Friday, December 10, 2010

Making the world safe for democracy: Hooters comes to Japan.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wear clean underwear: Routine traffic stop results in body cavity search under anesthesia. Tennessee law requires a search warrant be issued before a body cavity search is performed. Did Oak Ridge police request a federal prosecution in an attempt to get around state law?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Kibbutz Centennial: Degania Aleph turns 100 years old.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Carnival: dead in the water. I love that the cruise line is offering a free trip to the Splendor's passengers. If it was me, I don't know if I would be too eager to take another trip with Carnival.
The New Republic: Lessons From Bush 43. Here's the most interesting quote:
Those who study his presidency, then, won’t find a huge amount in the man himself. They’ll try to reach out and touch Bush the man, the thinker, the politician—and accidentally punch through a cardboard cutout. Behind the cutout? People who had been wanting to invade Iraq forever and got their way. People who had wanted to cut taxes for the rich forever and got their way. People who had been waiting forever for lucrative Pentagon contracts and got their way. The list goes on and on. The story of Bush will be much more about the myriad ambitious thinkers, ideologues, charlatans, and capitalists who threw themselves gleefully into the president’s orbit than it will be about the man himself.

This confirms what I have been saying since the 2000 presidential campaign: that Bush was a nothing -- simply a placeholder for the Republican establishment whose positions had been repudiated by the success of the Clinton Administration. We traded the Clinton success -- both foreign and domestic -- for eight years of the Republican/Bush chaos that ensued. Is it any wonder that we are where we are?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Important economic news! Oh wait, this is a joke. Isn't it?
Mick Jagger replies to Keith Richard's autobiography's criticisms. I like this bit:

I am forced into the role of martinet, the one who gets blamed for silly arbitrary rules. (Like, for a show in front of 60,000 people for which we are being paid some $6 or $7 million for a few hours' work, I like to suggest to everyone that we start on time, and that we each have in place a personal plan, in whatever way suits us best, to stay conscious for the duration of the show.)

I like Jagger a lot better -- and Richard a lot less -- after reading this non-apologetic, "sadder-but-wiser-girl" rejoinder.

Slate: Democrats didn't lose the battle of 2010. They won it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is scuba diving in East Tennessee.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Your archetypal "Tea Party" candidate? The New Republic:
Since winning the Republican nomination for Joe Biden’s Senate seat in Delaware (thanks in part to $150,000 in out-of-state Tea Party money), Christine O’Donnell has provided virtually all of the race’s rhetorical oxygen. She has been asked to explain why it took her 15 years to get her college degree; what exactly happened when, in high school, she and a witch had a midnight meal “on a satanic altar;” how serious she was when she campaigned publicly to stop people from masturbating; and why the IRS has taken a lien on her property for unpaid taxes.
I'm still waiting to learn her answers.
John B. Judis:

The Tea Party is an accretion of various movements of the past decades, including the Christian right and, as Wilentz shows, the older anti-Communist Right. But it fits above all into the framework of American populism, which has always had right-wing and left-wing variants, and which is rooted in a middle class cri de coeur—that we who do the work and play by the rules are being exploited by parasitic bankers and speculators and/or by shiftless, idle white trash, negroes, illegal immigrants, fill in the blank here.
There's an ugly mood in the political air these days. Times are hard and the public is looking for someone to blame. The tea partiers are blaming -- who? Mostly, they blame Democratic politicians, despite most of the perceived problems occurring on a Republican watch. Regardless, my sense is that the "tea party movement" is more about scapegoating than anything else. And whether it is scapegoating to further Republican or Libertarian aims, this movement is certainly taking advantage of a weak economy to further such right wing partisan goals.

What worries me is that, the last time a national public was looking for someone to blame for bad economic times, we ended up with the Germans electing Hitler as Chancellor of Germany. And the internal group that got blamed for the disastrous German economy was, well, you know. While it hasn't happened yet, the ever-cyclical nature of anti-semitism suggests that, sooner or later, someone's going to try to lay it all on the Jews. Or the Muslims, or the Catholics, or the Blacks. And so forth.

The irony is that, despite the apparent middle class domination of the "tea party movement," that same middle class is unlikely to be the beneficiary of the the "movement's" success: "What’s undeniable, though, is that those most likely to benefit from right-wing middle class insurgencies are not the embattled middle classes, but the business interests and the wealthy associated with the Republican Party. That was certainly true of the 'Reagan Revolution,' which put an end to the movement toward income equality that had begun in the 1930s. So who benefits from these movements is not the same as who controls them on a day-to-day basis."

There's an ugly mood in the air.
Henley Bridge closes Jan. 3 for at least 2 years: But where will they have Boomsday?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Every homeowner's nightmare
School bus driver charged with drunken driving: She was en route to pick up kids for Cedar Bluff Elementary School. Is a story like this why my kids don't ride the bus?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Todd Purdum in Vanity Fair:

[I]t’s an interesting thought experiment to imagine what the first two years of a McCain-Palin partnership in the White House might have produced. There would probably have been no stimulus bill, and the country’s economic condition would be no better (and probably worse). General Motors and Chrysler would have been allowed to go bankrupt rather than helped to emerge into a state of healthiness, as they may well be doing. There would have been no significant new regulation of the financial industry. The Bush tax cuts for those Americans with the highest incomes—something McCain had opposed before reversing himself—would have been extended. There would have been only modest health-insurance reform, at best—McCain’s proposals were Republican boilerplate and meant for use in the campaign, never a serious program. Perhaps there would have been greater progress on immigration, though McCain had already abandoned that issue, and it’s easier to imagine his taking the more nativist stance he has since adopted. There would be no Supreme Court justices Kagan and Sotomayor, but there would likely be two more conservative justices, and the days of Roe v. Wade would be numbered. There would be no troop drawdown in Iraq. The United States might well have bombed or blockaded Iran in response to that country’s flawed election last year, or in response to its nuclear program. There would have been serial feuds between aides to the president and vice president, but the fact that Vice President Palin had an independent power base, far larger and more enthusiastic than McCain’s own, would have limited what President McCain could do about it. The “Ground Zero mosque” dispute would probably have arisen anyway, and McCain might have been hard put to do anything but side with the opponents. The Palin-family soap opera would now be daily fodder for the national press rather than mainly the tabloids.

