It makes it difficult to push legislation through unless everyone votes along party lines. Similar to getting judges approved.

There is a similarity in Virginia. Selection of Virginia state court judges occurs through legislative election. Virginia is one of only two states that use this method in choosing judges. The other state is South Carolina.

It’s why  there are court challenges regarding this past November’s elections to determine whether Republicans or Democrats will control the Virginia House of Delegates. Right now, the difference stands at a Republican majority of 51-49, with a possibility of that still flipping.

That impacts laws. That impacts appointments. Which means… that could impact how a Supreme Court justice might apply laws during appeals. That’s not to say that any of the above opinions would have changed. But, in the federal system, it’s not unusual to see a ruling by a 5-4 decision.

Elections can impact judicial appointments. Appointments could potentially impact appellate decisions. It’s why every vote does count. It’s the little things.

And I decided to close with a pic o’ day that is not holiday related. But is is a blog tip…or something!

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Moe Levine On Loss

Do you read the blog for good advice. How about this advice??

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Now let me write a bit about a lawyer who is legendary in law circles. Moe Levine passed away in 1974, but he still lives on in his recording and writings. Many of his openings and closings have been transcribed and have lived on as examples of advocacy.

To give you an example of one of his closings, these few sentences come from a personal injury case in the 1960’s, where he was seeking damages in a double amputation trial. In expressing the everyday losses of his client, he said the following to the jury,

I need not call any army of experts and parade before you countless medical professionals to illustrate this boy’s loss. I need only tell you that I had lunch with him today, and he ate his food like a dog.”

It’s true that what he said was probably objectionable, because he was basically testifying in closing. However, it’s an example of the way that he thought, in conveying loss.

His primary discussion in discussing what a person has lost was summarized in this statement, “It’s not what the defendants have taken from the injured plaintiff, but rather what they left him or her with.” Here is how he conveyed that in a closing:

If a man with 20/20 vision has an accident and is left with 20/40 vision, you have taken his 20/20 vision from him. But you’ve left him 20/40 and he has good function with 20/40. On the other hand, if you take a man with 20/200 vision, who barely sees light and you blind him, you’ve left him with nothing.” This reframe is subtle, but powerful. In another example, Levine poses to the jury, “suppose you had a million dollars, and I took five hundred thousand dollars away. I would have taken a great deal of money from you but I would have left you with a half million dollars. As you still have a half million dollars, you are not left broke. On the other hand, suppose you had one dollar, and that dollar is taken from you. You now have nothing.

In yet another example, he compares loss to a candle, where the smallest candle makes the darkness tolerable. “You blow out the candle, and you are left with the abysmal fear of blackness: no light left. You have taken it all“.

He believed that the Old Testament was a good source of example in considering damages. He conveyed the loss of  enjoyment of life as described in the book of Ecclesiasteswhere it says that it is right and good that when a man has finished this day’s labor, he shall enjoy living.”

I enjoy looking back at the arguments of past lawyers. Most have not withstood the sands of time. But, Moe Levine’s thoughts on damages are still applicable today. In law school, my mock court professor played some old recordings from speeches that Levine made, in the 50’s and 60’s. At the time, it didn’t mean much to me. Now, as I look back, I have a great appreciation of that education. Life experiences had not yet prepared me to appreciate the discussion of loss.

 

And for pic o’ day……

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A Story of Recovery

I start this blog out with the disclaimer that it’s a Feel Good Story for me! It involves a client and it does not involve money!

About five years ago, I began representing a teenager who was a backseat passenger. Their car was rear-ended and his body was physically driven into the seat in front of him. It caused a significant injury to his knee. A few months after the crash, he had surgery on that knee. Unfortunately, he did not get better and could still barely bend his leg.

Throughout high school, he was unable to play any sports and he continued to experience pain and limited mobility. He went back to his orthopedic doctor to see what could be done. The doctor recommended another surgery that included putting permanent hardware in his knee to stabilize the kneecap.

My client and his family told me about the possible surgery. I met with their doctor. I just didn’t feel good about my teenage client having such a restricted life; but maybe there was no other alternative.

I called another doctor and told him about my client’s injury and additional surgery. I sent over his records. He went to meet with the doctor. A different surgery was discussed. About two months after that, my client had surgery with the second doctor.

The insurance company questioned the surgeries and made a small settlement offer. Fortunately, the jury sided with my client.

I had not heard from my client in a couple of years. Recently, he called to say that he had graduated from high school… and had just joined the army. He passed their physical!

