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“Girls Gone Wild” founder held accountable:

Multi-millionaire founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” video series, Joe Francis, appears to be reaping some of what he has sown. Check out this post by Lowering the Bar.

April 7, 2007 Posted by | Life & Law | Leave a comment

Jury Duty

Here is some good, basic information about jury duty at Lawreader.com. Serving on a jury is a crucial part of the American justice system.

March 31, 2007 Posted by | Life & Law | Leave a comment

A prayer for attorney’s:

Check out the prayer here.

March 9, 2007 Posted by | Life & Law | 1 Comment

Good Samaritan Schools

Dr. Ananthi Jebasingh, Founder and Director of The Good Samaritan Schools in New Delhi, India will be speaking in Lexington this Thursday, March 1, 2007, at our offices at 4740 Firebrook Boulevard. The event begins at 7:00 PM and will be followed by a dessert reception. It is hosted by Dale Ditto, Tim Philpot, and Mike Troutman.

The Good Samaritan Schools are dedicated to providing education, nutrition, and medical care to underprivileged children from Delhi’s slum communities. Since 1989, when Ananthi took the first child into her home, The Good Samaritan Schools have educated over 7,000 impoverished children.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Life & Law | Leave a comment

Covenant of Marriage

Legislation has been introduced in Kentucky to create a super-marriage or Covenant of Marriage. Here is a summary of the bill:

    Create new sections of KRS Chapter 402 to provide the option for couples to enter into a covenant marriage; provide that a couple may designate a covenant marriage when applying for a marriage license or after marriage; require authorized counseling before entering a covenant marriage; define “authorized counseling”; establish the procedure for declaring a covenant marriage; require marriage license and certificate to indicate if the marriage is a covenant marriage; provide limited grounds for dissolution, legal separation, or divorce from bed and board, including a requirement of authorized counseling before divorce in a covenant marriage; require the Human Resources Coordinating Commission of Kentucky to develop an informational pamphlet regarding covenant marriage; amend KRS 402.100, 402.230, 403.025, 403.044, 403.110, 403.140, 403.150, and 403.170 to conform.

First, let me explain that I made a decision in representing divorce cases to limit my client base by about 1/2. I believe in the sanctity of marriage and do not wish to facilitate divorce as a means of relieving so many of the normal difficulties of marriage. To that end, I will represent those responding to a divorce petition filed, assist in legal separations, and represent those seeking to begin a divorce only under certain circumstances. This is a very counter-intuitive, principle base stance in the area of family law (I call it family law rather than divorce law because there are still many areas of practice touching on the family other than divorce).

That being the context, I am not in favor of the Covenant of Marriage legislation proposed. I see it as superfluous. Those having the religious conviction that would draw them to a Covenant would already be making a covenant before God. Everyone else will opt for a regular marriage. I would suspect that some would pressure their partners into a covenant marriage: “If you really loved me you’d agree to the super-sized marriage.” This would start things off on an uneven foot. I can even imagine horrible discussions at dinner parties and bible studies: “Oh, did you hear that Marge and Bill only got a regular marriage.” “Marge, the poor dear – doesn’t she realize he is just waiting to upgrade in a few years.” Introductions would be awkward. “Pastor, I’d like to to meet my wife . . . oh, well, uhm, no – she’s not my covenant wife – just a regular one.”

Then there’s the jurisdictional issue. If you get a covenant marriage in Kentucky and then move to California, what law prevails. A divorce action is one where the court has jurisdiction of the marriage itself, so unless California wanted to honor a Covenant Marriage, then the plain old divorce would suffice.

Mainly, it is my believe that legislation should reach only so far into one’s life. Many spiritual beliefs and religious convictions should remain with the church and between an individual and God and not become law. I agree that people should be open with their prospective spouse, engage in pre-marital counseling, and take it seriously when they marry. I agree that counseling should be sought to resolve conflict leading to a divorce and that one should try other steps including legal separation for a year or more prior to taking that final step to divorce. I do not believe the state should be in the business of regulating those behaviors and choices.

I am sure proponents would say that the state is not regulating it absent the choice of the parties agreeing to the covenant. That is true to an extent – however, we are talking about human beings who develop and change over the decades of their lives. They are not businesses where we can entirely reduce things to contract law. No, it may be chosen to the best of their knowledge at the moment when the hormones are flowing and no one is truly sane. But, decades later, it is the state going too far in regulating what amount to religious convictions.

Here’s the bill: Covenant of Marriage.

February 16, 2007 Posted by | Family Law, Life & Law, Politics | Leave a comment

Less is more

This post by The Greatest American Lawyer describes very well why I like being at a small firm.