In that the Republicans/Tea Partiers are trying to regain congressional power by blasting the current Administration, it's valid and important to consider where the country would be had McCain won the election in 2008. Based just on Chrysler and GM going under and the resulting massive additional unemployment, we'd be in even worse shape. A McCain win would have meant Bush redux; with the country sliding down the recession slope at an ever-increasing pace back in late 2008, a McCain administration likely would have continued the descent, at a terrible cost to even more Americans.

Another thought: I am not, and have never been, a particular supporter for the Obama Administration. However, I have been saying for years that what we need are statesmen: public servants who have the courage of their convictions, even in the face of powerful opposition. In that context, the Administration and the congressional Democrats who have cast supporting votes -- even at the potential cost of their jobs -- have been acting like statesmen. We should remember that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Man shoots couch during dispute: Guns don't kill people; stupid people kill people.

Are the couch's injuries life-threatening?
Study: Health reform will save Tennesseans $2.7B. Gee, I thought that health care law spelled the end of life as we know it.
E.J. Dionne, Jr.:

The country doesn't need this class war, and it is irrational in any case. Practically no one, least of all Obama, is questioning the basics of the market system or proposing anything more than somewhat tighter economic regulations—after the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression—and rather modest tax increases on the wealthy.

But even these steps are apparently too much for those financing all the television ads, which should lead voters to ask themselves: Who is paying for this? What do they really want? And who gave them the right to buy an election?

Why, the Supreme Court did.
Mississippi Judge Jails Lawyer for Refusing to Recite Pledge of Allegiance. Here is the Contempt Order, too.

What blows me away is that, in this day and age, such nonsense still happens. Being able to refuse to recite a pledge of allegiance is fundamental to our constitutional liberties. Props to this attorney, who is willing to go to jail to protect this basic right.

And by the way, this issue was decided by the Supreme Court back in 1943: "'[N]o official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.' West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642, 63 S.Ct. 1178, 1187, 87 L.Ed. 1628 (1943). A state therefore may not compel any person to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag." Sherman v. Community Consol. School Dist. 21 of Wheeling Tp., 980 F.2d 437 (7th Cir. 1992).

Requiring the lawyer to recite the Pledge upon pain of contempt and jailing is a clear violation of well-settled constitutional law. The Mississippi Chancellor should know better.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Well, I never thought I'd see this: Some in G.O.P. Find Soft Spot for Bill Clinton. I don't know. As a consistent Clinton supporter during his Administrations, I can still remember quite easily the Republican vitriol manifested by such memories as the Lewinsky/impeachment charade, Whitewater, Paula What's-her-name, and the "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Bush" bumper stickers. Now, if this article suggests a Republican desire for governance from the middle, well, that would be news.

The spate of Obama Administration reform initiatives made political sense to the Administration; it is accepted wisdom that, if you don't get your legislative agenda done within the first year or so of an administration, then it won't get done at all, because of mid-term elections and then the the presidential re-election campaign. But I am reminded of Hal Holbrook's line from All the President's Men: "You build from the outer edges and you go step by step. If you shoot too high and miss, then everybody feels more secure."

In other words, while politically difficult, if not impossible, gradual reform is better than sudden and profound change. So, while legislation such as health care reform may be societally or philosophically laudable, such intitiatives may well be politically damaging or downright suicidal. While I take no real position on such legislation, there used to be a word for doing the right thing at the risk of one's personal interests: statesmanship.
Shooting themselves in the foot: It's not enough that all these lenders are foreclosing on homes and ruining their borrowers' lives. It's not enough that they can't get out of their own way long enough to effectively process loan modifications, for which they have received (a lot of) federal money. Now, these same lenders have screwed up the foreclosure paperwork so badly that many of them are suspending their foreclosure sales, putting yet another category of would-be homeowner into potential eternal limbo.

Can you imagine how much worse it would be if there were no government regulation at all?
Co-counsel every lawyer needs: Superboy. And Superman.

Hmm. I wonder whether the judge would consider his uniform inappropriate courtroom attire?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A La Carte Government in action? Fire Department allows house to burn because resident had failed to pay $75 subscription fee.

Yeah, I know he didn't pay the fee -- he says he forgot to do it -- but it seems awfully heartless to literally stand by, watch the guy's house burn (killing three pets inside, by the way) and only swing into action to prevent the fire from spreading to a paid-up neighbor's house. What if people had been inside? Would the fire department still have refused to take action?

Monday, October 04, 2010

This sounds encouraging: New Israeli treatment kills HIV cells.
Cutting off your nose to spite your face: Some 25,000 Palestinians at work building Jewish settlements. Here's what's important, according a one worker on these jobs: "We have lived with Israelis and we will have to live together in the future. I'm pleased that I will be able to make a living,"


Friday, October 01, 2010

Photoshop magic:


And After:

This photo is from a rebreather dive Glenn Reynolds and I did in 2006, off Cobalt Coast in Grand Cayman. Glenn's wrote and videoed about it in Popular Mechanics. Guess who the photographer/videographer was? The intrepid diver is Nat Robb of InDepth Watersports in Grand Cayman. To learn how to do it yourself, see this YouTube video.
Just, uh, unearthed: In the year 3000, remembering the Beatles: John, Paul, Greg, and Scottie (Pippin). What they were best known for? Their seminal album, "Sgt. Pet Sounds and the Spiders From Aja." This is important history, folks. Pay attention!

Gotta get that record....
Glenn Reynolds links to this naive and somewhat misleading article by Larry Ribstein about "the growing problem of poor people facing civil cases without lawyers...." The article refers to one example of a Florida resident seeking worker's compensation benefits by using a non-lawyer representative or advocate in court. The Florida Bar is seeking penalties from the non-lawyer for unauthorized practice of law. The article apparently considers this situation as an example of "the disgrace of the legal services market."

