T’was The Night Before Christmas: Legal Version

GeorgiaLeeLang025Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a
certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter “the House”) a general
lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a
mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by
and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick
a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter “Claus”) would arrive at House
sometime thereafter.

The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were
located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal
hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein visions of confectionery treats,
including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance,
cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as
“I”), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the party of the
second part (hereinafter “Mamma”), and said Mamma had retired for a
sustained period of sleep. (At such time, the parties were clad in various
forms of headgear, e.g. kerchief and cap.)

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the
unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e. the
lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The
party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to
investigate the cause of such disturbance.

At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of
wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter “the Vehicle”)
being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately
eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact
was, the previously referenced Claus.

Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the
approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically indentified the animal
co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid,
Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter “the Deer”). (Upon information and belief,
it is further asserted an additional co-conspirator named “Rudolph” may have
been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer
intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences
located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the
Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown
origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either
express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said
House via the chimney.

Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with
residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion
of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items. He was
smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of
local ordinances and health regulations.

Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor
children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small
gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute “gifts” to said minor
pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.)

Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew,
rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the
Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as “lookouts.” Claus immediately
departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said
House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim:

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” Or words to that effect.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU!

Merry Christmas Disclaimer

GeorgiaLeeLang009

 

PLEASE ACCEPT without obligation, express or implied, these best wishes for an

environmentally safe, socially responsible, low stress, non addictive, and gender

neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday as practiced within the most

enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice (but with respect

for the religious or secular persuasions and/or traditions of others or for their

choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all):

AND FURTHER for a fiscally successful, personal fulfilling, and

medically uncomplicated onset of the generally accepted calendar year

(including, but not limited to, the Christian calendar, but not

without due respect for the calendars of choice or of other cultures).

THE PROCEEDING wishes are extended without regard to the race, creed,

colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or

sexual preference of the wishee.

 

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Fifty-Year-Old Woman Can Refuse Life-Saving Treatment Where She Has Lost Her Youth and Beauty

GeorgiaLeeLang032Assisted suicide is a complex social issue, one that many people struggle with. I have come to the conclusion that if a person has a fatal or incurable condition with no quality of life or unmanageable pain, it is simply humane to engage a physician to assist in a peaceful passing. However, I am still concerned there will be inappropriate, even frivolous medical conditions that will pass scrutiny as doctors and the public become comfortable with new laws legalizing assisted suicide.

A related issue is whether an otherwise healthy adult with a medical condition that can be treated, should be permitted to refuse treatment where the result will be death.
A case in England last month comes to mind where a 50-year-old woman who said she “lost her sparkle”, meaning her youth and beauty, was the subject of a court application to determine whether she would be permitted to refuse lifesaving treatment following a suicide attempt.

The woman was first diagnosed with breast cancer and refused any treatment that would “affect her wearing a bikini” or “make her fat”. A year later she went through a high-
conflict relationship breakdown, lost her business and home, and incurred significant debt. She tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of an over-the-counter analgesic called paracetamol, not unlike aspirin, quaffing them with liberal amounts of champagne. The suicide attempt failed leaving her with a serious kidney condition that could be reversed with dialysis. She refused the treatment.

Her doctors contacted the Health Authority who applied to the Court for an order that she be treated, despite her refusal to consent. Justice MacDonald described her as a woman to whom youth and beauty was most important, she was unconventional in her lifestyle: married four times, had several affairs, and drank excessive amounts of alcohol. In short, she was a “party girl”.

Her daughter told the court, “Put bluntly, her life has always revolved around her looks, men, and material possessions. She understands that people have failed relationships,
feel sad, and continue living, but for her, she doesn’t want to ‘live in a council flat’, ‘be poor’ or ‘be ugly’, which she equates with being old.”

The judge considered whether the woman was competent to make an informed choice, ruled that she was, and refused the Health Authority’s application to force her to undergo treatment. Mr. Justice MacDonald added that his ruling did not prevent the woman’s doctors from “continuing to seek to engage with her in an effort to persuade her of the benefits of receiving life-saving treatment”.

She died fifteen days after the Court permitted her to refuse the life-saving dialysis, leaving behind three children including one who was still a dependent, all because in her dysfunctional mind she felt old, a state she equated with ugliness. Very sad.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Is US Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling a Threat to Democracy?

BarristerToday’s gay marriage decision from the United States Supreme Court has the potential to create an even greater divide between America’s already polarized electorate.