A fabulous testament to hard work and recovery as well as a doctor who did a great job and made a difference. A true great ending!

 

I hope you have a great weekend… and get some “Lion Around Time”.

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Costume Randomness

I cannot answer why I just want to post costume pictures. I realize this is a legal blog, which requires that I post something legal… or something like that. Right? But, I feel like this is our opportunity to post crazy costumes and soon it will be gone.

Much like the Hallmark card that recited the importance of living in the presence by saying:

Seize the moment!  Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”

So here is our first costume picture out of order of pic o’ day(s). Imagine this gang at your door:

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I could pretend to post some wisdom like what K.Flay said, “Imagine how satisfying it would be to retire after a long career as a professional sandwich maker and say to yourself, ‘that’s a wrap’“. ( I admit, I do not know who K Flay is, but I do like the name!)

Which brings me to our next pic o’, which was sent to me (to scare me) and here I go posting it! Clowns have become the worst costume!

 

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And finally, I close with a “Business Halloween” pic o’ day because it seems to be appropriate.

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Part of a Tribe

Is it possible to have a police dog testify in court?

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Just wondering!

We all have a feeling of wanting to belong. Psychologists call it wanting to be a member of a tribe. Restrepo and Korengal were two documentary movies based on platoons of American soldiers, who survived in war because of their desire to belong in their “tribe”.  So even war depends on belonging.

A group of lions is known as a “pride”, and a group of hogs is a “herd”. Geese in collection are a “gaggle,” and when in the air they are a “skein”. A gathering of foxes is referred to as a “skulk”, a gathering of quail is a “covey.” How about that? They all belong.

In Virginia, a civil jury consists of 7 people and and criminal jury consists of 12. In most states, juries are made up of 12 people. States such as Florida and Connecticut have experimented with 6 and 9 person juries.

No wording in the Constitution requires that a jury contain a specific number, to be considered a jury. Mathematicians have come up with formulas to figure out what is an acceptable amount of people on a jury, to make sure that there is justice. I have always speculated that the psychological principle of belonging can also impact the mathematics of what makes a fair amount of jurors. Just my speculation.

I guess that is why some states do not require a unanimous finding of all jurors, to determine a conviction. As a final note, there is a lot less at stake when considering what makes a quail belong to a covey!  Right?

This is one of those blogs that I could have written for a long time. Instead… just something to think about.

And for pic o’ day, this would give me no flying confidence!

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All About The Stats

They call it analytics. defined as The systematic computational analysis of data and statistics. (I promise, I won’t mention analytics again. I will do better! I promise) I feel like I am putting you through suffering by starting out like this.

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So here’s the turn. I always enjoy writing about the Indianapolis Colts in a legal blog. It’s true fandom. It’s why I can write about them, even though they lost 36-22. Not good!

Looking at their nationally televised Monday night football game, they received notification that the officiating crew was Walt Anderson’s crew. His crew averages 5 penalties per quarter, which is the second highest rate in the league.

The Colts coach could choose to ignore the crew assigned by simply saying “We are going to play Colts football and keep chopping wood“, or he could incorporate that into preparation.  (Here’s an article where the Steelers Coach did ) These Walt Anderson officials call it tight, so it means that your defense cannot be as physical and your linemen have to be careful in blocking and not holding.

How does that apply to our law practice? Usually, when we first discuss a case with a new client, they ask “How long will this take?” and “How much is my case worth?”. My guess? Probably the two most asked questions.

In handling a case, the worth is really related to the injury and treatment of the client, as well as the facts and liability of the person at fault. If a lawsuit has to be filed, then worth takes on additional components. The systematic computational analysis. (See, I didn’t use the A word) Where the case filed, and who is assigned as the judge are additional factors.

If I have an upcoming jury trial that has a judge assigned that I do not know, I usually ask around to find other lawyers that have been in that courtroom. A recent case with an unknown judge gave me the scouting report that she let’s you try your case. For another case this past month, I was told that the judge gets very involved , and he likes to be in charge of his courtroom, which is code for being an active interrupting judge.

In both instances, you tailor your trial strategy. I don’t just say let’s do what we do and go in there and just keep chopping wood. Can you tell that I am hopeful for a new Indianapolis Colts coach? More fandom!

And now our pic o’ day…. (thankfully I don’t feel this way, but it makes me laugh)

 

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A Conspiracy Conspiracy?

First, let’s start with some fax humor… because you don’t see fax humor very often!

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During football watching on Sunday afternoon, multiple times a FedEx television commercial ran from a supposed Conspiracy Bookstore. The employees in the commercial were explaining their theories on a recent hike in online book sales. It wasn’t funny the first time. Not funny the 20th time; which might explain why you don’t remember it.