As a Tennessee lawyer, I can say that there are plenty of lawyers who would have taken that Florida resident's case, if it had been in Tennessee. And the premise of the article -- that hourly fees of $150 and greater is beyond the reach of most people -- doesn't even apply to many civil legal actions, including worker's compensation. In many types of civil cases it is just flat wrong to suggest that lower income people (or anyone else, for that matter) can't hire a lawyer unless they've got big bucks for an up front retainer. What I'm talking about is contingent fees.

As opposed to many lawyers, most trial lawyers don't charge a client up front for many types of legal matters. In personal injury, worker's compensation and Social Security Disability cases, we here at Slovis, Rutherford & Weinstein essentially never charge cash on the barrel head, nor do we ask for any kind of expense or cost deposit, if the client can't afford it. Thus, in the great majority of such cases, a client will get the legal services they need, and will pay an attorney's fee and expense reimbursement only if the lawyer gets a recovery for the client.

Now, sometimes a lawyer who doesn't want to be mean and tell a potential client there's no case will quote a high fee as a "nice" way of sending the client off to another lawyer. I don't favor that practice, but I acknowledge that it has happened and does happen, from time to time.

It is also true that there are types of civil legal issues where lawyers must charge a retainer and/or hourly fee if they are to be paid at all. Besides legal aid, there are many lawyers that do cases pro bono, or free, as a way of giving back. There are also a lot of young, hungry lawyers who may take the case for a discounted fee. The persistent person is going to find a lawyer.

Mr. Ribstein proposes "the development of a legal information market that can serve the millions of people who now have little recourse but self-help. Such a market would give the middle and lower-middle class ready access to paralegals trained to handle lower-level cases and expanded legal offerings of legal software and forms." Mr. Ribstein, an academic and law professor whose biography reflects a background in "corporate, securities and partnership law, constitutional law, bankruptcy, film, the internet, family law, professional ethics and licensing, uniform laws, choice of law, and jurisdictional competition," badly underestimates the difficulty and complexity of non-lawyers trying to be effective (i.e., successful) representing themselves in court and most legal matters. He also gives entirely too much credit to paralegals who have very uneven levels of education and experience, as well as "legal software and forms" that often do not even apply in a particular jurisdiction. Reliance on such resources can lead to disaster -- and more legal expense -- for the client.

As an example, I had a client a couple of years ago who downloaded and used for an elderly and infirm relative a power of attorney form he found on the Internet. Unfortunately, it was not a durable power of attorney. That means that if the elderly subject of the POA is at some later time found to be not competent, then the power of attorney, at that time, becomes of no force. Which is, of course, exactly what happened to that client. Property conveyances to the client under the POA were disputed and voided. Two years later, he has incurred thousands of dollars in legal fees to try to obtain the property he thought he already owned. All of his troubles could have been avoided had he used a lawyer to prepare the power of attorney. I usually charge under $100 for one. You do the math.

The reason lawyers have to be trained, pass the bar exam, and be admitted to practice is that our society believes that legal representatives ought to be, well, qualified. Licensing laws are not in place to protect lawyers' jobs; they are there to protect the public.

I have no problem whatsoever in people having access to legal forms and information if they want to represent themselves. The strong likelihood is that they will not be successful in any litigation where they have to face off against an trained, experienced lawyer. But if they want to take that chance with eyes open, have at it.

I do have a big problem with untrained, un-experienced lay people representing litigants, however. No reasonable client wants to place his faith in a legal "representative" who is unqualified to represent him.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An interesting case from the Tennessee Supreme Court. In the Tennessee medical malpractice statute, plaintiffs are prohibited from telling the jury how much they are asking for. This prohibition is usually interpreted as forbidding the plaintiff even from stating in the Complaint's (the initial lawsuit filing) ad damnum clause the amount sought.

Now, the Court has clarified how far this bar goes. Justice Sharon Lee said this:
We do not find sections 29-26-117 and 20-9-304 to be in conflict. Interpreted in accordance with the clear and unambiguous language of each section, the statutory scheme allows a plaintiff to argue or suggest a monetary value to be placed on non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and to make an argument concerning the ultimate monetary worth of his or her action, but precludes either party from disclosing the amount of the ad damnum clause in the plaintiff's complaint.

I've never quite understood why, of all the different kinds of lawsuits, it's only in malpractice cases that we cannot tell the jury what we are asking for. I've always assumed that the strength of the medical lobby is behind this law, which sets apart doctors and hospitals from other kinds of potential wrongdoers.

In any event, this case, for all intents and purposes, allows plaintiffs to tell the jury what they think the case is worth -- just not the specific sum of what was asked for in the complaint. I presume that we can tell the jury what we think the value of the case is even if it's the same as what's in the complaint, as long as we don't tell the jury that the amounts are the same.

It's interesting that the Court seems to validate putting the amount sought in the complaint, which we have previously thought was not allowed. This case is a victory for injured victims of medical negligence.

Here's the full opinion from the Court.

Here's a 9 minute animated movie explaining the Health Care reform package pretty well.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Of Counsel lawyer Brett D. Stokes has had a notable victory up in the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

Here are the basic facts: The matter is a divorce case where the Wife denied that the parties were married. The Husband and Wife were originally married in 1997 in Texas, and then returned to their residence in California shortly thereafter. In 2002 the parties were made aware that the Husband’s prior divorce was never actually granted. This law school exam set of facts led to the legal issues of: (1) whether the parties' 1997 marriage was legitimate under Texas and California law; and (2) whether the State of Tennessee would recognize the marriage?

The trial court agreed with the wife and held that -- despite the fact that the parties had not been married under Tennessee law -- the parties were never married, according to Tennessee law.