In a 5/4 decision, the Court invented a new civil right under the banner of equal protection and due process of the law pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment, by ruling that individual States cannot ban same-sex marriage.

The decision is neither unexpected nor surprising, however the chasm between the slim majority and the minority opinions is startling.

Mr. Justice Scalia characterizes the decision as a threat to American democracy and decries a system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected patrician lawyers, who are strikingly unrepresentative of the people they serve. He notes the Court’s judges all have law degrees from Yale or Harvard, four of the nine are from New York, eight grew up in either east or west coast states, with only one judge from the large expanse between the two coasts, and not a single south-westerner.

He continues his provocative opinion by musing that the majority’s discovery of a new fundamental right in the Fourteenth Amendment has curiously been overlooked by some of the brightest legal minds in America, referring to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, Benjamin Cardozo, and other brilliant jurists of the past.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in a separate dissent, writes that the majority has not just ignored America’s entire history and traditions but actively repudiates it. He laments that the Court’s imposition of its “reasoned judgment”, devoid of legal principles, or as Justice Scalia observes “lacking even a thin veneer of law”, is actually a lost opportunity for the gay and lesbian community who can no longer obtain true acceptance from their neighbours, “just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs”. Here the Chief Justice is acknowledging that only thirteen states now ban same-sex marriage.

Chief Justice Roberts rejects the majority’s view that Americans who did nothing more than uphold their understanding of marriage as between a man and a woman should be criticized for their alleged disparagement and disrespect of gays and lesbians. He describes the Court’s denouncement of citizens who uphold a Biblical view of marriage as a gratuitous assault on their character:

“It is one thing for the majority to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s “better informed understanding” as bigoted.”

Mr. Justice Alito pursues a similar theme writing that the new law will be used to vilify those unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy, noting that the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment to African-Americans and women, an analogy that he fears will be exploited by those who wish to stamp out any vestige of dissent.

Justice Alito predicts the majority’s imposition of its views on America facilitates the marginalization of traditional Americans who may fall victim to the harsh treatment once afforded gays and lesbians. He says:

“…some may think that turn-about is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds.”

Mr. Justice Clarence Thomas sees the majority decision as a threat to religious liberty, as does the Chief Justice who remarks that the “good and decent people who oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith and their freedom to exercise religion is, unlike the right imagined by the majority, actually spelled out in the Constitution.”

Justice Clarence states that the decision on same-sex marriage should have been left to the political process, as the Constitution requires, and had that happened the religious implications would have been considered. He identifies the potential of a ruinous assault on religious freedom.

The chasm between members of the Court is no more apparent than in Justice Scalia’s mockery of the majority’s finding that the marriage bond creates “other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality”, to which he replies “Really? Whoever thought that intimacy and spirituality (whatever that means) were freedoms?…The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis.”

While there is much to celebrate in the gay and lesbian community, there is a silent majority who are disappointed, even angry, that their rights under the democratic process have been trampled by five elite lawyers.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

The Vexatious Litigant

BarristerDr. Valery Fabrikant was an unstable, temperamental, and frustrated engineering professor at Concordia University in Montreal when he slaughtered four of his colleagues in 1992. Acting as his own lawyer, he sabotaged his case at trial, although his murderous actions were never in issue.

No doubt impressed with his own legal prowess, he continued to file lawsuits and was eventually declared a vexatious litigant by the Quebec Superior Court in 2000, an apparently ineffective tool as today the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed his attempt to appeal a Federal Court of Appeal ruling made in 2014.

So, how does one merit a vexatious litigant label? A vexatious litigant is a person who continually brings frivolous, unmeritorious law suits intended to harass, insult and abuse the victims of his court actions and to undermine the justice system. Vexatious litigants typically represent themselves as no legitimate lawyer will take on these cases.

Attaching this label to a litigant and curtailing his recourse to the courts or ensuring that no claim can be brought without the permission of the Chief Justice of the Court is a draconian measure that is only ordered in extreme cases.

Notable vexatious litigants include:

1. JULIAN KNIGHT, an Australian mass murderer with an IQ of 132 who gunned down seven people and injured 19 in the Hoddle Street Massacre in Victoria in 1987. Knight’s multiple lawsuits were directed at prison officials and the Australian government over issues concerning prison conditions, prison discipline, access to mail, solitary confinement, and a myriad of other petty complaints. Knight was eligible for parole in 2014 but the government enacted legislation that year preventing Knight’s release from prison.