One of the employees credits galactic entities for buying all the books to conceal their alien secrets. The other worker credits FedEx because of their affordable deliveries. The FedEx guy just shrugs at the conspiracy theory.

By the way, do you buy into the conspiracy of Apple slowing down old phones with their constant updates? For several years, the Internet has been warning (as I use the Internet like a person identifier) that Apple keeps sending updates, to cause your old phone to slow down enough to irritate you and make you buy the new phone.

All I know is that I am tired of having constantly being asked by my phone and iPad whether I want to download my update now or at midnight. No is my answer. I was perfectly happy with my phone and iPad until your constant pestering. But I digress!

The real conspiracy that recently grabbed my attention (Reuters News)  relates to a pharmaceutical company. The New Jersey Attorney General has accused Insys Therapeutics  of engaging in a fraudulent scheme to boost the sales of their fentanyl-based cancer pain drug. Recently, Massachusetts announced a $500,000 settlement with Insys to resolve similar allegations.

The New Jersey attorney is claiming that the drug company had created a fraud scheme to encourage the prescriptions of a fentanyl-based pain medication, usually reserved for cancer patients. The intent was to get doctors to prescribe it broadly to many of their patients; not just those suffering great pain.

The New Jersey filed lawsuit alleges that Insys paid kickbacks to doctors, including sham speaker fees to induce them to prescribe the drug, defraud insurance companies into paying for it.

The lawsuit states that Insys’ greed put hundreds of lives in jeopardy and led to the 2016 overdose death of a New Jersey woman, who was prescribed a fentanyl-based medication to treat fibromyalgia. “The conduct alleged in our lawsuit is nothing short of evil,” Porrino said in a statement.

The NJ lawsuit was filed on the heels of the Massachusetts Attorney General Healy announcing that Insys would pay $500,000 to resolve similar allegations of schemes and kickbacks. (Doesn’t sound like much of a punishment. Right?) The political rhetoric would lead us to believe that this drug company is just plain evil and needs real punishment.

Fentanyl is a powerful and highly addictive drug with deadly consequences, yet this opioid maker aggressively marketed its product and made illegal payments to providers to boost sales,” Healey said in a statement.

Now that’s what I call a conspiracy. Just not one that really surprises me.

And finally for pic o’ day, here’s one from the past that always makes me laugh. Some explanation for that conspiracy?

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Blonde and Law Enforcement

In the history of Our Blog, I have never posted a blonde joke, but this one also includes law enforcement. That makes it appropriate for a law blog… Right?

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And for pic o’ day, this is just crazy but it makes me laugh:

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The Statistics of Danger?

The World Health Organization tells us that every 8 seconds, someone dies from tobacco use. Cigarettes cause more than one-in-five American deaths. Yet, people continue to smoke. They don’t consult statistics to determine whether they should start smoking; and they don’t continue because of them.

Where are we going to eat tonight? On any given night, that’s said in many households. How often do you think that someone then picks up their iPad and looks up recent health inspection reports, to determine if their choice of restaurant that night is a good place to go? A restaurant health inspection typically does not go into that restaurant decision process.

It’s very easy to look at neighborhood crime statistics, to determine how safe a neighborhood might be. When did you last Google the crime statistics for your neighborhood. Or, how often does a realtor hand crime statistics for a geographical area, when showing a house to a potential buyer? It makes me wonder (as I type this) why I haven’t.

So here is another consideration on statistics. Shaina, a paralegal in our Virginia Beach office, forwarded this article from WAVY-TV, about car crashes where you live. If you knew that more crashes occur at specific intersections throughout Virginia, would it cause you to be more careful at those locations?

Educating drivers is an important part of crash prevention,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “This new feature allows Virginians to see where crashes occur most in their neighborhoods and the factors causing those crashes. With this information, you might use extra caution when traveling through a particular intersection or remind a new driver of the hazards of driving at an unsafe speed on a road near your home where speed-related crashes happen regularly”.

Obviously, the DMV Commissioner thinks that statistics and knowledge will affect our driving. According to the article, the data provided gives a breakdown of high crash locations in the state of Virginia. Of all non-interstate crashes in 2016, 7 of the 10 top locations were in the Hampton Roads area. Would that mean that someone right now is saying, “Best not drive in Hampton Roads”?… said no one anywhere!

Still…the greatest commodity is information!

And for pic o’ day, some motivation of no limitation! Or… be what you want to be?

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