Brett appealed the case to the Court of Appeals, and prevailed in that Court. Congratulations to Brett!
Slovis, Rutherford & Weinstein will be at the Tennessee Valley Fair, in the Jacob Building, from September 10 through 19. We'll be in Booth 79. Take a look at our flyer. Come on out and say hello!
From the CBC:

Hamas, which does not recognize a place for a Jewish state in the predominantly Muslim Middle East, won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 and overran Gaza in 2007, expelling forces loyal to Abbas. Before the Washington talks began, Hamas took responsibility for two drive-by shooting attacks in the West Bank that killed four Israelis and wounded two others, signalling that it cannot be ignored.

Actually, what it signals is that Hamas is a pack of terrorist murderers. It also signals that, even if the Israelis make grand concessions, the Palestinean side is so fragmented that no deal will be possible. Same as in 2000. Nothing ever changes with them....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jonathan Chait correctly interprets this screen shot:
Everything you need to know about Fox News is captured in this screenshot: the American flags, the fear-mongering image in the upper-right corner, the blond anchor with a facial expression that somehow combines sneering with absolute terror.
She is cute, though....
UT College of Law: best bang for the buck.

Way to go, Glenn!
Lockett gets one year's probation: This is a sad and infuriating story. Bill Lockett, by most accounts a decent guy and a good lawyer, one day decided to start taking fees from his clients, not give it to the law firm where he was a partner/owner, and instead pocketed the $40-50,000 in fees himself. He even continued this outrageous behavior while running for public office. He claimed he did it because he had a sick child and needed the money for medical bills. What, no health insurance? And anyway, if he was that hard up for cash, why not seek a loan from his partners?

As my dad used to say facetiously, "if you're going to steal, steal big." Now he is disgraced, unemployed indefinitely, and a convicted criminal. Was it worth it? I think not.
LaFollette teen killed by train: See, iPods are dangerous.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Following up on the Nazi march in Knoxville, from the Knoxville News-Sentinel, August 17, 2010:
Instapundit posts to a Reason article about a San Francisco lawyer who is criticized for aggressively going after businesses that fail to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Unfortunately, the Reason article spews the same nonsense as other outfits seeking to tar and feather trial lawyers who are trying to help their clients. Reason's Brian Doherty refers to ". . . an aggravating tale of disability access laws providing lawyers with a cheap means of making money, harassing small business, and not really making anyone's life much better."

First, the story refers to ONE lawyer, not the impliedly many "lawyers." This overstated generalization is a classic tactic of smearmongers. While the one cited lawyer has made some silly and over-the-top statements about his pursuit of ADA violators, why is Mr. Doherty condemning essentially all lawyers for the perfectly appropriate actions of this one guy? Answer: just another snide attempt to cast as greedy non-caring sharks the lawyers who actually are trying to help people by seeing that the law is enforced.

Second, this lawyer is condemned for making claims against businesses that are allegedly violating the law. What's wrong with that? Assuming the affected businesses are subject to the ADA, a 20 year old law passed during the Republican George H.W. Bush Administration, then I would think efforts to enforce the law should be lauded, not derided. What, should small businesses be given a pass when they continue to ignore what the first Bush Administration called "the world's first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities."

Third, there is essentially no "cheap means of making money" in the lawyer business. Take it from me, another small business owner. ADA claims generally are expensive and time-consuming to prosecute. The San Francisco lawyer referred to in the story must think he's got a case; otherwise, it would make no business sense to pursue the claims. So, when my friend Glenn says "WELL, LAWYERS NEED WORK TOO, THESE DAYS: The ADA In Action," he unfairly and wrongly implies that these San Fransisco claims are inappropriate make-work of some sort, and that the ADA is somehow a misbegotten and ill-utilized law.

Finally, Mr. Doherty should be ashamed of himself when he says that ADA claims don't really make anyone's life better. I bet that the disabled would say otherwise.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Very sad news. Kenny Edwards, an unsung giant of the California country-rock genre, died Wednesday. I got to meet him in 1996 when he was playing with Bryndle, a band he, Andrew Gold, Wendy Waldman and Karla Bonoff started out of high school. It didn't happen for Bryndle then, but they resurrected the band in 1995, made an album and toured to critical praise.

Check out what Linda Ronstadt had to say about Kenny. A big loss to music fans.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

209 markets in this country now broadcast their local news in high definition format. But not one station in Knoxville. Considering that I bought a nice quality HD video camera a year and a half ago, I'd like to know why.
Jazz Time Capsule: Bill Savory's legendary transcriptions of 1930s jazz radio broadcasts have finally gotten into the hands of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. They're cleaning up the sometimes badly deteriorated aluminum and acetate discs. What's neat about this is that these jazz artists couldn't stretch out when recording for a 78 RPM record; they had to fit their performance on one side of the record. On the radio, however, they could play as long as they wanted, for all practical purposes. And because Savory had larger discs and was sometimes recording at 33 RPM, he could fit in these longer performances.

Take a listen to some excerpts, which have been digitally cleaned up by the renowned Doug Pomeroy, who comments, “As fate would have it, a couple of the most interesting Count Basie things are so badly corroded that it took me two afternoons and 47 splices just to put one of them back together again.” Here are more excerpts.

I love stuff like this!

Nazis march in Knoxville, outnumbered by anti-protesters 5 to 1. Two of the nazis were arrested for carrying weapons with intent to go armed. I sure hope the NRA doesn't try to defend these bozos. This photo kind of says it all.

Members of the Coup Clutz Clowns provided an appropriate counter-point to this unsavory event. CCC member Jake Weinstein, by the way, is not related to me.
Uh, keep it in your pants?
Pole-dancing Memphis Councilwoman says she was sober: On a booze cruise? There's a good explanation, though -- she was just trying to "do the Soul Train."

We need more council people like that around here. . . .