2. LAWRENCE BITTAKER, a serial murderer from California who raped, tortured, and murdered five young female hitchhikers over a period of six months in 1979. Bittaker, with an !Q of 138, sits on California’s Death Row. He filed 40 separate lawsuits against the State of California including one claiming “cruel and unusual punishment” because he was served a broken cookie. He was declared a vexatious litigant in 1993 and requires the permission of a lawyer or judge before he can commence any court actions.

3. CLIFFORD OLSON, British Columbia serial killer of 11 children between the ages of 8 and 15, in 1981, was declared a vexatious litigant by the federal court in 1994. He had filed over 30 lawsuits over issues including his lack of access to the media, his designation as a sexual offender, and his inability to vote in elections. It was reported that his case prompted the Canadian government to legislate against early release law, called the “faint hope clause”, for serial killers.

Of course, not all vexatious litigants are deranged murderers, however, prison inmates seem to be attracted to this attention-getting tactic.

4. JONATHAN LEE RICHES is a former federal prisoner in Kentucky, convicted of wire fraud, who filed over 2,600 lawsuits in six years. Victims of his court filings included publishing maven Martha Stewart; former president George W. Bush; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick; gossip columnist Perez Hilton; pop singer Britney Spears; Apple founder Steve Jobs, and Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Psychiatrists describe vexatious litigants as suffering from “querulous paranoia” or “litigious paranoia”, a subtype of a delusional disorder manifested in persons who feel obsessively wronged about minor issues and petty offences, accompanied by groundless allegations.

Their deleterious impact on the justice system cannot be overstated and unfortunately, their numbers have escalated in the last twenty years.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Notables Who Failed the Bar Exam

GEO_edited-1From time to time I meet with young men and women who dream of becoming a lawyer and seek encouragement or advice on their journey to the bar. I believe the legal profession, although often maligned, is a noble calling, and to those lawyers who much has been given, much is owed.

A recent conversation with the eighteen-year-old daughter of a client, caused me to reflect on the process. After the completion of an undergraduate degree and successfully passing the Law School Admission Test, three years of law school follows. With a law degree in hand the only impediment to calling yourself a lawyer is the passing of the bar exam.

It is at this point where many people run into a roadblock. Certain of the bar exams are notorious for their difficulty, including the tests required in New York and California.

The top spot for lawyers who have failed their bar exams goes to MAXCY DEAN FILER who obtained his law degree in 1966, but failed the California Bar Exam 47 times before finally passing the exam in 1991.

By the time he was permitted to practice law, both of his sons were lawyers. He worked with one of his sons for about five years before striking out on his own. His other son is now a judge in California.

But there are many more lawyers who struggled for the right to practice law, but were forced to retake the exam. Some of the notables include:

1. MICHELLE OBAMA- A graduate of Harvard Law School, Ms. Obama failed her first try at the Illinois Bar Exam, said to be one of the easier bar exam States;

2. HILARY CLINTON- Former Secretary of State, former Senator for New York State, candidate for President of the United States, First Lady during Bill Clinton’s presidency, attended Yale Law School, wrote her bar exam in Washington DC and failed. Around the same time she wrote and passed the Arkansas Bar Exam, practicing patent law and intellectual property law. Her pro bono interests were in the area of child and family advocacy;

3. THE MAYORS- RICHARD DALEY of Chicago, ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA of Los Angeles and ED KOCH of New York;

4. THE GOVERNORS- JERRY BROWN of California, PETE WILSON of California, and DAVID PATERSON of New York;

5. PAT ROBERTSON, founder and host of the 700 Club and leader of the Christian Coalition, graduated from Yale Law School but failed the bar exam. He then abandoned law and obtained a Doctor of Divinity degree. Leader of the christian right, he is a successful businessman and entrepreneur, who founded Regent University which includes a Judeo-Christian law school.

6. KATHLEEN SULLIVAN, former Dean of Stanford Law School, Marshall scholar at Oxford, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1981, constitutional and appellate law expert, often mentioned as a candidate for the United States Supreme Court, failed the California Bar Exam, but rewrote it in 2006 and passed. Many years earlier she had been admitted to both the Massachussats and the New York bar.

It is clear that perserverance is the cornerstone of success. To all my friends, young and old, who have a dream, remember these words:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful
people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is
almost a proverb… Persistence and determination alone are
omnipotent.”
Calvin Coolidge

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang