July 19, 2003

Eric Alterman makes some honest but politically incorrect remarks about the causes of hatred in France, the mouthbreathers take violent exception, and then he gets nasty. BTW, what are the odds that some of them will have a logical explanation for this abomination. [link via MaxSpeak]

July 18, 2003

Well, the good news is, the Lakers figured out what they're going to do with Derek Fisher.

Noted journalist William Greider seems to get the wonderousness that is the b-sphere. He has started a blog, and today he weighs in with questions that would be asked of the President if our country really had a loyal opposition and independent media.

July 17, 2003

A day like any other...I had one of those experiences that makes me proud to be a lawyer.

A bit of background, first. To supplement my income, I do court appearances for other attorneys, where I can use the same cunning and guile that all of you have come to know and admire. The two areas I usually get work are in bankruptcy and unlawful detainer (ie., the procedure by which the owner of a property evicts a tenant), although for the right price, I will handle other sorts of cases as well. There are about four attorneys who use me exclusively to do their appearances, and it provides me enough money to get by, even when my normal caseload isn't high.

Last night, one of my sources decided to freelance my services. Just before midnight, I get a phone call asking if I would be available to do an appearance at the downtown L.A. Superior Court on a motion to set aside an entry of default. The way the intermediary described it, the hearing would be a slam dunk: our client had been improperly served with the complaint in the unlawful detainer, filed a Motion to Quash Service, only to have the court enter default the following day. An entry of default, btw, is a clerical ruling which notifies the court that a party has been served with a complaint but has not filed a response. If you are a defendant and the other side has entered default, that is a bad thing. The hearing had been held over a day due to the other side not stipulating to having the case heard by a commissioner, and the attorney of record had to be in Victorville (about 150 miles away) on another matter.

Since I was going to be downtown anyway, on another case, I agreed, and gave him my home phone number, which also doubles as my fax number. Bad Move !!! First, because the attorney he was working for didn't get around to actually faxing me the documents until two in the morning. Second, because said attorney decided to fax over eighty (80) pages of repetitive filings in that case. Third, his fax machine couldn't handle the strain, so it frequently broke down in the wee hours; that, of course, meant that my phone rang repeatedly between two and four in the morning. And fourth,...we'll get to that later.

With only a few hours sleep, I drag myself down the Cahuenga Pass to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse downtown. As I'm arriving, I get a phone call from someone who identified himself as "Joe Marmon", counsel of record for my client. He basically tells me that the hearing is a slam dunk, and that there is no way I can lose, and that the judge told him at the initial hearing yesterday that he felt that the opposition was in such bad faith that he wanted to impose sanctions. My bullshit detector immediately went off.

Arriving in court, the judge immediately called our case, and began grilling me as to how I was retained in this matter. After about five minutes of obtaining the minutiae of my legal background and education, he asked if I had ever met Mr. Marman or my clients, what I knew of them, etc. As it turns out, at the appearance the day before, a number of other attorneys had recognized him under another name, as a lawyer who had been disbarred a decade ago. According to the right honorable judge, the only attorney licensed to practice law in the state of California named Joseph Marman practices law up in Sacramento, and that this case was news to him.

As you might have guessed, things didn't go well from there. Regardless of whether the judge bought my story, I had been exposed in a courtroom full of lawyers as a "front", an attorney whose practice exists only to provide a public face to a grifter engaging in the unlicensed practice of law. Needless to say, the judge threw out the motion, adding insult to injury to the real victims of this scam, the clients who had unknowingly retained a conman to prevent their eviction.

July 16, 2003

This can't be good: Miramax Studios, which rose to prominence in the mid-90's when it took a flyer on Pulp Fiction, has decided to bifurcate the next Quentin Tarantino movie, cleverly titled Kill Bill. Besides the fact that the plot synopsis reveals a movie that might well suck big time, directed by Hollywood's biggest self-parody this side of Brian de Palma, and includes a cast consisting of largely washed-up performers (what, no Demi Moore?), is chopping a film in two really the best way for an independent film to be sold to the public?

July 14, 2003

A Thought for Bastille Day:
"There were two 'Reigns of Terror', if we could but remember and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passions, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon a thousand persons, the other upon a hundred million; but our shudders are all for the "horrors of the... momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty and heartbreak? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief terror that we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror - that unspeakable bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves."
--Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

July 13, 2003

My favorite right-wing columnist, Jill Stewart, is at it again, attacking a number of worthies who are backing Gray Davis in his attempt to survive the GOP mulligan that is the recall attempt. It's worth reading, both as an example of her hyper-charged writing style, and because she has a point, which is that the Democratic governor of California is as purchased as most Republican office-holders (in fact, many of Davis' contributors are Republican, such as Jerry Perenchio).

However, I do have a problem with one itty-bitty little thing. She probably could have used the help of a fact-checker. At one point, she refers to Stephen Bing, who gave $100k to the governor, as a "brat New York heir". In fact, I happen to know that is untrue. The Bing and I attended the same high school, in North Hollywood, back in the day. His parents are big-time donors to Stanford University. His grandfather did make his money in New York, but the whole point is kind of stupid, anyway. What difference could it possibly make, unless "New York" is supposed to be a euphemism for something else?

Bing is, in fact, a brat Los Angeles heir, who happens to give generously to many philanthropies and worthy causes. He has also written scripts for crappy sit-coms and movies (incl. Kangaroo Jack), and has just directed a movie. He got a bad rap for insisting that Elizabeth Hurley take a paternity test to prove he was the father of their lovechild (a not unwise decision, considering the fact that Ms. Hurley was a very active woman during the brief time they were "dating"). He may well be a dirtbag, for all I know, but I would assume that a reason he contributed money to the governor is that he believed, perhaps naively, that Davis is doing a good job, and shouldn't be recalled. But that would require actually accepting that people can disagree with you and not be the spawn of Satan, a concept that may be difficult for Ms. Stewart to understand.