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Knox County School Superintendent Jim McIntyre makes over $7,300 per week, and my 5th grader doesn't have school books. What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, August 16, 2010

I've been saying for years that canned green beans are bad for you.
1970 musical redux.
CBS's Dennis Dodd on the current state of Tennessee football: "It's one that can be cleaned up in time, but let's be straight about this: Maybe the best thing the Vols' new coach has going for him right now is his surname. Dooley is son of one of the most respected men in the sport. Not being Lane Kiffin is a huge plus too. In Knoxville, those two things will get Vince Dooley's son through a season or two as Tennessee tries to cap its current oil spill."

Dodd is basically on target. It is certainly true that, to UT fans, the BP Gulf oil spill looks like a minor spill on the kitchen floor compared to the mess in the Tennessee football program these days.

For what it's worth -- and I'm a Tennessee fan -- my prediction is the Vols will go a dismal 4-8, with wins over UT-Martin, UAB, Memphis and Vanderbilt. I also anticipate that anything over a 3-9 season will be hailed by the program and the pundits as a successful campaign. That's three wins. Nine losses. And for this team, the athletic department wants a $2,500 mandatory "donation" plus the ticket prices for two decent seats in the stadium. For the math-challenged out there, that's something like $188 per seat, per game. No wonder so many long time fans like me are peeved to the point of apathy with the program. Love the team; hate the program.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Pigeon Forge welcomes the USS Enterprise Association reunion this week.
Social Media Monopoly: Have we gone too far down the Facebook road? "The premise of the game is that social media masters like Mashable founder Pete Cashmore, Digg founder Kevin Rose, Tom from MySpace, Web Nation host Amber MacArthur, and Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington are competing for total control of the social media scene on the board, and must gain capital and power while avoiding fees and jail (which is, perhaps appropriately, MySpace.)"

My Space is Jail? Funny.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Would you spend 27 years in a Texas state prison for $2.2 million?
Why does everyone think that this state begins and ends in Nashville?
Busking is not illegal. On the other hand, what is busking?
Busking is not illegal. On the other hand, what is busking?
Lebanon Bookkeeper Accused Of Stealing $425K from Nursing Home Patients. What's curious is that her alleged embezzlement was discovered in December 2008, almost two years ago. What took so long to indict her?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stop crime: use Facebook!

In a shameless self-promotion, check out our Facebook page by going to and searching for Slovis, Rutherford & Weinstein.
Shootings in West Knoxville.
Now the federal smoking nazis are preventing families from sending cigarettes to their soldiers fighting overseas. Ridiculous. If we can send our people to fight and die in wars, at least we can let them have a smoke if they want one.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Gallup: 79% of those in the "tea party movement" identify themselves as Republicans. 62% consider themselves conservative Republicans.

So much for the notion that this tea party hoo-ha is bi- or non-partisan; it's merely rebranding: "...the presence of a new political force that is not called Republican and is not tied to George W. Bush has given the GOP a glorious opportunity to remake its image, at a time when trust in the party is very low. Some liberals deride the Tea Party as a new bottle for old Republican wine. But rebranding works...."
Sarah Palin:

"Refudiate," "misunderestimate," "wee-wee'd up." English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!

This is the person who might have been a heartbeat from the presidency?
Haslam team credits calls for win. Well, that and $10 million....
Two indicted in botched drug deal, shooting. For God's sake, if you've got to got out to do this kind of thing, get a babysitter.

Friday, July 30, 2010

DeGeneres quits American Idol. I really don't care, and I hate AI, but I had to crow about this, because Howard Stern has been saying for months how bad and unqualified DeGeneres is on that show.
Franklin High School students to protest flip flop ban. I lived with a dress code for six years in junior high and high school. I have never believed in any of the rationales for them. All a school dress code is is a way for the politicos to look like they are doing something.
Litigant v. Judge Joe Brown: The Judge wins. Judge Brown is a retired Tennessee judge, by the way.
Zach Wamp has been bothering me for quite some time. While in D.C., he lives at -- and refuses to comment on -- the C Street Center, which began as an anti-New Deal organization in the 1930s when the founder believed that God gave him a revelation that government regulation was a tool of Satan’s. This outfit is tied to the Fellowship Foundation, whose leader often presents Hitler, Stalin and Mao as leadership models even as he acknowledges they are "evil men."

Here's what's got me concerned and not a little steamed. In Wamp's commercial featuring "Rusty," some overweight guy sitting at a diner delivers the following line at 19 seconds in:
He even teamed up with New York Mayor Bloomberg to take away our guns.

I emphasized "Bloomberg" because the [presumed] actor emphasized it in his delivery. So here's my question: why did Wamp find it necessary to use the name of the New York City mayor? Was it because it's a Jewish-sounding name? My suspicion is exactly that. Is this Jew-baiting of the smarmiest sort? If so, we'll be lucky to see Wamp shown the door, figuratively. One thing is for sure: I hate this type of almost-true-but-not-quite type of negative campaigning. It's not quite enough to call the guy an out and out liar, but it ain't the truth, either. It's contemptible, frankly.

I'm not a Haslam guy, although he did go to Webb School a couple of years ahead of me. However, I don't blame him a bit for responding to this crap commercial with his Enough is Enough spot, and I think the way he responded was just right.

But why has no one raised the anti-semitism issue? There's an argument that this implicit anti-semitism is rife on the Internet and other media, to the point where no one really notices any more. And that's the road to perdition.

Photo of the week. Fortunately, no one was injured.
And this is why I seldom head up to the mountains....
Vanessa Coleman gets 53 years for double murder. The prosecutors sought 77 years, so this is fundamentally a prosecution victory. As Judge Baumgardner a veteran Criminal Court Judge said, "This is one of if not the most troubling, horrific, shocking criminal episodes that I've ever encountered."
Lamar Alexander praises President Obama on education. It's sad that a Republican lauding a Democrat has become so rare that it's newsworthy.