    Having seen both sides of the practice, I have to say that one of the most fundamental flaws of hourly billing firms is the propensity to attempt to service more clients than is reasonably possible. Their drive to ensure that every hour of everyday is billable creates a mandate that everyone needs to be “choking on the fire hose.” When firm business is down lawyers don’t know what do. Many just kick back and relax, try not to say anything that would trigger the next avalanche of workload. Others go out and try to drive new business.
    This moment of relaxation where you are not under any stress to have something out by noon is the time during which a lawyer can really be a lawyer. Firms need to be encouraging those necessary gaps in workload where goals can be defined and strategies can be set and executed.

Click here for the full post.

February 3, 2007 Posted by | Life & Law, Solo & Small Firm | Leave a comment

Improving Protection of Kentucky’s Children part 1

There will be a forum in Frankfort this coming Thursday for public input into improving the performance of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in protecting our children. It is on 1/17 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. See Lawreader for details. I wish I could make it but I will be in court in another county.

Here is the first recommendation from the Office of the Inspector General’s report:

    1. The cloak of secrecy that currently dominates the proceedings relative to the removal of children and the termination of parental rights is not in the best interest of Kentucky’s children and must be removed as part of any material reform. Allowing the proceedings to be open, with exception only by court order, will provide the most fail-proof form of oversight, in turn, ensuring that the citizens of the Commonwealth believe in the integrity of the process and have full faith in the outcomes which it produces. Accordingly, the Cabinet should work with the Courts and the Legislature to implement such changes.

I agree with this recommendation but there is more involved. The purpose for having freedom of the press is to keep the people informed of what their government is doing. This first recommendation seems to contemplate that the press as well as other advocacy groups will monitor and report on how dependency, neglect, and abuse cases are handled. Opening the courts to scrutiny is only the first step. Getting the public to want to know is the second step. I suspect we will find that this second step will be harder than the first step. Historically, society has preferred to keep some horrific things out of the public eye.

January 15, 2007 Posted by | Life & Law | Leave a comment

Honesty & the Practice of Law

My idealism is showing again. I think lawyers should be honest. Honest with clients. Honest with one another. Most of all, honest with the court. Honesty means different things to different people. If asked, nearly everyone would say they are basically an honest person. Yet, this clearly is not so.

Let’s look at this on a ‘truthfulness continuum’. All lawyers spin the truth to some degree or another. All lawyers will present and highlight facts supportive of their client’s position. They will avoid admitting hurtful facts when possible and ethical. This is the ‘best possible light’ range. When hurtful facts must be admitted, they will present them in the least harmful way as long as that way is a reasonable inference one can derive from the facts. I wish this is where we all stopped on the truthfulness continuum.

However, many lawyers go farther down the continuum. The next area on that range is the ‘grain of truth’ area. Here, as long as there is a grain of truth to what the attorney is saying, they feel free to engage in creative license with the truth. For example – the opposing party smoked marijuahna two or three times in the last year while out and the children were home with a babysitter. This suddenly becomes – the opposing party is a full blown drug addict who is endangering their children.

Then we get down to the other end of the spectrum. I wish that only a few lawyers hang out down here but sometimes it seems awfully crowded. This is the ‘say it enough times and it becomes true’ section. Here, the lawyer feels justified in engaging in wild speculation. As long as their client is willing to say something is possible, the lawyer will treat it as fact. For example – their client has some concerns that the opposing party might have left their child in the care of someone that could possibly mistreat that child, even though another adult was likely present. This becomes – the opposing party routinely leaves their child unsupervised with a known child molester.

The middle section, in my mind, is ethically questionable and personally distasteful. I do not practice even there and will tell prospective clients that up front. That last range of wild speculation, I believe, is unethical and immoral. I like to believe that judges will recognize the attorneys who practice in that range and no longer grant them credibility. Yes, I like to believe that. Those attorneys seem oblivious that they quickly get a reputation for those tactics among other lawyers even if the judges do not catch on and, in the long run, reduce their effectiveness because the other attorneys will not trust them enough to engage in negotiations.

It can be very disheartening when engaged in a legal contest with one of those wild speculation lawyers and see them winning. It seems human nature that if you hear something is true often enough, you will believe it – sometimes it is true and sometimes not. Marketing professionals entire professions are based on this concept. This kind of dishonesty is at the heart of what makes justice elusive. They are also the source of all the bad lawyer jokes and poor reputation of this honorable profession.

January 13, 2007 Posted by | Life & Law | Leave a comment