I'll never forget when, in 1983, while watching Alexander deliver the Tennessee State of the State address as governor, Senator John Rucker leaned over to me in the gallery and whispered, "would you buy a used car from that man?" It was all I could do to keep from falling off my chair with chortles, because I wouldn't!
Not that I fly all that often, but this stinks.
Tanker truck swerves in traffic, jacknifes, goes down embankment; driver killed. A cautionary tale to always leave yourself a good following distance. In our ADD gogogo world, we all too often ride up on the rear of the vehicles in front of us. Sometimes, that leads to tragic results.
Hit and run suspects captured at nearby hotel. Some people are just too dumb to be allowed to drive. I hope the victim wasn't hurt too badly.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Federal judge blocks key parts of Arizona immigration law. On a related note, anybody see where the Nazis are coming to town? As Woody Allen said in Manhattan:
Woody Allen: "Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? Ya know? I read it in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, ya know, get some bricks and baseball bats, and really explain things to 'em."

Victor Truro: "There was this devastating satirical piece on that on the op-ed page of the Times – devastating."

Allen: "Whoa, whoa. A satirical piece in the Times is one thing, but bricks and baseball bats really gets right to the point of it."

Helen Hanft: "Oh, but really biting satire is always better than physical force."

Allen: "No, physical force is always better with Nazis."

Here's the video, too!
Extraordinary color movies of Israel, before, during and after the 1948 War of Independence. Thanks to Howie Feinberg for the link.
TVA's air pollution is NOT an interstate nuisance. Basically, "Because the air pollution standards set by EPA are stricter than the rules under common law, Wilkinson wrote, a company that is in compliance with federal requirements cannot logically be a public nuisance."
Details on the Tennessee titans lawsuit against Lane Kiffin. For those so inclined, here's a copy of the actual Complaint filed in Davidson County [Nashville]. Kiffin registers surprise about getting sued.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Rabid bat found at U.T. Medical Center: This does not infuse me with confidence.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kentucky nursing home under investigation. Getting old is not for sissies. Sadly.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hit an run victim dies. I hope, for the family's sake, that the victim had uninsured motorist coverage.
One injured in watercraft accident. I had a case somewhat similar a few years back. My client was in his bass boat, putting along and minding his own business, when two wave runners violated the right of way and broadsided him. The client's hip was fractured and his knee was messed up, AND his boat was sinking, but he managed to get it to a dock and pull himself out before it did a Titanic at the dock. If memory serves, we got him six figures for his injuries.
Oh good lord. Street racing? Can anyone say "James Dean?"

Stop the presses! Meg Ryan cancels Israel appearance in "cultural boycott." Well, the bloom is off the rose, officially; I'm no longer ga-ga over Meg. Besides, with a photo like this, well, yuck.
I happened to catch part of her strong 1995 performance in "When A Man Loves A Woman," and she was so gorgeous. Why did she do that to herself? I think her vast popularity drop-off is directly attributable to the rotten plastic surgery she obviously has had. That, and the fact that she apparently is a political idiot.
UPDATE: Compare the photo above with the video here [move to about 1 minute in], and tell me the difference is solely because of the intervening 15 years. Right....
Double Standard: British decry Israel for [allegedly] using forged British passports; British ignore Russian spies using forged British passports.

The British apparently still view Israel as the pariah state of states. Genteel anti-semitism? Or are they still peeved over bailing out of Israel in 1948?
Jonathan Chait on pseudo-journalism:
The problem is that the product of sites like Breitbart's Big Government and the Daily Caller is not journalism but pseudo-journalism. It does not hew to conventional journalistic standards. It is opposition research — bits of data placed in the most damaging possible context and packaged in such a way as to encourage other reporters or pundits to pick it up and hopefully repeat its analytic thrust.

Now, opposition research can be useful, and it often produces good journalistic leads. But people who do hew to conventional journalistic standards do need to be very cautious when handling pseudo-journalistic stories. You can't assume that the information is being provided in context, or that the interpretive frame bears any relation to reality.

I think he hits the nail on the head here.
The difference between news and propaganda. The righties are fond of saying that the mainstram media is dominated by the left. My take for years has been that the media is dominated by whatever the hottest story is -- they want to sell papers, or magazines or get ratings, or whatever.
I don't pretend to understand -- or care much about -- what Glenn Beck says. But he gets his history and theology wrong in this clip, and sounds borderline anti-semitic, too. Your basic two-fer.

UPDATE: B'Nai Brith's open letter to Beck on his erroneous statement, as "inconsistent with Christian teaching that Jews collectively must never be portrayed as responsible for the death of Jesus. This teaching, and the related reflection on the need to present religious scripture with great thought and care, has allowed the development of unprecedented reconciliation, in our day, between Christians and Jews."
Air Conditioning: Bad. Here is an example of how anyone can make an argument that, on its face, seems reasonable, when it is so much hogwash. As a Knoxville native who lived in D.C. for nine years, and as a recent tourist in broiling Atlanta, I can say with absolute certainty that the invention of air conditioning might be the single greatest innovation of the 20th century.

Can you imagine going through the last month and a half of 100 degree days without AC? I mean, really.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Democrat denied the right to vote in the Republican primary: something's wrong here. "A three-judge political panel?" I have taken a quick look at the Tennessee statutes in question -- T.C.A. sec. 2-7-115(b) and 2-7-126 -- and sure enough, there is language about bona fide party affiliations. However, what if you are not affiliated with either party? The election commission's position would suggest that an independent would be barred from voting altogether.

I hope this gets challenged.
A fatal car wreck in Anderson County.
Poll: George W. Bush wins (loses?) on question of who is more to blame for our current economic woes"
When asked whether Bush or Obama was responsible for the recession, 53 percent of likely voters said Bush and 26 percent said Obama, according to the poll from Third Way, a think tank with close ties to centrist Democrats. Another 21 percent of respondents said they didn’t know.

Bush had 8 years to take the biggest boom economy of our lifetimes and run it into the ground. Obama's had a year and a half to try to straigten us out. The question remains, however, is the Administration's economic strategy the right one, and is it working?
President to Republicans: help the unemployed.
Anne Applebaum on the hypocrisy of the right. It's awfully curious that the Right is beating up on the Administration for not doing enough to stop the oil flowing in the Gulf of Mexico. Aren't they the same ones who keep saying that government is bad and should be reduced/eliminated?

I guess they don't quite believe that when there is political hay to be made.
Slowly but surely, we move into the modern age. Facebook and Twitter links are now on the web site. Just scroll down to the bottom and you'll see 'em!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thanks for the positive comments about my dog samaritan story earlier today. Just because I'm a dog lover and I've got a photo on the computer, here's a picture of the late Murray the WonderDog. I paused before taking time I didn't have to help that dog this morning, but then I thought of Murray, and figured, "this is what dog people do."

While I don't often toot my own horn, here is my good deed for the week. I'm writing about it because it might actually help others in the future.

So, I'm at the place where I get my haircut this morning. As I'm walking into the building, I see a dog -- an australian shepherd -- hanging around by the door. She was quite tame and friendly, but also had that look of the lost animal. She had a collar on, which turned out to be an Invisible Fence collar similar to the one pictured above. What I mean is that it has an electrical doodad on it that hits the dog with a shock, uh, correction, if it gets too close to the invisible fence wiring. Unfortunately, aside from the generic-looking collar, there was no other sign of who owned the dog.

Control freak problem solver that I am, I called my wife, who works for Petsafe, which now owns Invisible Fencing. She got the Invisible fencing guy on the phone, and she told me to unscrew the electical leads sticking out from the underside of the collar. Once they were off, I removed the actual collar from the electrical doodad, and there was a serial number on the doodad. I read that out to Jill, who gave it to the IF guy, who was able to track who the owner was! About 10 minutes later, in the middle of my haircut, the guy called and came right over and retrieved his dog. A life saved. Woo-hoo!

The moral of the story is this: if you find a stray with one of these type collars on it and no other owner information, you can track the owner based on the invisible fence's serial number, now that you know where to look. If you ever find a pet that has such a collar, try calling your local dealer, who might be able to track the owner.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

This explains why the immigration debate is so heated.
UT,other Tennessee schools, sell student info. Is this an invasion of student privacy, or compliance with some open records law?
Texting while driving is now illegal in Kentucky. Kentucky tracked 57,000 crashes as a result of texting actvity in 2009 alone! Frankly, considering how many lousy -- and dangerous -- drivers there are out there because of constant chattering into a handheld phone, I'm in favor of banning all automotive cell phone activity unless on speakerphone or via headset.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A new trailer for Mel Gibson's "What Women Want." Much more realistic than the original. WARNING: Lots of cussing; not for children or tender ears.
Yipee! Tennessee football is getting national press from! Oh, shucks, I spoke too soon. This kind of publicity I don't need.
Soldier Threatens Knox County Chancellor. Many times have I disagreed with a judge's or chancellor's ruling. Never have I thought to threaten the judge or chancellor. The veneer of civilization runs awfully thin....
Isn't this racist? At 5:44 into the video, Michael Meyers, constant Fox News talking head and Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, says, "The NAACP is now a politcal arm of the White House. Al Sharpton and the NAACP people are in the White House so often they ought to have rooms designated . . . ."

Considering we have an African-American president, calling the NAACP a politcal arm of his administration strikes me as insensitive, at least. Even assuming that Sharpton and the other guy to whom he unintelligibly refers have visited the White House, does that make the NAACP a tool of the Administration? Not without something other than vague circumstance, it doesn't.

UPDATE: Criticizing Meyers's hygiene? Fair or unfair? You decide. He is a poet. Don't you know it.
It's official. Our own Glen B. Rutherford has designated as a Cityview Top Attorney for 2010 in the area of Social Security Disability. To see the listing, go to the link and then type 104-105 in the page box at the bottom left.

Congratulations go out to Glen for this long-overdue accolade, as well as to our colleagues in the Knoxville Bar who voted for him.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Here we go again. Now, I realize that to be a big time football player, you really need to have a sense of invulnerability. But how can these players not realize that they are in the spotlight no matter where they are? Rogers hasn't played a down yet for Tennessee and he's already in trouble. Myles is now on his second altercation since April. Getting in bar fights is just stupid. And unacceptable. Hey guys, ever heard of just walking away?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Glenn is looking at lawyers and what people think about them. As a lawyer, I usually am disappointed at how badly lawyers are portrayed in contemporary TV/movies. Even a pro-plaintiff picture like Erin Brockovich is about how the non-lawyer paralegal -- Julia Roberts -- forces the lawyers, against their own apparent natures, to do the right thing and strike a blow for the people.

The question we need to be asking is why there is such an anti-lawyer bias being played out in contempo media? What happened to the lawyer heroes -- Perry Mason, Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, even the L.A. Law characters? Why is it that the current view of lawyers seems to be out of Boston Legal: the schmuck [James Spader] or the buffoon [William Shatner]?

24 years into law practice, I can guarantee that the jerks portrayed on TV wouldn't last long in the real world. The vast majority of lawyers I have known over the past quarter century have truly been devoted to serving their clients and maing a living doing so.

But I guess that doesn't make a good movie or TV show. Wait -- except for this one.
Finally, I can post. I've been trying since last Thursday, and the stupid Blogger New Post window wouldn't work. I am now using Firefox 3.6.3, and it seems to operate. Google offers no interactive help, either.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cheesiest Lawyer Advertising?  I am proud to say it's not from Slovis, Rutherford & Weinstein!  I will agree with Hunter's two finalists, although I won't identify them in this post.  I mean, they ain't plugging me; I ain't gonna plug them.  And they're really cheesy, too.

Historically, Hunter is a little inaccurate, referring to Ward "Wheelchair" as the earliest big TV lawyer advertiser.  In fact, it was this firm -- then known as Lockett, Slovis & Weaver -- that was doing the biggest TV buys in town, round about 1991.

And finally, I should give some credit to my attorney competitors  colleagues.  A wise marketing guru once told me to "look at what the other advertisers are doing -- and you do the exact opposite."  That's why we're concentrating on information-based marketing and not insulting the intelligence of the public, like the other guys.
Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing.  Former Bushie Shannen Coffin and Powerline's John Hindraker are still out to get Bill Clinton and anyone associated with him.  Including the current Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan.  The issue: did Kagan, while working for the Clinton Administration, improperly or deceptively cause language to be inserted in language from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology [ACOG] that made it easier for a federal court back in 2000 to overturn Nebraska's ban on partial birth abortions?  Answer: No, not really.

Here's the deal.  The ACOG statement, according to Coffin in National Review Online, said, “in the vast majority of cases, selection of the partial birth procedure is not necessary to avert serious adverse consequences to a woman’s health.”  Kagan suggested language to ACOG -- which ACOG was under no obligation to accept -- adding the following: “An intact D&X [the medical term for the procedure], however, may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.”

When ACOG initially says, "In the vast majority of cases...." it is admitting that there are indeed some cases where the procedure would be justified.  Which is exactly what Kagan's suggested language says: "may be the best procedure in a particular circumstance." (emphasis added).  There's nothing deceptive or inconsistent about adding that language; it merely clarifies the ACOG position, which is probably why ACOG unilaterally agreed to include it in the first place.

Believe me, ACOG is no real friend of Democratic Party philosophy or ideology.  I learned that back in the late 1990s, seeing how ACOG tried to make it harder to prove and win obstetrical malpractice cases, by manipulating its practice standards relative to the causes of and terminology relating to fetal distress during labor.

Kagan must be awfully well-qualified for the Repubs to scrape the bottom of the barrel like this.  It illustrates how zealots will attempt to demonize innoccuous actions taken long in the past, using fauly analysis and half truths.  All to gain a momentary political advantage.   That's the shocking part.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Are you breaking the law when you record encounters with police officers?  Apparently, you are in Maryland.  In Tennessee, however, I would argue that Tennessee Code Annotated sec. 39-13-601(b)(5) applies:
It is lawful under §§ 39-13-601 — 39-13-603 and title 40, chapter 6, part 3 for a person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication, where the person is a party to the communication or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the interception, unless the communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in violation of the constitution or laws of the state of Tennessee.
In any event, it is absurd to say that a police officer on duty in public has some expectation of privacy, where the person he is encountering does not.
Iguess this guy just couldn't get a date.
Three burning legal questions.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Woman Follows Directions, Gets Run Over.  Because there were no sidewalks on the route she followed, she walked on the street, got hit by a car, and is suing Google.  Maybe she should have looked at the street and used some common sense? 

Criminy, I've got a Google Map linked to my web site, too.  Please don't sue us....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nurse practitioners operating independently of actual M.D.s?  Well, it is likely that such nurse practitioners and physician assistants are in effect doing that now, even though operating in the context of a medical practice.  My worry certainly is the oversight and the liability concerns.  If I go to a nurse practitioner's office and as a result I am injured, is that medical malpractice, or just general malpractice?  It's an important distinction, as it is much more difficult and expensive to sue a doctor for medical malpractice than, say, a motorist for an automobile accident.
Here's a lawsuit going somewhere to happen.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Is BP putting its money where its mouth is?  We'll see.  As a lawyer that handles claims all the time, what is important is NOT that money is being reserved, or set aside, but instead whether claims will be quickly, properly, and fairly administered and paid.  Interestingly, "The fund will be controlled not by BP, but by an independent, third party...."  Attorney Kenneth Feniberg is supposed to be "in charge" of the fund, whatever that means.  Here's a bio on Feinberg from his firm's web site:

Kenneth R. Feinberg has been key to resolving many of our nation's most challenging and widely known disputes. He is best known for serving as the Special Master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, in which he reached out to all who qualified to file a claim, evaluated applications, determined appropriate compensation, and disseminated awards. Mr. Feinberg shared his extraordinary experience in his book What Is Life Worth?, published in 2005 by Public Affairs Press. Just a few years later, Mr. Feinberg became Fund Administrator for the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund following the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech. Mr. Feinberg also has served as Special Master in Agent Orange, asbestos personal injury, wrongful death claims, Dalkon shield, and DES (pregnancy medication) cases.
Clearly, this guy has a lot of experience with mass tort/accident/injury situations.  Let's see if he can get it done.  In the meantime, the oil continues to fill up the Gulf.  Ugh.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

For those dozens of you who have checked back at this site over the past several years, you will note a new template and a (somewhat) new direction. 

When I started this blog back in 2003, I was railing about Big Insurance and its efforts at tort reform.  As those efforts largely were proven unsuccessful, I broadened the scope to include general legal stuff that interested me, and later just blogged on any subject that caught my eye.

Now, I have decided to integrate the blog more closely with my law firm website and get serious about blogging once again.  I have also -- after playing website developer games for over two months, dumped the website developer, and made content and feature changes in the firm's web site myself.  I was able to do in three days what they couldn't do in two months.  There's a whole frustrating story there for the telling.  Some day....

In any event, I hope you'll check out the site, and especially the new FAQs/Videos page, which has a bunch of Q & A on legal matters, as well as some videos, one of which I posted here a few weeks ago.  I have also posted the videos on Youtube, here, here, here, here, and here.

Constructive comments about the site and this blog are welcome.  Remember -- I'm doing this myself, so be kind if you can!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Well, I guess I had it wrong the whole time. This video certainly convinces me that them Palestineans were in the right after all!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Here is the first video for my law firm web site. For anyone who views this, I would really like to know if there are technical problems. Specifically, does the audio stay in sync with the video?

Friday, February 12, 2010

ELECTRIC CARS FOR RETAIL SALE IN 2011. In Israel. 350 mile range. Sales and maintenance pricing equivalent to gas-powered equivalent vehicles. (To view video scroll across to the story "Electric Cars By Next Year"). When will they hit Tennessee? Marty Peretz wrote it up, too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Earthquake in Grand Cayman. Apparently, there are no casualties or damage, though. Thank goodness....